Central Heating

All central heating systems must have the correct type of controls in order to make the boiler, cylinder and radiators run as efficiently as possible whilst giving you the hot water and heating that you need, when you need it.

Modern conventional systems should have the following controls:

  • Programmer (heating and water controls)
  • Room Thermostat
  • Cylinder thermostat
  • Wiring centre
  • Motorised centre
  • Pump
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (T.R.V’s)

Power Flushing

Power Flushing is the term used for cleaning a central heating system of sludge and debris, with a powerful flushing machine and chemicals. During this process the heating systems are forcibly cleansed using water at high velocity, but low pressure, so that no physical damage is caused to the system.

The objective is to restore systems with circulation and boiler noise problems caused by sludge and corrosion deposits, to optimum operation. Power flushing removes these deposits and the problems that they cause.

The sludge can reduce water flow to the radiators, causing cold spots, it can also cause blockage in the pumps and can cause corrosion in the central heating system.

This can lead to shorten the life span of your boiler and the central heating system. Power flushing is necessary to keep your system in top condition and even help extend the life of your boiler, it can also help minimise breakdowns and repairs.

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Do I need a Power Flush?

If your heating system suffers from any of the following symptoms a power flush will help:

  • Boiler making irregular noises or knocking
  • Radiators feel half cold
  • Noise from the pipe work
  • Rusty radiators
  • Small leaks starting to come from the radiators
  • Dark sludgy water coming from the radiators
  • Pump failure or noise
  • Long time for the heating system to warm up
  • Boiler keeps locking down & needs to be reset
  • Radiators frequently need venting & bleeding
  • Blocked, inoperative or leaking radiator valves

Any of these symptoms could indicate that your central heating system has circulation problems, due to the scale, sludge or corrosion in your system. Over time your central heating system can become blocked and restrict the flow to your radiators. Power flushing can remove all these problems, and restore the system to have a better circulation and efficiency. It can also help prevent other problems like leaking radiators, rusty radiators and even help reduce energy bills.

How does it work?

The power flushing pump is simply connected into the heating system, either across standard circulator pump couplings, across the tails of one radiator, or wherever most practicable. The powerful flow, combined with instantaneous flow reverser device, will dislodge and mobilise deposits and corrosion which resist traditional system cleaning methods.

Once the corrosion and sludge deposits have been loosened and mobilised, fresh clean water is forced through the heating system, pushing the contaminated water out through a full bore dump valve to waste. During the process, radiators are individually flushed, without removing or disconnecting them from the system, by directing the full output of the pump through each radiator separately.

At the end of the flushing process, the system contains fresh clean water and reinstatement of the system to normal operation takes only a few minutes.

System flushing will not remedy design or mechanical faults, which should be rectified, but in many cases it will cure the problems caused by these.

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Magnetic filter devices/ Magnaclean’s

It is strongly recommended that after completion of a power flush a Magnaclean is installed, especially on very dirty systems. They work by collecting the iron debris round a magnetic filter which can easily be removed and cleaned. The benefit of these devices is that even after a power flush has cleaned the system the magna clean will keep working long after, collecting new debris as its produced keeping your system in perfect order.

Underfloor Heating

Under floor heating is becoming more and more popular in the UK, a lot of other developed countries have been using it for years especially in colder climates, now we are just catching on. It’s a great technology as it provides an excellent level of comfort throughout with even distribution of heat, no more cold spots! It is also accepted as the most energy efficient way to space heat so you’ll be saving money on the ever increasing energy bills. As the name suggests it is heating system that is installed under the floor created by a system of pipe work or electric cable. It creates an invisible heat that can eliminate the need for radiators allowing more space and freedom for design options in your property, with low maintenance requirements it’s easy to forget as it’s all concealed.

Conventional systems using the radiator transfer the heat energy through convection currents, which means the heat rises from the radiator and straight to the ceiling making it one of the warmest places in the room. Under floor heating provides a 50/50 mix of convection and radiant heat providing a more even heat throughout the room, ceiling to floor it’s just a comfortable zone to be in as there are no hot or cold spots within the room and it creates a warm floor on bare feet.

Under floor heating is usually installed at the same time as the building as it’s easier to install then, but it can be done in existing property but would require quite a bit of disruption, its ideal for new extensions, conservatories and major refurbishments in existing properties, or again new build. Under floor heating can be run off nearly all boiler types and fuels but for further information please visit our contact page and get in touch.

