“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur” Red Adair

Mark Ray;

Ex-Vaillant Service Engineer

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Welcome to the disaster SOS page!

This is a story of a very, very nice lady called Fatima, from Pinner.

(really nice cakes & snacks, loads of tea and coffee)

The story begins with Fatima employing the services of a local GAS SAFE REGISTERED plumber to carry out the replacement an old floor standing boiler, for a nice shiny new VAILLANT ECOTEC system boiler, and upgrading the controls and system.

Let this be a WARNING to all potential customers out there, get someone recommended, or someone genuine, honest, and NOT CHEAP!

Check out their credentials, if they’re decent people, they won’t mind, and will probably welcome it...

We do!

Fatima checked the registration of this installer, but was unaware that the GAS SAFE register means virtually nothing concerning the integrity, or the skills level of anyone on the register.

This Plumber, according to the register, is actually more qualified than myself, Mike, and Joe!


Anyhow, on with the story.......

I received an e-mail from a somewhat distressed Fatima, asking for some advice. The boiler installation had been a disaster, the hot water would only work with the ‘upstairs’ radiators, and the downstairs radiators only worked when the upstairs rads were turned off. The bathroom radiators worked whenever they wanted, and the hot water only worked when the room thermostat was turned up high!

The boiler was running continuously, and to top it all, British Gas had called to carry out a pre-contract inspection, and cut the boiler off, classified as ‘At Risk’, due to the flue not being installed correctly.

Those of you in the ‘Trade’... prepare yourselves for what follows below.....

  1. 1.Your jaw may hit the floor

  2. 2.You may need oxygen, for the breathless hysterical laughter that may follow.

(I saved the best til last)

Ok, lets start in the loft..

  1. 1.A 3metre dead-leg left capped with a speedfit cap, which was the old system open vent.

  1. 2.The expansion tank mains feed connected directly to the old cold feed connection with a filling loop.

  1. 3.A pressure reducing valve fitted and set at 3bar, fitted on the loop, and the mains valve left permanently turned on.

    (I turned it off immediately)

Fatima was told that the system won’t be required to be refilled at any time, so not to worry about accessing the filling loop in the loft, as the system will ‘top itself up’

There was no pressure gauge fitted, and no way of venting the system.

This is the disgraceful state of the pipework below the boiler.

Motorised zone valve on wrong feed.

(downstairs heating return before common tee)

Roomstat receiver below, with wiring hanging loose above worktop, below boiler.

(Nice and tidy, and handy for drying the tea towels out in the summer!)

Residual flux coated all the joints.

Not a clip or securing fitting in sight, not even on the GAS pipe!

Apart from the single nail clip to the wall.

Old gravity flow and return connected in reverse!

So here it is.....

(Grab the oxygen bottle)

The best bit.... Yes, it’s a hot water cylinder stat.... with a Zone valve wired directly in.


There’re no wires from the airing cupboard, to the boiler! How’s that work then? Doh!

The wires were loose inside the stat, and weren’t connected.

Couldn’t even bodge it properly!

The valve was manually over ridden, and Fatima was told the hot water would work ‘automatically’......

There’s a lot, lot more, but this webpage will end up a mile long!

Guess what? Even though reported to Trading Standards, and GAS SAFE, this operative is still on the register, and still working in peoples homes!

The gravity return is tee’d in to the downstairs heating return before the wrongly fitted motorised valve!

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