New system nightmare

This summer we moved into 4 bed, 1 bathroom, 1 shower room house. As we were about to renovate the place we decided to get the heating system updated. We got the details of a local plumber who had the necessary unvented heating certificate from the Institute of Plumbing. He installed a 210lL unvented cylinder, a Potterton Surpima 100 boiler, replaced all the 9 radiators, and desclaed the system. We advised him at the time that we may convert the loft at some point and so needed some spare capacity in the system. We paid him over 6k for this.
We have 2 problems.
The first is a knocking noise in the floor of the bathroom and the bedroom closest to the bathroom. Not a loud banging but enough to wake up anyone sleeping in there. It doesn't happen the whole time the heating is on but isn't just when it's warming up. From reading this forum, it seems one possible soultion could be that the pipes aren't clipped down. If I get someone in to lift the floorboards will it be obvious how and where to clip down the pipes? (DIY novice clearly).
The second problem is that the rad at the end of the system (our bedroom) doesn't get hot if all the other rads are on. I believe this could be the pump size or boiler size. What size pump should I have? The boiler is on the ground floor and the rad on the 2nd floor.
We've asked our IoP registered, corgi plumber back but he's claiming it's nothing to do with him. He says the knocking is from the old system and the rad doesn't heat up because of the pipe size or maybe sludge in the system. He never mentioned pipe size when he was fitting our boiler, rads and cylinder. And as replaced all rads and rescaled the system I wouldn't expect any sludge.
Any advice much appreciated.
Victoria
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

Loose pipes should be fairly obvious if you lift the floorboards. Pipes do need to move a bit when they warm up and cool down, so it doesn't do an harm to put some felt or other soft material under the pipes where they pass over joists to help them to slide quietly.
Does the end radiator *ever* get hot - like if you turn other radiators off? If so, it sounds like the system simply needs to be balanced - which means restricting the flow to the hotest radiators to share out the heat evenly. There is a scientific way of doing this - which involves making numerous temperature measurements on the flow and return pipes of each radiator. There is also a "seat of the pants" way - which simply involves determining which radiators are hottest (by touch) and turning down the lockshield valves on those in order to force more water through the cooler radiators.
I would be very surprised if either your boiler or pump are inadequate - it's almost certainly just a mattter of setting it up properly.
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Did he make any recommendations - like replacing the pipework - at the time of giving his estimate?
If not, since he changed the rads, it's not unreasonable to expect them *all* to work.
Sounds like the threat of a small claims court might get him off his a**e.
However, two things are likely.
One is an airlock. Have you tried bleeding the rad to make sure there's no air in there? If water doesn't immediately come out under pressure and there's no air either it could well be an airlock.
Next, as has been said, is balancing the system. If you turn off all the other rads and this one now works, then this is probably the cure. See FAQ for details of how.
http://www.diyfaq.org.uk /
--
*I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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Thank you for your replies.
In answer to your questions:
He never mentioned the pipes when quoting or installing the radiators.
The end radiator does get very hot if all the other radiators are turned down to half heat. Does the balancing result in being able to have all the radiators on full? I was kind of hoping to be able to heat the whole house at once!
I will certianly report this guy to the IoP. He is pretty aggressive when we try and talk to him about these problems and keeps saying it must be a problem with the old system, when he's changed everything except the pipes.
I assume that padding the pipes is relatively simple so I think we'll give that a try. Any words of wisdom about the best way to lift the floor boards (not tongue and groove) and which padding to use?
Thank you again
Victoria
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Absolutely, although the balancing process will indicate if the pump or boiler is underpowered. (Unlikely, from what you so).
Christian.
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On 10 Dec 2003 08:42:24 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Victoria) wrote:

