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Plumberpro, Plumber
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 634
Experience:  Fully qualified plumbing , heating and gas engineer 20 years experience
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Gas water cistern heater.

Resolved Question:

Gas water cistern heater, my parents still have a gas cistern heater in their airing cupboard, it was installed in the 1970s and has no safety interlocks whatsoever, it still functions OK but blows out in windy weather and, of course relies on the flue to draw out the pilot gas which does not switch off, they have to relight it with a long match. It frightens me to death and I made them turn it off by guilt tripping them about blowing up the kids next door. They are OK for hot water as they have an immersion but they cannot dry their clothes now as the airing cupboard is too cold without the warm flue, and the bathroom is freezing.They have no central heating and do not want anyone coming doing major work in the house, is there a modern equivalent?, all the gas fitters I have talked to want to install a multipoint and can't seem to grasp that there is no central heating in the house, and no gas fire, I used to be Corgi myself for industrial, and could easily fit a gas valve to this myself with a thermocouple in the pilot flame, but of course that would be illegal, could a gas Engineer, (as opposed to an installer) make such a modification legally?, or is there a modern equivalent to the cistern heater,every house had one in the 1970s!

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Plumberpro replied 2 years ago.
Hi , why would you want a similar appliance . just to give the bathroom heat? Why not put in an ordinary cylinder with an immersion and get an electric heater for the bathroom ?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In a word, YES, as I say, they have no gas fire, no central heating no tumble dryer, they are both nearly 90 and would rather sit in the freezing cold around a tiny electric fire. The last time the had someone in it was 5 years ago, British Gas, who condemned their gas fire, ripped it out of the wall and left 2 80 year olds with no fire and a great roaring hole in the wall so now they are afraid to let anyone in in case something worse happens, they were quite happy with it as it was. My Dad can't understand why BG condemned a fire they put in, 30 years ago!.

I could persuade them to let someone in to repair it, but they don't want someone ripping every thing to pieces.

Old people can be very stubborn

Expert:  Plumberpro replied 2 years ago.
Yes , I can understand that . unfortunately gas appliances do become unsafe and its a duty of gas engineers to protect life , if they don't they can end up in prison convicted of manslaughter.being a gas engineer myself , its weighing up keeping an appliance going and the risk to life.
Quite a scary responsibility for some. The job could be done ( new hot water tank and electric fire) in a day .
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

As I said I used to be Corgi registered myself, so I understand the duty of care, my issue with them wasn't that they condemned the installation, but that for a flue problem they tore a perfectly serviceable 3 year old gas fire out of the wall and destroyed it so that it was impossible to reinstate, when I would have thought that capping off the gas would have been adequate, incredibly that they did not do, they left an open gas point that I had to blank off myself. At least if the fire had been left in, it would not have left a roaring draught through the open flue, in November in a house with no other heating and two frail 80 year old people living in it. They did not even have the common decency to take the dead fire outside, they left it on the front room carpet. Of course being old my folks didn't want to make a fuss so I wasn't allowed to complain on their behalf.

So you see why they don't want anyone in the house, so is the answer, no the existing heater can neither be upgraded nor replaced without ripping out the airing cupboard and half the bathroom, and what sort of electric heater can you have in a bathroom which is so small that it is all zone 1 or 2? without tearing the walls out?

I am really worried about them, the joke is that they could afford to have someone in to do it all and go off on holiday while it was being done. I could easily fit a gas valve and thermocouple to the existing cistern heater and at least make it safe, but the law will not allow me to do it, as my registration was only for industrial, although the training and exam are the same.Is there nobody out there that can make safety modifcations to existing installations?

Expert:  Plumberpro replied 2 years ago.
That is crazy . all they had to do was cap it off . I see what your saying about the thermocouple idea, but if anything happened, I don't think anyone would want to take the risk with their certification. You would have to speak to the manufacturer to see if there was some sort of upgrade. If you were to do it , it would be your risk obviously.
Couldn't you close off the fire place opening with a board?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I removed the rest of the brick wall the BG guys knocked a hole through and closed off the chimney with boards. I put a free standing stove-effect electric heater in the fireplace opening so they would have some heat last winter, which fortunately was very mild but there is always another one coming. I feel a bit guilty because the cistern heater used to keep the bathroom warm, but I'm sure I'd feel much guiltier if it had blown half the street up.

Thanks for your help



Expert:  Plumberpro replied 2 years ago.
Exactly . you acted out of care and concern for them . I the no you did the right thing . how about a fan heater in the bathroom ?
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