The Plumbers Mate random chatter from the plumbers wife


Atag point proved today – Whitstable

Atag are aiming to make installers lives better by supplying boilers direct to engineers and cutting out the middle man and the internet.
For small family businesses to survive we all have to make a profit. This profit comes from a margin/percentage of price being added to a sale. This offsets to some degree but not always the costs of advertising, insurance, training, membership of federations (legally required), fuel, tools and many more factors. Without this margin, small companies would go under. Profit is a necessity and not a dirty word as some would believe. Yes some co's put a margin of 40-50% on sales yet others put a lower rate of say 15%. The smaller the company the less pressure should be put on their margin, they have lower overheads but on the flip side they also have fewer people & jobs and therefore are more vulnerable to the internet and margin erosion.
Atag want to protect that margin for Gas installers and at the same time deliver the best boilers in Europe with the highest efficiencies.
Only today was that point proven when a quoted job has decided to buy a boiler themselves thus taking away our margin (which equated to £120.00). In so doing, they are hurting the local community & us because for every £ they spent with us we spend 75% back in our community whereas bought on the internet, that money is no longer in our community or county, or even country in some cases, resulting in a near 0% recycling of that finance locally.
The next boilers specified will be #Atag if only to start protecting our business. Maybe one day my daughters will take it over and have a decent life out of it, or maybe they'll just work for Tescos stacking shelves and buying things from the internet. I've told them to become hairdressers, you can't buy a decent haircut on the internet.


Vaillant ecotec boilers – Whitstable

Vaillant boilers have been a favourite with the British for generations. As with Worcester boilers, the parts are largely made overseas and assembled at a Vaillant plant. Most of the British stock of Vaillant boilers are assembled in Belper, Derbyshire. Vaillant Group of Germany are one of the world leaders in heating technology and as such produce a very high quality offering.

The Vaillant ecotec has undergone a face lift over the last few years but has still held on to the quality and reliability of the older units. The 'ecotec' is the best boiler Vaillant have ever made and as such we have no hesitation fitting them because we know that once fitted, this boiler will have fantastic reliability that we can rely on.

The 'ecotec' boiler is Quality. It sits in the highest company alongside the likes of the Worcester Cdi (Classic), The Intergas HRE range, The Atag A-series and the Viessmann vitodens boiler range.

All boilers have a time when they fail. The Vaillant ecotec is one of the easiest boilers to repair, which makes it a brilliant long term boiler. They do cost 10% more initially to buy than the competition but what the customer gains from this brand is quicker repair times, easier repairs and quality (parts) components that generally complete the fix first time (no repeat visits as is the case for the likes of Broag Remeha, Alpha, Baxi etc).

We have fitted the entire range of ecotec boilers in whitstable over the years and to date they are all still going strong. We have also fitted the biggest units of the ecotec range in Devon. Customers who have left our area have asked if we would fit a boiler or two for them in their new home and it proved a temptation for us.

The ecotec range has a 'standard' & 'premium' range. The standard range is known as the 'Pro' range and has all of the components of the premium range minus the control interface and brass fittings (generalisation) whereas the 'Plus' range has more brass bodied components and has a more adaptable controller interface. Whilst the 'Pro' version is more plastic than brass, it is every bit as reliable as its more expensive stablemate.

We are so confident of the reliability of the Vaillant ecotec range that we offer it the same stature as the Viessmann boilers that we fit. If we fit a Vaillant ecotec in Whitstable or anywhere else within 10 miles of our base then we offer a 'no charge' - call out for the lifetime of that boiler. That means that if your guarantee is for 5yrs and the boilers breakdown in yr, then we will come free of charge and see what is wrong.

Vaillant made this boiler over many years and didnt copt it unlike ideal boilers and their 'vogue'. Whilst the vogue has an immense guarantee of 10yrs, we have heard of many many vogues failing and their quality is definitely not comparable.

Don't chose an imposter? buy the original and get a fantastic boiler installed by installers who understand the 'Vaillant' quality and ethos. Vaillant of Germany understand that a living wage is important and pay way way above that to their employees. Both women and men get the same wages at Vaillant if they are of the same pay grade (not like some in the uk?!), they are also employers who understand commitment. The average age (in 2013) of the worker at the solar and renewables plant was 48 and 45 at the Gas boiler factory.

These values mean something to us and we are proud to promote them without reward.  Long may it continue.

