Several things wrong with new flat - no central heating, low hot water pressure even with water pump, noisey pump

Hello I've just bought my first flat and wanted to ask several things that I'm not familiar at all - i did buy some DIY books but afraid to do any of the work at the moment before i know for sure what I'm doing is ok and not going to cause any permanent damage - also wanted to ask you experienced guys before i pay a plumber
question 1) We have a boiler, hot water tank, water pump (next to the boiler), what looks like a valve next to the water pump and a shower pump
Now my understanding was the water pump gets used to circulate hot water around the house for central heating, correct?
Well we have no central heating! the only heating we have is a heater in the bathroom (both main and ensuite) but i was told they may be connected differently to the radiators and hence why they work. But even they stop going hot after sometime.
So no central heating - so after reading the DIY books i have, i checked: a) the boiler - which comes on when i switch everything on and i can see the pilot light and i DO get hotwater so that looks ok
b) the water pump - it has 2 settings, high pressure and low pressure. i think the pump is working but i cant tell for sure since when i touch it, because its next to the boiler, the vibration is THERE but i cant tell if its from the boiler or the pump. anyhow, if i change the settings to low pressure, the water pump seems to quiet down in vibration a bit so i think its working.
c) valve - i havent checked yet and read that there may be a switch that only enables HW only and no CH - this could be the cause which i will check tonight
d) raditors themselves - haven't checked but the pipes to the radiators itself is cold so i think no water is coming in.
So afterall of the above, i can only think it is either the water pump or valve.
The boiler does have a timer and a separate 7 day heat immersion timer (presumbely for CH only?) - both constantly set to ON.
Question 2) In the ensuite - the shower pressure is ok - since that is coming from the SHOWER PUMP in the airing cupboard and i can hear the pump working when i turn on the cold tap and hot tap on the basin sink in the en-suite.
However, in the MAIN bathroom, the cold water tap pressure is LOW - and i can not hear the pump. its only when i turn the hot water tap on, the pump seems to kick in and pressure is ok.
Same when i use the taps/shower in the bath of MAIN bathroom
so it looks like the pump is only coming on for HOT water ONLY in the main bathroom - why is this?
Also, when people talk about shower pump, i thought it only boosts the shower - but in ou flat, it does for taps as well - is this ok?
question 3) Shower pump (showermate 1.4bar twin max - working pressure 3.5bar) is way too noisey in the airing cupboard.
how can i reduce this noise? i read that i can have a box and some insulating stuff around it - but also read this is not good because the pump may overheat?
the pump is just sitting on a shelf inside the airing cupboard
--

Sorry for all these questions - but i'm just worried about all this -
and we still need to sort out the rest of the house :)
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The separate immersion heater should be set to off - it's only really a backup in case the boiler fails.
The boiler programmer should have settings for heating and hot water. Are you sure the heating one is on? What make is it?
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*Reality is the illusion that occurs due to the lack of alcohol *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Hi
thanks for your prompt reply.

OK - so do you mean OFF as in powered off OR use the over-ride switch (which is a button on the immersion heater timer with a a icon of a hand) to set it to OFF (which it says is OFF when a [O] icon is on display) ?

the boiler program has 3 settings that i slide to set:
CONSTANT (or something like that) --- OFF --- TIMER
I have it set to CONSTANT
It then has 3 icons underneath it - one for central heating only (because it looks like radiator), second one for both HW and CH, third for HW only.
I have it on BOTH CH and HW.
So Heating one is on. the make I'm not sure - something like suvic? i will check and post tomorrow.
what is strange is - if i set the boiler programmer to HW only, the boiler comes on, if i set it to CH and HW both, the boiler comes on, but if i set it to HW only, the boiler doesnt do anything.
that does that mean it thinks the temperature settings is too low? i have set every single themorstat in the house to the MAX temperature settins (room thermostat, hot water tank/cylinder thermostat)
there is also a clock on the boiler programmer and a knob that i can turn which changes a little icon next to it to red or not red - this is for the on/off when the program is in timer setting it seems.
thanks Kiichi
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hi again
typo in my post:

the last part should have said:
but if i set it to CH only, the boiler doesnt do anything.
thanks Kiichi
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kiich wrote:

How many pipes connect to this valve? (two or three would be the common options).

It pumps water round a heating circuit that runs from the boiler, through <something> and then back to the boiler. The <something> will usually be some combination of your heating circuit (i.e. the radiators), and/or your hot water circuit.
Have a look at your hot water cylinder; how many pipes do you see in and out? There will usually be a cold feed into the bottom of it (typically coming from a cold water tank in the loft), and a hot water feed out of the very top of it. You would also expect to see a couple of pipes that connect to the side of the cylinder. These will usually be the flow and return from the heating circuit. The connect to a heat exchanger coil in the tank, so they have no direct connection to the water in the tank - but by pushing hot water through them you in turn cause the water in the tank to heat up.

