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Once upon a time, all water heaters installed in the UK were vented to the outside atmosphere. However, that changed in 1986, when unvented cylinders were made legal. These allowed homeowners to enjoy a number of benefits that were not possible with older, unpressurised types. Today, unvented cylinders are very popular, but how do they work? Unvented Cylinder Operation With vented cylinders, the water heater had to be installed in an attic or another location where gravity combined with the pressure of the mains could move heated water down through the pipes to the taps. This limited your ability to install water heaters in some homes, and also meant that hot water pressure at the taps was usually low. Unvented cylinders, on the other hand, are pressurised, and can supply mains-pressure water anywhere in a home without the need to be installed in an elevated location. An unvented cylinder is connected directly to the mains water supply. It uses electricity or gas to heat water to a pre-set temperature. The act of heating water causes it to expand, which creates pressure within the cylinder. That pressure pushes the water outward throughout your home’s pipes. However, because water expands when it is hot, there is a need to account for this additional space needed. An expansion vessel is attached somewhere to the system to handle this need. It may be attached to the cylinder, attached to the hot water system somewhere else, or even be part of the cylinder itself. Your unvented cylinder also includes additional safeguards against overpressure situations, such as a pressure reducing valve to limit incoming pressure and an expansion relief valve to allow overheated water to be discharged. A temperature and pressure relief valve is also fitted to your cylinder to provide additional protection. While unvented cylinders are safe for use within UK homes, they must be installed, maintained, and repaired by plumbers certified to work with unvented water heaters. If you’re experiencing any problems with your unvented cylinder, or would like to have annual maintenance performed, EasyFlow can help. We cover the areas of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and Leeds. Call us on 0161 941 5571

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How Does a Combination Valve Work?

Unvented cylinders have greatly changed how UK residents access hot water within their homes. Rather than dealing with low water flow, they help ensure good pressure and excellent flow at all taps, all the time. However, in order to operate safely, unvented cylinders require a number of components. One you may have heard of is the combination valve. What is it and how does it work? From Many, One A combination valve is exactly what it sounds like – a valve that combines the function of multiple other valves. It’s a way to simplify and streamline unvented cylinder operation and to make maintenance and repairs easier. A combination valve usually includes four different types of valves. One of those is the pressure reduction valve, which reduces incoming pressure from the mains to a safe level. Another is the check valve, which prevents water from running out of the cylinder back into the fresh water supply line. In addition to these two valves, the combination valve will also include an expansion valve. This is a critical component and is designed to help protect the cylinder from over pressure situations and will bleed off water/pressure if dangerous conditions occur. Finally, your combination valve will usually also contain what’s called a line strainer, which is a piece of mesh that helps prevent debris from entering the cylinder. Problems with Your Combination Valve While combination valves make maintenance and repairs easier, they can suffer from some problems. For instance, the line strainer can become blocked, which reduces pressure and water flow throughout your home. The pressure relief valve can also fail, as can the expansion valve. When these fail, leaks can develop, which should drip into the catch pan under the cylinder. Finally, a failing pressure reduction valve can cause low pressure at the taps. The solution to all of these problems is to replace the combination valve, but that is not something you should handle on your own. A plumber certified to work on unvented cylinders can provide your repairs for you.

