56 HPM 1216

HPM-12-DEC-2016

56 B O I L E R S , S E R V I C I N G & PARTS Proactive replacement saves time and money With much debate surrounding the subject of annual servicing, Martyn Bridges of Worcester, Bosch Group, highlights the increasing need for regular check-ups, and discusses whether there can ever be a one-size-fits-all approach to boiler servicing and the replacement of parts We are entering a period of time where the quality and consistency of the gas that comes from the mains supply will be changing. There are numerous areas dotted around the country where biogas is being injected directly into the mains; there is talk about hydrogen either being added to or, ultimately, replacing the gas supply. We are also importing a lot of gas – the first containers of fracked gas having arrived in the UK from North America in early October. The use of different types of fuel will have inevitable implications for the country’s gas boilers, meaning that the combustion management that takes place within them – currently much more precise than the atmospheric burners of years ago – may not be quite so consistent. The effect of these new gases on the performance of a boiler is certainly enough to suggest that annual servicing, combustion checks and even perhaps, the proactive replacement of parts, may soon be more of a necessity than it has been before. Repair and replace The argument in favour of proactive replacement is fairly simple. Generally, the biggest cost involved in boiler servicing is actually incurred travelling to the property, so it makes perfect sense for an installer to change any older wearable parts once they’re already there. This happens with oil boilers very commonly, where an engineer will likely change the nozzle and the flexible oil pipe as a matter of Installers may be familiar with how tough it is to get homeowners to have their boilers serviced, but nearly 80% of those Worcester asked stated that an annual boiler service should be made a legal requirement course, and helps installers to prevent call-outs and provide customers with the comfort levels they expect. The difficulty for installers comes in the fact that there are no hard and fast rules as to how quickly a component will wear on any given gas boiler. Changing components Whereas years ago (when I was on the tools), it was common to replace the thermocouple during every gas boiler service. Nowadays, it is highly unlikely that there would be any components that need changing annually. That said, every four or five years it might be sensible to replace the electrodes or the electrode leads, or there may be certain seals or gaskets that need replacing. Ultimately though, there is no textbook answer to the question of which components may wear, and installers must look to the boiler manufacturer’s instructions as a guide to where they must check. Common considerations Despite there being no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to replacing boiler parts, there are still a number of things that should be kept in mind during a boiler service more generally. An installer’s first thought should be to speak to the homeowner and find out if they’re happy with their heating system as a whole, for example, are the radiators heating up evenly? Or is the hot water reaching a sufficient and consistent temperature? Then, there are several aspects of the system which must be checked for safety reasons. Installers must verify the integrity of the flue, questioning whether it is all in one piece and whether anything might have changed – ensuring no bushes or trees have grown around the terminal as it exits the wall, for example. Similarly, the gas supply must be checked, with the gas inlet gas pressure measured to ensure there are no leaks on the gas pipework. Finally, it is vital to take a sample of the flue gas product and make sure that the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels are within the parameters listed by the manufacturer. Thereafter, it is down to the individual manufacturer’s requirements, and these can vary quite significantly. Some will have different levels of service, a bit like those for cars; there may be a lighter, ‘A level’ service, and a more stringent ‘B level’ service. However, there are other aspects of a system that can be taken into account should an installer choose, with things like checking the inhibitor levels in a system going a long way to ensuring it will continue to perform as efficiently as possible. Installers will be all too aware of how tough it can be to get homeowners to have their boilers serviced. A recent survey we ran ahead of this year’s Gas Safety Week found that one in ten people had never had their boiler serviced, while 46% admitted to having knowingly skipped an annual boiler service. A legal requirement However, there are signs that the convincing argument in favour of doing so is making headway, with nearly 80% of those we asked stating that an annual boiler service should be made a legal requirement. Although there are difficulties involved in standardising a process that involves such variable components from so many different manufacturers, the automotive industry has shown without doubt that this can be accomplished. What’s more, the positive impact that this could have both on the safety and efficiency of the country’s 22 million gas boilers makes it an avenue worth pursuing. www.hpmmag.com December 2016 enquiry number 140 “A recent survey we ran ahead of this year’s Gas Safety Week found that one in ten people have never had their boiler serviced, while 46% admitted to having knowingly skipped an annual boiler service”


HPM-12-DEC-2016
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