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Addressing, Identifying and Preventing Water Leaks

fixing water leaks

The sounds “drip, drip, drip” has always been a dreadful sound for property owners, homeowners and renters alike. That is because aside from it an annoying sound that can keep you up all night, it is also the sound of your money quite literally going down the drain. 

Water leaks, unfortunately, are very common in households all over the world. A fact that the Association of British Insurers confirmed when they disclosed that one in every four building and content insurance claims are for “release of water” cases, which basically insurance-speak for leaky pipes or burst pipes. 

Sometimes, it makes itself known with persistent dripping sounds, some moisture here, or even a puddle there. However, more often than we realize, water leaks like these sneak up on us and only makes itself known with a flood in our kitchen or a ceiling that gave in after a pipe burst.  

Either way, though, such leaks are an extreme inconvenience that we must all, at one point, face. What you can do, though, is take the steps to help minimize the damage that a water leak may cause on your home and your wallet. 

And so, to save you the headache (and the heartache) of having to worry about spending lots of money on house and plumbing repairs, as well as an expensive meter reading, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide to help you take on the challenge of a water leak in your new home.

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What Happens When You Have A Leak In Your Home?

Leaks in your home should be a cause of alarm for a multitude of reasons. Paying your bill which is alarmingly and significantly higher than your usual water bill is only the beginning of your issues.

Aside from expensive water bills, water leaks can be the beginning of many problems in your home. For example, unchecked water leaks can cause tons of physical damage to your home. You may also encounter damaged furniture and appliances due to the moisture, or worse, flooding caused by the leak. If the leak is subtle, undetected, and unchecked for months, it can affect more than just the visible parts of your home but compromise its structural integrity as well. Property managers, from all over the world, agree that a house flood can exponentially decrease the value of a house when you try to sell it. Potential buyers are easily turned off from a property if they find out that it has experienced a flood. This is because the damage seeps through the floorboards and opens up a lot of unfortunate possibilities such as mould growth.

Moreover, such water leaks may also have the potential to ruin your home’s market value forever. This is because while you may have been able to “fix” the leak, its effects will remain. Lastly, such leaks can and will cause mould and fungal growth if not properly addressed. This, in turn, may pose a handful of health risks for you and the rest of your household.  Humans exposed to mould may experience nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, coughing and sneezing fits, and a compromised immune system. Furthermore, mould can eventually grow within them, thus opening them up to worse health complications. Meanwhile, infants exposed to mould develop an increased likelihood of developing asthma.

Aside from the hazards stated above, sewage leaks are also toxic to humans and pets. 

Signs There Is A Leak In Your Home

Stopping or fixing a leak, however, is only possible when you know that there is a leak in the first place. Here are some telltale signs for a leak that you should be on the lookout for:

Cracks On Your Walls

Leaks, no matter how minimal, may have an effect on the foundation of your home and compromise its structure. When leaks persist and affect the same spot on the ground underneath your home, it may eventually cause your house to shift ever so slightly. While you may not feel this happen, it will cause some stress on your walls. 

The Sound of Running Water

Make sure you’re not hearing the sound of any faucet, shower, toilet valve or spigot running. Once everything is shut off, check your water meter reading. Do not use the water for a few hours, and then check your water meter reading again. If you see a change, then chances are you do have a leak in your home. 

Damp or Wet Floors

If you find unexplainable damp patches on your carpet or puddles of water on your floor, then you probably have a sewer leak. Such leaks are extremely persistent and pose a handful of health hazards for you and your family. 

Unusually Expensive Water Bill Costs

If your monthly water bill comes out more costly than usual for no explainable reason, then you are more than likely to be sporting a leak in your home. 

Foul Odours

If you’re smelling funky and couldn’t find its source, then chances are you’re smelling the mould and mildew that are slowly developing within your home. 

Where Am I Most Likely To Find A Leak In My Home?

If you think you’ve got a link, but are not entirely sure on where the source of the leak could be, then here are some areas of your home where a leak could be possibly located. 

  • Water tank
  • Toilets
  • Showerheads
  • Pipework
  • Appliances i.e. Washing Machines, Refrigerators, Radiators
  • Boilers

What Do I Do When There’s A Leak?

If you experience sewer flooding, burst pipes, or even just notice a small water leak within the boundary of your property, the very first thing you should do is turn off your water mains. This will not only help you save water which would have otherwise been wasted due to the leaks on your supply. 

Once you have done that, try to identify or locate the source of the leak. Check your appliances, supply pipes, and any water pipe you can think of. If you cannot find the source of the leak, then it is best to call in a registered or approved plumber, preferably the one who is responsible for your pipework. If this is not possible, then any emergency plumber will do. 

Do not attempt to fix leaks on your own, as this may only cause more problems for you in the long run.  

Looking Out For and Preventing Catastrophic Leaks In Your Home

While it is important for you to know when a leak is present in your home and what to do when there is one, it also wouldn’t hurt for you to be vigilant in order to stay ahead of the leak. Here are some steps you could take in order to be constantly and actively on the lookout for possible leaks within your property. 

  • Before paying your bill, dedicate some time for reading it. Understanding your bill is vital, as it helps you make sure that everything is in perfect order. You may ask your local water resources management centre to give you monthly statements based on your monthly reading in order to properly check your water usage and consumption rates. 
  • Take note of the water pressure when you use the sink or take a shower. Low pressure could also mean a leak somewhere along your water pipe. If the case is isolated to tap or showerhead, though, then it could be a small clog.
  • Monitor when your boiler or water heater comes on. If you notice it running almost constantly, then you probably have a leak somewhere along your water pipes. 
  • You may also call for a plumber to conduct routine maintenance checks on your plumbing system to ensure that there are no leaks and that everything is in perfect order. Approved plumbers may opt to check for leaks using thermal imaging and acoustic listening devices to complete the task more efficiently. 

Final Thoughts

While you do not necessarily have the option of completely preparing your home for a catastrophic water leak, there are many steps you can take to prepare yourself for it. Moreover, by taking these steps, you can help minimize the damage and costs that could result from a water leak. 

It is also important to remember that you should not attempt to fix leaks in your property yourself. Always seek out the help of a professional plumber to ensure any issues from worsening or escalating. 