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With modern water heating technology, you expect to have mains pressure hot water at the tap. However, there is a chance that you’ll open the tap and find that your pressure is very low. What is the issue? While there are several potential causes here, one of the most common is a failing (or failed) pressure reduction valve, or PRV. What Does a Pressure Reduction Valve Do?  Really, the name says it all. A pressure reduction valve, sometimes called a safety valve, is actually responsible for reducing the pressure of water flow to something that your home’s system can handle. The water within the mains is most likely at 60 PSI or higher. However, your home’s appliances, piping, and fixtures, likely cannot handle anything over 50 PSI. The pressure reduction valve’s job is to make sure that your water supply system does not become over pressured. Why Would A Failing PRV Cause Pressure to Drop? To be clear, a failing pressure reduction valve does not always lead to a drop in pressure. In fact, it can sometimes result in the opposite – an increase in pressure as mains pressure water pushes past the valve. However, it is also possible that a failing pressure reduction valve will cause a drastic, system-wide reduction in pressure. How Can I Tell If It Is My Pressure Reduction Valve? While the only sure way to tell if the pressure reduction valve is the culprit is to have your system serviced by a professional technician, you can do a quick check that will at least point you in the right direction. Check the hot water pressure at all taps in the house, including the kitchen, bathroom sinks, showers/tubs, and more. If the low pressure is consistent across the system, this is a good sign that the pressure reducing valve is to blame. However, if you notice that some taps have normal pressure while others do not, the cause is most likely something else. A number of issues can cause a reduction in pressure at some taps but leave others unaffected, including dirty shower cartridges, clogged filters, and more. Another quick check you can conduct is to look at the end of the pressure reduction valve. Do you see water leaking? It could be dripping, or it could be a more serious flow of water. If either is the case, the valve is failing and must be replaced. What to Do If You Suspect Your Pressure Reduction Valve Is Bad If you suspect that your pressure reduction valve is responsible for your loss of hot water pressure at the taps, you need to contact qualified help immediately. Call Easy Flow at 0161 941 5571 and we will schedule a service call to determine what the problem is and to get your hot water system back in working condition once more. In most instances, our technicians carry accurate replacement parts with them, so a repair could take mere minutes.

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It is tempting to forget about your water heater, particularly if it is working just fine. After all, out of sight is out of mind. And, if the cylinder is functioning just fine, why worry about it in the first place? While that might seem like a common-sense approach, it is the wrong one to take. Your unvented water cylinder actually needs annual maintenance just like any other system in your home. Why, though? Improved Safety Perhaps the single most important reason to invest in annual water cylinder maintenance is to ensure the safety of your home and family. While unvented cylinders are completely safe to use as long as they are installed properly and maintained correctly over time, they do carry some risks. Without proper annual maintenance, those risks grow. Improved Efficiency Another reason to consider annual water cylinder maintenance is that it can increase the efficiency of your system and ensure that it is in peak condition at all times. This offers you two primary benefits. First, improving the system’s efficiency may actually equate to reduced power consumption and reduced operating costs. So, you could save money over time. Second, improved efficiency means that your system is working properly, that the risk of a breakdown is minimised, and that you’ll experience fewer costly surprises. Catching Small Problems before They Become Major Hassles Your water cylinder is just like any other piece of equipment in your home. It is subject to wear and tear over time and will eventually need components replaced. At some point, hopefully years in the future, the cylinder itself will need to be replaced. With an annual maintenance plan, you get regular inspections, which helps to catch small problems before they become large ones. This ensures that you are able to maximise the lifespan of your water cylinder, saving you a considerable amount of money over the years. Maintaining Your Warranty Finally, you will find that having an annual maintenance plan for your water cylinder is essential to maintaining the manufacturer’s warranty. This applies to both the tank warranty and any extended warranty that you might have purchased along with the tank. If you cannot prove that you have had the water cylinder maintained properly over time, the manufacturer/warrantor will not honour the warranty agreement, meaning that you could be on the hook for a lot more money than you expected. How to Choose a Maintenance Provider Of course, you need to ensure that you choose the right water cylinder maintenance provider. Not all companies are the same. Look for a company that has a long history in the industry, as well as a track record of satisfied customers. Ask about the cost of the annual maintenance and what is included in each service. You should also ensure that technicians are available in the case of an emergency to handle any unexpected occurrences. At Easy Flow, we offer a comprehensive annual maintenance plan that covers everything from expansion relief valve testing to electrical ground checks. Call today at 0161 941 5571.

