Category Archives: Ask The Engineer

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Why Are My Pipes Freezing?

Dear Adam,

Last winter, at its coldest, the pipes outside our house froze. I believe our engineer said that it was our condensate pipe on the outside of the house. We managed to fix the problem eventually with boiling water but I’m looking for a long-term fix. Can you help?

background-character-150-1Thanks for your message,

External condensate pipes freezing in winter can be a big issue for homeowners, and the problem is often easily diagnosed.

As you can imagine, the larger a pipe is the more difficult it is for it to freeze and block the flow of water. If your pipes consistently freeze your first step should be to go out and measure them! A lot of external condensate pipes are 21.5mm wide, and this causes a problem as these pipes are the most prone to freezing.

A 21.5mm condensate pipe

A 21.5mm condensate pipe

If you do have a 21.5mm external pipe, as you said boiling water will help solve the issue but this is only a short-term solution and freezing will happen again. What I would advise is the installation of a larger pipe.

When our customers call us with these problems (and they do, it is not uncommon!) we suggest that the 21.5mm pipe is replaced with a larger, 32mm pipe. This larger pipe will help protect against freezing in much colder weathers. Additionally, we advise on the installation of lagging (a special type of insulation) to provide additional protection.

Alternatively, it may be possible to reroute the condensate pipe to an internal waste pipe which would eliminate the chances of freezing all together.

Condensate pipes retrofitted to the larger, 32mm size with lagging

Condensate pipes retrofitted to the larger, 32mm size with lagging

Thankfully, this is not a large procedure and is a very long term fix to keep your water running in the winter. It can typically be resolved for around £100 and will save you lots of headaches and callouts in the future!

If you are looking for a qualified team to carry out the work, Eclipse Energy and our team of engineers regularly install larger external condensate pipes to help prevent against the cold winters. Be sure to give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide you with free impartial advice and a quote.

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radiator, cold heating

Why Is My Radiator Cold at the Bottom?

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Dear Adam,

I saw your article last week where you helped someone with their radiator. I was hoping you could help me. My radiator is also cold but it is at the bottom, the top of the radiator is warm as usual. Do you know what this problem might be and how to fix it?

Thanks for your email.

Being able to identify where the heat is coming (or not coming) from in your radiator is always a good way to assess the problem. One thing to consider is that the top of your radiator will always be slightly warmer than the bottom, but this is marginal. As we discussed last week a cold top of the radiator indicates that it needs bleeding, a cold bottom of the radiator indicates that there is most likely sludge or magnetite in there. Ask the Engineer, engineer, boiler man


Sludge or magnetite is thick black sediment that is caused when the iron in radiators and pipes corrodes. With an older system this is more common due to natural wear and tear and is typically not the fault of the homeowner. When bleeding your radiator as discussed last week, you may see some early signs of sludge when the water coming out is discolored or sludgy. Sludgy water takes more time to heat up and moves slower than normal water, so the thermostat is working harder and taking longer to reach the required temperature meaning you will pay more on your heating bills!

Unlike bleeding a radiator, this problem will require professional flushing which is best done by a Qualified Gas/Heating engineer. Removing the sludge is a much more technical process than simply bleeding and is a problem we see quite regularly. We recommend the Magnacleanse machine system and, when fitted in conjunction with a magnaclean filter, offers a comprehensive way to clean and protect the system.  We use specialized chemicals to help with this process and then leave inhibitor chemicals in the system to help prevent the problem re-occurring.  This process can take as little as 2 hours but usually takes half a day to a day to complete depending on the size of the system.

Watch the video below to see for yourself how the Magnacleanse and Magnaclean filter can benefit your heating system.

If your radiators are not heating up correctly and you think sludge or magnetite might be the problem, give us a call to ask for a competitive quotation and to book a visit date for a magnaclean filter installing and a magnacleanse completing on your system.   You can send us an email through our website or give us a call on 01422 352485!