Yes, that's the whole point. The radiators that are nearer to the boiler and pump will tend to get a greater flow of water because the pipe runs are shorter, all else being equal.
The lockshield valves are there to reduce the flow through radiators that have a lower flow resistance through being on shorter pipe runs. Essentially, balancing will reduce the flow through those and the pump will then tend to push more water around the further radiators.
In fact balancing is really done on temperatures rather than flows because most systems have radiators of different sizes. It happens that the amount of heat transferred is directly proportional to the flow rate, so actually a larger radiator needs more flow than a small one anyway. Therefore the way that balancing is done is to make the temperature drop across each radiator equal to the others. It's a bit of a lengthy process to do, although not difficult, because adjusting a radiator's lockshield valve (the preset one that you don't turn) will have an impact on the others. Therefore you have to go round the house several times adjusting and measuring the temperatures of the radiators. To some extent, once they are all heating, and the rooms are getting warm, then some people call it a day. You can be as much of a perfectionist as you like past this point.
It is a pretty easy job to do using either a clip on boiler thermometer or a hand held infra red thermometer costing about 30.
Certainly DIYable.

Now why am I surprised. He's charged you a lot of money, to be honest and it's unacceptable that he is walking away from making the system work properly.
Obviously you *could* pursue him through Trading Standards or the courts as well, however the value of the work that needs doing is not high and is easily do-able yourself. So it's up to you whether you want to make a stand on principle beyond reporting to the IoP or whether to just chalk it up to experience and move on.

If you look carefully, almost certainly specific floorboards will have been up before to put in the pipes in the first place. The boards may even be screwed rather than nailed down. Since it isn't T&G this makes life a lot easier.
You really need a wide levering object to lever the boards up carefully. Something like a wide brick bolster is commonly used just by hand.
e.g. http://www.axminster.co.uk/default.asp?part 0032
but you can get them in any tool store or DIY place.
For the insulation, I've generally used flat felt type lagging, which can be wrapped and taped around the pipes at the joists.
www.bes.ltd.uk and search on 12658. You should be able to get it from heating or plumbing merchants as well. The foam tubular stuff is a bit large for this application.
It goes without saying that care is needed not to nail or drill through pipes when refitting boards.

.andy
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Andy Hall wrote:

Actually, its even easier than that, if you are living in the house.
First of all, check that any 'cold' radiioators are fully open both on teh control valve (the one with the knob) and the lockshields (the one that needs a pair of pliers to turn it on.
Fire up teh heating system and have a cup of coffee and a gossip with the neighbours, till the rooms are more or less warm/hot etc.
Now take the hottest room, and turn the lockshileds off completely, then turn em on a little bit.
Repaet coffee gossip, and cheack again, turning off all ultra hot room lockshields, then on a little bit.
Sooner or later the cold rads warm up, and you can just fine tine the bloody lot a little at a time.takes a week or two, but you have the whole winter.
Alternatively, fit TRV's to the hottest rooms and let nature take its course :-)
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But without balancing, this can result in a rad not working at all until the others are satisfied.
--
*If God dropped acid, would he see people?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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Dave Plowman wrote:

Yeah. So what? at least it comes on eventually...When I had TRV's fitted I just opened up all the balance valves. Basically because the ones nea the boiler where the ones I wanted to get hot quickly anyway...eventually the remote bedroom ones would come on...

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Well, in my case, it's the kitchen that comes on last as it's the furthest one from the boiler, pipe run wise. And that's probably the second room you visit first thing...

I can't quite follow your reasoning. A well balanced system can do without TRVs altogether. Adding them to one which is, is merely the icing on the cake. Using them to cure an unbalanced system is a bodge and serves no purpose, given that anyone can balance up a system given the inclination.
--
*If at first you don't succeed, redefine success.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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<cringe>
<cringe> <grimace>

<sustained applause> <whistles> <sustained applause> . . . .
:-)
--
fred

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Dave Plowman wrote:

Its very hard to balance a large house with any rads. I gave up and fitted TRV's everywhere except the bathroom, and unbalanced the lot, and turned the stat to max.
Worked extremely well until I pulled the whole house down :-)
This allowed me precise control of every room - something you can't do easily with a straight 'turn it on a bit' type regulator, and a red hot bathroom, which is fine by me :-)
Its obviously better to fit stats in every room and zone valves and AND the valve outputs back to the pump...but frankly as an improvement on an old rired system, TRV's and whack up teh stat works, is cheap, and who cares if some rads hog everything till the rooms are warm?
If you do care, balance as well.