How does UFH work? Under floor heating works in a completely different way than traditional radiator systems, here is my explanation of how it works: Under floor heating systems heat the floor gently at a lower temperature either by electric cable or water pipe. In a water system warm water from the boiler is circulated along continuous lengths of reinforced polyethylene piping. Each room has its own pipe circuit that is connected to a manifold with water regulating valves, and each room can be controlled by an individual thermostat.

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When the room reaches the pre-set temperature, the thermostat sends a signal to a valve on the manifold to close that room’s circuit. The manifolds distribute water to the pipes at a temperature between 35-60°C that heats the floor to around 18-29°C. Condensing boilers are the best choice to be paired with this kind of heating as they work well at the lower temperatures required. Alternatively, its low temperature operation means that underfloor systems can also be powered by solar panels, an Aga cooker, a heat pump, or a heat recovery system. These can provide additional savings on your fuel costs when used in any combination to supplement the boiler output.

The three ways heat is transferred from a warm area to a cold area are:

  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Radiation (natural)

Naturally our bodies find natural radiation to be the most comfortable as this is the way the sun heats us, under floor heating works in a similar way, heat/energy from the floor is absorbed by other surfaces in the room which warm up and act as secondary emitters.

UFH+Diagram Heating

By contrast, radiators use room air to transfer heat, mostly by convection. This results in:

  • Hot air concentrated at ceiling level: cooler air – and often draughts – at floor level
  • Dust carried around the room in convection currents
  • Significant heat loss through windows, walls and ceilings
  • Higher energy loss from connecting pipes
  • Dry, re-heated air: causing a feeling of stuffiness

Under floor heating is controlled by room thermostats, these control the flow of water through the system and create the required temperature. When plumbed with multiple circuits at the installation stage each room or zone can be heated to different desired temperature.

Radiator+Diagram Heating

The Benefits of UFH The benefits of underfloor heating compared with traditional radiator systems are clear:

  • Energy efficient ‘invisible’ warmth – savings on running costs compared to traditional radiator systems
  • Uniform heat – good distribution over the whole room
  • Greater level of comfort – the temperature profile is very close to ideal human comfort levels
  • No cold floors – stone and ceramic floors are more pleasant underfoot when warm
  • Complements the operation of condensing boilers – underfloor heating is designed to operate at lower temperatures than traditional radiator systems
  • Ideal for modern lifestyles – allows total freedom on furniture layout and room utilisation
  • Clean interior design – no dusting behind radiators required
  • Safe for children, elderly and the less able – no exposed hot surfaces to create a burn hazard
  • Low allergy – convected airborne dust levels reduced and underfloor heating discourages house dust mite within floor coverings
  • Low maintenance – no decoration or renewal of radiators and no radiators to ‘drop’ to enable redecoration of rooms
  • No staining of walls – convective air currents above radiators often stain decorations
  • Less likelihood of insurance leak claims – no risk of leaks from radiators and associated connections
  • Silent running – no expansion creaking or water flow noise
  • Ideal for high ceilings – maintains the heat at the same level as the occupancy

Types of UFH: There are three main designs in the installation of underfloor systems:

Solid floor – Often the choice for new build homes, it is a permanent fixture that is built into concrete or screeded floors. In this structure, insulation is embedded in the floor as part of Building Regulations. The pipe is then laid in and set in the screed. Wood, stone, tiles, vinyl and carpet can be used in this application.

Suspended floor – The heating system is inserted between the joists or the battens in a suspended floor, either by accessing from above or below. The casing consists of a tongue and groove floor board which can in turn be covered by any kind of flooring.

Floating floor – The pipes can be installed in floating floors above an existing solid or wood floor. The pipe is pressed into a preformed heat emitter plate which rests in grooves in the insulation panel of the floating floor. Again, tongue and groove boards are laid atop ready for any kind of flooring to be fitted.

What costs are involved? Installation companies argue that underfloor heating is no more expensive than a comparable radiator system. It is also compared to the price if a good quality carpet, with a ballpark figure of £20 per square metre for supply and installation as one estimate. The overall figure naturally depends on many other factors, and it is also held by some that underfloor heating is overall more expensive than radiator system installation.