A First Time For Everything: How to Unblock a Toilet

Unblock a Toilet

Learning how to unblock a toilet is a helpful life skill that can save you in a pinch. Whether it is your toilet at home, at work, or a friend’s house, letting someone else deal with your backed up waste is considered embarrassing. It becomes more about your poop and less about the toilet. Not all toilet clogs are not due to the density or size of your waste. There might be an existing blockage like toilet paper, sanitary pads, tampons, and the occasional whatever-my-child-tried-to-flush. Never fear! There is more than one way to unblock a toilet. Before we go into the steps of how to unblock the toilet, let us consider what happens when they are left alone.

Will a toilet eventually unclog itself?

Toilet blockages are a case to case basis. If you are living alone or with other adults and the likelihood of unexpected items in the drain is low, you can try to wait it out. Gravity plays a significant role when it comes to the drainage. There is a chance that the toilet will unclog itself with enough time. If you notice that it is decreasing slowly and you have another toilet in the home you can leave it overnight and reassess the next day. Sometimes the blockages fix themselves.

How to Unblock Your Toilet (DIY)

A proactive approach is fixing the blockage yourself. There are different levels of effort, depending on the severity of the blockage and the materials you have on hand. Before trying any of these methods, prep yourself and your bathroom for possible messes. There might be splashes on your bathroom floor and your clothes. Equip yourself with old clothes that you don’t often wear and can easily toss into the wash after you unblock your toilet. Wear a pair of rubber gloves meant for toilet cleaning. If you do not have a couple of rubber gloves, find the next best thing you have on hand from latex gloves to plastic bags. To streamline your bathroom cleaning process, cover the floor near the toilet bowl with newspaper, scrap paper, towels, or old clothes to absorb any excess water.

Tip: If your toilet is overflowing, do not attempt to flush the toilet again. Take the lid off the tank and press down on the toilet flapper, the flapper is what prevents the water from entering the toilet bowl. When it does not stay down, look for an object to weigh it down. By stopping the additional water, you can calmly decide the next step to take.

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No-Plunger or Auger Methods

A blocked toilet can happen any time, and if you find yourself in a new place without any of the proper tools, there are things you can try to help the blockage along. These methods take up more time compared to unblocking a toilet with tools. There is no instant gratification; patience is required. 

Dish Soap and Hot Water

Heat some water, bring it up to a boil and let it cool or mix in a little cold water. Trying to find the right temperature that can help break down the blockage, but not too much because it could damage the porcelain toilet bowl. You can opt to add the hot water first and see how the blockage is moving then add a bit of dish soap. Or mix the dish soap with the hot water and pour the mixture down the toilet bowl. The dish soap helps loosen the blockage and provides a nice slip to help things along.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Another DIY drain cleaner is using baking soda and vinegar. The general idea is to use the chemical reaction to help breakdown waste. It will fizz and bubble a lot, but don’t be afraid. It is a familiar and safe cleaning agent that has been in countless school science projects.

There are different ways you can go about it. You can create the mixture first in a separate container, or pour the baking soda first and slowly add the vinegar. The ratio of baking soda to vinegar varies as well. You eyeball the amount, but if you want to go by the numbers a 1:1 or 1:2 parts baking soda to vinegar should do the trick. You can also add a bit of hot water along with your DIY drain cleaner. There is no fixed time, but leave it for a couple of hours. If you can manage to wait overnight, do so. Checkback in the morning with a test flush and see if it unblocked the toilet.

Improvised Tools

If you are willing to sacrifice a wire coat hanger, a mop, or a toilet brush–you can create an improvised toilet plunger or auger. For the mop or toilet brush, cover the end with a plastic bag and make sure it is secure. Tie it off with a rubber band or a duct tape. Use it the same way you would with a plunger, push it down with short thrusts then lift.

For the wire coat hanger, you can create an auger/ toilet snake. Break the coat hanger and try to come up with a long thin strand with a hook on end. Run it through the drain and try to feel for the blockage. You can opt to pull the blockage out or break it down. To break the blockage, twist the wire, use the hook to break solid pieces that need help. If the obstruction is not human waste, it’s best to pull it out and collect it. There is no good in pushing the blockage further down the drain and have a similar problem at a later date. Even without the right tools, you never have to wonder about how to unblock your toilet.

Plunger

For conventional methods, the plunger is the first thing that comes to mind! It is best to invest in a good quality plugger in the shape of a ball or with a rubber flange. Tap your plunger on the floor, if it is stiff pour hot water to soften up the rubber. A flexible plunger is easier to use and provides better results. Give deep and shallow pushes, then release. Repeat until you have unblocked the toilet.

Auger/ Toilet Snake

An auger, not an improvised coat hanger, is easier to use. Before you use it, make sure the plastic/ rubber is intact, if the metal is exposed, it could scratch your toilet bowl. You can cover it with duct tape when you are in a pinch. Run it through the drain and twist the handle to break down the blockage.

When do you call a plumber?

Three cases could push you to call a plumber. The first is that you have tried all available DIY methods. If it cannot be taken care of by the auger/ toilet snake, the block is probably too far gone. Your toilet might need to be taken apart, and a professional is best suited for the job.

The second is even before you tried DIY methods; you noticed the water is backing up through other drains in the house. If your initial attempt to flush affects your sink and shower, then stop the overflow and contact a registered plumber in your area. Your toilet affects other drains is a sign that there is a problem with the main lines.

The last case is when you don’t want to or have the time to address the issue yourself. While getting a plumber can be expensive, they can take care of the range of problems that come with it. Never stare at a blocked toilet in fear! Work the problem slowly but surely.

 

Things You Need To Know Before You DIY Your Gas Hob Connection

Gas Hob Connection

Food is one of our basic needs as human beings, needing it primarily for energy and nutrition. That is why homes need to be fitted with cooking stoves, whether electrical or gas. As opposed to the open fires that our ancestors used to cook with, using stoves produce less smoke and needS less work. Because we can adjust the heat accurately, stoves are also less dangerous and more efficient. With just a flick of our wrist, a blue flame flickers to life, ready to cook up your meal. If your old stove is starting to break down or you’re moving into a new, unfurnished home, we’ll be tackling everything you need to know about connecting and fitting gas hobs in your property.

The Different Parts of a Gas Hob 

As their names suggest, gas appliances use gas as fuel. Before installing a new one in your house, you need to first understand how it is meant to work and what are its different parts. It’s also beneficial to know a gas hob’s difference from a gas cooker.

