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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Landlord - boiler advice

This is advice from Alan one Property Hawk regular who straddles the world of being a landlord and heating engineer.  As Winter approaches we all know that the next challenge for landlords will be boiler related.  So this is in his own words some targeted advice:

I'm a landlord & a heating engineer
I am a Landlord and a retired Heating and Electrical Engineer. Last week, on Thursday I had a call from one of my tenants. He told me that he didn't have any hot water unless he had his heating turned on as well. As this didn't sound like a crisis, as he did have hot water of sorts, I agreed to go round and fix the problem on Monday of this week. Why am I so confident that I can fix the problem? Well for one thing I have years of experience and secondly I know the property has a Combi boiler. When someone has hot water but only when their heating is on I know this is the classic symptom of a failed diverter valve. In fact I was so confident that it would be this part, I ordered it straight away, so that I would have the new one by Monday.

Landlords - put off working on their boiler
Most Landlords are put off fixing any part of their heating or hot water system by their fear of gas. When you take into account all the components of a heating/ hot water system over 90% of the parts have nothing at all to do with gas. These non gas parts are perfectly capable of being diagnosed and replaced by competent Landlords. There is no requirement to employ a Gas Safe engineer if the part to be replaced is not a gas part. If you can change an alternator or fan belt on a car you are perfectly capable of replacing a diverter valve in a boiler.

Fixing the problem
On Monday I went around to the house. I checked that the problem was as the tenant had described and then I set about replacing the failed part. This involved turning off the electricity to the boiler, draining down just the boiler sealed water system and the mains cold water. Then undoing five pipe joints, carefully removing the diverter valve and the wiring at the top of the valve. Within half an hour the valve was replaced and the boiler back to full working order. Cost £49 for the valve replacement. Typical Plumber call out and repair price of £280, so a significant saving. I know I also spent some time with the tenant but this time was well spent as he now thinks the Landlord's service is wonderful.

Landlord heating DIY
How can you too take advantage of fixing your own heating and hot water problems at minimum cost? I recommend firstly, download the boiler manual, as supplied by the manufacturer if you don't already have it. There is a good site with free downloads at . This book will give you guidance on how to replace components in your boiler. The manual will also tell you clearly which parts are gas related and which parts are not. Secondly, take a look at my books at These books are designed to help you diagnose the problems with the whole system and then point you at the failing component. There are also safety tips and if the part in question is gas related there are clear warning not to interfere with it.

If the books do not help you fix the problem, then there is also an online help and guidance service.

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colin said...

Any advise on which make of combi boilers are easier to work on? Also seems like a lot of the problems can be on the circuit board, which are expensive to replace.

As a landlord I bought a power flushing machine and got my maintenance guy to power flush all the places. We also put magna-cleans on each one. Touch wood things seem to be much more reliable as a result.

Click Here said...

Nice blog.The word "plumber" dates from the Roman Empire.In Roman times lead was known as plumbum in Latin. Thanks for sharing it...

Highgate Heating Website