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If you have a thermal store water cylinder that heats water for use throughout your home, chances are good that you have run out of hot water at least once in your memory. Perhaps everyone in the family got a shower before you did, leaving you with tepid water for your bathing. Perhaps you jumped in the shower after running the dishwasher, only to find that your dishes had consumed most of the hot water. In these situations, the boost setting on your water cylinder could come in very handy. What is boost all about? What Does the Boost Setting Do? The function of the boost setting varies from one type of water cylinder to another, but they all work in a roughly similar way. When the boost kicks in, it heats only a portion of the water in the cylinder to your specified temperature, and it does so very quickly, at least in comparison with the time it would take the immersion heater to warm the contents of the entire cylinder. The primary difference between various water cylinder types is how much water is heated and how long that heating process takes. For instance, with an E7 system, the boost setting would heat water for about 60 minutes, and it would warm about 10% of the water in the cylinder, giving you enough for a standard shower before the water would run cold once more. If your system is a non-E7 setup, then it would run for about 30 minutes and provide the same 10% of the cylinder’s contents warmed. In addition to system types, you also need to consider the location of the boost element. If it is located in the top of the cylinder, you will usually only get about 10% of the cylinder’s contents heated within the operating window. However, if the system has an element located midway down the cylinder, you could see 30% heated within 30 minutes. With a boost element near the bottom, you could feasibly warm 90% of the water in 30 minutes. Why Use the Boost Setting? If you have a modern water cylinder, then it should be equipped with a thermostat. When left on, this ensures that you always have a full cylinder of hot water. Why would someone choose to use the boost setting instead of the thermostat? There are a couple of reasons here. First, the boost setting is useful for situations in which most of the cylinder’s hot water has been used but you still need more hot water and don’t have time to wait for long periods. Second, the boost setting is useful for situations where you want to conserve energy and do not have significant hot water demands. You could simply use the boost setting to ensure there was enough water heated for your bathing and washing needs, without having to heat the entire cylinder, thus reducing your energy usage. As you can see, the boost setting on your water cylinder is actually quite handy and can provide several benefits.

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Water too hot?

Your hot water cylinder helps ensure that you have access to a ready store of hot water for bathing, washing dishes, or any other task. However, sometimes the water inside that cylinder just isn’t the right temperature. Do you open the tap to find that your water just isn’t hot enough? Perhaps you’re worried that very hot water might scald someone and want to turn the temperature down. Don’t worry – it’s actually very simple to do this.  1. Locate the Thermostat If you have a water cylinder, as opposed to a combi-boiler, you’ll have a thermostat on the unit itself. You will need to locate this in order to change the temperature. In most instances, you’ll find the thermostat between 1/3 and 1/4 of the way up the cylinder’s body from the bottom and will usually take the form of a plastic box with a dial and a temperature scale on it.  2. Adjust the Thermostat Once you have located the thermostat, you will just need to turn the dial to the temperature that you prefer. The temperature scale is marked on the thermostat’s body, and it is simple to determine what temperature has been set. If your water is too cold, turn the dial toward the higher end of the scale. If your water is too hot, turn the dial toward the colder end of the scale. As a note, you should ideally set the temperature of the water between 60 and 65 degrees Celsius.  3. Have Patience It is important to note that changing the temperature on your thermostat will not result in an instantaneous temperature change to the water within the cylinder. It takes time for water to heat up or cool down. If you are increasing the temperature of your water, you will likely need to wait around an hour or so before the water reaches your desired temperature. However, if you are turning your water temperature down, you will likely need to wait a longer period. Modern water cylinders are well insulated and can maintain their internal temperatures for long periods. To speed up the process, run a load of dishes, or wash clothes that require hot water. The cylinder will then refill, and the water will be heated to the new temperature set on the thermostat.  A Note on Temperatures You likely noticed the specific temperature range suggested above – 60 to 65 degrees. Why is that range selected? There are two reasons. First, that is warm enough to kill most pathogens that might be in your water. Turning your water cylinder temperature too low could leave you at risk of becoming ill. A minimum of 60 degrees helps you avoid this. On the other hand, 65 degrees is not hot enough to cause severe scalding injuries, so you avoid getting the water too hot and injuring someone in your home. As you can see, changing your water cylinder temperature is not all that complicated. With a little bit of time, you can ensure your water is just the right temperature.

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No Hot Water within Your Cylinder?

