The Plumbers Mate random chatter from the plumbers wife


Oil Boilers

Our oil boiler knowledge is the thing that started our small company. It is also the thing held most dear. Oil boilers if well kept and maintained are not the smelly things of old! They are now high efficiency Condensing boilers that happen to burn oil not Gas.

The problem with oil boilers is, their shear weight! because of this factor, the cost of installing an oil boiler can mount up, for example if you were to put one in a basement you may need 4-5 people to move it. The worcester danesmoor boiler can weigh 280kg or more (thats roughly 1/4 of a tonne down some stairs into a basement). The labour cost can be big. however most oil boilers are not huge but simply a bit heavy. The upside of an oil boiler is that is has the potential to last 20yrs+ (we have serviced boilers that are 40yrs+), a high quality modern gas boiler wil last 15-25yrs at most (a cheap one maybe 5yrs!).

we recommend 3 boiler brands at the moment with a 4th still under review (firebird) but looking good. in no particular order the 3 best ones are:

1. worcester bosch (excellent build quality and customer care)

2. Grant (Devize's based boiler manufacturer with a brilliant reputation for quality and reliability)

3. TR engineering (formerly 'Trianco' (sheffield) one of the oldest and best names in the business)

All the above companies boilers can be supplied to fit internally in kitchens, utility rooms & garages or alternatively outside. Yes thats correct, oil boilers can be located outside as well. The external boilers reduce the odour if there was ever a leak and also lower the noise levels for the homeowner. All oil boilers whether inside or out must have a fire valve fitted with a remote sensor, failure to do so will render your home insurance nul and void should a fire occur. There is only one way to have an oil boiler fitted - that is by a trained and competent engineer. For the oil industry this is in the form of an OFTEC registered Engineer. OFTEC is the correct and legal way of having an oil boiler installed. By an engineer who will put safety before profit and install the boiler to the latest regulations and not leave the householder at risk. Most home insurance documents now insist on any oil work carried out to an appliance must be by a competant person (OFTEC registered engineer only). Failure to have your Oil boiler commissioned by an OFTEC engineer will result in all home insurance policies removing cover until this has ben rectified. Be safe and ask for an ID card or check them against the OFTEC website at

Check the I.D. card of the installer ...remember 'NO I.D. = NO IDEA'. stay safe.

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WC works again. Whitstable 23/09/11

A call from a new customer came in. The problem was that the main Wc in the bathroom was not running away quickly, if at all. 2 Plumbers had seen the problem and suggested that the soil pipe (wc waste pipe) should be cut and replaced in order to cure the problem.

Our diagnosis was very different. We saw that the pipe was unsupported and realised that the problem wasn't the pipe connections but simply that the fall on the pipe wasn't there. with careful manipulation we addressed this problem and within 5 minutes the WC waste was running away at full speed and the nasty smells had gone. it's nice to have a easy one late on a friday afternoon.

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Viessmann Boilers are our No.1

Viessmann boilers of Allendorf, Germany are our preferred boiler manufacturer. The products of Viessmann are simply a class above the rest. We have had boiler problems with all brands but with Viessmann this amounts to one faulty unit (which was fixed within 24hrs, 2009). Viessmann have the enviable reputation of having a failure rate of less than 'half of 1 percent (actually it is 1 failure in 1000)'. We fit these boilers as they are extremely robust, Reliable and quite simply brilliant. The likes of Worcester and Vaillant should be worried as Viessmann have a boiler for every situation whether it be Gas, Oil, Biomass, Solar or Heatpumps.

80% of the Gas boilers that we fit are Viessmann. if you want a boiler that will be with you after 20yrs, then Viessmann should be your choice. Visit them at

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Alpha Boiler 6 Yrs old, Dead!

Alpha boilers are not the biggest name in boilers in the UK but they do have a certain quality. headquarters are in kent just off the M26 and over the years the guarantees have increased from 1yr to 7yrs! the Alpha boiler is a much much better product than Ideal boilers upto to the logic+ range. The problem for us is that the french and italian manufacturing of parts for this unit is unfortunately sub-standard. The design of the boiler is good, but the components are not. In general the Alpha will last 8 yrs but may go on to 12 if you are very lucky. french and italian built then badged as a GB boiler! How many renaults or fiat do you see on the road that are 10 yrs old or more? not many. Alpha is a great little boiler for the landlord sector or to get someone some going for a few years without any trouble but as for the long term, you dont see many beyond 8yrs old! Could be worse, could have an IDEAL badge on it (5yrs then the bin)!

