Just how bad is this central heating?

You may recall I've regailed you over the last year or so with the botched job Merseyside Central Heating (offices in Crosby and Birkenhead) made of replacing a boiler at my mother's house, and their total disregard for customer care in even acknowledging that they have a legal responsibility to put right a leaking 14 month old heat exchanger (irrespective of whose 'fault' it is).
I've had a closer look at the system and compared it to the boiler's Installation Guide, and I've noted the following 'differences'. I wonder if anyone would care to comment on whether these differences amount to a lack of a reasonable care and skill in fitting a replacement boiler to an existing system:
1. The system was flushed towards the end of the installation process, and, according to my mother (who couldn't swear to it), took significantly less than 3-4 hours. I've also sent a sample of the water off to Fernox to see how much inhibitor was added.
2. On a system controlled entirely by TRVs with no room thermostat, the (existing) by-pass circuit was not fitted with an automatic by-pass valve as per the installation instructions (their wording is "_must_").
3. The open vent is ~5m horizontally from the boiler, just before the pump. The instructions say, "as close to the boiler as possible".
4. The open vent is less than 450mm above the water level in the header tank and is not fitted with a surge arrestor.
5. The instructions say the cold feed from the header tank should be inverted. This is not the case.
6. A Benchmark logbook/commissioning certificate was not issued.
Items 2-5 were existing on the original system, but is it the duty of anyone fitting a new boiler to correct any omissions if they spot them?
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Hugo Nebula
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Good idea - at least you should get a definitive answer (as long as they arent trying to sell you one of their test kits.)

Is there a non automatic bypass? these worked just fine for years before the pen pushers got hold of the idea that automatics were essential :-(

Does the pipe have any branches between the two points and does it rise all the way? i.e. will it clear any air?

Minor detail - it actually makes a definite sludge blocking point on a lot of systems. The important point is its location in respect to the vent and does any pumping over occur. Where is it in the system?

It should have been - have you asked CORGI (in writing) for their comments?

Well yes - any half decent installer would have found these on an initial pricing visit.
Have you contacted Ideal Boilers yet? Has your mum got any heating/hot water at the moment? If you arent getting any response to letters of complaint have you taken legal advice?
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On Sat, 24 Sep 2005 16:25:09 +0000 (UTC), a particular chimpanzee
and produced:

Well, it's costing 30 to test.

The boiler is in the kitchen on the ground floor, the pump, hot water cylinder and connections to the header tank are in the airing cupboard on the first floor on the opposite party wall of the house.
The connection from the boiler comes up between the floorjoists into the airing cupboard. It then rises vertically up to the header tank. It branches off towards the pump, with a 15mm branch from the tank before the pump.
To/from header tank ^ ^ | | | | | | |_|__Pump______3-way | ________| valve | | ^ | | Possible by pass | | ==============Floor============ There appears to be a 15mm branch past the pump which dives off under the floor. This looks the most likely to be the by-pass. There is a gate valve on it, but nothing else.

Yes. "The fact that there is no bypass circuit or valve[*] if all the TRV's are closed does not make it a gas safety issue".
[*] This was when I thought there was no bypass circuit at all.

Would this imply that the installer is less than half-decent?

Not yet. I've been in touch with Ideal boilers under duress, as my mum's contract is with Merseyside Central Heating. Irrespective of whose 'fault' it is, it should be down to MCH to sort it out. MCH have, very graciously, as a favour to my mother, agreed to fit a new heat exchanger for a modest fee of over 100+VAT. I have had to jump through hoops to get Ideal to send my mother a replacement part, provided we signed a waiver to agree that if it turns out that it's not their part at fault, we will be charged for its cost.
Needless to say, once the thing is fitted and working, they can both go swivel for any payment.

Not paid for, but I've been in touch with Trading Standards and our case seems very clear-cut. From the DTI website, "a claim can be pursued through the courts for up to six years providing that it can be shown that the problem was due to the work not being carried out properly or the goods or materials used not being of satisfactory quality". IANAL or even a Heating Engineer, but I would have thought a boiler should be expected to last longer than 14 months.
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Hugo Nebula
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The vent and fill pipe arrangement looks like a standard "close coupled" fill and vent. Normally the two pipes are teed in within about 100mm of each other. This should not materially affect the correct working of the circulating system. The short distance between the vent and the fill pipe is to "ensure" pumping over does not occur.
The gate valve bypass will "work" ok as long as it is cracked open.