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radiator, cold, heating

Why is my Radiator Cold at the Top?

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Dear Adam,
I recently turned on the heating for the first time in a while and gave it a quick once over. Unfortunately, one of the radiators in the living room isn’t entirely warm. The radiator is warm at the bottom but further up it doesn’t seem to be generating any heat at all. Do you know what the problem might be?

background-character-150-1Thanks for your message.

Yes, as it turns out having a cold top of the radiator is a fairly common issue. In fact, this is one of the most easily fixable issues in home heating and I will guide you through it. In addition, I will give you some tips and tricks of things to look out for when fixing it so you may be able to diagnose further problems requiring an engineer.

Having a cold top of the radiator essentially means that there is air trapped inside. This is a fairly common occurrence and as such manufacturers build features into radiators allowing you to fix it yourself. Having air in the radiator stops the hot water from circulating around the appliance entirely so it cannot *radiate* heat out effectively (hence the name). Follow this 4 step guide to fix your issue:

    1. Turn off your central heating

When working with central heating appliances the heating should be turned off. The primary concern is that you might squirt yourself in the face with dirty boiling water (not fun) but additionally you could inadvertently suck more air into the system, creating the same problem all over again.

    1. Find the nut

At the left or right top corner of every radiator you should find a small square brass nut. Please note that these can only be unscrewed with a specific key. If you do not have this key, you will not be able to carry out essential works so look around the house or go buy one. (Pick one up at your local DIY shop). After this go find a bucket or small container and place it underneath the nut.

    1. Bleed the radiator

Once you have your key, turn the screw approximately 90 degrees’ quarter turn anti-clockwise. You will begin to hear air hissing out. Allow the air to continue hissing until water begins to drip out into the bucket.

    1. Close the valve

Turn the screw back clockwise until it is tight and turn the central heating back on. Congratulations you have bled your radiator!
After you’ve bled your radiator it’s important to check the pressure on your boiler, as bleeding it could have lowered the pressure. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and top up the pressure to accommodate.

It is likely that the water coming out of your radiator will be discolored. This is totally common as the water tends to circulate around the pipes in the house for a long time and can pick up particles from the pipes. If you bleed the radiator and sludgy water comes out, it may indicate that the pipes have corroded which could be the cause of more significant problems immediately or down the line. You may need the system flushing out or a heating filter installing. At this point you should consult a Gas Safe registered engineer to provide a thorough diagnosis of your systems.

At Eclipse Energy we often work with homeowners who have discovered problems while solving their central heating issues. As fully qualified Gas Safe engineers we are able to do this, and happy to talk you through any issues you may come across that you can fix yourselves (such as bleeding a radiator). If you have a problem that you can’t solve and looks serious, give us a call and we’re happy to help!


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Gas Safety, new property, house move,

What Should I Look Out for When Buying a Property?

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Dear Adam,

I have been renting a flat for a long time, but am now taking my first steps on to the property ladder and buying a house. As an engineer, what are the things you would advise I look at and ask about when buying a property?


Thanks for your question.

There are a number of things that I would advise when viewing any property, and these apply both to renting and buying. Nobody wants to get comfortable in their new home only to find out that there are a bunch of problems you didn’t anticipate cropping up and costing you money.

