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Water Heater Maintenance: Does an Electric Boiler Need Maintenance? Gas heat is used throughout much of the UK. However, there are millions of homes that are not connected to the gas network that still need hot water and heat. Electric boilers offer a viable solution there, providing plenty of performance, reliability, and decent energy savings. However, like any other appliance, there are care and maintenance considerations that you’ll need to make with an electric boiler. Do You Really Need to Maintain Them Annually? The simple answer here is “yes”. You should have your electric boiler inspected and serviced every year. The reason for this is that unvented cylinders, while offering better performance and reliability than vented cylinders, do have inherent risks. They are pressurised metal cylinders. If one or both of the safety systems were to fail, it could be very dangerous. Annual inspections and maintenance ensure that your cylinder does not become an explosion hazard. What’s Required in Terms of Annual Maintenance? If you have used gas or oil boilers in the past, you will be pleasantly surprised by how little an electric boiler requires in the way of maintenance. There are no specific annual replacements needed, the way there are with other types of boilers. Instead, you really only need a visual inspection of the boiler and the associated systems – including the pressure relief valve and the temperature relief valve. Both of these must be in good working condition for an unvented cylinder to be safe. Additionally, a qualified plumber will also check a number of other things on your boiler. These include the following: Checking all electrical connections to ensure tightness and that there is no corrosion Checking the tundish and surrounding area for signs of water Checking for signs of damage to wiring, such as rodent gnawing, etc. Check the air bubble in the cylinder tank Check the thermostat for functionality/wear Additionally, there is a need to drain water heater cylinders periodically. The reason for this is build-up from sediment/debris/minerals within the water itself. For instance, a water supply high in lime will create limescale build-up within the cylinder through normal use. Over time, this build-up can become quite substantial, compromising the performance of the cylinder. By draining the cylinder annually, much of that build-up can be removed. This prolongs the lifespan of your cylinder and improves its performance when factored over time. As you can see, while there is not a lot involved with annual maintenance, it is important that you have it performed. It’s also important that you only work with a G3 qualified plumber. They are the only professionals licensed in the UK to service unvented cylinders (this doesn’t apply if you have a vented cylinder). At EasyFlow, our professional plumbers are all G3 qualified and capable of providing the maintenance that you need. It’s never been easier to ensure that you and your family have access to a constant flow of hot water. Call us on 0161 941 5571 today to schedule an appointment.  

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Today, there are two types of water heaters used in residential applications. One type is older and has been around for a long time – vented cylinders. The other – an unvented cylinder – has been in use for several decades, but still represents newer technology and is harder for consumers to understand. At Easy Flow, our goal is to help our customers understand the systems and appliances installed within their home, including unvented cylinders. The Basics of Unvented Cylinder Operation Unvented cylinders are connected directly to your mains water supply. That ensures there is plenty of pressure when you open the tap, and it is heated using either a series of electric heating elements within the cylinder, or via a boiler. Because of the design, there is no need for a cold-water storage/feeder tank, and no need to install it high up within the home. That frees up plumbing space, plus offers additional room for other things you might want. The Expansion Tank While an unvented cylinder does not need a cold-water storage/feeder tank, it does need what’s called an expansion vessel. Basically, water expands when it is heated. Because the cylinder is not vented, there must be somewhere for the excess water to go when it is heated. The expansion vessel is usually installed on top of the cylinder itself and serves this purpose. As the water expands, it moves into the expansion tank. When it cools, it flows back into the body of the cylinder itself. The tank should be inspected annually for safety. Air Bubble Expansion Some unvented cylinders use a different expansion method. Rather than an external expansion tank, they use an internal air bubble. In this situation, air is trapped within the cylinder itself. As the water heats and expands, the bubble becomes compressed, providing additional space for heated water. Like the expansion tank, your internal air bubble should be maintained annually to ensure safe operation. Ensuring Safety Vented cylinders allow all the pressure that builds up as a result of heating water to escape into the atmosphere. Unvented cylinders do not. Because of that, they have several safety systems installed. The first is a temperature relief valve that activates if the unit were to overheat and allows excess heat and steam to be vented safely. The second is a pressure relief valve that activates if the pressure reducing valve on the inflow side were to fail. Who Should Install Unvented Cylinders? Unvented cylinders offer excellent performance and better pressure in showers and at the taps throughout your home. However, they should never be installed by amateurs. In fact, only plumbers licensed to install unvented cylinders should be allowed to work in your home. A qualified plumber understands how to install unvented cylinders safely and quickly, and can also provide annual inspections to ensure ongoing safe operation of your hot water system. At EasyFlow, our engineers are fully trained and qualified to install unvented cylinders. Call us on 0161 941 5571.

