Interview With a Heating Engineer

Here at teclet we took some time to sit down with trusted plumbing and heating expert Martin Boyd.  Here’s what he had to say…

teclet:  Martin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career as a heating engineer? 

Martin: I have been a heating engineer for 25 years, I have undertaken a lot of exams including NVQ Level 2 in plumbing and heating, NVQ Level 3 in Gas, Water Regulations, Unvented Hot Water Systems, ACS Gas Exams CCM1 Pipework, Boilers and water heaters, cookers, fires, ducted warm air units.  In the last 23 years I have worked for British Gas both fully employed and as a contractor for a total of 15 years, the rest I have been doing surveys which involves designing central heating systems, carrying out technical drawings and associated paperwork.  I am now self-employed doing boiler breakdowns, service and repairs and installations.

teclet:  So working for these various companies and yourself you must go to a lot of rented properties?  What are some of the common problems you come across? 

Martin: Blocked domestic hot water heat exchangers on combination boilers, taps, showers working incorrectly and electrical problems on heating controls.

teclet:  What could you suggest tenants do to prevent problems arising with their heating?

Martin: Make sure room stats and timers are on, it’s unbelievable how many call-outs we get simply because people have not got their thermostats on or they are set incorrectly.  Another tip is through the summer once every 3-4 weeks run the heating for a few minutes so all moving parts for the heating e.g. valves, pumps etc are far less likely to cease through lack of use over the summer period.

teclet: So what would you recommend as the best boiler brands for landlords in relation to price and efficiency? 

Martin: I would recommend the ideal independent+, its a highly efficient, mid range priced boiler but with a 7 year warranty on it at present, it is a brilliant investment. Out of the 75 of these I have installed there has only been 1 minor issue over the past 2 years.  These boilers are in the A sedbuk rated band and therefore are extremely energy efficient.

teclet: Are there any deals or grants you could advise our landlords to look into?

Martin: Eco boiler scheme, British Gas and Eon grant – if your tenants are on certain benefits you could qualify for a free boiler but bare in mind there might be additional fees.  Once installed it belongs to the landlord even if the tenant moves out.  The main pitfall of these grants is that the red tape, you have to go through several procedures to qualify which can take quite a few months.  A lot of the time you will have to contribute towards the cost of the install.

teclet: In keeping with affordability, can you suggest any ways in which tenants can keep their bills down?

Martin: Run their thermostat 1 degree lower than usual and turn it off earlier. Keep it on low in rooms unused and run the thermostat dials on the boiler 10% lower. You’ll hardly notice the temperature difference in the water if its a combination boiler, but you will save money.

teclet: Are there any improvements landlords should make to their properties to make it more energy efficient?

Martin: Ensure any pipe work in unheated spaces e.g. garages and sheds is lagged correctly.  Also make sure your roof is insulated correct level and look into cavity wall insulation.  There are grants available from British gas and Eon where you can get this installed for free and in most cases no benefits are required

If you would like to contact our heating specialist Martin Boyd for advice, email him at chcuk@hotmail.com