The Plumbers Mate random chatter from the plumbers wife


Oldest Combi we look after.

It's a Vaillant! a very old Vaillant, which has a pilot light and is 1.5 x the size of a modern Ecotec. This boiler is 30+yrs old. The secret of this boilers success is down to two things.
Firstly, this boiler was manufactured in one of the most quality concious plants in Europe and secondly, It has always been on a system fed by a water softener.

Softened water has prolonged the life of this boiler. Softening water allows components to last much longer than those that are unprotected. Without softened water this boiler would not have survived beyond 12yrs max.

Vaillant still to this day chose Quality over yield. if you produce a rubbish boiler it will bite you on the backside. however if you produce a quality boiler for a bit more money, it will cost you less in the long run. Customer satisfaction = repeat business and Vaillant owners generally return to the brand. quality replaced with quality.

The new Vaillant hasn't lost its Quality but has become much more efficient thus saving the customer £'s all round.

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Intergas HRE Boiler

Most boiler companies have chosen to buy in 'Giannoni' heat exchangers (that strange Italian named French Company!) with the notable exceptions of Viessmann (who make their own which is the best cylindrical heat exchanger) and Worcester (who still use Aluminium with added silica).

'Intergas', The Dutch boiler manufacturer chose a totally different route. They chose to enclose copper pipes within an aluminium shell. This creates a very very good boiler on a par with Viessmann despite the different approach.

Viessmann use a cylidrical stainless steel heat exchanger which is highly resistant to corrosion and is made in-house in Allendorf, Germany by forming one complete piece of stainless into a cylinder which means that there are only 2 joins, 1 is the flow and the other is the return. The rest use a Giannoni which is a manifold based heat exchanger which means lots of joins and failures are well known.

Aluminium is not compatible with a copper piped heating system. Worcester overcame this by adding silica to the mix which slows the erosion by the corrosive water. It worked well (despite not being the best material) and it is rare for a Worcester to have a heat exchanger fail.

Intergas HRE is the best of both worlds. It has copper pipes for the water to travel through which are cased in aluminium. The aluminium never touches the heating circuit water and the copper never touches the flue gases. Therefore neither can corrode. They also have the enviable reputation of NEVER HAVING HAD A HEAT EXCHANGER FAILURE! (Viessmann don't even have this and they are light years ahead of the direct competition).

After building a brilliant heat exchanger, 'Intergas' then went on to alter the component list of the combination boiler. The main failures in combination boilers can be narrowed down to Air pressure switch, Diaphragm, Diverter valve & Plate heat exchanger (especially the Plate and Diverter valve). The 'Intergas HRE' does not have these components! The boiler cannot fail from these components, as they as omitted, this therefore increases reliability to a level where 90% of boiler companies can only dream.

So 'Intergas' removed the failing parts, designed a brilliant heat exchanger and to make things even better this is one of the only boilers to condense in both hot water and heating with very little in the way of heating loses.

The 'Intergas' has a couple of features which also blow the competition away. The first is a built in clock which has a numerous features which means the installer only has to a room Stat to tick the benchmark checklist. The second feature is totally brilliant. The pressure gauge sensor is only there to confirm the pressure for the display, not as a safety for the boiler on low water content. You may not think this is a big deal but imagine an older house where the heating system is 'dubious' and shouldn't be a sealed system under any circumstance but the owner wants mains pressure hot water. Due to the twin pass heat exchanger the 'HRE' boiler can run high and low pressure circuits through the one boiler. that 'Combi' style hot water and gravity heating. No other boiler is capable of this unique feat.

A Brilliant Boiler. Despite the looks and the name it is a real gem.


18 month old Ideal Logic+ boiler (Split heat exchanger)

From time to time I get asked to fit a boiler that a customer prefers rather than go with my recommendation. This is either because of a price difference or a historic attachment to the brand.

