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Boiler maintenance

Why the regular servicing and maintenance of your boiler is important

It's very easy to forget about getting your heating system serviced – year after year it keeps on going so why bother? There are three very good reasons why!

What to expect from a boiler service

Often homeowners do not know what they can expect from a boiler service. This 10-point guide lists the work that a qualified, reputable heating engineer should typically complete:

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New boilers

Why a new boiler can be a very wise decision

The majority of homes in the UK still have 'F-rated' boilers – on average these convert around 72% of the fuel they use into useful heat. Older 'G-rated' boilers are even worse performers, with typically 60% efficiency. By contrast a modern 'A-rated' condensing boiler converts over 90% of fuel into useful heat.

With average household energy bills now well over £1,000 a year, most homeowners will save at least one-fifth on their gas or oil bills simply by upgrading to a new condensing boiler.

It's not just money in your pocket at stake – old gas boilers are one of the biggest causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in homes and around 50 people in the UK still needlessly die every year from preventable carbon monoxide poisoning caused by defective domestic gas appliances and poorly ventilated systems.

Another benefit of ditching your old boiler and replacing it with a new one is that you will be playing your part in helping the environment by keeping your home's carbon footprint down as modern boilers produce far less carbon dioxide.

If you think it is a wise decision – for economic, environmental or safety reasons – to get the boiler replaced, it's not difficult to find a reputable, reliable engineer: simply use the search facility on this website.

The essential guide to boilers and heating systems

Your local registered heating engineer will offer professional advice on what type and perhaps make of boiler suits your requirements and your budget. But there is no harm in knowing a little about the types of boilers and systems available – it could help you get the best heating system for your home.

Combination boilers – these are small, do not require a separate water tank and produce instant and limitless hot water. But heat will be interrupted if anyone else runs a hot tap at the same time. They are best for smaller houses and flats with only one main bathroom and/or for homes short on space.

Sealed system (un-vented) – these rely on stored water, so you will need space for one hot water tank. Water pressure will be good as it uses mains water pressure and more than one hot tap can run at once. They are best for family homes that need more hot water than a combination boiler can provide but don't have the space for two large water tanks.

Open vent and open vent sealed system – a traditional system that requires a cold water storage tank in the loft and a hot water storage cylinder in an airing cupboard. Because water is stored you'll have less water pressure and only have drinking quality water from one tap. Most older homes have these systems.

Back boilers – often hidden behind a chimney with a fire front to hide it, they're often inefficient but if you upgrade to new components you will save on your bills. They can also be teamed up with wood burning stoves to provide eco friendly heat and hot water. They are best for anyone thinking about using alternative fuels like wood.

How to find a reliable, reputable, registered heating engineer

The easiest way is to use the search facility on this website (see the box at the top). All the companies listed are members of the HVCA. Established in 1904, HVCA is the officially recognised organisation representing central heating contractors and exists to promote fair dealing and the sound installation of heating systems. Members who undertake gas installations are all Gas Safe registered. As a trade association HVCA has also taken the unusual but highly commendable step of requiring all its members to undergo third party inspection and assessment, which verifies technical competence, commercial capability and customer service.

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How to avoid rogue traders

There are so many rogue traders operating in the UK that the BBC has been running a TV series for the last nine years called Rogue Traders. This popular programme sets out to expose businesses and individuals giving customers a raw deal. In just one area alone it is estimated that there are 20,000 bogus gas installers operating in the UK.

It's all too easy to get ripped-off by a rogue trader – what follows will show you where to find the most reputable traders, how to employ them and what to do if things do go wrong.

To find a reputable, qualified heating engineer use the search facility on this website. For other trades the easiest way to locate reputable, reliable tradespeople is to use a TrustMark registered company. By doing so you can be confident that the firm operates according to the very best industry standards set out by the government. TrustMark covers most of the trades householders look for such as builders, plumbers, electricians, glaziers, roofers, landscape gardeners and damp-proof specialists.

Why you can rely on a TrustMark registered company

How to get the best from your local trader

Sound advice

Avoid dealing in cash only. If this is unavoidable, make sure you get a receipt for every payment.

Never pay for your work in full before it has been carried out. Once you have handed over your money it will be difficult to put things right if things go wrong. Only make the final payment when you are satisfied with the work.

What to do if you are not satisfied with the work undertaken

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