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Unvented cylinders offer better pressure in the shower and at the taps. They also offer numerous other benefits over old, vented styles. However, because they are not vented, they must be installed and maintained by qualified, licensed engineers. As a homeowner, it’s important that you understand what qualifications are required to service an unvented cylinder safely. G3 Qualification First, it’s important to understand that only plumbers who hold a G3 certification can install or maintain an unvented cylinder. Those certified for gas systems, or general plumbers, should not be allowed to install or maintain such a cylinder in your home. However, they are allowed to install and service vented cylinders. What Is the G3 Qualification? The G3 qualification is actually based on the mandates spelled out in the G3 section of the Building Regulations Approved Document published by the UK government. It’s also known as an Unvented Hot Water qualification. Earning certification requires that the plumber complete a qualifying training course. Training courses are offered in a number of ways and through many different sources, including unvented cylinder manufacturers such as Gledhill. The training should include three elements at a minimum. These are as follows: Education in how vented and unvented systems operate and how they differ The design and installation requirements for unvented cylinders The maintenance steps and compliance requirements that apply to unvented cylinders per Building Regulations Requalification and Retraining Earning their G3 qualification is not a once and done thing for plumbers. Instead, it’s considered professional training, much like the training that nurses and other professionals must complete. As such, plumbers who install or maintain unvented cylinders must go through retraining and recertification every five years in the UK. Additional Considerations It’s not enough to find a plumber that claims to have their G3 certification. Make sure to ask for proof. They may show you a paper certificate, or a card. Either one is acceptable. Once the installation or maintenance service is finished, the plumber should put their G3 number on the certificate for the cylinder. Failure to do this (or working with a plumber who is not G3 certified) may mean that you lose your warranty if a problem arises or that you are not covered by your homeowner’s insurance in the event of a water heater-related claim. In Conclusion Ultimately, there are many skilled plumbers operating in the UK. However, experience and knowledge do not automatically make them qualified to install or maintain your unvented cylinder. Only qualified plumbers who have earned their G3 certificate should be allowed to do so. If you are not sure that your usual plumber has his or her certification, ask for proof. If you’re unable to find a qualified plumber, we’re happy to help. Get in touch with EasyFlow on 0161 941 5571. All of our engineers are fully trained and qualified for unvented cylinder installation and maintenance, and they’ll happily show you their G3 card on arrival.