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Testimonial, 19/09/11 Ramsgate

'You know a Plumber's good when you come home & the cat litter on the floor has been hoovered. Above & beyond the call of duty!' @swannplumbing (Ms AM Nixey, Ramsgate, Kent).

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Natural Gas & LPG Boilers

most boiler companies can supply a change over kit in order to switch from natural gas to Lpg with minimal expense. for example Vaillant needs no special parts to run on lpg , merely some adjustment and a label. Viessamann & Worcester supply a washer fro the change over. very simple. gone are the days of having to buy a special boiler for lpg.

we recommend the best boilers on the market. we have no brand tie-in and therefore dont get cash back off the boiler companies for supplying you with a boiler. where possible we try to get the customer a 5yr guarantee. what you receive from us is impartial advice on what is the best boiler for your home and circumstances. we are in effect a 'whole of market boiler provider!'.

experience has taught us that cheap materials (boilers) lead to earlier breakdowns (or even replacements). that is why we are happy to recommend the best boilers to our customers. when a cheap boiler breaks down after a few years, the householder tells everyone that the boiler is broken, then tells them who fitted it! we didnt want our good name to be sullied by these events and therefore have always made a conscious effort to supply the best.

our top 3 in no particular order are

1. Viessmann (a true leader in the boiler world. once described by 'pimlico' plumbers (london) as the 'Bentley of all boilers'.)

2. Vaillant (one of the best names in boilers and one of the most reliable. the new range is on a par with viessmann)

3. Worcester (part of the German Bosch group. one of britain's favourite boiler brands with great customer care)

it is a legal requirement to have any Gas appliance installed by a 'Gas-Safe registered engineer' who must hold a current accreditation in that field. for example if an engineer is gas-safe registered for boilers he/she can NOT fit a fire or a cooker. they CAN fit a boiler. we as gas engineers would loved to be asked to show our card to householders, as it proves who we are and what we can do. please ask to see the ID card!

popular belief has it that a plumber can install a boiler and connect all the pipes except the gas. Wrong! it is a legal requirement when installing the boiler or gas appliance that the gas engineer makes all the connectons even the water to the boiler! if this has  not happened then the appliance can be deemed illegal and taken out of service.  as engineers we are unhappy that gas appliances can be bought with no checks on the buyer (even buying a tv involves a tv license check!). checking the card of the gas engineer is paramount to your safety. just think 'CHECK THE CARD - NO I.D. = NO IDEA' and you'll be safe.

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Bathstore shower enclosure 15/09/2011 Review

The Bathstore shower enclosure arrives in much the same boxes as would a B&Q or a Homebase unit, with all the code numbers for all the various pieces printed on everybox and packet. All supplied with a heart stopping set of instructions which look very much like B&Q. However upon closer inspection the instructions are better, much better and the best part is done for you (*).

Once the boxes are opened this job takes 2 people to complete and can be done in 60mins. There are some fiddly bits such as the rubber trim strips and the screws that thread into already threaded holes (this is an absolute nightmare, as the holes are tight and the screws usually rubbish. What usually happens is that the screw heads come off or the thread breaks even with a screwdriver over a drill. At this stage it is a case of product 'cheapness' making a very 'competent' plumber look like a monkey! the B&Q story all over!). Bathstore may or may not be using the same manufacturers as the others but they have changed things.

The fitting of the doors is a dream and the whole unit is leak free if the instructions are followed. We had to use an impact driver to get the enclosure screws in, but they still have their heads on!

To finish the job properly we would always recommend the best quality silicone. This is where so many people go wrong


Easy to do and will recommend again

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Testimonial, Mrs J Davies, Bossingham

The bathroom work has really turned out well and its a wonderful job carried out by two very nice people. Thank you for all your efforts in keeping the house clean. You have both worked very hard and i'm very grateful.

yours sincerely Mrs J Davies. 15/09/2011

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