DIY Doctor

Trying to identify what boiler we have and how to work it !

Postby Aurelia » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:02 am

My son just moved into a rented flat and neither him nor I have any knowledge of boilers or any heating systems for that matter, therefore I am looking for some help, please as he has problems in identifying what the 2 switches on the wall do and how the boiler should be set to have hot water which at the moment works via a guessing type of approach, I'm afraid.

I've been trying to research what type of boiler he has but haven't got too far as it sounds quite complicated but I can tell you that the set up as we know it at this point is the following: a large big cylinder on some sort of support in the airing cupboard (the make is Gatmet or something like that) which has a clock dial type thing at the front with a thermometer type display which shows temperatures from 20 to 120 (degrees Celsius, I believe). this boiler has some connections with some pipes but couldn't explain how. The only other thing I can tell you is that there are 2 switches on the wall in the same airing cupboard which seem to relate to this setup, one has Boost written against it and the on/off button and the other one has an E written against it and it can be turned on or off.

I apologise for the very basic way I am describing this, but I don't know any better in this subject, I'm afraid ... :(

My questions to you are:
1. what do we need to press/activate and what temperature do we have to set the round dial on the boiler to have hot water (I can't see a thermostat anywhere to set the time of day or such, therefore I presume this must be an older type boiler)
2. what type of boiler is this (we can't get into the loft, my son just moved in and doesn't want to 'disturb' the setup there and the loft door seems to be blocked in some way so can't say if there are any tanks in the loft and the estate agents were less than useful at this stage)
3. does this boiler set up mean that the boiler needs to be at a certain temperature all day in order to have hot water at any time ?

Also, I looked at the radiators in the rooms and they are very wide, big things with some switch on top but they seem to be connected with a pipe, so I presume they are also part of the system and working the boiler appropriately will be important for when it gets colder in order to have heating in the house. How do these relate to everything and what would he have to do to keep constant warmth in the flat, please ?

Too many questions, I know, but we have no one else to ask unless we go back to the estate agents and ask for a proper explanation of the system and if they can't do it they'll have to send the owner out to do it, otherwise it is just impossible to 'guess' when you know nothing about this.

Thank you so much for your help with this.

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Simply Build It

Postby dns » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:45 am

Hi Aurelia,

You've mentioned the hot water cylinder, is there also a gas-fired boiler in the property? I think you may be confusing the boiler and hot water cylinder, easy mistake to make!

It actually sounds very much like an all-electric system, on economy 7.

Basically what that means is the hot water cylinder is on a seperate electrical circuit, which only gets switched on by the electricity board at off-peak hours. You get 7 hours of cheap electricity a day, when the immersion heater in the cylinder comes on to heat your water. With this system no other timer is needed, the electric company switch it on and off for you.

The boost switch is there in case you need extra hot water at hours when the system is normally switched off (ie: during peak electricity times). For instance, if the bath has been used a few times and the water isn't as hot, you can press the boost switch to give it an extra blast. Just remember to turn it off again afterwards, or it will get expensive!

If the "radiators" are large with switches on top, the chances are they are electric night storage heaters, although I've not seen one with a pipe connected before...

Storage heaters work the same way as the cylinder, in that they are switched on and off by the electricity company at off-peak hours. During this time, they heat up slowly and then emit the heat over the course of the way while they are switched off.

Hope this helps and is even remotely accurate. It's always hard to say from a description, but, given that it's a rented flat, an all-electric economy system would be highly likely.

Good luck!
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Postby Paul310871 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:40 pm

Its difficult to say for sure,maybe you have some pics you can post. However the cylinder sounds like it has 2 heating elements. Me personally would switc off the Boost switch and just use the E switch. Set the dial to 60degC. It will initially take a couple of hours (maybe more depending on size of cylinder) to heat up. However once hot, it will retain its heat. It is more ecenomical to then leave the heater on constantly as the only enerrgy used will be to 'top up' the temperature of the water. If the flat is going to be empty for a period of time, say long weekend, 1/2 term holiday etc, then switch the heater off altogether.

As for the 'radiators', is there a name on these at all as these could be electric storage heaters. Or again a picture of the switch on the top
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Postby htg engineer » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:59 pm

The best advice I can offer, as I obviously cannot see the setup - is for you to contact your landlord, if that is an agency - contact them.

They have a legal responsibility to ensure all aplliances are safe and operable, this includes providing operating instructions for their tenants, if you haven't seen an annual gas service certificate - ask to see one - if they can't show you one - demand that a annual service is carried out - the engineer will be able to show you how to work the system.

(assuming it is gas, and not all electric)

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