Part 2 – concrete sub floor

With the stone sub base in place and nicely compacted down we are now ready to start the prep for the concrete. With it being such a big area (11m x 5m) we have split it into two bit size chunks and shuttered these areas so these can be poured first. The concrete is due for delivery on Monday.

Small is beautiful

IMG_3683Derek’s been a busy bee this morning. Luckily he’s small and can get into tight spaces so it was no trouble for him to bend some copper pipe and fit it under a boiler to supply a new garden tap.

There really is not limit to Derek.s abilities or the type of work he will do. Lots of people need a garden tap and Derek was happy to oblige.



If you need an outside taps for these hot summer days to fill the paddling pool for the kids or just to water the garden (unless there’s a hose pipe ban) call Derek and he’ll gladly fit one for you.

In other news – there’s a terrible skills shortage in the plumbing industry, find out more at :

A tale of two flues

Bee3 cleaner2018-06-19 17.20.18Derek’s been a busy bee this week looking at flues. At one property, when we went into the loft to inspect the flue, we noticed that the flue hadn’t been screwed together properly and that there wasn’t enough brackets on the flue pipe to hold it in position. The picture on the left shows another section of the same flue which has been fitted correctly. Note the brackets AND screws holding the parts together.

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The problems is not that its dangerous NOW, but we have to consider what might happen in the future. If something or someone was to inadvertently interfere with it, the parts could become dislodged and this would allow products of combustion into the house, this in turn may get into the boiler causing it produce carbon monoxide, which of course is deadly. Derek and I determined this to be “At Risk”* and with the owners consent disconnected the gas supply so that it simply couldn’t be used. Documents were completed and issued to the home owner.

By chance, the next day, Derek and I had another call from another customer who had, this time, had his boiler condemned by another Gas Safe engineer and wanted a second opinion as he was facing a bill of several thousands of pounds for a new boiler.

2018-06-20 14.40.35 (2)In this case the engineer had determined that the boiler had failed the “spillage test” and the “smoke pellet flue flow test” and had determined that it was “At Risk” and as such issued a Warning Notice and labelled the boiler as “WARNING – DO NOT USE”.


2018-06-20 13.37.19I carried out some tests myself and found them all to be OK, so I rang the gas fitter and asked him what he had found. He said that the CO2% was too low and that I should know that and that is why it’s unsafe. Therefore I rang Baxi to check the figures and was told that there is no published value for the CO2% and so the figure I had found of 6% was fine, not dangerous. I removed the Do Not Use notice and reissued the Home Owner Gas Safety Certificate. 

The clients were delighted that they haven’t had to fork out over £2000 for a new boiler and are now confident that their gas appliances are safe.

Bee3 cleanerBee Safe folks !

* At Risk (AR) means – An “At Risk” installation is where one or more recognised faults are present which could constitute a danger to life or property without further faults developing – further reading available at :-

Learning a trade

A recent study by education charity Edge and the City & Guilds Group found that parents think plumbing apprenticeships make young people more employable than their peers who studied at university, however most of them said that they still wanted their children to get a degree. At the end of the day, what you study is your choice, so it’s pretty important to seek out other routes into employment, and apprenticeships is a pretty good one.


So why not do both? Many companies are now fully aware of the benefits of having graduate engineers who have learnt a “trade”, they understand the business from the ground up and have spent time with semi skilled tradespeople in the shop floor where they will have developed a healthy respect for the value they add to the process. PwC’s retention rate for apprentices is 85.8%, compared with 67.7% for graduates, after qualifying. There is the opportunity for everyone who completes an apprenticeship to remain with PwC and to take advantage of ample career support and job opportunities. apprenticeships

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATHS – Apprenticeships with degrees exist from these companies and more.

PwC, Atkins, BAE Systems, Barratt Developments PLC, CGI, Keepmoat Ltd, Mitie Technical Facilities Management, Nissan, National Grid, Network Rail, NG Bailey, SGN, D&D London, DHL, Dine Contract Catering, Dorchester Collection,Greene King, Greggs, Hilton Worldwide, Royal Mail, SSP UK, Arqiva, Capgemini, Fujitsu.


Commercial Gas Engineer

I am delighted to have passed my commercial gas engineer qualifications.This means I can now work on industrial gas equipment such as boilers, air warmers and pipe work, allowing me to service and repair appliances as well as make alterations, purge, test and commission pipelines.

New boiler in a handy place

We have serviced this customer’s boiler for a number of years but as it became less reliable it also be came much less accessible to fix. The boiler had originally been located in the utility room but it’s flue was deemed to be too close to an opening window and so was moved up to the loft. Unfortunately the clients are elderly and disabled and so having the boiler in the loft was clearly impractical.

Moving the boiler back to the ground floor was always going to present a challenge with the flue as the only really suitable place was the original location. FlueAfter some research it was found that Worcester Bosch had developed a horizontal flue which can be used on a pitched roof. Other manufacturers weren’t able to offer the same setup because the paint used on the flue wasn’t UV resistant! The Technical Bulletin (0042) describes how the flue can be fitted to the roof and all of the dimensions that need satisfying.

A Greenstar Worcester Bosch  boiler was selected for its superior reliability and work commenced in uncovering the old pipework located in a tight space behind the kitchen cabinets.2018-05-17 15.21.54

As with all boilers we fit a magnetic filter was supplied and fitted to the system to qualify for an additional 1 years additional warranty.