Natural gas comes from a gas main that is connected to the cooker or stove. When you turn the control knob on, the valve regulator opens and gas flows through the jets of the burners. And once the cooker ignition is pressed, a circuit or batter produces a spark that ignites the gas. A hob burner is merely a part of an entire cooker. Let’s examine its parts.

The valve of your gas hob controls the gas supply from the pipe to the jet. It is either fully opened or fully closed. The jet is used to distribute the gas evenly through tiny slots that form a circle on the edge of the burner. In the middle of this circle, a burner cap prevents food from spilling onto the burner and keeps the gas flow focused on the burner slots. When you switch your knob on, the ignitor creates the spark that should burn the gas as it exits from these slots.

When part of an entire cooker, the gas is shared by the oven and the grill. Setting the oven to your desired temperature will trigger a gas flow to the burner at the back of the oven. While the grill works the same way, the gas flames flow our from the pipe’s tiny holes to heat up the gauze or grid equally.

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Can I DIY my Gas Hob Connection?

Now that you know how a hob operates, it’s important to learn what you can or cannot do during a gas hob connection. If you want to fit a gas hob yourself, always remember that you are not allowed to connect the hob unless you are a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

According to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, you must be competent before working on a gas appliance. Regulation 3 (3) it states that anyone who is rewarded for gas work (whether fitting or otherwise) should be registered with Gas Safe. While a lot of DIYers debate the meaning of “competence” under the regulation, we believe that you must have the knowledge and experience to fit gas appliances before installing your own. There are different exams, as well, that cover domestic, commercial, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and other gas fitting skills.

While this regulation prevents unregistered professionals from selfish motives, it also protects the public and the customer from dangerous activities. Should some catastrophe result from your work, then that is a clear sign that you are not competent enough to handle a gas fitting task and have broken the law. Assuming no major accident befell you, you are most likely going to face legal action.

When looking at instructions fitting your gas hob may look simple and straightforward. However, this four-step process needs to comply with different standards that your installation manual may not mention. Gas Safe Registered engineers normally run many checks before, during and after their work. Though tedious, the process is necessary. Before carrying out any gas work, it’s important to know and understand the regulations and standards for every aspect of your task.

A good compromise we recommend is to call a registered fitter and work together in a mentor-student type of fashion. The fitter can act as your adviser when dealing with finer points of the regulations, approves the final plan before starting and checking the work once finished. While you may have a difficult time finding registered fitters who are willing to do this, this is still a better way to DIY your gas appliances without breaking the law.

What are the Regulations for Gas Hob Connections?

Before you start fitting your gas hob, you need to draw out your plans. Here are some things you can take note of:

  • Distance: While you work, keep a safe distance from anything that could be a fire risk. If you’re working with an LPG instead of NG, it is worth noting that LPG tanks are more flammable than NGs and should not be placed below ground level. For this reason, consult a gas engineer for specific regulations.
  • Ventilation: While you’re keeping a safe distance from any fire risks, make sure that the room you’re in is also ventilated. Should a gas leak occur before or after installation, it is better to place the gas appliance where there is a window or door nearby. With this in mind, there are also guidelines when it comes to positioning your hob:
  • If the hob is placed under a window, the window should be at least 500mm away from it.
  • If it is by a door, it should be at least 500mm away.
  • The hob should always be against a wall and at the end of a worktop.
  • Hot Zones: When installing your cooker or hob, take note of the hot zone on top of and on either side of the appliance. Make sure that there is nothing fixed for 760mm above it, including the extractor hood. On both sides, the hot zone is at 150mm where nothing is placed up to a height of 460mm. Once you have your hot zone laid out, there should be no plugs, kitchen units or wares placed here that could burn or melt.
  • Gas and Electricity Supply: Your gas and electricity supply should be placed within 1.5m from your appliance’ location. Check what kind of feed your hob will need. Normally, most gas appliances only need 13A. In some cases, however, you will need a 32A fused spur.

Fitting a gas hob into your home is not as simple as it sounds. While you may have these regulations and standards down pat, we still recommend having an expert on board. Our engineers at Plumbingforce are Gas Safe registered and can install and test your gas hob. Book an appointment with us today.

Gas Fire Installation: The What’s and The How’s

Gas Fire Installation

Coming home from a long and cold drive home, it feels nice to settle on your couch in front of your fireplace. The sight of the swaying flames, the smell of burning oak and the sound of crackling wood is enough to calm the mind of the day’s worries. While it can be comforting to lay in front of your open fire, having to sweep up the ashes, stabilising the temperature and keeping the warmth in your room is time-consuming and inefficient. If you want to be more efficient with your time and money, you may want to consider replacing it with a gas fire. 

In this blog, we will tackle what a gas fireplace is, the process of gas fire installation and how much it may cost you.

What is a gas fire fireplace: Open Fire vs Gas Fire

Heating your room through an open fire will give you the ambient temperature, allowing you to choose between different types of wood or coal available in your area. However, as its name suggests, having an open fire leaves your fuel (the wood) to burn up quickly, wherein most of the heat escapes through the smoke and out of the chimney and warms your room only by 30%. Even after the fire is extinguished, the heat from the room will still rise up and out of the chimney. What’s more, it’s hard to put out a full grate of coal once it starts burning. You will need to make sure it keeps burning by stoking the flames from time to time. This means, four hours into your sleep, you will need to plan ahead before refuelling your fireplace with more coals.

Your gas fire is a cleaner and more convenient way to heat up your room. While there are real flames, a modern gas fireplace is sealed with glass and provides radiant heat. Because the fuel is gas, the fires don’t emit smoke. Instead of a chimney, they will need a tube in the wall where waste gases can escape. The experience is very like having an open, giving off radiant and convected heat without wasting so much energy. In comparison to wood fires, the air in your home is cleaner and the installation is more affordable. You won’t need a complicated masonry hearth and chimney that can take up a lot of floor space. If you already have a hearth, engineers will have an easier time fitting a gas fireplace insert instead of building a fully-functioning chimney. While, of course, electric fires offer the highest level of cleanliness, gas also has the lowest cost among the three choices. And you don’t even need to buy wood and find a space to keep them dry.

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Now that you know how gas fireplaces work, it has three different build types.

