Friday, 29 July 2016

Corrosion in Central Heating Systems

Because you can't see it, you may not even be aware that the inside of your central heating system can be prone to corrosion. However, ensuring you have a good understanding of and take sufficient steps to prevent this issue will help to guard against serious damage to equipment in your system as well as protecting your property from potentially expensive and bothersome leaks.

What is corrosion in central heating systems?

When it comes to your central heating system, you may think that it's simply a case of installing and commissioning, however, as the water in your system reacts with the steel in your radiators, corrosion occurs - something which can cause serious damage if steps are not taken to prevent it. In a newly installed central heating system, your plumber can reduce the rate of corrosion by flushing out the system, removing any debris or substances which are likely to increase the risk or rate of corrosion.

What are the symptoms of corrosion?

Probably the most common symptom of corrosion is sludge, a black mud-like deposit resulting from the reaction between the water in your system and the steel in your radiators. Over time, sludge can build up in an untreated central heating system and cause:
  • Damage to the boiler
  • Damage to radiators by causing pinholing and leaks
  • Damage to the pump
  • Damage to the thermostatic radiator valves
  • Blocked pipework
  • Blocked and damaged hot water heat exchanger on a combination boiler
If a system has been well designed and installed by a professional plumber and flushed out correctly as part of the commissioning process, the water in the system will stay clean provided a corrosion inhibitor was added after the flush and that no maintenance or leaks have been carried out on the system.

If the system has been drained for any maintenance and repair and a corrosion inhibitor was not added when refilling the system, it can again be liable to corrosion.

How to protect your central heating

The best way to protect your central heating system is by using a chemical treatment and/or a physical filtration system using a magnetic filter, as described below:

Chemical treatment - This works by interfering with the process that forms the magnetite in the first place through stabilising the water. It should be noted that chemical treatments are not a complete cure and only slow down the magnetite formation. Chemicals do break down over time, so it's important to add them to central heating circuits on a regular basis.

Magnetic filter - Magnetic filters work by using the magnetic properties of the iron oxide to "capture" the crystals as they form. The filter is placed in the central heating system and water is allowed to flow through the filter constantly, meaning that any crystals in the water are collected slowly by the filter.

Getting your central heating system regularly checked to ensure the correct level of corrosion inhibitor is used will help to prolong the life of your system and its components. An APHC registered plumbing and heating engineer will be able to check the level of system corrosion inhibitor active in your home's system and recommend topping out or undertaking further work to reduce corrosion if required. Search for a quality installer in your local area at

Friday, 22 July 2016

Dealing with a gas leak

If you've read last week's blog post you'll know what to do in the event of a leaking tap or burst pipe, but would you be as confident if you discovered a gas leak? Natural gas, which is both explosive and highly flammable is the most dangerous substance piped into your home, therefore it's essential to be aware of what steps to take should you come across a potentially fatal leak.

Like water, natural gas is piped from the mains into your home however the pipes used for this process are made from different materials - mild steel, low carbon steel or newer yellow polyethylene plastic. Just as every household plumbing system has a stoptap, allowing the flow of water around the home to be shut off, every gas meter has an emergency control valve which allows your gas supply to be turned off in the event of a leak.

How to prepare for a gas emergency

Ensure you're prepared for a potential gas emergency by locating your gas meter and its emergency control valve and by learning how to turn off the gas supply. The below pictures show the correct method of operation for your gas meter's emergency control valve:

What to do if there is a gas leak

If you suspect there has been a gas leak in your home, you should take the following steps:
  • Turn gas off at the meter using the emergency control valve unless the meter is located in the cellar/basement.
  • Open doors and windows and ventilate the area as much as possible.
  • Do not smoke or use naked flames.
  • Do not operate any electrical switches or appliances (turning them on/off can cause a spark).
  • For properties with natural gas, call emergency services and report the leak on 0800 111 999 (24 hours per day).
For properties with LPG, call the supplier emergency number, provided by the supplier.

Where gas is concerned, it's always better to be safe than sorry so if you're unsure, treat is as a gas leak. Find a quality Gas Installer in your local area on our website at

Friday, 15 July 2016

Dealing with plumbing emergencies

Many of us tend to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to anything technical around the house, but when it comes to your household plumbing system, knowing what to do in the event of an emergency can prevent severe damage occurring to your property or even save a life. Luckily we've made the task a little easier with our easily guide to dealing with plumbing emergencies.