We’ve come to rely on our modern creature comforts. When you press the power button, you expect the tele to come on. When you close the lid and press the start button, you expect your clothes washing machine to begin filling with water. When you open your hot water tap, you expect to receive a stream of heated water. However, that does not always happen. If you’ve found that you have no hot water in your cylinder, it can be a frustrating situation, but there is hope. Your unit might need nothing more than a simple reset. How do you reset the cylinder, though? First Things First Before you try to reset the cylinder, check the built-in thermostat to make sure that it has not been bumped or knocked somehow. Even a minor knock could be enough to turn the temperature of your cylinder well below what you would consider hot. If the dial is under 60 degrees Celsius, turn it back to between 60 and 65 degrees and let the water heat back up. Locate the Reset Button First, you will need to locate the reset button on your water cylinder. Usually, this can be found near the thermostat, often just below it. The reset button may be uncovered, or it may have a “lockout” cover. Find the switch and then move on to the next step. Press the Reset Button Once you have located the reset button, press it. If your cylinder has a built-in manually reset safety switch under a lockout cover, you’ll first need to remove the cover, then press the switch. The cylinder should then reset and begin working once more. If the water within the cylinder has cooled off considerably, it may take some time for it to reheat. Be patient. No Visible Reset Button If your cylinder does not have a visible reset button, you are not out of luck. You will simply need to change tactics. Go to your home’s fuse panel/breaker box and locate the circuit breaker that controls your water cylinder. If it is tripped, note this, and then flip it back once more. If it is not tripped, flip it off, wait a couple of seconds, and then flip it back once more. Your cylinder should reset and begin heating the water again. What If You Still Have No Hot Water? There is a chance that resetting the cylinder or turning the power off and back on again will not remedy the situation. In this case, the problem is most likely with the immersion heater and its built-in thermostat. It is not recommended that you attempt to address this problem on your own. Instead, get in touch with Easy Flow and we will get you back up and running in no time. Of course, we’re also happy to be of service at the first sign of trouble, as well.

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With an unvented water cylinder, there is a need for a header or feeder tank. This helps keep the system primed and working properly. However, if the level of water within the tank drops too low, you may experience a wide range of issues with your hot water system, including pressure drops, temperature drops, and more. If you have a Gledhill PulsaCoil water cylinder, you have a plastic top up cistern attached to the water cylinder. How do you check the header tank level? It’s actually not very complicated.  1. Locate the Header Tank The first step here is to locate the header tank and ascertain its condition. Note that Gledhill actually offer an optional sight glass for the plastic header tank that allows you to see the water level without doing anything else. If your tank is so equipped, simply look at the level of water in the sight glass. If it is low, top off the tank. If it is not, check it again later in the year.  2. No Sight Glass If your system does not have a sight glass, you’ll have a little more work to do. You will need to remove the plastic top to the header tank. Then, using a handheld torch (if there is not enough ambient light), check the water level within the tank. There is a fill line marked on the side of the tank so all you need to do is check the level against that mark to determine if you need to fill the tank. If you do not currently have a sight glass, but you would like one installed, Easy Flow may be able to install one for you to make maintaining your water cylinder simpler and easier. 3. Fill the Tank (If Necessary) The Gledhill PulsaCoil has a manual fill header tank. What that means is you must top up the tank regularly by hand in order to maintain proper operation of your system. You will simply need to add water to the tank until it reaches the fill line, which is roughly halfway up the wall of the tank.  4. Close the Lid Once you have checked the water level and/or topped off the water in the tank, simply replace the lid and make sure that it is well sealed. Leaving it loose could speed up evaporation and reduce the level of water in your tank. How Often Should You Check the Header Tank Level? While it is necessary to check the header tank water level regularly, you do not need to do so very frequently. Gledhill recommends three to four times per year. It should also be part of your annual service. As you can see, there is not a lot involved with checking the header tank unit. The most important thing is to ensure that you do not forget to do it regularly.