  • Insert: As mentioned earlier, if you already have a wood-burning firebox, it can be retrofit with a gas fireplace. This is a reliable source of warmth, filling your room with warm air and heat.
  • Built-in: If you don’t have a hearth in your home, built-ins are more common in minimalist and modern homes as they can be built according to contemporary styles. Whether you want your fireplace underneath your television or in Scandinavian design, built-ins tend to be more flexible.
  • Log sets: Built for style more than heat, basic burners are installed in open fireplaces.

With each type, you may choose to either have a vent where the fumes are sent outside of your home or have no vent where all the heat and exhaust disperses into the house.

How does gas fire installation work?

While it may be cheaper to run a gas fireplace than an electric one, gas fire installation requires a Gas Safe registered engineer for safety and legal reasons. This badge of credibility assures you that your appliance will be tried and tested before and after installing it. While it may be tempting to connect a gas fire to your system on your own, it is illegal and dangerous. Given this, it is important to add an installation fee to your budget. Though most retailers also offer installation services, this easy route may not be the most affordable.

If you’re in need of a replacement instead, you will need new plasterwork where the old gas fire was removed. This means, hiring a plasterer and redecorating the affected areas. 

Before choosing a new gas fire, make sure that your engineer comes to your place to have your flue or chimney lined and tested. If you don’t have one, you may opt to install the matching flue to your gas fire or choose a gas fire that does not need one. These models use catalytic converters to change the particles into a harmless vapour that can be dispersed into the room.

How much does installation cost?

An average gas engineer will charge about £100 to £150 per day in labour. It can take about one to two hours to fit a new gas fire but if the engineer were to replace an old model, the work may take up to three hours. The price of your installation will depend on the model you choose and on any extra work (e.g. pipe repairs). 

Once your new gas fire has been installed, make sure that you or your landlord procure a Gas Safe certificate. Carrying out an annual maintenance check may cost from £60 to £100 and take up to two hours. We also recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector in your room to alert the household if your gas is leaking.

Should I DIY?

If you are interested in building your own fireplace, we recommend that you still call a gas engineer to check your DIY-ed creation and have professionals install your gas fire. Whether or not you have a background in construction, having other experts check on your build can prevent further accidents from happening (especially when you have no prior experience with carpentry). When it comes to installing your gas fire, however, leave it to the Gas Safe Registered engineer.

When it comes to heating your home, we always recommend choosing the safest option. Not only are gas fires cleaner and more efficient, but they also keep your family and pets from unnecessary burns from getting too close to the flames. Our engineers at Plumbingforce are Gas Safe registered and can install or repair your gas fireplace. Book an appointment with us today.

Do I Need A Gas Safety Certificate As A Landlord?

Gas Safety Certificate

If you decide to become a landlord, it is your responsibility to provide your tenants accommodation that is fit for living. The standard of the property should adhere to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, wherein it has to be structurally sound and in good repair, with natural lighting and facilities for hygiene. To make it appropriate for the colder months, the property will also need enough insulation and water and electrical supply. This means the landlord has four main responsibilities when caring for his or her tenants:

Build or furnish a property that is free of health hazards 

If you want to place a fireplace or a wood-burning stove in any of the rooms, you need to ensure to fit a carbon monoxide alarm. Using the right, high-quality materials for the place can also hinder any damages that are detrimental to your tenants’ health. This also means regularly scheduling inspections done by professionals.

Ensure that there are fire safety tools in place

In relation to the previous point, it is also helpful to have your walls made of fireproof material (or check if it is up to the standards of the 1988 Fire Safety Regulations). Because it’s best to prepare for any calamities, natural or manmade, the best way to appreciate your property’s value is by keeping its build sturdy. Always have a fire extinguisher, fire blankets and fire alarm in places where fires are more likely to start (e.g. kitchen area, fireplace, boiler room, etc). You must also ensure that the furniture meets the same standards, checking the manufacturer’s label if they are fire-safe.

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Carry out repairs once faults and defects are detected 

Once the place is furnished, it is also the landlord’s responsibility to keep it in top shape. Of course, this will also depend on how quickly your tenant can report these faults may they be moulds, infestation or short circuits.

Install and test if gas and electrical appliances work according to industry standards 

According to the 1994 Electrical Equipment Regulations, all of your electrical equipment needs to be regularly tested by a professional, ensuring that wirings are concealed and plugs are BS1363 compliant. Meanwhile, fire-guards need to be BS3248 compliant, and fire extinguishers need to be BS6575 compliant.

If the gas appliances are your own and not the tenant’s, you are required to have a Gas Safe engineer check if they are safe and in good working order. The 1994 Gas Safety Regulations also require a landlord Gas Safety Certificate that is valid for one year. Make sure to keep a record of these safety checks and give your certificate within the 28 days that a potential tenant agrees to the tenancy contract.

Gas Safety: The Most Important Certificate Of All

While you have a lot of legal obligations to your tenant, procuring a Gas Safety Certificate is the first and most important step when keeping your property in the market and winning a potential tenant’s trust. Widely known as the CORGI Proforma or CP12, this takes note of the dates that all of the gas appliances in your property have been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. These people are the only ones qualified and certified to ensure the safety and the efficiency of your appliances. You can find the official list on Gas Safe’s website. 

If your tenant owns the gas appliances, it is still your duty to have the flues and fittings regularly checked. While these may be time-consuming on your end, a whiff of gas in a home can turn into something more dangerous had it not been prevented. Here are some risks landlords may encounter is the compliance system is ignored or bypassed:

Gas leaks: The first sign of a faulty stove, fireplace or pipeline is the smell of gas that lasts for longer than normal. While it may not be poisonous, these things can quickly escalate into fires or explosions if not handled immediately. If your appliances are not being regularly maintained or checked, the metal will start to rust through and pipes will start to have a green discolouration.

Fires and explosions: Because of continued neglect or a sudden action, the gas can explode into flame really quickly. Once exposed to a sudden spark, the fire can spread throughout the building and cause great damage to your property and to the lives of your tenants.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: If your kitchen is not well-ventilated and your LPG gas burns incompletely, your tenants may report experiencing sleepiness and lethargy. Before they get sick and report your unit to authorities, it will be better to install a detector in the kitchen and have your appliances regularly checked instead.