  1. Check The Boiler
    When looking at purchasing a home, always ask how old the boiler is. A boiler older than 8-10 years may be inefficient, costing you more on your bills than you may have budgeted. Additionally, as a new owner it is unlikely that the boiler will be covered under warranty
  2. Have the Appliances Been Serviced?
    As we covered on a previous installment it is vital that your appliances are serviced annually. Not only for your financial piece of mind but also for your personal safety. If you are moving in to a property that hasn’t had the appliances serviced in a long time, I would advise you to have all the appliances given a check by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  3. Check the Chimney
    As with point number 2, if you are buying or renting a house with a chimney, we would advise you to check if it has been inspected recently. With any appliance safety is paramount, and people often forget that your chimney is an appliance too, not just a lovely feature! Additionally, if you have a gas fire, be sure to check around for signs of black staining, as this may indicate a problem with the chimney
  4. How Old Are the Appliances?
    As well as from a maintenance point of view, more modern appliances have heating controls, such as radiators having thermostats, allowing more effective control over the heating (and bills) in the house. Buyers should be aware of this, not only for gas saftey reasons but becuase they may wish to invest in getting thermostats fitted to radiators.
  5. Check for Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Carbon Monoxide is an invisible odorless danger. If you have no method of detecting it and appliances have not been maintained, you could put yourself and your families lives at risk. As well as standard servicing we encourage all homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors.

There are a number of things you should have on your checklist when buying or renting a home, but from a gas engineer’s point of view I would recommend these in particular.

Hopefully these will not bring up any causes of concern when you find your dream home. One thing to remember though is that pointing out any obvious work that needs doing is a great bargaining tool when putting in an offer. Don’t stretch your budget if work needs to be done and  ensure your gas safety!

Gas Safety Awareness week is coming in September, as part of it we’re offering a free carbon monoxide detector to anyone installing a new boiler or upgrading their heating system through September and October. Be a safe and smart homeowner and enquire about Gas Safety and what we can do for you.


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How Can I Save Money On My Heating Bills?

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heating bills, energy bills, saving money, tips

Save Money: Cut your heating bills with our simple and easy tips!

Dear Adam,

I’m looking forward to winter coming up, but last year I was really struggling with sky high bills. I was hoping that you might be able to give me some advice on saving money once the temperature starts to dip. Can you help me?

background-character-150-1Thanks for your message,

There are so many ways that you can save money every winter! To make things simpler for everyone we’ve decided to put them in a list below. Just implementing a few of these changes could save you hundreds of pounds, so take a look and start thinking about what you’re going to spend it on.

  1. Turn down the thermostat
    An obvious suggestion, but one that needs revisiting. A decrease in temperature of just 1 degree Celsius can save you as much as £60 a year. Stick on a jumper and a thick pair of socks and start saving for that holiday.
  2. Upgrade to an intelligent thermostat control
    Devices such as the Nest smart thermostat can learn from your behavior and only turn the heating on when it knows you want it. Operate it from your phone and use the app to monitor your spending to get the most information on how to save.
  3. Upgrade your radiators with thermostatic radiator valves
    Despite the complicated name, a TRV is just a small valve attached to your radiator allowing greater control over the temperature in each room. They are a great way to save money, and you could consider turning off the heating entirely to individual rooms when not in use.
  4. Insulation
    Insulation may be a more expensive option but the savings you can make will cover the costs over time. Insulating the house, for example room in roof insulation, is a long term solution that can make huge differences in your energy bills, so consider it if you’re intending on living in the home for a long time or looking to increase the value of your property.
  5. Upgrade your boiler
    A lot of homeowners don’t realise this, but your boiler accounts for 55% of what you spend on your energy bills. Like upgrading your insulation, a new boiler can result in huge savings for a significantly lower entry cost. Combine this with a smart thermostat and more control of your heating systems for a huge reduction on your bills.
  6. Change your energy supplier
    Changing your energy supplier can be a great way to save a lot of your monthly outgoings instantly. With a lot of expenses, such as car insurance, regularly shopping around is the best way to know if you’re getting the best deal possible.

We previously published a few additional tips here for generally saving on your bills for winter, but if you’re looking to make significant improvements be sure to contact us at Eclipse for any insulation, heating or boiler needs. With new boilers from only £16 a month and up to 10 years’ warranty, you can start saving right away!



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When Should I Have My Boiler Serviced?

boiler service

Dear Adam,

I’ve lived in my home for 5 years now and have never had my boiler serviced. Over coffee with a friend, she told me that she has her boiler and fire serviced every year and told me I had to do the same. I’ve never had a problem with my boiler so I don’t see the point, what’s your advice?