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When you open the hot water tap at your sink, you expect to be rewarded with a stream of piping hot water for your washing needs. The same thing applies when you set foot in the shower, or when you wash a load of clothes on the hot setting. However, there’s a chance that when you open that tap, the water that comes out will be lukewarm rather than hot. What’s the problem here? Actually, it could be one of several different issues. Check the Thermostat The first thing you need to do is to check the thermostat on your water cylinder. It should be located between halfway and one-quarter up the cylinder from the base. It will most likely be a plastic box with a round dial on it, although newer models might have a digital thermostat instead. Check that the thermostat is set for between 60 and 65 degrees. If it has been bumped somehow, the temperature could have been accidentally set lower than this, which would give you lukewarm water. If the thermostat is correctly set, the problem might still lie with it. There is a chance that the thermostat is faulty and will need to be replaced. However, the issue here is that your cylinder actually has two thermostats, and you will need to determine which one is bad before it can be replaced. Easy Flow can help do that. Check the Power Supply If you have a thermal store water cylinder, it can maintain the temperature of the water inside it for a long period even without a source of heating. The water will slowly cool down, eventually reaching lukewarm before it becomes cold. If the thermostat is not the problem, check the power to the system. The place to do this would be at the breaker that controls the water cylinder. If it has been tripped, then no power is getting to the system. Flip it back into position and see if the water heater turns back on. Note that a tripped breaker is often a sign that there’s a deeper problem that needs to be addressed, as circuit breakers are designed to trip in the case of over-power situations where the cylinder is drawing more electricity than it is designed to handle. Check the Fuses Depending on the water cylinder model in question, you will have one or more fuses that control unit operation in addition to the circuit breaker. If one of these fuses is blown, your cylinder will not receive electricity and will not operate. The good news is that replacing a blown fuse is usually not a difficult process, although locating the fuse in the first place can take some time. Failed Immersion Heater Finally, there is a chance that one of the immersion heaters in the cylinder has failed. If this happens, the remaining heater will still attempt to warm the water, but it will not be able to get it up to full temp and the result will be lukewarm water. In this case, the faulty immersion heater will need to be replaced. There you have them – some of the more common reasons that you could experience lukewarm water from the tap rather than hot water.

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Water heating technology has evolved a great deal over the last century or so. We’ve gone from having to manually heat water over an open fire and carrying it in buckets to being able to open the tap and enjoy immediate access to hot water for all our washing needs. However, if you’re like most people, you know only a little bit about the technology that allows this to happen. Your water cylinder’s operation is likely as little understood as how satellites work with GPS systems. One of the least understood pieces of your water cylinder is called the tundish. Knowing what a tundish is, what it does, and how to check it are important considerations for homeowners today. What Is a Tundish? While it might sound like some sort of pan or dish that is placed under your water cylinder, a tundish is actually something else altogether. It looks a bit like a plastic cup attached to piping on your cylinder. You’ll find it just off the pressure relieve valve and above the discharge piping. What Does a Tundish Do? A tundish performs two principle tasks. First, and most importantly, it serves to prevent any sort of cross contamination between an overflow pipe and a drain pipe. It serves as an air gap and provides a visible window into the overflow system, as well. Without the tundish in place, you would not be able to see any water flowing from the pressure relief valve to the overflow drain. How Do I Check My Tundish? Checking your tundish is actually very simple and requires no tools or even special training. Simply locate the tundish (often easier to do by locating the pressure relief valve and then following the line). Check the tundish for signs of water. If there is water flowing into the tundish, then you know that your pressure relief valve is leaking. This bit of information is very important because it tells you that there is a problem with the system itself. Of course, there could be more than one type of problem. The first and simplest problem to rectify is that your unvented cylinder pressure is too high. This might be nothing more than a need to adjust the pressure in the system, although we do not recommend doing this yourself, as the system is pressurised, and a mistake could be dangerous. The second potential problem (and one of the more common issues) is that your pressure relief valve is actually bad. This valve is only designed to open in the event that the system becomes over pressurised. If it is leaking and the system is not over pressured, then the valve is in danger of failing completely. It will need to be replaced. Checking your tundish regularly should be part of your basic home maintenance. If you see water in the tundish, it is important to get in touch with Easy Flow immediately as it indicates either an over pressure situation or a failing pressure relief valve. If you would like a qualified EasyFlow engineer to come and check any problems with your Tundish, call us on 0161 941 5571. Please check our LOCATION tab to see if we cover your area.

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