When a gas engineer arrives at your property, the inspection normally starts with checking the density of your appliances and verifying the standing and working gas pressure. Afterwards, the engineer also checks the manufacturer’s nameplate for a burner or gas pressure and assesses if your appliance is placed in a room with enough ventilation. A smoke flow test will also be conducted to ensure that there are no combustion products anywhere near your appliances. Once the safety devices are checked, engineers also look if the gas appliance has been misused in any way. 

Normally, if your gas appliance is damaged or dysfunctional, the engineer will carry out repairs. Because of this, you may incur additional charges before you can get your certificate. That said, we recommend properly cleaning and maintaining your gas appliances to avoid higher rates. If you notice potential damage, we also advise calling professionals immediately. With the previous risks that we explained, dealing with gas problems can be tricky and dangerous if handled with inexperienced hands.

Once you have your property checked, you will receive your compliance certificate within ten to fifteen working days. If you are due for a yearly maintenance check for your appliances, our Gas Safe registered engineers are available to provide gas and plumbings services throughout London. Simply contact us here and we can schedule our visit to your property immediately.

Boiler Maintenance Tips: What You Can Do Without Calling an Engineer

boiler breakdowns

Boilers are the heavy-duty heroes that keep our homes warm during the cold seasons. Prevent boiler breakdowns during the snap by staying on top of their problems. As a homeowner, landlord, or tenant, there are things you can do to help maintain your boiler. 

What is boiler maintenance?

Boiler maintenance is the work you do to ensure that it has no hiccups that could lead to a broken machine. It is a combination of inspection, cleaning, and small repair tricks to keep your boiler functioning and fuel-efficient. Since boilers vary from type and brand, read through and see what applies to the one you have in your home. Before we begin, we have to consider what work is safe for us to DIY versus what isn’t.

The line between you and a Gas Safe engineer

  While you can pick up tricks from the boiler maintenance work previously done on your boiler, it is essential to note that it is illegal to do gas work. You are not protected when boiler issues arise when you do it yourself. Warranties require regular boiler service from the professionals in the Gas Safe Register or the OFTEC else they become invalid. When you do the job yourself, you are accepting the risk that comes with misdiagnosing or aggravating the problem. When you spot a problem during your visual inspection or tricks don’t work, please call a Gas Safe engineer in your area. 

Who are Gas Safe and OFTEC? 

In case you are not aware, Gas Safe or the Gas Safe Register and OFTEC are the regulating bodies for gas and oil work respectively. They conduct tests and inspections to check the company and trade workers in the industry. They issue IDs to every engineer and plumber registered with them. You can run ID numbers through their website to confirm. Any complaints of work done or suspicion of illegal boiler maintenance work should be reported to them. 

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What happens when you do work meant for Gas Safe engineers?

When you do gas fittings or repairs without being a Gas Safe engineer, you are always in the position of ruining your boiler. Your boiler can last for 15 years or more with proper maintenance. Shoddy work leads to an expensive repair or replacement that could have been avoided. You could also miss vital signs of boiler failure, which ranges from a broken boiler, a gas leak, and possible fire, among other things.

How do you maintain a boiler?

Before problems occur, make it a habit to check on your boiler regularly. Keep the manual on hand and highlight important manufacturer notes. 

Personal Inspections

Keep your boiler well-ventilated, avoid cluttering the area with old clothes, coats, or other miscellaneous items. When living with other people, you may have to check every month–case they forget. 

All air vents and flues must be free of obstruction. They are the passageway of the air; any kind of blockage could affect your boiler performance. If you do not have a flue access panel, have one installed.

Check if your boiler flame is blue. If the fire is orange or red it is an indicator of improper combustion or build-up of dirt and debris which may lead to carbon monoxide (CO) leak. You may need to contact a British gas boiler service.

Inspect the water/boiler pressure. The proper range should be indicated in your manual. If you do not have a manual on hand, the ideal pressure is within the first two levels. If they are not on the correct level, you can adjust it. Turn on the taps on either side of the system to fill the loop, or consult your manual. It is safe to do this yourself.

Check your radiator, if you find that the top is hot, but the bottom is cold it is a sign of dirt building up inside. To fix this call an engineer for a power flush If the radiator is not hot at all, you may need a valve replacement.  

Last but not least, visually inspect your external pipe for any leak or dripping. One of Gas Safe’s testimony was of a family that did not spot the dripping of the boiler because a dresser blocked the water damage. Their broken boiler had been in bad shape for a while, regularly releasing CO. Keep an eye out for any leaks and contact an engineer to have these issues addressed.

Boiler Maintenance Tips

After your inspection, there are things you can do at home without calling an engineer: 

When you notice the nights are getting colder as winter approaches, lag your pipes. For conventional, condensing, and system boilers, check the pipes in your loft. They should all be insulated. If you find any gaps around the pipe, joint, or taps cover it with pipe lagging. You can find DIY lagging kits at the hardware store. Fit your tank with an insulated cover, if it does not have one yet. Frozen pipes are tricky to deal with and deal with losing central heating and hot water.

Electric boilers don’t have pilot lights, but if you have an older model, check them. If your pilot light is out and you cannot generate a spark when you release the spark generator button, you may need to replace the universal thermocouple. Find a spare and replace it by undoing the nuts holding it in place and remove it from its tube then replace. Not all work to bring back the pilot light can be done by yourself. Do not work with the jets and consult an engineer. 

When you live in areas with hard-water, reduce/ descale your system. Scale builds up inside the heat exchanger. Fit a self-dosing phosphate scale inhibitor on the supply pipe between the feed and expansion tank to the boiler. It comes with a cartridge that needs to be replaced annually.

  If your boiler doesn’t work, try troubleshooting it by turning it off and on a couple of times. If the switch is stuck, this is a short-term solution, and you may need to have the switch professionally replaced. Another reason for your boiler turning off is the system that kicks in when it overheats, which occurs when the pressure drops. You can add water in the system (as mentioned earlier) and reset. 

How often should a boiler be serviced?

A lot of things are going on inside the boiler. Boilers are serviced once a year, ideally. Since the state of your furnace varies, sometimes not a lot of work is necessary if it is new. You can apply the steps listed above to maintain it yourself. However, if you spot any problems or would rather have a professional do it, please contact your local boiler service. Prices vary so consult your homeowner’s cover and check if boiler services are included. Annual boiler services are also provided, for a fee you can be covered the entire year and have access to boiler maintenance and repair when needed.