Typically a complete system will be "zoned" in some way. A very simple system is what they call a "Y Plan" configuration. Here the hot water generated by the boiler is fed first to a three port valve, and from there it can go either to the radiators via one outlet, or to the hot water cylinder via the other. Sometimes half and half if it is the right kind of valve (known as a mid position valve). Which output is selected on the valve will usually be controlled by the the room thermostat, the cylinder thermostat, and typically a programmer of some sort. So to get the heating to run you may need to set the programmer to allow it, and also have the room thermostat set high enough so that it is "calling for heat".
The reason that your bathroom radiators work may be that they have been installed on the non zoned part of the heating circuit. In this way they will get hot whenecer the boiler is running - be it for heating the radiators or the hot water cylinder. This is ofen done in bathrooms to ensure that heated towel rails etc. remain heated even during the summer when most people have the heating turned off.

OK. Depending on the type of vales used on your system, and the programmer you may or may not be able to have hot water heating at the same time as heating. It is not unusual to have the hot water heating take priority. So once it is up to temperature the system will revet to heating assuming the room stat and the programmer are allowing it.

If it were not working the boiler would very quickly shut down with an overheat fault detected.

Again depends on the type of valve. Many have controls that enable them to be manually set in the absense of any external control (or a failure of the electronics/motor in the valve)

What type of valves are on the radiators? One end will be a lockshield valve (i.e. one that may need a tool to adjust and will often have a blanking cap over it). The other may be a manual valve that works just like a tap, or it may be an automatic thermostatic valve. Again in warm weather the thermostatic valve may refuse to operate if it thinks the room is already warm enough.

More likely to be down to control settings I would guess - the thermostats and the controller. Possibly the thermostatic rad valves (TRVs) if you have them.

Is this timer connected to the boiler? Does your cylinder have a immersion heater? (the top of which would normally be visible sticking out the cylinder - it would also have to have wires connecting to it).
If it turns out that you don't actually have an immersion heater, it is possible that someone used a time switch designed for controlling one just as a way of providing a time switch facility to the boiler.

OK...
Are you sure it is the same pump being used for both bathrooms? You may have another somewhere else.

You can actually use them to supply taps as well if you want.

Mounting and baffling are the things to look at - if it is rigidly fixed then changing to a slightly flexible mount may help reduce noise transmission through the structure of the building (but may make it worse through the pipes). If it is flopping about loose then fixing it down may help! It can be a case of "suck it and see".

Should be OK... what about a room thermostat?
--
Cheers,

John.

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Hi John - thanks for the reply.
to most of your reply, i will need to check them out tonight at home :) should have taken a day off work if i knew i was going to get this many replies!

OK - i do have the following settings: 1) room thermostat - set to 25 - its highest. i can only find 1 in the flat which is what i expect/ 2) cylinder thermostat - set it to 70; highest is 90 (or around there) 3) programmer - boiler programmer set to CONSTANT; heather immersion timer set to ON with the over-ride switch, but this i was told by Dave(see previous reply) that is a backup - but if so, why is it there?

think but a big one so i thought it was a heater of some sort. so when boiler comes on, it gets hot - it eventually stops getting hot and the boiler also is off at the same time.

the valve next to the water pump, right? i will get details tonight

while but thats because i'm not using hot water right?

manually set in the absense of any external >control (or a failure of the electronics/motor in the valve)Kiichi>> will check for this tonight. can i just turn this control using a screw driver or by hand?

(i.e. one that may need a tool to adjust and will >often have a blanking cap over it). The other may be a manual >valve that works just like a tap, or it may be an automatic > >thermostatic valve. Again in warm weather the thermostatic valve

not an automatic one.

no TRV for me i think - all the radiators looks like my dads place ones which are old.
if it is control settings, why doesnt having all programmers set to CONSTANT and thermostat to the highest settings make the CH work then?

YES.
The 7 day immersion timer/programmer is connected to that one - but doesnt seem to make any difference whatever settings i make it to do.

kiichi>> how do i know that i dont have immersion heater? i cant see one in the flat - so i guess i dont??
if the immersion heater programmer is indeed used as a time switch facility to the boiler (via the old looking boiler programmer), how come it doesnt do anything to the boiler when i set it to ON using the over-ride on the immersion heater timer??

buzzing away.

Mounting and baffling are the things to look at - if it is rigidly fixed then changing to a slightly flexible mount may help reduce noise transmission through the structure of the building (but may make it worse through the pipes). If it is flopping about loose then fixing it down may help! It can be a case of "suck it and see".
kiichi>> i dont think it is flopping about - just sitting there. the noise isnt just from the vibration - it is also from the pump itself (if you know what i mean) but i will try and put some rubber etc under neath it
if i do that, can i do it without do anything to the pipes coming into the shower pump?? would that not damage the pipes??
thanks for all your answers!
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kiich wrote:

As per my last post, check to see if you actually have a immersion heater. If you have, AND this timer box is connected to it - this it is like Dave said - a backup.
If however it is being used as a timer to drive the boiler and hot water heating circuit then it may come into play here. If that is the case then having it demanding heat may take priority over the heating.

