Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

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zcar12
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Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:31 pm

Last week, as any damn fool do know, was bitterly cold everywhere in the UK. I wonder if anyone else experienced low gas pressure in the supply pipes?

From Wednesday to Saturday morning, my gas boiler pilot flame would not stay lit. I could get the boiler to fire up once and then the flame would go out. I thought that I may have a problem with the thermocouple and so ordered a new one. Lo and behold, from Saturday morning on,the boiler has performed perfectly so there was no fault with it after all. It was just the demand for gas that was very high, resulting in a low gas pressure. While the boiler was out, we got very cold and wore three layers of clothing. Even out kitchen sink outlet turned into a solid block of ice.

I fully expect a repeat of this experience next year so what type of extra heaters should I buy? Your recommendations are welcome.

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:04 pm

I'd demand compensation if i were you Nick! Your gas supplier has a duty to provide gas at a certain level to enable you to heat your home and water, you went for the obvious FFD (Flame Failure Device aka thermocouple) and that didn't cure it because the fault wasn't the flame failing because the thermocouple was shutting it down, it was failing due to insufficient pressure to keep the pilot light running.

In car terms, it's fuel starvation.
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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:52 pm

My gas supplier, EON, responded to my request for compensation, as I was without gas central heating for 3 days, due to low pressure in the supply pipes. The response?

A recommendation that I take out British Gas boiler cover at £9.99 a month. It was a British Gas engineer who told me that the problem was likely due to low pressure in the gas main. They are just not interested if a customer has a problem. The boiler has never failed to light since the cold spell ended. So it is unlikely that my system has a fault.

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:42 pm

That's not good enough Nick - in fact it's downright disgusting! From various comments etc that have passed between us over the time on the forum, i'm fairly certain that you'd have a seriously good case for taking this further so my first port of call now would be :

https://www.ombudsman-services.org/sectors/energy

Not quite sure where you'd go within that site but i'm sure there are contact details, with your medical background, age and so on i'm sure there is something there.

Also the local press/media might be worth a call, i don't know if Cold Weather Payments were issued in your area, i know they were round here but assuming they were, the last thing you need is for the gas pressure to be insufficient to cope when you need it most! :evil:
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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:50 pm

Thank you Dave, I will definitely look into taking the matter further. I have to wait 8 weeks before I can raise a complaint with the energy ombudsman, if the energy company is stubborn.

Just read in Moneyweek magazine an article. about emergency cover for gas boilers. They make the point that in really bad snowy weather, like we had the other week, a gas engineer cant reach you anyway to fix a problem. Averaging one claim (£79)over seven years, they point out that you would have paid a bundle in premiums and seen little benefit for your £9.99 a month. Far better to put the money aside in a fund for emergency uses. And you also get to keep control of the cash!

I doubt we will get a cold weather payment here as we only had 4-5 days of below zero temperatures. I think it has to be brass monkey weather for at least 7 days to qualify. The boiler has returned to working normally since the cold weather ended so it definitely had no faults.

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:12 pm

Let's hope they pull their finger out of whatever slimy hole it's currently residing and start using it to prod themselves into talking sense!

Telling you to take a boiler maintenance contract out doesn't absolve them from fulfilling their duty of providing gas at a working pressure to operate said boiler. The gas engineer confirmed it wasn't operating because of insufficient pressure - ergo nothing the engineer could have done about it!

As for the maintenance contracts, a tenner a month by my lightning quick calculation is £120 a year. I don't know how much a call-out is but i daresay it's probably less than that. Even if it's say £100 and the reason you've had to call an engineer out on a maintenance contract is because you have no gas, the maintenance contractor will generally view it as a chargeable fault and invoice you accordingly - it's a bit like phoning for a washing machine engineer when your washing machine doesn't work because the MCB in the cupboard that feeds the circuit the washing machine runs on has tripped because the kettle blew up.