Where to install it? Underfloor heating can still be installed under existing flooring, depending on the floor’s construction.
Wood and wood laminates: With set levels on existing timber floors, the pipes are laid between joists and not on top. This requires shelves to be installed created between the joists. Underfloor heating installers maintain that wooden flooring is an ideal material because it helps to maintain an even temperature. However, wood is also a good insulator and so may not be the optimum choice.
Carpet: While underfloor systems can be used with any kind of flooring, carpet is quite insulating. It is recommended that the combined tog rating for carpet and underlay should not exceed 1.5.

Advantages of Underfloor Heating

  • Once fully installed underfloor heating systems are almost maintenance free; with modern developments experiencing few problems. Quality systems are said to last successfully 25 years or more as the metal elements of brass and stainless steel do not corrode or attract scale.
  • The radiant system is very thin and so does not affect the floor levels. Without radiators, you will have much more wall space and freedom to decorate and re-arrange your room as you like, especially as underfloor system can be suited to almost any type of flooring.
  • Some installers hold that underfloor systems utilise a flow temperature of up to 60°C, and when combined with condensing boilers can achieve an energy efficiency of up to 98%, also making it cheaper to run than a radiator system.
  • Radiators rely mostly on convection currents, whereas underfloor provides an even spread of radiated heat. In new builds, the heating system combined with the insulation will prevent heat losses that will mean comfortable warmth and lower heating bills for you.
  • Unlike noisy radiators and their pipes which can gurgle and creak when turned on or off; underfloor heating is a silent system that you will hardly notice when it is on. You will barely notice its presence at all as there will be no hot radiators to avoid touching or putting objects too close to.
  • Your home will also feel the benefits as it does not dry out the air like radiators do. Antique furniture will not suffer drying out, and neither will your skin. Moreover, the strong convection currents from radiators send dust particles around the room, which can irritate allergies and asthma. Underfloor heating has a balance of convection and radiation that creates less disturbance.

Disadvantages of Underfloor Heating: While underfloor heating is greatly beneficial in terms of space and could indeed be the way forward in energy efficient heating, it is important to look at the issues that are not always covered in the information provided by installation companies.

  • Full installation on an existing building requires large-scale disruption. For a permanent fixture with proper insulation the floors require a complete rebuild. You must be prepared for this chaos and its associated costs.
  • There are DIY mats with the heating pipes attached, but these are not as effective.
  • A fully installed system will be more expensive than a standard radiator system, and can involve additional complicated and costly controls.

Underfloor Insulation
For underfloor heating to be a worthwhile installation in terms of both heating bills and energy efficiency, you absolutely must have proper insulation. Underfloor systems take a while to heat up and to cool down; it can be around 24 hours; so it is not for occasional use. It does not therefore respond quickly to rapid temperature changes, so unless your home is well insulated you will have to wait for it to achieve optimum warmth. With fully insulated floors the underfloor system will have an easier job to do, and may not have to come on very often as the insulation will be keeping your home cosy.

Moreover, without proper insulation, you may find that underfloor heating is inadequate as a sole heat source. Radiators can achieve a heat of 65°C to 80°C, while underfloor heating in a solid floor reaches just 29°C, 27°C for a timber floor. As this surface temperature is relatively low, the maximum heat dissipated from a solid floor is 100 watts per square metre, equalling 70 watts per square metre from a timber floor. Consequently, if the house or room is not well insulated this will not create much warmth. It is necessary to purchase a good quality, fully installed system if you want to achieve the maximum benefits offered by underfloor heating.
With a fully installed permanent system it must achieve Building Regulations required for insulation. Without this stipulated flooring insulation, heat will be lost through the floor resulting in high bills and energy losses.
Be aware also that as underfloor heating is still quite uncommon in the UK, and as such any tradesmen who carry out additional works may inadvertently damage the system. Check with them first and ask them to tread carefully if unsure.

In an old central heating system, the boiler will have circulated the water at around 65°C to 80°C. If underfloor heating is installed it will need to be mixed with some cooler water from the return pipe into the hotter flow. The mixing is the job of the manifold which is quite a large part of the flooring equipment. It is best installed in the cellar, garage, or its own cupboard; so underfloor heating is not without its space-consuming capabilities. Compared to radiators however, the small sacrifice can surely be made.