'Ideal Heating' have produced a few good boilers in their time but sadly the last really robust one was aptly named the 'ideal Classic'. it was a competent and reliable boiler for both heating engineers and customers alike. After this boiler came the 'Road crash that was the ideal icos, isar, istor etc they were totally awful boilers which you were lucky to get 5yrs out of!

After this poor period came the ideal 'Logic' range which promised the world. A totally new boiler with an impressive range of warranties. The boilers were generally good and looked tidy and fitted inside kitchen cupboards (that only us Brits want). However a rumour soon started the rounds that ideal had a problem, they were suffering 'pinhole' leaks in their heat exchangers and unlike an motor vehicle they couldn't recall the affected units. More and more units were appearing that were suffering from heat exchanger failures and naive installers kept installing them. I only installed 5 of these boilers over 4 years (all on customer request). Sadly of the 5 fitted 2 were ok, 1 had a gas valve die after 5 days and the last one failed recently when after only having an 18 month lifespan, the heat exchanger split and burst (Despite being serviced only 5 months earlier and frenox levels checked). This obviously panicked the elderly resident and we were called. I drained the system and diagnosed the 'heat exchanger' as the cause.

I couldn't believe it, we had one of these substandard boilers! The customer was brilliant in the sense that she knew that it wasn't our fault and she was in good spirits after the initial drama. Ideal heating's response was very good. Phoned on the monday morning the repair engineer arrive on tuesday at 1pm and was finished by 2.45pm. That's a great stat, a next day fix.

As one of the oldest heating co.s in the UK, 'Ideal' really need another winner like the 'Classic' and it would appear that the Logic wont be that boiler. Huge sales of the Logic may lead to huge call-out volumes in repairs.

Ideal heating still have the 'Logic' boiler range on sale and are obviously honouring the failures. However they have a new edition to the range which is the 'Vogue'. Now this boiler has a very different operating system and build to the 'Logic'. The 'Vogue' is arguably a copy of the Vaillant ecotec which many will know is a very reliable boiler indeed. The offering from ideal is not only cheaper than the Vaillant but has a fantastic 7yr guarantee as standard. Despite not being a fan of 'Ideal' boilers, i really hope that they get a 'good one' because they really have suffered since death of the 'Classic'.

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Viessmann Solar Vitosol 200 in Whitstable

We recently completed another installation of the Vitosol 200 evacuated tube colletor system. I really like both the Viessmann & Vallant systems. The Viessmann pack comes complete with everything you need in order to install this system in an ideal space. If you however have to site the expansion vessel in another position then more fittings are needed (minimal). Any deviation from the norm on the Viessmann system means either using extra Dn solar pipe & connectors or copper. If using copper it is necessary to use pipe inserts (just like on plastic systems) however they have to be brass and it is worth noting that although the suppliers can get them, they will not have them in stock.

The Viessmann system is an o-ring and clamp system (pipe joins) and works well despite the uneasy feeling when you have to put your first one in (due to fear!). Once the pump station and pipework have been run then it is simply a case of filling up. The Viessmann solar set uses surprising little Tyfocor as the tube manifold is a low volume header. The tubes are sealed units and don't get filled by the installer. The energy gained from this system has to be seen to be believed. After just 5mins we had enough temperature coming from the tubes to start making in roads into the cold cylinder.

If this system is connected to a Viessmann 242f boiler then you will get the added advantage of being able to see a display of temperatures and kwh made. The 242f boiler is like no other. Only Atag have a comparable product (Which is soon to be removed from the UK market). The vitosol 200 solar system is worth every penny. The technical support if needed is also as good as you would expect from a company like Viessmann.

Once up and running. the system is like any other for maintenance purposes. An annual check on Tyfocor quality is needed and quick visual check on the components. Being fitted in Whitstable means that these solar systems will benefit from our local climate, where the skies often cloud over but being costal they are cleared as soon as they arrive due to sea breezes. We therefore have one of the sunniest patches in the UK.

Overall and excellent system at a good price.