In other words, they presume some common sense on the part of the policy holder (the policy being the maintenance contract) and charge accordingly for non-fault call-outs. Granted there is no visible indication of what the gas pressure is so that is part of the engineers job to check, same as it would be part of the washing machine engineers job to ensure the supply to the socket (usually done initially by checking the appliance fuse then plugging something like a table lamp in to the washing machine socket to confirm) but the question of whether you have any other gas appliances and do they work, similarly have you tried something else in the socket for the washing machine is usually asked.

IF you only had 4-5 days of brass monkeys then you probably won't get the CWP, we had about 8 days here and i remember looking at the national weather on tv and being jealous of the West Country in general because it was having a comparative heatwave! It was only just above freezing but it was above.

Either way, your gas supply was insufficient for your boiler to fire up, that's down to your supplier.
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Dave


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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:21 pm

I agree that the low gas pressure in the mains was down to my gas supplier. I can understand that they want to shrug it off and do nothing, why would they not? But I will bide my time and keep irritating my supplier. If they want a guerilla war, so be it. The guerillas win in the end because its cheaper to give them what they want.

Worked out that £9.99 a month for a gas contract is close to £840 over 7 years, ignoring the penny. The article I read said on average, people had one call out in 7 years costing an average £79. Why would they not push the contract, they will be quids in. Like the Friendly Society plans that were once popular and pushed by so called IFA;s. They did not tell you that 56% of the first years premium went to them and 9% every year thereafter, for getting you to sign up. No wonder they were so keen for me to have a plan. It was disclosed in the small print so nobody read it.

Had a call this morning from a company who said they were working with EON, They wanted to make an appointment to fit a smart meter I said no way and they wanted to know why I did not want it. I said it was none of their business and put the phone down.

Like you, I also have had problems with the RCD popping out. In 10 years, 3 kettles blew up, a fridge motor, and a washing machine caused it to pop. Drum spider broke, wiping out the heater. Fixed for £25 and much cursing. No call out charges!

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:44 pm

Just keep bashing away at Eon Nick, they will soon get the idea that you're not going to let it go. Keep copies of everything you send them whether it's by email, snail mail or whatever. It will all come in handy when you cost them £500 by referring it to OFGEM. :lol: As soon as a legitimate complaint is raised with OFGEM, they charge that supplier £500 for the privilege of investigating it. At least you know it's going to cost them now if they let it get that far! :D

As for the contract, let's round that "average" call-out of £79 up to £80 to make the maths easier - you'd spend 10.5 times what you'd need to! Insurance is one of the biggest gambles in that respect. Technically you're placing a wager (of £10 a month) that your boiler isn't going to play up - if it does you get it repaired free because the contract provider has "lost the bet". Conversely if they "win" they get to keep your stake money.
There aren't many poor bookies/turf accountants/insurance brokers/underwriters etc, they're all in the same game of weighing the odds in their favour and while they lose a few gambles, they win a lot more so they don't really mind paying out on their "losses" as that gives them a good reputation. Nice work if you can get it!

Many moons ago i used to work for a sub-contract meter replacement firm, smart meters were just about appearing at the time. The outfit i worked for got the appointments for replacement from the energy provider (N-Power at the time) and they had a team of tele-canvassers calling all their victims to try and get people to change their old meters fro new ones - just basic ones at the time i was actually changing them over. Now it seems all the energy companies are doing everything they can to make sure everyone has a Smart meter - like you i don't want one though! To me, they are an invasion of privacy - i don't see why the electricity company needs to know when i boil a kettle, put the microwave on to nuke a lasagne or whatever else!

I can beat your record on the kettles! :lol: I've killed 3 in 2 months! That's because i dropped them though! They didn't all fail immediately, some lasted a few days before going bang, now i have one of those where you put the cup under and press the button, with a variable fill amount. Granted it cost more than the three kettles i dropped but not much and it has outlasted them considerably!