There is a lot you can do to stay on top of boiler problems without calling an engineer. However, this means putting the time in and regularly consulting your manual. Even if you do everything right, you may come across issues that are beyond your capabilities. Stay vigilant and stay safe!  

Before the Boiler Breaks: When and Where Should I Get My Boiler Serviced

boiler breakdowns

In 2017, 18% of the UK faced winter with boiler breakdowns and had to dip into half of their savings to repair or replace their boilers. In 2019, 12% of homeowners prioritised renovations over boiler issues, and 24% of British citizens have never had their boilers serviced. The numbers may not be overwhelmingly high, but the fact that they are in the double digits and two years have passed without proper boiler knowledge is appalling.

Boilers are essential especially in countries where three out of the four seasons are unusually cold, especially in households who are temperature sensitive or have existing conditions that are aggravated by the cold. Before your boiler breaks, look into long term boiler maintenance. Anticipate the chill and avoid spending winters in houses with no centralised heating or hot water.

What is the average lifespan of a boiler?

While boilers are used almost on a day to day basis, we often neglect it. They are machines that are built to last, installed out of sight, and any hiccups seem to be only comprehended by an engineer. They aren’t like cars whose problems are easy to spot and experience. They aren’t like personal computers where we are taught to diagnose underlying issues. Without proper boiler service, the problems can accumulate and next thing you know it–you come home to a cold house in the middle of peak service season. The average lifespan of a boiler is 10-15 years. Top-rated boiler models are in the upper bracket of that range at 12-15 years. In homes with the top boiler brands and with regular service they can outlive the average at 20 years or more.

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How often should a boiler be serviced?

No matter what you consult, the answer is the same: annually. Your boiler should be inspected and serviced every year. As heavy-duty as boilers are, they are frequently used, and they become less efficient over time.  Boilers should be repaired before efficiency issues surface. The high fuel cost and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning are two-pronged issues that can be avoided if they were taken care of early.

In the case of boilers with a warranty, how often should they be serviced?

If you have an active warranty with your boiler brand, it should be the same: annually. It is important to note that long-term warranties, the type that goes from 5-12 years, require a yearly boiler service to maintain validity. Without proper boiler maintenance, it is difficult to identify who is at fault. It protects you as well, so you can get a relatively worry-free replacement. When you purchase a new boiler, don’t forget to have the warranty registered within 30 days or it becomes invalid. Check the fine print!

What is done in a boiler service?

The hesitation in having boilers serviced probably stems from a lack of awareness of what is done when you ask for it. Your boiler service may vary depending on the brand and the manufacturer’s instructions, but generally, boiler service does seven things:

–       Check boiler controls

–       Check gas pressure and flow

–       Check safety devices

–       Check your boiler seals

–       Check the main internal components

–       Inspect the water and gas pipework

–       Inspect the flue and combustion releases

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are not required as a household feature in the UK, though they are highly encouraged. A possible source of CO emission comes from your boiler. Since they are colourless and odourless, it is not easy to detect. The Gas Safe engineers aim to identify corrosion and leaks, clean boiler parts when necessary.

Where should I have my boiler serviced?

Seek out a reputable company. Boiler service needs to come from engineers who are registered with the appropriate authorising body: Gas Safe Register (GSR) for gas boilers that deal with propane and LPG and the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) for oil-based furnaces. On top of working with a reputable company when the engineer comes, be sure to ask for their ID. When it comes to heating, you want to ensure that you have the professional you need. 

How much does it cost to service a boiler?

Similar to the purchase of your boiler, the service price may vary. Take note that the cost of the service and value of the materials/ fitting are separate and that these prices may inflate depending on your location. A conventional boiler may cost between £ 50-80, and high-efficiency boilers like the condensing and combi are between £80-160.

Can the cost be lower?

Yes! Boiler services may go down during the non-peak seasons, so late spring to the whole of summer. If you have availed of a service plan, boiler cover plan or have added your boiler to your homeowner’s insurance; these fees can come at a discounted price depending on your service provider.

You can also try to avail of the ECO’s initiative for affordable heating. You may be able to get a free boiler replacement or reduce the cost of repairing/replacing your boiler.

When should I have my boiler serviced?

As essential as it is for health and safety, consider your budget and try to set aside money to have it done during seasons when it is cheap. If you have a newly installed boiler, you can probably get away with holding on boiler service, but only when it is not financially feasible. When your boiler is five years older, and above, it becomes more urgent that you follow it up annually.

Is boiler maintenance worth it?

Boiler maintenance is worth it. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but when it comes to public health and safety, you know what should be first. Besides keeping an eye out for potential issues, boiler service addresses problems as they come. By having steady efficiency, you can keep your heating bills low in the long-term. Yearly service means your warranty stays valid and breakdowns don’t have to eat up 50% of your savings to repair or replace. Call us for a quote!

 

 

 

My Shower Is Leaking, What Do I Do?!

Shower fix

A leaking shower head or shower faucet can induce a lot of emotions. That “drip, drip, drip” can make you feel annoyed, frustrated, and angry all at the same time. That sound can keep you up at night, costing you precious sleep. Worse, you can count those drops as literal money going down the drain.  

Moreover, leaks in your shower system could cost you more than just an expensive water bill, as leaks on the hot water side would also mean additional costs on your energy bill due to the power used up by your central heating system or water heater for producing hot water. 

Now, you wander onto this page, probably after searching for an easy shower fix, looking for ways to get rid of the leaks in your bathroom suite. And so, help you with your dilemma, we’ve come up with a guide that can help you get your shower in perfect order, quickly and easily!

Why Is My Shower Leaking?

Before I give you some DIY advice on how to fix your shower like, it would be best for you to have some idea on why shower leaks occur in the first place. 

A leaking shower head, for example, could be something as superficial as damage due to wear and tear or even mineral deposit accumulated over the years. However, in some instances, this could mean a much bigger problem behind your shower walls. The problem could also be in your shower valves, as a worn faucet washer, cartridge or diverter can allow water to leak through to the showerhead. 

What Happens When You Leave Shower Leaks Unchecked?

It is also important for you to realize just exactly why it is important for such leaks to be resolved. 

