Flues in Voids

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Important advice for consumers who have flues which run in ceiling spaces or voids.

Some properties, mainly flats and apartments, have been built with boiler flues which cannot be inspected because they are hidden behind walls or ceilings. The boiler flues that this information relates to are connected to room-sealed fan assisted boilers. If you live in one of these homes then please read on for more information so you know what to do.

Gas Safe registered engineers need to be able to see the flue − which take fumes away from the boiler − as part of essential safety checks whenever the boiler is worked on. A flue in poor condition, combined with a boiler that is not working properly, could put you and your family in danger from carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause death or serious injury.

If your boiler is situated on an outside wall, it is unlikely you have this type of flue. Alternatively, if your engineer can see all of the flue, you will not need to take any further action in relation to this matter.

If you do have a boiler where all, or part of, the flue cannot be seen, you, or your landlord, will need to arrange for inspection hatches to be fitted. This does not mean that your flue system is suddenly unsafe. As long as the boiler passes a series of safety checks − including having audible carbon monoxide alarms fitted − it can be used normally for the time being.

Carbon monoxide alarms are not an alternative to being able to see the flue and you will still need to have inspection hatches fitted. You have until 31 December 2012 for this work to be completed. It is recommended that inspection hatches are fitted as soon as you are able to do so. From 1 January 2013, any Gas Safe registered engineer will turn the boiler off and formally advise you not to use it until inspection hatches have been fitted in appropriate places.

Although most of the affected boiler and flue systems are relatively new (installed since 2000), the risk of faults leading to the release of carbon monoxide increases as the system gets older, especially if it is not serviced regularly. It is important that you have your gas appliance serviced annually.

You need to take action now

If your property is less than two years old then contact a builder. If your property is between two and ten years old contact your home warranty provider, as you may be covered by them if there are defects in the flue. A list of the main home warranty providers is shown below. If your property is 10 years or older you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you are a tenant, it is the responsibility of your landlord to ensure that inspection hatches are installed and that the boiler and flue are checked every year.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at Square Services. T: 0208 226 5678 – M: 0752 535 5005 – E: info@squareservices.co.uk

If you have a specific enquiry e.g. around building warranties please direct it one of the groups listed below.

For any additional enquiries not answered through these routes please send questions to: fluesinvoids@gassaferegister.co.uk and it will be dealt with by a member of the group.

List of main home warranty providers

NHBC (National House Building Council) 
0844 633 1000 
www.nhbc.co.uk

Premier Guarantee 
08444 120 888 
www.premierguarantee.co.uk

Zurich Building Guarantee 
01252 387 535 
www.zurich.co.uk

This advice has been developed by the Flues in Voids cross-industry team. It is made up of representatives of Gas Safe Register, house builders, home warranty providers, registered gas engineers, appliance manufacturers (including HHIC) and others and assisted by HSE, to provide clear communication to industry and consumers around the issue of flues being located in voids which do not allow inspection.

Contact Square Services for more information on 0208 226 5678 (phone), 0752 535 5005 (mobile) or info@squareservices.co.uk

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Boiler Problems

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Boiler Noise, Leaking, Knocking, Grinding, Clicking, Low Pressure?

Although a well-fitted, modern and reliably-sourced boiler from a reputable company or supplier is less likely to cause issues than an older, cheaper boiler, all boilers generally suffer from a variety of similar ailments when they do develop problems.

Lack of an annual boiler service, as well as severe conditions or stress the boiler is put under will increase the likelihood of your boiler developing common boiler problems other than the usual wear and tear over time resulting in loss of hot water and/or heating.

Common Boiler Issues

There are a few common boiler problems that boilers may experience – some can be fixed by yourself at home without the need of an engineer or any special tools, while others may need parts or adjustment that can only be made by a qualified engineer.

Most issues a boiler may have are difficult to possible to diagnose with a glance, with problems such as poor heat maintenance, noise and unreliability being the only signals that there could be something wrong. A good way of checking if your boiler has any issues that are currently small is by taking a look at the water pressure on the boiler.
Loss of Pressure – Your boiler will work at its optimum level only if the water pressure is made constant. Most modern combination boilers will be pressurised with the water entering its system from the mains cold though a device called the ‘filling loop’. Any loss of pressure in a modern combination boiler therefore can be fixed by adding water through the filling loop to the system.

Water Leaks – Water leaks can be very small at first, and cause a loss of pressure in your boiler. Checking the pressure on your boilers pressure gauge is a good idea to keep abreast of any possible water leaks in the system – as small leaks often evaporate quickly and are therefore hard to find, but can develop into larger leaks. The correct pressure of your boiler should be between the 1 and 1.5 level, it should never drop below 0.5 or be found rising about 2.5. Topping up the filling loop, which should be close to the boiler itself, will re-pressurise the system again if it drops too low.

Blockages – These can be detected by a loss of heat or water through parts of the system, or by an abnormal pressure reading on the boiler itself. Fixing these should not be attempted by someone without a Gas Safe Registration or with respect to condensing boilers without the necessary experience.

Repairing Common Boiler Problems

If your boiler develops a fault that you feel you cannot repair or want to be safe and have someone take a look at it, then the first thing you should do it contact a qualified heating engineer. Once you have established the exact problem with your boiler, it may be wise to shop around reputable engineers for a quote and parts to repair it.

When choosing an engineer, as well as it being vital that they are Gas Safe Registered, be sure they have plenty of experience in repairing your type of boiler (look up the make and model number of your boiler and ask engineers if they have worked on the common boiler problem your boiler is experiencing before) as well as doing some research either among friends or on-line on the reputation of the engineers in your area.

Contact Square Services for more information on 0208 226 5678 (phone), 0752 535 5005 (mobile) or info@squareservices.co.uk

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