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acctofquestioniness

Messages
12
Hi. I have an elderly neighbour getting quotes who has asked for my help and opinion, I don't really have a good one as it is not my area of expertise but I am trying to help.

The quotes are all similar prices but She seemed to like one person and quote more than the others and I noticed that was the only one with qualifications listed on the quote, so I googled them a bit but there are lots of plumbing qualifications. I wondered if I list them here anyone familiar can advise if they are real or not please as I don't want her to make a bad choice.



City & Guilds Lvl 1&2 Domestic Plumbing and Heating (when searching this I can see the official website with NVQs up to Lvl3 so I guess they are up to an NVQ Lvl2?)

City & Guilds Bathroom Design & Installation (when searching this it just brings back the same official website search results as the Lvl 1&2 Domestic Plumbing and Heating. Maybe it was separate before but is now part of the 1&2 I'm not sure?)

BTEC water Regulations (when searching this I couldn't find a BTEC, but I could find a BPEC organisation. Are they the same and changed names if anyone knows?)

BTEC Unvented Heating Systems (when searching this I couldn't find a BTEC, but I could find a BPEC organisation. Are they the same and changed names if anyone knows?)



Thankyou. Hope it is ok to ask here and someone is able to advise
 

acctofquestioniness

Messages
12
I'd be asking to see previous work.
What sort of job are we talking about?

Qualifications are by no means a gaurantee of good work. Likewise the other way round.

Yes I agree. My neighbour is getting quotes to have her quite old bathroom ripped out and refurbished to bring it up to a modern look along with accessibility options of a walk-in bath or a shower with a folding seat to keep her independence as long as she can.

When She asked for my advice I looked at the quotes which came with photos of previous work, some of them had websites with a gallery also and they all looked to me much of a muchness as I kicked a few tyres whilst listening to her. What got my attention was she also said this one plumber had said he will need to move or refit the shower pump as it had been fitted directly to the Mains supply due to her system being an Unvented system.
I did some reading on that and took a look in her house, she has a cold tank in the middle of her loft filled by a Mains pipe coming up the corner of the house and across the loft to the tank. Then the cold tank has a pipe that goes down the middle of the house to a downstairs cupboard and it connects into the shower pump which is housed there, along with a hot water storage tank filled by a normal boiler (not a Combi boiler) and this hot water tank has a pipe coming out of it and into the shower pumps other connector.

Other than cupboard/tank locations, that is a very similar set-up as I have in my home as well which I am certain is not an Unvented system unless I misunderstood my trusted plumber from many years ago who installed mine?

I have tried ringing my plumber but I got the answerphone that he is on holiday for another few weeks, I have told my neighbour that I will ask on the forums for her for now and also I will ask my plumber to come and give her a quote when they are off their holidays as I've always found them fair priced and have been happy with their work.
 

Timmy D

Esteemed
Gas Engineer
Subscriber
Messages
650
You need to confirm that the unvented cylinder is actually plumbed in as an unvented. You can use them gravity.

You need to confirm how the cylinder is fed. Is it fed from the loft tank? Or mains? I suspect, loft tank. Turn off the main stock cock so that the kitchen sink has no cold and the ballcock on the loft tank does not refill the tank. Then run a hot tap, this will tell you if the unvented is mains or tank fed.

If it is loft tank, then pump is fine. Either move pump or convert to mains. Need to check water pressure and flow rate before making that decision. Unvented cylinder will need to be commissioned by someone qualified (all safeties need to be checked/ensure prv and discharge line are installed).

If it is mains, then loft tank should be decommissioned and supply/outlets linked/pump removed.
 

acctofquestioniness

Messages
12
You need to confirm that the unvented cylinder is actually plumbed in as an unvented. You can use them gravity.

You need to confirm how the cylinder is fed. Is it fed from the loft tank? Or mains? I suspect, loft tank. Turn off the main stock cock so that the kitchen sink has no cold and the ballcock on the loft tank does not refill the tank. Then run a hot tap, this will tell you if the unvented is mains or tank fed.

If it is loft tank, then pump is fine. Either move pump or convert to mains. Need to check water pressure and flow rate before making that decision. Unvented cylinder will need to be commissioned by someone qualified (all safeties need to be checked/ensure prv and discharge line are installed).

If it is mains, then loft tank should be decommissioned and supply/outlets linked/pump removed.

Hi thanks. I went and took another look. In the loft there is a cold tank which is covered with a lid. It fills from the mains as I turned off the Mains pipe where it came in the house and soon the kitchen taps ran dry but the bathroom taps did not?, I got her to flush the toilet also when I was up in the loft and the tank wasn't filling by the sound of it and when I had reopened the Mains I could hear the water hitting what was in the tank already just standing under the loft hatch before going back up.
The Loft tank had some pipework going down into the house.