Generally, the area within shower enclosures is supposed to be less prone to water damage. However, when leaks within the area persist and continue to drip water onto your tiles, grout, etc., then it will cost more problems in the long run. Such problems are:

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Loose tiles 

Water will eventually penetrate the area behind your bathroom tiles. When this happens, the grout and adhesive behind each floor tile or wall tile will eventually lose its grip. This will result in loose and free falling tiles within your shower enclosure. While this in itself is easily repairable, broken tiles may cause injuries to you and your family.

Stains and Mould

Water stains can be very unsightly, especially on the walls, the flooring, and even your shower doors in your bathroom. Additionally, if your bathroom is on the second floor, such shower leaks may cause stains, or worse, mould on the ceiling below it. 

It is important to prevent such moulds from developing, as these could pose a lot of potential health risks for you and the people in your household. 

Metal Damage

Persistent water leaks may lead to the development of rust on metal. This could affect your shower arms, faucet handles, bath taps, and many more. This could also cause damage to the structural integrity of shower enclosures, which would obviously mean more damage in the long run. 

How To Fix A Shower Leak

Now that you’re familiar with the possible causes and consequences of a shower leak, you can begin attempting to fix the leaks in your shower yourself. This guide will be divided into two parts, the first on fixing a dripping showerhead, and the second, on fixing a dripping shower valve. 

For both parts, though, the first step you must take is shutting off your water supply. Doing so will not only help limit the mess that your project may cause but also make the job much easier for you. You may also want to clear out bathroom accessories and bathroom furniture to give you more room to move around and work. 

Pro Tip #1: While your water supply is already turned off, you may still encounter some water left in the pipes. Have a towel handy to clean off any excess water you may encounter. 

Fixing a Dripping Shower Head

  1. Remove or unscrew the showerhead from the shower wall or exposed shower pipe. This can usually be done with your hands, but if it is too tight for you to unscrew by hand, you may try using a wrench or pliers. 
  2. Inside the shower head, you will find the O-Ring or Rubber Washer. This piece of rubber is what contains water from dripping or leaking. If the O-Ring looks damaged or brittle, then you may want to replace it. 

Pro-tip #2: To make sure you get the same size replacement, you may want to take out the old o-ring before buying one to replace it. 

  1. Since you’ve already got the showerhead off, you may want to consider cleaning it as well. Take the opportunity to clear it of all kinds of debris. Be on the lookout for mineral deposit or sediments brought about by hard water. Such kinds of debris affect the pressure of the water released by the showerhead, and may very well cause leaks in your showerhead. 

To clean your shower head, bring water and three parts of white vinegar to a boil. Remove all loose parts attached to the showerhead and submerged the body in the solution for about 20-30 minutes. Scrub, wash and rinse.

  1. Whether you’ve replaced the O-Ring or kept the old one, the next thing you should do is wrap the threads at the tip of the pipe stem with tape. By sealing these, you will be preventing the threads from seizing. 
  2. Reattach the showerhead. Screw it back on by hand. Make sure you do not screw it on too tightly, or you might break the showerhead or the pipe. 
  3. Turn the water supply back on and turn on the shower. Let it run for a few seconds and then turn it off. After a few minutes, check for any leaks or drips. 

At this point, your showerhead should no longer be leaking. If the issue persists, you may want to check if the problem is with the shower valve. 

Fixing A Dripping Shower Valve

  1. Detach the shower valve or shower faucet handle using a screwdriver to have clear access to the internal components of your shower valve. Locate the shower stem. To do this, you may also have to remove metal plates called escutcheons. 
  2. Once you have access to the shower stem, make sure to locate all the washers within the component. Replace each of them regardless of their condition. Also, make sure to locate and replace the seat washer.
  3. Since you’ve already got the valve disassembled, you may want to clean it and its pipes as well. Use the same solution and method used for the showerhead.
  4. Reassemble and replace each component of the shower valve in reverse order. 
  5. Turn the water supply back on and turn on the shower. Let it run for a few seconds and then turn it off. After a few minutes, check for any leaks or drips. At this point, your showerhead should no longer be leaking. 

What Do I Do When My Shower Is Still Leaking?

If at this point you are still experiencing leaks in your shower, you may want to consider replacing your shower valve or calling on a professional plumber to figure out the problem and fix it for you. 

Meanwhile, if you are unsure about fixing the leaky shower yourself, you may also contact a local professional plumber to do it for you.

Pro Tip #3: If you’re calling a plumber, might as well ask them to check on your kitchen sink, water supply, bath taps, and drainage systems, among many others, as this will save you some time and some money on preventable plumbing repairs in the long run.

New Boiler, No Problem: Things You Should Consider Before Buying a New Replacement Boiler

boiler

The UK has warm summers and generally mild winters compared to most of continental Europe, but this does not mean people can get on without having a proper centralized heating system for their homes. A reliable boiler is necessary to ensure that you live a healthy, comfortable, and budget-friendly life. It is especially important for those who have existing health conditions such as circulatory and respiratory problems as well as other issues that come with age. 

Boilers generally have a pretty long lifespan, with proper models lasting up to 15 years from regular wear and tear and up to 20 for models that are regularly maintained. When you find your model on its last leg, it could be difficult to navigate the new models that have come out since the one you have. Here is everything you need to know before you purchase your new boiler

What Are The Different Types of Boilers? 

You can have your pick of the lot. There are a variety of brands, systems, and fuel sources that can be a lot to take in at first. Each one has its ups and downs, it is best to be informed about the basics so you can ask the right questions when it comes down to a quote for a new boiler. 

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Combination/ Combi Boiler

A combi boiler is a compact system that acts as the main central heating and the hot water unit. It is fairly straight-forward with no cold water or hot water storage or an expansion tank, this frees up a lot of space on the property without the tanks and the additional pipework.  It takes the water straight from the mains and is heated immediately ready for use. Having a combi as your new boiler can change the way you go about your day.

Pros of a Combi Boiler

-A perfect fit for small homes

-Energy efficient

-Hot water on-demand

-Has strong water pressure since it comes straight from the mains

-Cheaper installation fees are given the lack of pipework

-No issues with frozen pipes in the winter

Cons of a Combi Boiler

-Can only handle one task ask at a time (so no hot showers with washing dishes) 

-Decrease in water pressure when there is more than one person using the water.

