17 HPM 0413

HPM April 2013

LETTERSTOTHEEDITOR Send your letters to: HPM, Unity Media, Becket House, Vestry Road, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 5EJ. E-mail: twood@unity-media.com THE LEADING SUPPLIER OF PLUMBING AND HEATING PRODUCTS IN THE UK ‘MOTs for British homes: what do HPM readers think?’ A positive step to highlight CO dangers 16 APRIL 2013 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY The Editor retains the right to edit letters. Unsigned submissions will not be printed. Ref: Calls for MOTs on all homes, Plumbzine I was very interested to read the story in Plumbzine Issue 195 in which architect and TV presenter, George Clarke, called on every home in the land to have an MOT. He said: “We MOT our cars for safety and low emissions but we have rickety old boilers. Why don’t we have an MOT for every home in Britain? The tragedy is that people are losing their lives because of badly-fitted boilers.” This is an interesting proposal and should be open to a wider debate, but how will such a scheme be implemented? I was actually in the audience at the opening of Plumb Center’s Practical Installer Arena at Ecobuild, where George spoke, but unfortunately he didn’t elaborate on his idea. The UK can learn a lot from our European neighbours, so is there anything similar elsewhere? Well, in Spain, the ITE (Inspeccíon Técnica de Edificios), which is the technical inspection of buildings in English, was introduced in 2012. It is effectively an MOT for houses of a certain age and was brought in to try and clean up the rather bad image of houses in Spain, from both a quality point of view, and as a protection to the homeowner. In reality, much of it is focused on trying to kick start their housing market, which due to poor quality, over supply, and lack of rigour in planning, has seen the housing market there slump. It is still early days so results can’t be monitored, but at least the Spanish government is trying to solve the problem of old and decaying buildings. So could something similar be done in the UK? In Spain, qualified surveyors and architects carry out the inspections. However, we all know that in the UK these people are not cheap to hire, so this will be an added expense to the already cash tight homeowner, and one that many people will probably complain about, or deem it irrelevant and intrusive. When someone is buying a house, they have the choice of paying a surveyor to do this kind of inspection, without forcing the cost on the homeowner. Then, there is the question of how often would an MOT have to be carried out? Not every year, like the car MOT as George Clarke mentioned. It works for a car annually, but surely not for a house? And what happens if the MOT throws up lots of work that people can’t afford? Does that mean appliances have to be switched off immediately and can’t be used until they are repaired. George Clarke should be applauded for his suggestion. However, I think there is plenty to discuss before this particular idea gets the green light. I would love to hear what other HPM readers think. James Waring, via e-mail The latest Gas Safe Technical Bulletin allows second hand/previously used cookers with non Flame Supervision Devices (FSD) cut offs to all burners to be newly installed in flats provided the occupant is not likely to leave it on and unlit. Yet, new cooking appliances are not allowed without FSD protection. My issue with this is that older cookers/ranges have bigger burners, so if left unlit allow a significant gas escape. Also, what happens if the customer becomes forgetful after the cooker is fitted and starts to leave it on unlit? Surely a blanket ban on non FSD cookers in flats regardless of condition is the way forward? It’s about time the Gas Safe Register got the appliance manuals for installation servicing and use for fires and wall heaters back on line for all to use and see. Also, if a customer tries to register their guarantee on these appliances taken over by the Gas Safe Register, there is no way they can. Their waiting time for help on the helplines is also horrendous and costly for engineer mobile users. Finally, on the subject of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, I feel it will not be long before the flue gas analysers for CO detectors going off will become a mandatory assessment for those wishing to take it. This will be a positive move for consistency, however, the costs to the customer for a visit will be very expensive due to the time it takes to thoroughly investigate these. Where I live, the local council will not visit their property until the occupant/s have been to hospital for a CO test following a CO alarm being activated (after the gas emergency services have initially been and capped off the supply at the gas meter inlet valve). I believe this is a positive step as it highlights the true picture of CO incidents that can be recorded and then dealt with properly by then following the correct procedures laid down for these proven instances of CO and feel perhaps this should be implemented in private housing also. Alan Teal, Gaswaves, via e-mail WWW.HPMMAG.COM a company BATHROOMS l KITCHENS l PLUMBING l HEATING l RENEWABLES l DRAINAGE l TOOLS & ESSENTIALS l ELECTRICAL �� 0870 162 2557 �� www.plumbcenter.co.uk CONTACT US NOW: Ref: Letters to the Editor, HPM, February The letters by Alan Hulme, Dave Stansfield and Peter Louch were right on the money regarding the unspoken costs of condensing boilers. Interestingly, none of the boiler manufacturers’ websites or literature touch on the subject that the claimed high efficiencies will not be achieved on systems designed for 82/71ºC operation. Neither does the Energy Saving Trust. Coupled with the high failure rate, the cost of spares, cost of call-outs and the ultimately short life of condensing boilers, the public is being sold an illusion. Once they wake up to being sold expensive high efficiency boilers which do not achieve the claimed savings on conventional systems and which potentially fail every two to three years, the public may start biting back. Manufacturers and installers need to carefully consider how they promote these boilers - particularly the latter in dealing directly with customers. They may well find the PPI lawyers banging on their doors. Bill Parish, via e-mail The Letter of the Month now receives £200 worth of Argos vouchers - courtesy of Plumb Center - so get writing! Unspoken costs


HPM April 2013
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