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Hot water is one of the most important creature comforts available to us today. You can take a hot shower whenever you want. You can have hot water at the tap just by turning the handle. There’s no need to kindle a fire and wait for the water to warm up. However, that convenience comes at a cost. Whether you have an electric water cylinder or a gas-fired model, heating the water that serves your home requires energy, and you must pay for that energy. Because water cylinders will cool without access to constant heat, it can seem like you should just leave the hot water on all the time rather than setting a timer for it. Is that the case? Actually, it’s not. Here’s what you should know about it. They Myth Explained The myth about leaving your hot water on goes something like this: because the water in your cylinder cools over time when the element or boiler is not working, you’ll use more energy to get the water up to temp when the timer kicks over. This will increase your costs. You can decrease your costs by just leaving everything on. The truth of the matter is this: yes, you will use a little more energy initially when getting the water back up to temperature. However, you will use far more energy over the course of time because you’ll be heating the cylinder for hours on hours when no one will be using the hot water. This is just money down the drain, as they say. Modern Technology With modern water heaters, you have a cylinder that holds heated water. The cylinder should be well-insulated to help maintain the proper temperature. This works in your favour, because the water can be held at or very near optimum temperature for many hours without having to run the electric elements or boiler to warm the water. Set Your Timer As you can see, it makes little sense to leave your water heater on all the time. Why pay for the energy required to warm the water while you are asleep, or while the family is out at work and school? Instead, use your timer so that you always have access to plenty of hot water when you need it most. You’ll need it when you shower, and you’ll also need it when you’re cooking and washing up. However, check your appliances – some modern dishwashers, for example, are capable of heating water on their own and don’t need a supply of hot water from your cylinder. Not Sure? Not entirely sure how to set your timer? Perhaps you want to consider upgrading your current cylinder. Whatever the case, get in touch with us at EasyFlow. Call us on 0161 941 5571 and we’ll be pleased to send a qualified, professional plumber around to speak with you, discuss your options, provide maintenance, or anything else you might need.

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You need hot water for showers, washing up, doing dishes, and more. While the right brand of water cylinder will ensure that you have reliable operation and fewer hassles, you still need to ensure that you choose the right size for your needs. It’s actually pretty simple to determine what size cylinder you need for your family. We’ll walk you through everything below. Why Does It Matter? First, let’s address why size matters in the first place. While we are talking about physical dimensions, what we’re really discussing here is volume. The more volume the cylinder holds, the more hot water you’ll have at one time. That means more showers, more loads of dishes, etc. However, the larger the cylinder and the more water it holds, the more energy it will require to heat up to temp in the first place, which means your costs will be higher, too. The Rule of Thumb The UK’s Hot Water Association offers a good rule of thumb that may help you estimate the size of your hot water cylinder. In a home with low consumption, you’ll need 20 to 30 litres of hot water per person per day. In a home with average consumption, you’ll need 30 to 50 litres of hot water per person per day. In a high-consumption home, you’ll need 50 to 70 litres of hot water per person per day. However, remember that this is only for personal use – showering and the like. It does not include any other uses, such as heating. General Size Considerations In general, our recommendations for cylinder size are based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home. We’ve included a handy sizing chart below for your reference. # of Bedrooms # of Bathrooms Cylinder Size in Litres 1 1 120 litres minimum 2 1 150 litres minimum 3 Up to 2 180 litres minimum 4 2 210 litres minimum 5 and up 2 and up 300 litres minimum *Note that these sizes are for direct/unvented cylinders. The chart above should at least give you a starting point. However, there are numerous factors that will influence the size of the cylinder you ultimately choose. For instance, do you use your cylinder for central home heating? For underfloor heating? The more uses the water is put to, the more volume you will need. You will also want to factor in other things in your decision. Number of People: Sometimes, the number of bedrooms does not accurately reflect the number of people living in a home. How many people live under your roof? How frequently do they shower or bathe? Volume of Dishes: How often do you use your automatic dishwasher or wash dishes by hand? Again, this will be affected by the number of people in the household – washing up after a dinner for four will be very different from washing up after a dinner for six or eight people! While we can help you find an estimated size, the best way to ensure accuracy is through a professional in-home assessment. Call EasyFlow today on 0161 941 5571 to schedule an appointment in Greater Manchester or Liverpool