Your friend is absolutely right, it’s essential to have your boiler and other gas appliances serviced every year! Your car is serviced every year to ensure everything is working correctly, why not your boiler?

There are a number of reasons why having your boiler serviced regularly is a good idea, here’s a few of them:

In a perfect world, none of us would ever have problems with our boilers and we’d never have to worry about it, but like all household appliances boilers are liable to wear and tear. If your boiler breaks down in winter this can be a real problem! You should remember that your boiler will typically be gas powered, and a gas or carbon monoxide leak in the home can be incredibly dangerous, a regular service will bring up any potential issues and can rectify them straight away.

It’s important that all of your appliances are checked regularly for your own safety by a trusted professional. A gas fire uses an open chimney and this can become blocked up with soot or debris which people often forget. If this happens there is potential for carbon monoxide to enter the room that could cause serious harm or worse. An annual inspection and smoke test of the chimney is essential to ensure your appliance is working safely.

We all want to save money, and cutting down on your monthly bills is a great way to do that. As a boiler gets older it can become less efficient and you will be paying more to heat your home. An annual service will ensure that your boiler is working to maximum efficiency keeping that money in your wallet where it belongs.

A new boiler will always come with a warranty should any issues arise that aren’t your fault. An annual boiler service is essential to keep that warranty up to date. If your boiler breaks down and it isn’t your fault, but you haven’t been keeping up with regular servicing YOU could have to pay for the repair and the parts needed to repair it.

A well looked after boiler is a great way to save money down the road, as regular servicing can extend its life for many years. A small payment every year is worth the cost compared to having to fork out for a new boiler long before you should! Take care of your boiler and be sure to get the most out of it.
Regular boiler services are a great way to save money in the long run, provided that they are carried out by a registered professional. At Eclipse Energy, all of our staff are Gas Safe registered and fully qualified to carry out a quick and painless service. At a cost of only £49.99 for a service you can ensure peace of mind for a fraction of the price of a new boiler. We also offer reduced rates for additional appliances serviced at the same time so give us a call today to book your appointment.

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Is my Engineer Qualified?

Dear Adam,
I’ve recently booked a local handyman to repair my boiler, but have been reading online about the dangers of unqualified tradesmen. I don’t want to risk hiring someone whose work may cost me down the line, is there any way of checking up on who I’ve requested?

Thanks for your email.

You pose a very good question, and there are certainly risks to working with someone who is not up to the standard that you should expect. Thankfully there are ways of determining how qualified someone is, and there are other pitfalls you should be aware of to help save you money down the line.

The Gas Safe Register is a fantastic organization that ensures all gas engineers are registered and trained to a high standard. Their work is invaluable to protect the industry and every gas engineer is required to be qualified with them to perform any work. Keep an eye out for their logo which you can see below:


If you are working with an engineer, they are required to have their Gas Safe Register card on their person at all times which details their key information and a License number. The Gas Safe Register is a searchable database that will allow you to find out all the information you need, as well as the relevant qualifications your engineer has.

It goes without saying that if you hire someone who is not registered, or does not have the qualifications to carry out the work you require, do NOT work with them!

Aside from registration, one factor you may not have considered is that of insurance. When working with a tradesman, particularly if they are working in your home or business, always insure that they have public liability insurance. If an engineer is working in your home and damages your property or even injures you, without this insurance YOU are liable for the cost incurred.

Now, hopefully this will never occur, but it’s always important for anyone you work with to be covered against any unfortunate incidents to ensure you’re comfortable and put your mind to rest.

Thankfully at Eclipse Energy all of our engineers are Gas Safe Registered, and we have insurance to cover any eventuality (and the training to prevent them from happening!) If you are uncertain about any work that may have been or is about to be carried out, do not hesitate to contact us for some free impartial advice or a quote from our approved engineers.

I hope this helps,



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