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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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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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It has served your family well for many years, but it has finally given up the ghost – your water heater has failed. Now it’s time to replace it. While you may decide that going with a replacement cylinder of the same size is the best idea, you may also find that it’s time to change sizes. How do you determine the right size for your needs?   Why Change Sizes? First, let’s consider why you might want to change sizes in the first place? Why not just go with an identical replacement cylinder? There are two factors at play here – the available supply of hot water and the cost that you pay for that hot water. The larger the cylinder, the more hot water it will hold. However, the larger the cylinder, the more it will cost to operate.   Determining Your Demand The first thing you need to consider when choosing a replacement hot water cylinder is the amount of demand your household will have at its peak. That is, how much hot water will be needed during your peak hour demand? For many households, this is first thing in the morning when everyone is getting up, getting showers before work or school, making breakfast and the like.   In most cases, you’ll have hot water uses such as the following:   Shaving (.25 litres per minute) Showering (at least 45 litres per shower) Dishwasher (25 litres per use) Hot water clothes washing (30 litres per use) Washing hands (5 litres per minute) Food prep (5 litres per minute)   You’ll need to take those numbers and figure out how many times each is used per hour in your household. This will then allow you to determine the number of gallons used per hour. Based on that, you can choose a water heater of the right size for your needs.   Changes in Demand In some instances, your household’s demand for hot water will change over time. For instance, your children will grow up and go away to school, or get married and start their own families. In other instances, you might have more children later in life. You could go through any number of other life changes that alter the number of people within your home, and your hot water usage will change, too.   The more people in a household, the more hot water you’ll need on hand at any particular time. The converse is true, as well. For instance, if you’re replacing a water heater after you’ve retired from work, and your children have started families of their own, you will need far less hot water on hand, allowing you to choose a smaller cylinder with a lower volume to save money. And of course there are the minimum sizes based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to consider  Ultimately, the best option is to work with an expert in water cylinder replacement. If your old water heater is beginning to show signs of its age, or it has failed already, we invite you to contact EasyFlow for an estimate on a replacement of the right size and capacity for your needs. Call us at 0161 941 5571.

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Thinking about replacing your aging water heater? If so, now is the perfect time to upgrade to an unvented water cylinder if you still have a vented model. What makes an unvented water heater the better option, though? Here are five reasons to make the switch from vented to unvented water cylinder. 1. Installation Flexibility One of the most important reasons to switch to an unvented water heater is that you get to benefit from increased flexibility when it comes to installation location. Vented water heaters cannot produce pressure on their own, which means they need to be located high up to make use of gravity to power the hot water feed. Unvented systems do not have that problem, so they can be located anywhere that’s convenient for you and can be tied into the water lines. 2. Better Water Pressure As hinted at above, another reason to make the switch to an unvented water cylinder is that you can enjoy better hot water pressure at all the taps. If you’ve been struggling with sluggish hot water pressure and too much cold water pressure, an unvented cylinder can be the answer. Because these systems create pressure within them, they’re able to supply mains pressure hot water at all the taps in your home. 3. Less Hassle Vented hot water heaters might have once been the most common option in the UK, but they’re increasingly falling out of favour, largely due to the increased need for maintenance. That’s additional hassle and cost that you don’t need to worry about with an unvented model. That’s not to say that unvented cylinders never experience problems, they do. However, they create less hassle overall, which is always a good thing. 4. Less Need for Attic Space A vented water heater must be installed in the attic of your home. That takes up space that you might be able to use for some other purpose. It might be storage, or you might be considering converting your attic into living space. Whatever the situation, having a water heater in the way can cause problems. With an unvented water cylinder, you don’t need to worry about that, as the cylinder can be installed on the ground floor if you like. 5. Less Risk of Contamination Finally, you’ll discover that unvented water heaters have a lower risk of contamination. The vent in a vented cylinder allows air to enter the system. That air can be contaminated by bacteria and harmful pathogens. With an unvented system, that is not the case. Of course, you do need to keep the water temperature high enough for safety purposes. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider making the switch to an unvented water cylinder from a vented model. Of course, it’s not quite so simple – you’ll need to work with a professional with unvented certification to install your water heater. We invite you to call EasyFlow at 0161 941 5571.

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