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Modern water heaters offer improved performance, reliability, and access to hot water throughout your home. However, they are not without their problems. If you’re experiencing loud banging noises from your cylinder, there is definitely an issue that needs to be resolved. A couple of things could be the cause of this situation. Sediment The most likely cause of a loud banging noise from your water cylinder is build-up of sediment at the bottom of your cylinder. All water contains at least some degree of sediment – dissolved minerals from the earth. Over time, these settle out to the bottom of the cylinder and begin to build up. With enough time, the sediment can become thick enough that steam may build within it. When steam bubbles release, they can cause loud noises. The solution to this issue is to have your cylinder drained and flushed regularly. It should be part of your annual maintenance, actually. Water Hammer Water hammer is a phenomenon unique to indoor plumbing and it occurs in very specific situations. If you notice that you hear the banging noise from your cylinder or pipes after flowing water has shut off, chances are good that it’s water hammer. What happens is simple – when the water heater is full, the inlet valve closes. Then, all the water flowing through the pipes crash into the closed valve, which can shake the pipe and make a banging noise. Fixing the problem usually means draining your home’s water supply (cutting it off at the mains and then opening a tap to let it all drain out) in order to recharge the air chambers. Note that this is most common with older homes. If you have a newer home, it could be that a water hammer arrestor has failed, or that you need them installed within your pipes. Water Pressure Finally, you may hear a banging noise if your water pressure is too high. Note that this noise will not come from the water cylinder, but from the piping within your home. Overpressure situations within your pipes can cause them to rattle and bounce, creating banging noises. The solution is to reduce the pressure of water entering your home, and this is something that should be handled by a professional plumber. If you’re experiencing banging from your water cylinder, it is best to call for professional help.

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While modern water heaters are built well and designed to last, they do require regular maintenance and can suffer from some issues that require repairs and replacements. Most of those problems stem from one thing – sediment build-up within your water heater over time. In addition, sediment can even affect your home’s pipes. Why is sediment and issue and where does it come from? Why does it build up in your water heater? The Source of Sediment No matter where you might live within the UK, all water contains dissolved minerals. Lime is probably the most common, but there are many others, including iron, magnesium, calcium, copper, and more. What Causes Sediment to Settle? Sediment is held in suspension when water is at cool temperatures. However, the heating process actually causes it to settle out, or to come out of suspension. As the water heats up, minerals condense, and small bits aggregate into larger and larger particles. Eventually, those particles are too heavy to remain in suspension and they settle to the bottom of the tank. The Problem with Sediment  While these minerals might be naturally occurring, that does not mean that they are harmless to your water heater. In fact, sediment build-up can cause a number of different problems. One of those is that, over time, the layer of sediment at the bottom of the cylinder can become quite deep. This limits the amount of water your cylinder can hold, reducing total volume. There is also the fact that sediment build-up can lead to a loud banging noise from the cylinder as steam bubbles up through the material and then escapes into the cylinder itself. Other problems caused by increased sediment include rumbling and popping sounds, increased energy bills, and even fluctuating water temperatures. How to Remedy the Problem If you suspect that sediment build-up is causing problems within your water cylinder, there is a simple fix. The water heater will need to be drained and flushed in order to remove the sediment. However, this type of maintenance should be handled by a plumber certified to work on unvented water cylinders. If you are in Greater Manchester and require this service please contact us on 0161 941 5571.

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With a modern hot water heater, you should have access to plenty of warmed water for use with showers and bathing, washing dishes, and for any other needs. However, if you’re running out of hot water on a regular basis, there may be any number of causes. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the more common ones. Cylinder Size The most common reason to run out of hot water regularly is that your cylinder is simply too small to meet your usage needs. Consider installing a larger cylinder to hold more water. Over Use It is possible that too many people are trying to use the hot water at the same time. For instance, if someone is taking a shower and you are also washing dishes, you will deplete your store of hot water twice as fast. Sediment Build-Up Sediment is found in all water and it settles to the bottom of the water heater cylinder over time. If your cylinder has not been properly maintained, it can build up to the point that it affects both the volume of water stored in your cylinder and the temperature your cylinder can maintain. Programming If you have a programmable thermostat on your cylinder, it is possible that it is set to a schedule that does not match your lifestyle. Make sure it is set to heat water so that you have a full supply ready during peak usage times. In some cases, you may have a timer on your cylinder rather than a programmable thermostat. Heating Element Issue If your water heater used to provide you with ample heated water but is no longer doing so, the issue could be a heating element inside the cylinder itself. Many water heaters use dual elements, and if one fails, the remaining element may not be sufficient to heat the water, causing you to run out quickly. If you’re experiencing problems with your water heater running out of hot water regularly, it is time to contact a heating engineer certified to work on unvented water cylinders. If you're in Greater Manchester, Warrington, Liverpool, Chester or Leeds, EasyFlow can help you. Call us now on 0161 941 5571.