As the boiler was in the utility room it was obvious to us that the above bench pipework needed to be as neat as possible. Making this neat and symmetrical was slightly complicated by a fused spur from the previous boiler being locate in the path of the gas pipe. The gas pipe was moved to the left and the remaining pipes kept close to it so that a clear space could be left for the electrical outlet.Mayes pipes The trickiest part of the job was to make sure the flue was located in the correct position to allow it to comply with the Technical Bulletin’s specification.

The main requirement was that the end of the flue had to be 300mm vertically above the surface beneath it to prevent snow from blocking the flue in another, “Beast from the East”, occurrence . This was going to be difficult on a roof with a pitch of about 30 degrees as the telescopic extension was only about 350mm long. A bit of quick school trigonometry.

New Picture (68)

2018-05-16 10.45.01Clearly for a 30 degree roof the 220mm elevation is not enough and so the flue was extended to hang over the end of the roof meaning the vertical drop was down onto the guttering below. The flue was secured with proprietary hangers and the roof rebuilt and pointed in to reduce draughts.2018-05-17 16.10.57

Finally a hatch was cut into the ceiling to allow for future inspections of the flue joints and the boiler in the loft was stripped out and taken away with all of the pipework disconnected and cut back to ensure it’s fully out of action.

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Dr M, the customer, commented, “Tidy workman who cleaned up after work. Pleasant, friendly and explained all the steps in the procedure.”

To view our other 428 customer reviews, please visit our Checkatrade website –

Bosch Easy Control–New system

UnventedWe are delighted to have installed the new Worcester Bosch Easy Control internet based heating control centre. We were asked to fit a new boiler in place of an old and unreliable Baxi 130HE combi. The customer opted for a new Worcester Bosch 30i system boiler and 300L unvented cylinder.

The unvented cylinder has transformed hot water supply in the house from having one shower able to perform reasonably at 15 litres per minute, the customers now have a bath capable of delivering 20 litres per minute as well as two showers delivering 15 litres per minute. With 300 litres of hot water at 65oC and the 30KW boiler refilling the cylinder every 28 minutes, its almost impossible to run out of water.

The Bosch Easy Control takes care of the control of the heating and hot water. From the customer’sEasy control iPhone a schedule can be set up to automatically start and stop the boiler when heat in needed. The controller takes account of the outdoor weather temperature and alters the output of the boiler to compensate for additional loss of heat through the building fabric as the external temperature drops at night.

Call from the East

I awoke yesterday morning to shanghaifind an email from a new customer asking if I would give him a second opinion on a gas boiler he had at his rented house in Newcastle. I didn’t realise at the time but the 6am email had come from Shanghai, China, the customer was an English teacher in the Far East!

 Making arrangements

I responded to the email, arranged a visit with the local letting agents and inspected the boiler. The tenant had reported that the boiler was switching on and off every five minutes and on inspection I could see why.

Potterton Prima 30F – combustion safety device

flame liftLooking through the spy glass at the flame picture I could see the flame lifting off the burners. These boiler are fitted with an oxy-pilot“oxy pilot” pilot light which is designed to shut down the boiler if there is a lack of oxygen in the combustion process – this is what was happening.

The next step was to determine why there was a lack of oxygen and why the pilot light was lifting off the burner causing the thermocouple to cool down and switch off.

Flue problems

2018-04-12 10.24.20In most cases the lack of oxygen is due to flue problems. If a flue is blocked then less air is able to get into the boiler causing combustion problems, but also if the flue is damaged or corroded then exhaust gases can get into the intake of the boiler and as these are primarily CO2, they starve the boiler of oxygen. Taking a look outside at the flue it could be seen that the terminal had been poorly pointed in but this was a historic fault and the current problem had just arisen so there was more to it that that poor pointing.

Corrosion of the flue

2018-04-13 08.50.46On closer inspection of the flue it was obvious to see the inner exhaust pipe had completely corroded to the point that there was a large airway between the exhaust pipe and the air intake resulting in the boiler breathing in its own exhaust gas. This is likely to cause high levels of CO as the combustion process is compromised by the lack of oxygen and produces CO rather than CO2.

2018-04-12 12.45.52The boiler was restarted and the CO levels measured to see just how bad the combustion process has become, as you can see the level is very high, 1600 ppm (parts per million) a level that will cause death in 2 hours if the gases were able to get into the house.


2018-04-12 11.17.42I classified the boiler as “At Risk” and disconnected it from the gas supply and issued a warning notice until I was given to go ahead to repair it.

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Simple fix

2018-04-12 13.10.51Baxi are aware of this problem and make a simple rectification part (5106693) which neatly fits over the distressed flue pipe. This was purchased, fitted and the CO levels remeasured at 42 parts per million, a much safer level.

The work was completed and the photos sent to Shanghai for approval by the customer who was happy with the work and left a very kind review on Checkatrade – IMG_2865“I can’t thank Richard enough, he’s quite literally a lifesaver, picking up on serious issues missed by a shoddy craftsman obtained by my property manager as I work abroad and rent out my home in Newcastle. He also saved me having to replace the boiler entirely. Thank you, Richard, for your prompt and excellent work as well as the communication, information provided, upfront pricing and photos. It’d be my pleasure to recommend Richard here and I’m definitely keeping his number for any future work as well as sharing it with my family and friends in Newcastle as often as I can.”