FAQs

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Here you can find answers to some of the questions we get asked a lot!

FreQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Over the years, we have found that our customers often ask us the same questions – FAQs. So, we have compiled a list of the questions we get asked most frequently about our plumbing and heating services. We have split these into questions around boilers, our other domestic customer services, and the services we provide to landlords.

We hope you find this useful, but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries and we will be delighted to assist you.

How long does a boiler last?

Your boiler should last from 10 to 15 years if you have it serviced annually and look after it properly. A brand new boiler will provide you with highly efficient heating and hot water; even if it is 15 years old and still working, it won’t be working so efficiently, and your heating may be costing you more than it should. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save up to £315 a year on your energy bills if you replace an old inefficient gas boiler with a new boiler, controller, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves.

Why is my boiler pressure low?

Here are several reasons why the pressure in your boiler is too low overtime, it is quite normal for air to get into the system. You can tell if this has happened because you can feel cold spots on your radiators.

  • Try bleeding the radiators, then topping up the pressure on the boiler.

  • There’s a leak somewhere in the central heating system. Check pipes, radiators and radiator valves for signs of a leak, such as rust, corrosion or staining. You may not notice any water, because it may evaporate due to the heat of the pipework before it has the chance to drip.
  • The expansion vessel inside your boiler may need recharging or replacing. This is a job for a qualified, Freeflow engineer.
  • There could be debris inside the pressure relief valve. This is the safety valve that usually discharges water if the pressure in the system gets too high. If it is dripping with water and the pressure gauge is too low, your Freeflow engineer will need to clean out or replace the safety valve.

How can I protect my boiler this winter?

Here are some steps you can take to protect your boiler and keep yourself, and your dear ones, warm and cosy, even during the coldest weather.

  • Bleed your radiators to make sure they don’t have cold spots. You will need them to be working efficiently if it gets very cold. If you don’t know how to do it, there’s a handy step by step guide here.
  • Make sure your condensate pipe is protected from frost. Pipe lagging is inexpensive, and if your boiler’s condensate pipe is on an external wall, in an unheated room, like a garage, or outside, make sure it is lagged so it doesn’t freeze and make the boiler switch off to protect itself. Or you could ask your Freeflow engineer to move it or fit trace heating which would stop it freezing up. Find out how to prevent you condensate pipe freezing again here.
  • Get your boiler serviced to make sure it is safe and in good working order, ready for the colder weather ahead.

What are the benefits of a boiler service?

Regular servicing can keep you and your family safe, save you money and keep your warranty valid. Read more on the benefits of a boiler service.

Safety - all appliances that burn wood or fossil fuels (such as natural gas) could produce poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) if they are not working properly, so to keep your family safe, your Freeflow engineer will check your boiler for CO.

Keep your warranty valid - our warranties require that your boiler is annually serviced by a Freeflow engineer. Failure to do so could invalidate your warranty, resulting in expensive repair bills, should your boiler break down.

Fewer breakdowns - as you would expect when you take your car for its MOT, when you have your boiler serviced, all the main components are checked for wear and tear, and replaced if necessary. That means that it is less likely to breakdown when you need it the most, particularly in the cold winter months.

Efficiency - a well-maintained and regularly serviced boiler will work more efficiently. This means you are using less fuel and reducing your energy bills.

What is carbon monoxide and do I need a detector for my gas appliances?

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil, wood, coal or petrol. It can occur when appliances have been incorrectly fitted, poorly maintained, badly repaired or when vents, chimneys and flues are blocked. Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and has no odour, making it very difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide detector.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The most common symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea and feeling tired or confused - in fact, very similar symptoms to those of flu.

However, if you find your symptoms improve or go away when you are away from home, and get worse when you return, and if everyone else in the home, including pets, has the same symptoms, you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning and should see your GP immediately.

In severe cases, it can quickly cause collapse and loss of consciousness, long term damage and even death.

What to do if you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning?

Open doors and windows to let in fresh air, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.

See your doctor or go to hospital immediately – tell them you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, so they can check by doing a blood or breath test.

Call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 if you think there is imminent danger.

Arrange for a Freeflow engineer to check your gas appliances, flues and pipes.

What is a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon monoxide detectors, also known as CO alarms, work in a similar way to smoke alarms.

If carbon monoxide is present in your home, the detector will beep loudly to warn you of the danger.

We recommend the use of an audible carbon monoxide detector, rather than one that just changes colour, because it will alert you straightaway and wake you if you are asleep.

The alarm should be marked with British Standard EN 50291, and a British or European approval mark such as the Kitemark.

Ensure your carbon monoxide alarm has a battery life of five years and test your alarm weekly.

Fitting a carbon monoxide alarm is not a substitute for having your appliances regularly Serviced

Smoke alarms do not detect carbon monoxide Don't forget to take a portable audible carbon monoxide alarm on holiday with you. Protecting the family when away is often overlooked in the rush to pack the family suitcases.

Quick Energy saving tips

Turn your room thermostat down by just one degree and it could save you up to £80* a year.

Only heat the rooms you are using. If you have rooms you don’t use, turn the radiators off or if you have thermostatic radiator valves, turn them right down.

If you have a hot water storage cylinder, turn the temperature down to 60°C/140°F. To prevent the growth of harmful bacteria it should not be lower than this temperature.