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Tesco bosch recruitment

In the latest issue of HVP magazine, there is an article explaining how Tesco will staff the boiler installation business. Enact energy, (Tesco Heating? of the future?) are looking to recruit local heating companies and NOT local engineers.

They have outlined the criteria for entry into the Tesco installer scheme as a company which has a minimum of 5 GSR engineers (ideally), who are registered with that company and are NOT subcontractors. This entry criteria means that the vast majority of small family run heating companies will be excluded from the scheme and their livelihoods may become threatened by the likes of Tesco as they will become direct competition.

Sadly this company doesn't know when to stop. Food (which doesn't have a taste!), electrical, computers, games, toys, books, phones, homeware, soft funishings, cars (yes, cars!), newspapers, clothes, roofline products, loans, banking and now boilers!

Very sad that Worcester didn't think to support the installers whether approved or not, by refusing to allow their boilers to be used. They can still walk away from this and refuse to let their boilers be used by a company that could threaten an entire industry and the incomes of thousands of people. Families.




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Worcester Bosch poor start to 2012

Worcester Bosch boilers made the decision to align themselves with Tesco, the supermarket/grocer in 2011. This move has illustrated the poor business planning of the Worcester bosch group. initially the prices are high but as with most Supermarket tie-ins, the prices may drop radically over the years and ultimately Worcester may become a sad shadow of its former self. Tesco may be able to provide volume sales for Worcester, but they may find themselves being told how much Tesco are willing to pay for the units rather than Worcester dictating price.

This seems a huge departure from the German business model from which they were formed. Worcester have obviously suffered because of the economic downturn as have most manufacturing companies. Sadly with this move they have alienated many Heating engineers and Suppliers (Plumbase/Plumbcenter/PTS/Grahams). Their attitude towards the industry has always been an arrogant one, partly due to their successful marketing (the weather on Itv) and image (people thinking they are Biritsh). The boilers didn't aways live up to the hype. In fact we rate Worcester as our 3rd place boiler brand (solely due to the CDI range, the only good one). The potential damage of this deal could mean a real struggle for SME's and family businesses all over the country.

We will no longer actively promote Worcester Bosch Gas boilers to our customers. I feel very sorry for the employees, especially the Technical support line at Worcester bosch. They are some of the best in the industry and i'm sure they won't like wearing Tesco uniforms to work or asking if you've got a Clubcard!

Good Bye Worcester.

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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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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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Boiler Dies in Herne Bay.

Just 5 & a half years after 'eaga' fitted the small 'Ideal Isor' (eye-sore!) boiler. it has died! water pouring from everywhere, the casualties include the fan, PCB, flue gasket, various other gaskets & pump! ooopps! sadly this is a story told too many times when a cheap boiler has been installed. the difference between a good boiler (usually more expensive - with the exception of Keston, which are expensive but rubbish!) and a cheap one is simple. the good one should be around for between 12-25yrs, the cheap boilers wil usually perish at around 5-8yrs (although this is partly due to the failure of regular servicing but unfortunately the component quality is sadly deficient in general). with servicing this boiler may have lasted twice as long but it was not to be. all the best boilers seem to be of german origin such as Viessmann, Vaillant & Bosch (Worcester Cdi range and up), so it is sad to see something with a made in Britain badge on it, being thrown in the bin after such a short time.

glad we dont fit them.

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Transparent Costs – 1st in Whitstable!

We have thought about this for a long time and finally we are now in a position to deliver. The costs table allows customers to view the difference in pricing between us and our competitors and also between the services that we offer. What we have created is both good for our customers and us. It allows the customer to estimate the eventual costs of any plumbing work. It is our hope that this process will make plumbing costs clearer and take away the anxiety of the final bill. The reason for doing this was/is to get more people to phone the registered Gas/Oil /Plumbing engineers rather than use a 'handyman' who'll never say no! Not only are they not qualified but in many cases they can void your home insurance especially if they touch your Gas or Oil heating. Contacting a qualified professional shouldn't cost you the earth. The revolution starts here!

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New website design is live!!!

Our old website design was looking a bit tired, so here finally I have a finished the new look for 2011. As well as showing off our new logo representing water, fuel and renewables all under one roof, we have a twitter feed and snippets from the blog showing on the home page. I also intend to create more detailed content in the range cooker section so that we have a page for each of the brands we service, long term I hope to do the same for boilers.

Check it out and let me know what you think

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