The washing machine heater died through old age a couple of years back, took the kitchen trip out. Weighed up the pros and cons and bought a washer-dryer from the catalogue. The old washing machine was about 8 years old when i got it, i'd had it 6 years so took the view i could fix it for about £40 (new heater) which would get it going again for an indeterminate period. Then the expensive things would start going - the motor, programmer and the bearings. The bearings were moulded into the tub at manufacture (no separate bearing spider) so weren't available separately, whole new tub needed!
Net result, cut my losses and bought the new one! Obviously they've been trying to sell me insurance and for the washer-dryer and the fridge, they can get it just under a tenner a month. That would be the rate for 5 years which it would "extend the guarantee" to. In other words i'm paying extra for the first years guarantee that is statutory then a premium based on the average family use of the washing machine and the fridge-freezer. Five years at a tenner a month is £600, almost what i paid for both items together! As there is just me, i won't use either of them that much so i'll hedge my bets and hope for the best! :wink: :D
Cheers,
Dave


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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:50 pm

My, My, Dave, that is interesting information, thanks for that. If I get to complain to OFGEM, then the energy company gets charged the cost of an investigation into the complaint. That is very handy to know. Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling! I can certainly ramp up the aggro now!

Many years ago, I drove through the village of Much Hadham in Hertfordshire and noticed many swanky houses and gardens. Told my boss about this and he knew some of the residents. I remember now him saying that you never see a poor bookie or accountant. Very true. Also drove past the home of the sculptor Henry Moore, lots of weird statues in the garden.

Had two letters from EON today. The first informed me that they were raising my Direct Debit by a considerable amount. My last quarterly bill showed £268.58 so they took the money already in my account, which strangely was also £268.58. Very strange that. I guess they need a even bigger float so they can run a even bigger profit machine, using OPM. The other letter says deceptively, that "Your meters are being phased out" Nothing to say that I cant keep the old meter. Seems like this energy company is doing its best to rub me up the wrong way. I am now highly incentivized to find a new tariff from a new supplier.

My washing machine is a 20+ year old Hotpoint, which has a timer which trips micro switches as the timer rotates. Seems to be a very robust design so I will not be shifting it out anytime soon. Cheap spares are everywhere for a DIY;er like me.

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:30 am

I thought that information might cheer you up Nick!

Your comment about Much Hadham reminds me of Chilbolton Avenue in Winchester or as it was known locally, Millionaires Row. Predominantly owned by stockbrokers and other similar professions, back in the late 70s/early 80s when i went to school just round the corner (the schools playing fields were actually in Chilbolton Avenue! :shock: ) i don't think there was a house there valued under £1m - 40 years ago £1m was a hell of a lot of money!

I suspect Eon are trying to put pressure on you - i don't know what your previous DD was each month but if the new one is unreasonably high (and not in keeping with your average use across the year) that's another part of your complaint to OFGEM.

There is a rule that electricity meters have to be renewed every so often to maintain their calibration, however that doesn't mean suppliers can use that to insist you have a smartmeter.
Also if you do change tariffs/suppliers make sure they don't try to put the kybosh on it - again, keep notes, copies of anything sent to/from them over it all. I know someone who went through something very similar as a result of their supplier (hence knowing about the £500 OFGEM charge the suppliers for each complaint), i'll have a word and see if i can get any little (or big) bits of useful information for you.

