The quality of installers that are been turned out from training centres is disgraceful, they lack skills, knowledge and ability and have no idea of customer service, I have seen many poor quality installations from these types of fast track installers, but the one that got me to write this blog is typical of what we face and what is damaging the reputation of the good installers and brings down our industry.
I was called to a warranty issue by a boiler manufacturer, combination boiler just installed and complaint was no hot water, I turned up to be greeted by a nice elderly Gentleman, kettle was put on and tea and biscuits supplied, not the neatest installation I have seen, but I was not there to comment on that, a few checks showed everything appeared OK, but no hot water, OK I thought, follow what occurs on hot water demand and check each item, it did not take long before I checked the flow switch, I decided to open it up and in doing so discovered a large blob of jointing compound sitting on the impeller of the flow switch, obviously this prevented the impeller from turning, so no hot water, I showed the homeowner and then cleaned the impeller, re-assembled and away the hot water went, one happy customer, first issue for me, WHY did the installer not check?, it seems a lot of installers today once they have connected the boiler and turned it on if it does not work they automatically assume its the boiler at fault, well 95% of the time it is not, its mostly installer error, now jointing compound, from over use, blocking the impeller is certainly not the boiler manufacturers fault and is 100% the installers fault, now I, as I am sure many of my fellow installers will always check through everything if the boiler does not work when I first try to fire up, I want to ensure 100% it is not my error before I call the manufacturer in under warranty, but in my experience this does not seem to be the case with a lot of installers, if the boiler does not fire straight away, they assume boiler problem and call the manufacturer in, another point is I do my best to be present when the manufacturer turns up, but no sign of the installer whatsoever.
The problems did not stop there, although I had fixed the hot water problem I wanted to fire up the boiler for heating, just to check everything was OK, but I could not find a controller or room stat, I asked the homeowner, where the controller was, he said, oh, he did not have one and is coming back next week to fit one, WHAT? how can you install a boiler and not fit the control and think its acceptable to leave it like that for a week, I told the old guy he needed to get the installer back ASAP to fit the controller. A week later the homeowner called me and said the installer had fitted the controller, but when I was next passing could I pop in, as he wanted to know where the best place for the controller was ???? I was confused, but was on a busy job, so said I would pop in when next passing that way, as he lives not far from me, when I got time I popped round, the controller had been wired on flex hanging out of the boiler and the wall mounted programmable room stat was sitting on the fridge, WTF I thought, "Why did he not fit the controller to the wall" I asked, "oh he wired it and said let me know where you want it fixed and I will come back and fit it", This guy is having a laugh I thought, when I looked at the controller, the time was not set, nor any on/off times set for the heating, I told the homeowner the best position for the programmable room stat and told him to get the installer back to fit it, I set one of the pre-programmed settings for the heating and left.
Yesterday I got a call from the homeowner, he said the controller had been fixed in the position I had suggested, but he was struggling to understand how to use it, I was in the area so I popped in, the controller had been mounted, but had not been set up, nor had the installer explained how to use the controller, how on earth can you install a boiler, fit controls and not explain to the homeowner how to use it, now this particular controller from this manufacturer is not one I use personally, as I find it over complicated to set up and the homeowners have no chance making changes, so it is not a controller i would of chosen, and I can only assume the installer had no idea how to set up or operate the controller, and is why he did not set it up or explain how to use it to the homeowner, so why did he use this controller, I have no idea.
The other issue here is suitability of controls, now the homeowner was an OAP, I would of chatted with him about his control preference, now I don't care if the controller allegedly gives you +5% on efficiency under ErP, or whether its Class 2, 4 or 8 non of this is relevant if the end user does not understand how to use it, in my opinion this guy would of been better off with timeclock and a dial room stat, it is what he was used to, the ability for the homeowner to operate the controls far outweighs the supposed efficiency benefits of the controller in my opinion, if they can't use it, then there is no efficiency and often no bloody heating as they struggle to turn it on, each customer is different and it is down to us as the installers to gauge their ability and provide a controller which suits THEM, not what suits the ErP label.
Unfortunately the industry seems to be getting full of boiler bashers, people who just chuck a boiler on the wall, a boiler which is often not suited to the property, but suited to the installer as he can fit it quickly and has a good deal for this boiler at their supplier, no proper survey of the property beforehand, no balancing of the system, no setting of the boiler flow temperature to hopefully a lower temperature to get the boiler into condensing mode longer, no correct deaeration procedure, no setting of controls or selecting of controls to suit the homeowner, its chuck it in, fit a filter as these apparently magically make all problems go away, or so they think, pour in some chemical cocktail which they have no idea what it does to the water makeup, feel a couple of rads and if they are getting warm, off they go.
Our industry is been damaged by these types of installers , but they have been bred by the powers that be and quangos, who think box ticking and end test are the way to train installers.
Doing things properly takes time and we should charge accordingly, the problem is those guys who do it properly are faced trying to compete with the boiler bashers, who cut corners, carry out shoddy work and so can cut their prices, the public are to blame as well, as they always want cheap, this really annoys me, heating, water and sanitation are essentials for life, but people seem to under value those that provide the service for these essentials, the public need to be re-educated on what is essential, they want to spend pennies on something they need to survive in this world, clean water, warmth and sanitation, which if installed by a competent installer will last them many years, but they don't seem to mind spending a fortune so they can visit Mickey Mouse for 2 weeks.