-With more moving parts, there is a greater chance of it needing repairs.

-No backup immersion heater in case of a breakdown.

-When issues arise, they must be addressed immediately or suffer from the lack of warmth.

Condensing Boiler

A condensing boiler is 25% more efficient than non-condensing models, which brings it up to 90-99% efficiency. It burns the fuel and makes use of waste gas produced by the heating process to pre-heat water. Majority of homes in the UK since 2005 have been using condensing boilers, with the only exception being in special cases. If you previously had a condensing boiler, buying a new upgrade could be the choice for you.

Pros of the Condensing Boiler

-It is highly rated by Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK (SEDBUK).

-It is fuel-efficient.

-It saves cost on fuel.

-It has a small carbon footprint.

Cons of the Condensing Boiler

-They have a complex system therefore it is difficult to repair. 

-Repairs and maintenance are more expensive than non-condensing boilers.

Conventional/ Regular/ Heat Only Boilers

The conventional boiler is often directly contrasted with the combi. It requires an expansion tank, a feed, and a cold water storage tank. The expansion tank and feed are often installed in lofts, and you have to actively heat the water in your storage tank with a switch then it is distributed throughout the house when needed. 

Pros of the Conventional Boiler

-It is best suited for a large home with active hot water usage.

-Best for places with more than one bathroom.

-Manages to hold its own in areas with low water pressure since it makes use of a tank.

-It is compatible with alternative sources of energy such as solar panels.

Cons of the Conventional Boiler

-It is expensive to run in small homes, especially when you live alone.

-It is not the most energy-efficient.

-Heat is lost from the hot water cylinder, so temperatures may vary.

-You have to be aware of how much hot water is available.

-Long wait time after you finish what you have in your hot water tank.

System/ Closed Vent Boilers

A system boiler takes the best of both worlds from the combi and the conventional boilers. 

It takes its water from the mains and the central and water heating is done in a single unit just like the combi. However, it also has a hot water storage tank build-in to the unit and is compatible with solar heating systems just like the conventional.

Pros of the System Boiler

– Does not take as much space as the conventional boilers.

-Ideal for large homes, especially those with more than one bathroom.

-Simple instalment with not many moving parts. 

– It can hold its own in areas with low water pressure since there is a tank.

Cons of the System Boiler

-It is not the most budget-friendly instalment.

-It is not the most efficient boiler on the market.

-There is heat loss when stored in the hot water cylinder.

-You have to be aware of how much hot water is in your tanks.

-There is a waiting time after you consume all the hot water. 

What is your living situation?

Boilers can cater to a variety of needs. After you understand the basic types of boilers, it’s a matter of matching the new boiler to the home. Take note of the physical space, its members, and budget–both the short-term and the long-term.

Renters

When it comes to a rental, a new boiler is one of the things that have to be answered by the landlord. Before looking into a replacement, discuss the steps you will take together. If you are staying in the rental long-term, you can be a bit more vocal about what you think would best for space since you are occupying it. Generally, a combi or system boiler might be best-given space constraints. Most UK homes have been decreasing in size, and steps have to be taken to be more economical. There are new boilers on the market that can help rentals upgrade and perhaps increase living space.

Homeowners

When you own a home there is so much more freedom, you can select a boiler that best suits your needs and budget without having to compromise. There are two main things you have to pay attention to: the house and the home. When you own private property, you have the luxury of making use of that loft space for the expansion tank or properly store a new system boiler without much issue. For homes with more than one bathroom, multiple dependents (especially children and elderly), and with minimal technical know-how, the conventional boiler or the system boiler is ideal. Look into worcester-bosch, they are known for their system and conventional boilers. For homes who have strong environmental values, no pertinent health issues, and with members often on the go: a combi or condensing boiler could be the best fit. If you found yourself happy with the previous type you had, your new boiler can simply be an upgraded version, familiarity is key for long term maintenance.

What is your budget?

At the end of the day, finding a new replacement is a number-crunching game. A new boiler can range from 500-1,500 pounds depending on how straight forward the installation is. Will you be replacing your boiler with a new unit that is similar in the same place? Will you relocate your new boiler? Will you add extra tank, cylinders, or pipes? Will you switch from one boiler type to another? These questions all affect the price of your new boiler installation. Get a quote from your local boiler provider. 

Price Ranges

The average price age of boilers are range from £ 500-2,500. The lower ends of each boiler type ranges from £ 400-1,500 pounds with the conventional and combi boilers being the most affordable. The higher end of each boiler type on the other hand goes from £1,500-13,000 pounds with the conventional boiler still being the most affordable for top-range models. The combi boiler ranges from £ 610-1,500; the condensing boiler ranges from £500 to £1,700; the conventional boiler ranges from £1,500-2,500; and the system boiler ranges from £580-1,600. Top-rated conventional and system boilers can go well above the range. Take note that these prices are for the boilers alone, this does not include the installation fee. The more expensive models are from top brands, they are large in size, and they come with a long warranty (around 5 to 10 years). Cheaper models are for small homes and their warranties are significantly lower (around 2 to 5 years. 

Free Boiler/ Grants

There have been efforts to reduce carbon emissions and fuel poverty, in line with this, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) has been formed. They provide grants for homes to be heated efficiently. There are free boiler replacements  as well as grants that can help accommodate your new boiler. You can apply by filling out a survey to see if you are eligible and talk to credit brokers about how you can avail. As of now, new boilers are limited to private homeowners only. 

Work With Reputable Companies

When looking for a proper quote for your new boiler, look for reputable companies that are authorized and regulated by the Gas Safety Register (GSR) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Some boilers work with propane and LGUs as fuel and in those cases it is important to be gas safe. The GSR regularly does inspections and keeps unauthorized gas workers to a bare minimum. Improper work can cause gas leaks and fires. All boiler companies have to be registered in England under the GSR so keep an eye out. Besides a GSR approval, look for businesses that work with the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA’s main work is to ensure that they protect consumers and promote competition. Being an authorised installer of a prominent brand can also be a way of understanding the training done in the company. If you have your eye on a model like Worcester Borsch, look for authorised installers, they are old hat at working these machines. Besides these labels, ask around! Consult reviews and listen to word of mouth. Other people’s experience is a valuable resource in finding a replacement boiler.