Major leaks and floods

The first step to take in the event of a flood is to turn off the water supply to your property using the stoptap. Every property has two of these, the first of which is located within the property and the second of which is the water company boundary stop tap. The main stop tap is usually located in the kitchen but can be anywhere on the ground floor or the entry floor to a flat. As they are sometimes boxed in or hidden in cupboards, stop taps can be hard to find. Controlling the supply of water to the whole home, this tap will stop all water when turned off.

Boundary stop taps are usually located at the boundary of a property by the water company, and cut off the entire supply of water to the property including the outside pipes. Some older taps can turn water off in up to 4 properties at once, so be sure to inform the neighbours before turning this off!

Isolation valves

If you experience a small leak within your property e.g. in sanitary ware or kitchen appliances, these can be controlled using isolation valves. Small in line valves installed next to the appliance or ware can quickly stop a problem without stopping the entire water supply.

Hot water systems

If you experience a leak in your hot water system you need to stop hot water entering the system. If you have a hot water cylinder you need to find the gate valve (usually in your airing cupboard). Turn this off and turn on any hot taps to empty the cylinder of all water. If you have a combi boiler the valve will be located under the boiler and will be a lever operated isolation valve.

How do I prepare for a water emergency?

To ensure you're ready in case of a water emergency, look in your home for valves and taps to see which ones turn off which appliance. It's important to know the location and way to stop water to the following:

  • Whole house (main stop tap)
  • Toilets(s)
  • Basin(s)
  • Washing machine
  • Dishwasher
  • Cold water storage tanks(s)
  • Hot water system
  • The whole property (boundary stop tap)
What to do if you have a water leak

If you find a water leak, the first thing you should do is to turn off water to the whole house at the mains stop tap. Next, open the cold tap to drain water from the pipes and stop water leaking further and if the leak is from an appliance, find the isolation valve to turn its water supply off. If water is collecting in the ceiling and dripping through, puncture the ceiling with a small screwdriver or hand drill and catch the water in a bucket. This will reduce the risk of the ceiling collapsing and causing even more damage to the property.

To find a local quality plumber to come to your aid in the event of a plumbing emergency, search via our website at

Friday, 8 July 2016

Date for your diary: Quality Plumber Week 2016

With our increasingly busy lifestyles, it can be all too easy to take for granted the safe clean water and instant heat that are delivered to our homes and workplaces each day. However, it's often during the autumn when our thoughts turn to switching the heating on that we really appreciate the services of the UK's skilled plumbing and heating engineers.

Now in it's third year and organised by the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC), Quality Plumber Week (3rd - 9th October) will be building on the success of previous years to shine a spotlight on the vital role plumbers play in our communities. As well as coming to the rescue when we have a burst pipe or broken boiler, plumbers also provide consumers with the latest advice on heating technologies, energy saving tips and water safety.

A key aim of the week, which coincides with the busiest time of the year for plumbers, is to promote the importance of using a quality installer in order to reduce numbers of rogue traders operating in the industry. In order to reduce the number of homeowners who become the victim of "botch jobs", members of the public are being encouraged to ensure their installers have professional qualifications and accreditation to a professional body such as APHC.

Another focus of Quality Plumber Week 2016 is encouraging more school leavers to consider undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship as a route into a respected profession and an alternative to university. Recent research from APHC shows that attitudes towards apprenticeships appear to have shifted in recent years - 86% of people polled agree that school leavers should be encouraged to consider an apprenticeship rather than being pushed into the Higher Education route, with only 2% disagreeing.

Finally, the campaign will be highlighting ongoing work within the industry to improve procedures around the enforcement of Building Regulations, to protect consumers and ensure a level playing field for the UK's truly professional tradesmen.

To raise awareness of the week, APHC will be running competitions in the Sun Online and Your Home magazine, so look out for the opportunity to win a weekend break in Bath - linked to history's first master plumbers - the Romans!

Keep an eye on the blog for further #QPW16 updates or to find a Quality Plumber in your area today, simply search on the APHC website at