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What Is an Expansion Vessel For?

Water heaters are wonderful devices that allow us to enjoy a stream of hot water when we open the tap. However, they can be complicated, particularly if you’re dealing with an unvented cylinder (also called a closed water heating system) and require quite a few components in order to work properly. One of those is the expansion vessel. What Is an Expansion Vessel? If you’ve noticed that there’s a smaller tank attached to your water cylinder, this is the expansion vessel. It may be mounted to the top of the cylinder, or it could be attached in some other location. With some models, it is actually within the casing of the water heater. It all depends on the make and model in question. You’ll find quite a few different styles of expansion vessels have been used over time, but the most modern (and most common) style uses a flexible membrane within the vessel itself. The expansion vessel actually contains two sections. A rubber diaphragm separates the two. One side of the vessel is connected to the hot water system and holds water. The other side holds air. How Does an Expansion Vessel Work? The purpose of an expansion vessel is to help prevent overpressure situations with an unvented cylinder. As water is heated, it expands. The air within the expansion vessel compresses and absorbs additional pressure to help ensure that your water heater operates in a stable way. A Schrader valve on the vessel allows more air to enter the system when necessary to prevent it from becoming over pressurised. Common Problems with Expansion Vessels For the most part, expansion vessels operate without any need for your intervention. You may need to drain and recharge your expansion vessel periodically depending on its age and the style of vessel in question. However, they can suffer from some problems, particularly as they age. For instance, hard water and even water treatment chemicals can cause the rubber membrane within the vessel to degrade and break down. Eventually, it will fail, requiring replacement.  If you think your expansion vessel needs to be repaired or replaced, contact a engineer experienced with unvented cylinders and their operation. EasyFlow can send an engineer to you if you're located in Greater Manchester, Warrington, Liverpool, Chester or Leeds.

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The ability to heat and store water in our homes reduces wasted time and effort and adds a lot of convenience to our lives. However, there are several options available to you in terms of how you achieve that. For UK residents, the primary choice is between vented and unvented cylinders. Once, unvented cylinders were the only option, but today more and more people are choosing to go the unvented route. Are unvented cylinders actually better? Yes, they are, but you’ll need to know a little more to understand why that’s the case. Why Unvented Cylinders Are Better Choices For most UK residents, unvented boilers are the better choice. Why is that? There are several reasons. Good Pressure – An unvented cylinder ensures good water pressure at all of your taps, including upstairs taps. Good Flow – Using an unvented cylinder helps provide good flow of hot water from all your taps. No Cold-Water Tank – With an unvented water cylinder, there is no need for a cold-water tank located in the attic. This is good news for homes without much in the way of upstairs space. No Mains Pressure – If your home has low pressure from the mains, then an unvented cylinder can increase your hot water pressure (but only for the hot water). As you can see, there are many advantages to installing an unvented cylinder. However, there are some drawbacks that should be considered, as well. For instance, unvented cylinders are usually more expensive than vented cylinders. For most residents, better access to hot water and improved water pressure are enough incentives to offset that additional cost. Unvented cylinders also require a specialist touch. Only plumbers certified to work on unvented systems can handle installation, maintenance, and repairs. You will also need to make an informed choice about your water cylinder. There are many different manufacturers, and each has their own set-up in terms of heating elements and even heating type (direct vs. indirect, gas vs. electric, etc.). Working with the right heating engineer can help ensure you make an informed decision. We have engineers in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Warrington and Leeds who can maintain and repair unvented cylinders. Call us on 0161 941 5571 or fill in a Contact Request and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

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