That makes sense - you run some hot water, the cylinder stat calls for heat and the boiler runs. The towel rail is in the path of this water being directed to the cylinder and so gets hot. Once the hot water is back up to temperature the boiler shuts off and the rads cool down. For the purposes of any further investigation you may find you can ignore the towel rads since it looks like they are not a part of the actual heating circuit.

Yup. There may be others.
Common types for a simple Y plan setup are mid position valves which can direct water to either port or split it between both equally; or a simpler diversion valve which can go one way or the other but has no mid position and hence can do hot water or heating but not both. Hot water would usually take priority in these cases. Having a look at the number of wires that connect to it wil be a clue (assuming the label on it does not say!). You need five for a mid position valve but only three for a diversion one.

Under a minute! With the pump not working it will be pumping kW of heat into a couple of pints of water in its heat exchanger. That will get very hot very quickly without any circulation.
For an entertaining account of what happens when this occurs along with a failure of some other protective bits of the boiler read here:
http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/humour.html#uninstalling
For more general background read soem of this:
http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/plumbing/plumbingpage1.html

manually set in the absense of any external >control (or a failure of the electronics/motor in the valve)

It is usually a leaver that can be moved by hand (assuming the valve has not siezed)

If your system prioritises hot water over heating and your cylinder stat is set high enough, you may never reach a position where the demand for hot water heating is reached and hence the heating does not get a look in.

This is what makes me susspect it may have nothing to do with an immersion heater. (if it were just for the immersion then it would not actually need any connection with the boiler (unless there is some form of interlock to prevent both operating at once).

Look at your hot water cylinder... any wires connected to it? if not then no immersion heater. (also look at your consumer unit - see if there is a fuse/mcb labelled immersion or something like that).

When set to on it would enable control of the boiler and pump by the cylinder stat - you wont be able to force it to run if there is no demand for heat. Once set to off the cylinder stat ought to be out of the equation.

It could be that the twin pump is driving both hot and cold - hot has been plumber after the pump in both bathrooms, but the cold only plumbed after the pump to one. (the other may use mains cold)

There will usually be a little "give" in the pipework that will accommodate a little bit of extra padding. Depends a bit on how it s done.
--
Cheers,

John.

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This is almost certainly your problem. This valve should be operated by your programmer. Make sure electrical power is switched on to both and check fuses.

Being a flat it means the feed to the copper cylinder cannot be mounted high enough to supply sufficient HW pressure. Cold water comes through at mains pressure. So the pump boosts pressure for the entire HW system while acting as a power shower.

Yes. Just means the shower pressure will drop if someone turns on a HW tap.

Slide something padded under the pump. Foam, cardboard, rubber, anything that reduces transmission of the pump's vibes.
riccip
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By which programmer though? the programmer underneath the boiler OR the 7 day immersion heater one? or both?
i do remember seeing a cable going into the valve from the boiler programmer though.
when you electrical power to BOTH - you mean the boiler programmer AND 7 day immersion heater programmer right? if so, i see lights coming on for both so power must be good??

but why does the shower pump come on for cold water in the en-suite ONLY and not for the main bathroom then?

Slide something padded under the pump. Foam, cardboard, rubber, anything that reduces transmission of the pump's vibes.
kiichi>> the shower pump is sitting on a wooden shelf and it has 4 pipes (i think 4 but will check) coming in - if i slide something underneath the shower pump, would that cause these pipes to break?
thanks! kiichi
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The boiler programmer (CH & HW).

Sorry no. By BOTH I meant the programmer and the valve. I'm assuming that the valve is electrically controlled (motorised). You said above there is a wire going to it. It should look something like the one at this URL: http://tinyurl.com/bb7d2
If it does then you should also see a small slide-lever on the side of the box, attached to the valve, for manual operation. You could try opening the valve fully using this lever while the boiler is supplying HW. If your CH comes on then we're closer to solving the problem.

Sorry, yes. I've just reread your post and now understand what you mean. Without physically seeing it I can't explain why the pump comes on when you use that particular CW tap, but the pump can't be supplying cold water to it.