Sounds like you've got one of the last "proper" Hotpoints there Nick, that sort of programmer/timer tends to keep going until the motor fails or the microswitches give up the ghost or general wear and tear takes its toll on the cams etc. If it's the one i'm thinking of it uses a generic drain pump that can be picked up almost anywhere for a tenner or thereabouts, biggest problem with drain pumps is either coins left in pockets or bra wires coming out. The bra wires get into the impeller and jam the pump, the coins act like a throttle valve and block the flow of water. Either way you end up with a machine full of water and no way of pumping it out! Drag it out (washing up liquid on the floor where the feet are helps it slide easily), tip it back against the worktop at 45 degrees ish, pen the door and bale it out with mugs or similar. Then when most of the water is out, go underneath and where the rubber sump connects to the drain pump, undo the clip and pull the pipe/sump off the drain pump inlet and catch the water in a washing up bowl.
Remove the obstruction, clean the sump internally (squeeze it to make sure you can't feel anything hard inside), refit the sump etc, put back down on the floor and turn the timer to drain (usually "J" on the dial if memory serves), switch on and if all is well, it should pump the remaining wet stuff out.
You can work the rest out from that if you ever need a new drain pump! :wink: :D
Cheers,
Dave


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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:46 pm

Thank you Dave, you are an absolute treasure trove of information on so many subjects. You would do well on a TV quiz how. Today, one million pounds is not even considered serious money LOL.

EON increased my monthly Direct Debit from £88 a month to £135 a month.

Had my moments with washing machines over the years. Had a top loader when we came here. Worked fine until the wife got frustrated with it one day and tried to turn the timer backwards. Replaced with a Hotpoint front loader, that lasted 19 years. Only needed motor brushes, a drive belt and a door catch in that time .Then I was persuaded to shift it out in favor of cheap modern machine that my sons friend wanted rid off when forced to leave his flat. Bad move. An Argos machine. Avoid them, made to a price. My son would overload it, despite my warnings. He let a hair tie in a jeans pocket and it got wrapped around the pump impeller, jamming it solid. Had to cut it off. Only lasted 18 months before it had a fault in the main controller board, and impossible to fix.. Replaced with a Hotpoint WM83, a more old school designed machine. Apart from the drum spider breaking, wiping out the heater and tripping the RCD, no further troubles. With regard to the Argos machine, "self inflicted wounds" With hindsight, I wish I had kept my old machine, despite its rusting. It was a case of "penny wise, pound foolish". Had too much money at the time and not enough sense!

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by zcar12 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:14 pm

Since contacting EON about my gas supply, I have received lots of emails from them. The latest tells me that I used 10% less gas in February. Well, Duh? February is only 28 days and January is 31 days. I could not get the boiler to fire at all for 2 days so that's why I used less gas. (And froze my nuts off)

The latest email tells me I need to contact National Grid about my lack of gas in Feb/March and they will investigate. I thought National Grid was to do with Electric not gas?

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Re: Gas Boilers and Gas Pressure.

Post by scoobyh123 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:50 pm

You're welcome Nick and tanks but i'd be no good on a TV quiz - stage fright! :shock:

That's about a 50% increase on the DD, difficult for them to justify across a year if you've been paying the same (allowing for gradual increases over the years) for some time.

As for February using less gas, you're spot on, it is 10% shorter than both January and March! Do they read the meter monthly then? If not, how do they know unless they're using the simple days in the month way of working?
February could have been 10% colder so you used 10% more gas each day so the same amount overall for the whole month.

All down to statistics and statisticians are accomplished liars! :wink: :lol:

It was a motley assortment of manufacturers that made machines for Argos, the electricity boards (when they sold appliances in their shops) and similar outlets. Trouble is, they were all made to a price and usually with components that weren't intended for their "normal" production run. That was how the manufacturers made their money back, on the out of warranty repairs - repairs which didn't use "standard" parts, special pumps, bearing spiders and so on.

At last! Some useful advice from Eon! First port of call is always the supplier and after that, if they couldn't have prevented the problem - "out of their hands" then it's National Grid.
Once upon a time, National Grid only did electricity as you rightly say and Transco did the gas equivalent. However since privatisation, to preserve a "one stop answer", Transco and National Grid merged their services and are now simply "National Grid". That might have a slight inaccuracy somewhere along the lines but that's the bones of it as it was explained to me several years ago. :wink: :D
Cheers,
Dave


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