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wrote:

furthest
without
inclination.
Well quite. Sometimes one also wants the system unbalanced (sunny day in room with lots of glass, lots of people in a small room suddenly, open fire in the winter etc. ). It's a lot easier with TRV's. (IMHO of course).
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Bob Mannix
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Yes - the radiators give their stated output without water being pumped through them at a 'maximum' speed. Reducing the flow slightly to most will make no practical difference to them, but a great deal to the one which isn't working.
If you have a go at this yourself, the lockshield valves don't have the same 'law' as a tap - you have to turn them near off before anything happens, and then it all happens at once.
If you haven't got a suitable thermometer for measuring the pipe temperatures, a trip to Ebay (Test Equipment) will find a DMM (digital multi-meter) on offer there which as well as volts etc will also measure temperature rather more accurately than the cheap dial thermometers you can get in the sheds. Should cost no more than about 20 quid, and will find plenty of other uses in the home.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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On 10 Dec 2003 01:53:10 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Victoria) wrote:

Without hearing, it's a bit difficult to tell, but from your description sounds like it is from the pipes expanding but being trapped in some way, usually in the joist notches or holes through which the pipes pass. This is avoided by wrapping some insulation at each position so that the pipe can slide.

This is most likely because the system is not balanced, but could be sludging or an air lock. If all the others are OK, then try turning them all off bar the bedroom one and see if it heats up. If it does, evenly and without a cool patch in the centre at the bottom then it is most likely a balancing issue. There is a procedure in the FAQ to this NG to balance radiators. Not difficult but a little time consuming.

Precisely.
He should certainly have cleaned the system when fitting a new boiler anyway, and although a complete and accurate balancing exercise is time consuming, he should have at least adjusted the radiator lockshield valves sufficiently that all the radiators work. It is possible, but unlikely that the pipe size is too small, assuming that it worked before the boiler was changed.
On a reasonableness basis, he should have dealt with all of the above, especially considering what he charged. On the noise from the bathroom floor, I would say not unless he installed new pipework where the noise is coming from. However, it is a pretty easy job to fix once you can precisely identify the location.

.andy
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Victoria) wrote:

What no-one else has meantioned/asked is whether the plumber fitted proper TRV valves on the radiators and fitted a room stat. Since this is a new system then building regulations do require him to do this. Richard
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On Wed, 10 Dec 2003 20:53:48 +0000, Richard wrote:

..and on systems with new boilers. AIUI.
--
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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We asked for TRV to be fitted on all radiators but there is no room stat, except for the orginal one in the dining room.
Victoria
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Hi,
Are you sure that the knocking is related to the heating ? Cos I've had intermittent knocking which was specific to a single radiator and was easily fixed by replacing a new but presumably defective TRV, and I've also had extremely loud knocking which was caused by the toilet cistern being fed directly from the cold water main (rather than from a tank). The water was quite high pressure and used to jet out of the valve quite hard, so much so that the float used to bounce as a result. This would set up an oscillation, whereby the float would bounce, let in more water, which would cause the float to bounce, etc etc etc. Doesn't sound like much, except the shock waves ran right through the cold water piping and the noise was terrible. It took me a long time to realise that flushing the toilet was the cause, as it would happen when the cistern had almost refilled, i.e. when it 'seemed' no water was being drawn. Drawing cold water off at a tap when the banging started settled it down temporarily, and a permanent fix/bodge was made by suspending a damping device from the float arm (cable tie and a plastic beaker) within the cistern below water level to make it less susceptible to vibrations.
Hope this helps.
Cheers, Simon
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