Highly unlikely. There should be more than enogh flexibility to slide something under there. I was thinking something like a J-sponge, about a quarter-inch thick.
riccip
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Hi riccip

The boiler programmer (CH & HW).
kiichi>> ok - so if the boiler programmer controls the valve, what exactly is the "7 day immersion heater timer programmer" used for? to heat up the cylinder??
so if my understanding is correct,
1) the boiler programmer controls when the BOILER should come on for both HW and CH and also the valve to let water cycle through from the hot water cylinder to the house for CH
2) the 7 day immersion heater timer controls when to heat up water in the cylinder tank - so that the water in there can be used to heat up the CH
so from above, am i right in thinking that both timers settings needs to be the same?? why not have just 1 controller to do both??

Sorry no. By BOTH I meant the programmer and the valve. I'm assuming that the valve is electrically controlled (motorised). You said above there is a wire going to it. It should look something like the one at this URL: http://tinyurl.com/bb7d2
Kiichi>> i will check tonight but yes i think thats how it looked - different make of valve though.

force?
if that does work (god please let it work! ;-)) then why would i need to manually do that?

Kiichi>> so you think cold water is NOT being pumped by the motor?? why would the cold water in en-suite make the pump to come on then? i thought that was ok as my cold water pressure is v. low when i turn off the shower pump.

b&q? thanks
kiichi
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Normally, only if the gas central heating fails.

It switches on the boiler if there is a demand. The thermostats in the room and on the tank control the actuation of the three way valve.

No. An immersion only heats the hot water - not the CH.

Because the immersion is only a standby in case the boiler is out of action. And it only heats the water.
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Hey Dave

Normally, only if the gas central heating fails.
Kiichi>> OK - so if there is no wire connected to the cylinder from the "7 day immersion heater timer", what is it doing? it is only a backup if there is a wire coming from the programmer to the immersion heater, correct?
but i am sure there is only a cable coming from the 7 day immersion heater timer to the boiler programmer - so how can that heat up the cylinder when/if the boiler is out? [...]

No. An immersion only heats the hot water - not the CH.
kiichi>> i'm a bit confused now - i thought the water in the cylinder gets used for central heating (by circulating hotwater from the cylinder to the radiators) ?
i thought the water in the cylinder was ONLY for central heating? and the hotwater for taps in kitchen etc gets hot by the boiler which is heating up waters from main or tank in atic?

Because the immersion is only a standby in case the boiler is out of action. And it only heats the water.
kiichi>> so my boiler is heating up both the hot water for my shower/kitchen etc AS WELL AS the hot water for the central heating radiators?
sorry for all these fundamental questions... kiichi
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Opposite way round! The water in the cylinder is ONLY for hot water directly to your taps.
riccip
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See below...

Your copper cylinder has two ways of heating your HW to the tap. It has an electrical immersion heater controlled by the 7-day immersion timer AND a coiled pipe to/from your boiler. The two are independent of each other.
Normally you would only use the electrical immersion heater to boost the water heating early in the morning or before filling a bath. It's expensive to use unless you have cheaper night-time electricity, in which case you'd set the timer to heat it at night. Also during the summer when you don't use your CH it can be cheaper to turn the boiler off and just heat the water by electricity.
If that doesn't explain it please feel free to ask more questions.

It doesn't matter about the make coz they're all basically the same. Yours is probably more like the first image here: http://tinyurl.com/8gn9k

Yes. Look at the second picture and you can see the lever. It will feel quite stiff because as you slide it along it manually spins a small motor inside. Pull it all the way as far as it can go then push it up and it will hook into a small recess to hold it open, otherwise it will slowly spring back. If your boiler is on then you should get both CH and HW.

To test the valve and help find the problem. It's possible the small motor has gone inside the valve. Unlikely though.

I really don't know. Perhaps someone else has a suggestion?

Anywhere that sells dishcloths and that sort of thing. It's just a flat, square dishwashing sponge. Try a piece of corrugated cardboard first. If that reduces the noise replace it with the sponge.
riccip
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riccip wrote:

You are assuming it is a mid position valve and hence able to direct water to both CH and HW circuits. If it is a diversion valve then it will only do one or the other, never both.
--
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John.

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It's a poor boiler that would need this.

Again, it would be a very inefficient gas boiler/system where full price electricity would be cheaper. And running the boiler every day for hot water keeps the pump in good fettle.
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wrote:

It could be a poor cylinder, and probably is.
<snip misinformation>
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It's reasonable to assume a flat would have a small boiler, otherwise it depends on the household demand for hot water. On cold winter mornings any boiler is best left to heat the house ASAP if "Economy 7" electricity (or it's equivalent) is available.

Which is why I said "cheaper night-time electricity". However in the summer there is no more expensive way to heat water than leaving a conventional boiler cycling over the HW system alone, unless you mean combi-boilers?
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Since you're talking about a storage system, an immersion just outputs 3 KW. Any half decent central heating system will input a great deal more than that to the storage tank.

Then switch on the boiler earlier. And cheap rate electricity isn't economical for limited use.

Why would it cycle? You set the programmer to heat the cylinder then switch off. And if you left an immersion on all the time it would cost even more.
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