I wish CORGI would decide once and for all if they are going to be a gas only or a whole industry policeman. I hear stories from time to time about them taking an interest in complaints such as yours as this sort of failure suggests the operative is likely to have failed to work to satisfactory standards on the gas system as well as the water. The articles which appear in their magazine seem to be chosen for their bullshit factor:-(
>

A rose by any other name?

I think you may find the fault to be a casting defect so I would expect Ideal to pay the installers bill. Their customer service department told me a while ago they would be prepared to intervene up to five years. Lets hope the story has a satisfactory outcome.
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On Sat, 24 Sep 2005 21:18:40 +0000 (UTC), a particular chimpanzee
and produced:

What does this mean? Should I leave the valve only slightly open? And what is 'slightly' open? Half a turn; a quarter open; half open?
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Hugo Nebula
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

It means open only a bit. Unlike an automatic by-pass which only opens under pressure, a manual one is open all the time - so you don't want too much flow through it when the TRVs are open, but you must have *some* when they are closed.
Essentially, you want it open as little as possible consistent with the boiler's over-heat cutout not tripping when all the TRVs are closed. I guess that setting it involves trial and error - unless anyone has a neat procedure for doing so.
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Adjustment to suit your system. Try about 3/4 of a turn from closed as a starting point. 1/2 turn might be adequate. Its not dramatically critical as long as there is enough flow to keep the pump output moving sufficient to avoid kettling and not enough to rob the radiators at the extremities. To give an idea many older combi boilers had a bit of 8mm pipe built in as a permanent bypass and this was all they needed. Your Classic cast iron heat exchanger is very forgiving (normally <g>)
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On Sat, 24 Sep 2005 12:47:30 +0100, a particular chimpanzee named Hugo

The highlights of the results were: "Chloride level high indicating contamination - water is corrosive. Aluminium level high - corrosion problem indicated. High iron level - likely corrosion problem or soluble iron present due to incomplete flushing. Evidence detected of residues remaining after previous cleaning".
Anyone care to comment? If you want me to post the figures in ppm, I will do.
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??????? Chlorine is dosed into tap water before being piped to your house. What alleged degree of corrosion do they say you can expect?

Where has the aluminium come from - do you have any in your system?

Did they tell you which particular salt of iron they had detected?

What colour is the water when you draw some off, have you any idea of the pH of it?

Despite the above did they say if there was inhibitor present? These comments sound suspiciously like a marketing mans interpretation with a view to selling you more inhibitor. I may be showing too much cynicsm here?
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On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 19:50:25 +0000 (UTC), a particular chimpanzee
and produced:

The mains water has 30ppm of _chloride_ (is that different than chlorine?) and the system has 459ppm.

Obviously, yes. 5.0ppm. As to where it's come from; good question.

It just says, "Iron", 674.5ppm.

It was black. The pH of the mains water is 7.5 and the system is 7.8.

"Evidence of a water treatment additive has been detected", and "treatment is not a current Fernox Protector product".
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Hugo Nebula
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I'd be suspicious of an acid cleaner having been used but not fully neutralised. I'm not sufficiently up in my chemistry to say for sure but it certainly gives food for thought.

5.0 ppm could be as a result of the wateer company using aluminium sulphate as a flocculant. Might be worth asking if your water supplier uses it.

Maybe as a chloride salt? Although the normal trade acid cleaners are not HCl but who knows what your installers actually used.

As I am sure you already appreciate, black is not a good colour for system water. It suggests oxygenation rather than acidic products to me but see above re the actual chemistry aspect. The pH would have been better much higher although it is to the alkaline side of neutral. Being a little higher than mains water suggests there is "some" treatment present though.

It may be one of the Sentinel products (Grace Dearborne) or one of the crappy cheapo substitutes marketed in some outlets. Did the instalers deign to tell you what they used?
It looks as though you are going to have a fight on your hands unless Ideal decide to be generous.
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