Make sure the cylinder is well insulated. Most modern cylinders already have good insulation, but if yours is an older style, and you can see bare metal, a well fitted tank jacket could save you around £20 a year – more if you use the electric immersion heater to warm your water!

Don’t put clothes on your radiators, or furniture near to them. The hot air needs to circulate around a room, and so blocking the radiators could affect how warm your rooms are.

Close curtains at dusk to help keep the warmth in and the cold out; thermal or heavy curtains will help to stop heat escaping through the windows

How to thaw a frozen condensate pipe?

It is simple to defrost your condensate pipe and you shouldn’t need to call your Freeflow engineer. Please wrap up warm and take care not to slip on the frozen ground.

Locate the blockage This is likely to be where the pipe is most exposed, outside the building and probably at its end or at a bend or dip in the pipe where the condensate could collect and freeze.

Thaw the pipe

You can use a hot water bottle or a microwaveable heating pack (the sort used for muscular aches and pains) or a cloth soaked in hot water. You can also pour hot, but NOT boiling, water onto the blockage, but remember that the water may freeze on the ground and make it slippery.

Re-set or re-start the boiler

Once the blockage has cleared, check the boiler operating instructions or the manufacturer’s website for guidance on any action needed to clear the fault code or alarm and re-start the boiler. If it still doesn’t work, you should call Freeflow to come and look at it for you.

How to bleed my radiators?

Sometimes you may notice a cold patch at the top of your radiators, or they may make a noise when they are warming up. This could be due to air that has collected at the top over time and is quite normal. The air means the hot water in the radiators can’t circulate as effectively, so your home may take longer to warm up.

However, it is very easy to get rid of this air yourself, making your heating system more energy efficient and potentially saving money on energy bills.

While your heating is on, carefully feel the tops of each of your radiators to check if they are warm. Those which are cold at the top need bleeding.

Switch off your central heating, and let the radiators cool down before bleeding radiators.

Look at the valve on the top of the radiator – some need a screwdriver to undo them, but for most you will need a radiator key. These are very inexpensive and widely available at DIY stores.

Holding a cloth underneath the valve to catch any drips, slowly turn the key anticlockwise to open the radiator valve. You should hear hissing as the air escapes.

When the hissing stops and water stars to come out of the valve, turn the radiator key clockwise to close the radiator valve.

Repeat for all the radiators that you needed to bleed.

Check the pressure gauge on the front of your boiler – it should be around 1.5 Bar. If the pressure is too low, you will need to top it up.

We show you how to top up the pressure in your boiler here.

When you have checked that the boiler pressure is correct, turn on your central heating and check the radiators have not got any cold places. If there are still cold spots, your central heating system may have sludge and debris which is stopping it from working efficiently. Your Gas Safe registered installer can flush and clean the system for you, and treat the water with an inhibitor to keep it clean.

How often do I need to bleed my radiators?

We recommend you check your radiators at least once a year, when you switch on your heating again after the summer. It is quite normal for a bit of air to have collected, especially in the radiator which is highest in your central heating system. This is often a heated towel rail in the bathroom and easily overlooked, so make a note to check that one first!

If you see signs of rust or water when you check them, or your radiators need bleeding more often than usual, you may have a leak, which your Freeflow engineer can fix for you.

What is a gas safety certificate?

Under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, owners of residential rented properties must arrange a gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer for all pipework, appliances and flues in each of the properties which the landlord owns and provides for tenants to use.

These properties could include the following:

  • homes rented by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels.
  • rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels.
  • rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats.

Following the gas safety check, a Landlord Gas Safety Record (gas safety certificate), also known as CP12, will be issued to the landlord, which details the checks carried out by the engineer and if the appliances checked meet the appropriate safety standards. The landlord must keep a record of the safety check for two years, give a copy to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

How often do you need to have a gas safety check?

Landlords must also arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Information for landlords – what are your responsibilities?

If you are the landlord of a property with gas appliances, you have three areas of responsibility under UK law:

Maintenance: gas pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance the manufacturer’s instructions.

Gas safety checks: heating and cooking gas appliances and flues must be safety checked annually by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer, who will issue a Landlord Gas Safety Record.

Record: a record of the safety check must be kept for two years, a copy given to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and a copy issued to any new tenants before they move in.

Information for tenants – how to stay gas safe

in rented accommodation, under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, your landlord is responsible for making sure gas appliances, pipework and flues in the property you rent are maintained and serviced properly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. They also have to arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check every year and provide you with a copy of the gas safety certificate, called a Landlord Gas Safety Record.

You can make sure you stay gas safe in your rented home by carrying out the following simple steps:

Letting the Gas Safe registered engineer into your home to carry out the gas safety check; your landlord should let you know when they have arranged for the engineer to visit. It is a good idea to ask to see the engineer’s Gas Safe card when they arrive.

Any gas appliances that belong to you, rather than the landlord, are your responsibility. Make sure you get them serviced every year to ensure they are in safe working condition.

If a carbon monoxide alarm isn’t already fitted, ask your landlord to fit one or buy your own.

They are widely available and relatively inexpensive – and once you have your own, you can take it with you to future homes and even to make sure you are safe in holiday accommodation!

Report any signs that gas appliances may not be working properly to your landlord, for example soot or staining around the appliance, excess condensation in the room, or a pilot light which keeps going out.

If your landlord refuses to carry out their legal gas responsibilities, contact the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) or call 0800 300 363.