The bigger pipework comes down into her hot water tank cupboard and goes into this tank near the bottom. Just before the tank it does joint off to a slightly smaller pipe that goes into the shower pump. There is a blue rubber handle on it which guessing is to stop the flow as there is one on the opposite pipe coming out the other side of the shower pump, which has 4 connections in all. These 2 blue ones and another 2 red handled ones.
There are other pipes feeding in/out of the hot tank and on the wall where they run up they have faint marker pen saying "to shower", "cyl return", "main flow" and a few others I can't remember.
This hot tank has a pipe coming out of it connecting into the shower pump and is 1 of the red handled pipes. The other pipe coming out the other side of the pump is the 2nd red handled one and goes up the wall and is the pipe marked "to shower".
The hot tank didn't have a brand name I could see but the shower pump had Monsoon on it.
Her hot tank looks to have a backup mains heater in case of boiler failure as near the top of it is a black cap that says "Do not cover, disconnect from mains before removing" and then it has a lead and plug coming off it into a wall switch which is currently turned off.


The other cupboard nearby has her boiler in it and looks like a normal boiler. It has a couple of big copper pipes going in/out of it and I saw the brand looks to be Worcester and the model was Greenstar Ri and some numbers I've now forgot.


I don't think she wants to convert any of this as she said she had the boiler replaced and the hot tank moved from a bedroom to this cupboard about 7years ago, she is just wanting her bathroom removed and redone and I don't want her to make a wrong decision on it. The designs she does have it basically looks like removing what is in the bathroom and redecorating with paint and tiles then putting new stuff back in roughly the same place depending if she goes with a walk-in bath or a sit-down shower but I don't see how the pipework will need to go anywhere different to where it is now whichever she chooses.

Their comments on the shower pump needing moving and the reasons don't sound right to me so I thought I'd check if these are standard qualifications they listed and if what they have said sounds right or a bit dodgy?
 

Chuck

Esteemed
Messages
2,613
My reading of your description is that your neighbour currently has a traditional vented hot water system, with the storage tank in the roof supplying low pressure cold water to the hot water cylinder, bathroom and toilet. This is known as an indirect cold water system. The shower pump is fed from the low pressure cold and hot water tanks.

Upgrading to an unvented cylinder, which can only be done if the water supply to the premises meets the required pressure and flow requirements, would remove the need for the pump. It would also provide a direct feed to the basin cold tap, which is nice because people will probably want to use it for drinking water and cleaning their teeth.

If the vented cylinder is staying I'd want to run a direct (i.e. mains) cold feed to the basin tap and then on to the toilet as part of the refurbishment. I'm not sure whether the water regulations require this improvement but, as someone who once found a dead rat in a cold water tank, I think they should.

Looking at the course titles in post #1, I think it is likely that 'BTEC' is a typo. BTec qualifications do exist and are 'more practical and less academic' alternatives to GCSE's (Levels 1 & 2), A-levels (Level 3) and 1st/2nd year of an undergraduate degree (levels 4 & 5 respectively) these are not specialised 'plumbing' as such, they cover broader areas such as 'engineering'. BPEC, on the other hand, designs training courses for, inter alia, plumbing, which are delivered by training providers such as local FE Colleges. BPEC accredits these courses and their awards.
 

acctofquestioniness

Messages
12
My reading of your description is that your neighbour currently has a traditional vented hot water system, with the storage tank in the roof supplying low pressure cold water to the hot water cylinder, bathroom and toilet. This is known as an indirect cold water system. The shower pump is fed from the low pressure cold and hot water tanks.

Upgrading to an unvented cylinder, which can only be done if the water supply to the premises meets the required pressure and flow requirements, would remove the need for the pump. It would also provide a direct feed to the basin cold tap, which is nice because people will probably want to use it for drinking water and cleaning their teeth.

If the vented cylinder is staying I'd want to run a direct (i.e. mains) cold feed to the basin tap and then on to the toilet as part of the refurbishment. I'm not sure whether the water regulations require this improvement but, as someone who once found a dead rat in a cold water tank, I think they should.

Looking at the course titles in post #1, I think it is likely that 'BTEC' is a typo. BTec qualifications do exist and are 'more practical and less academic' alternatives to GCSE's (Levels 1 & 2), A-levels (Level 3) and 1st/2nd year of an undergraduate degree (levels 4 & 5 respectively) these are not specialised 'plumbing' as such, they cover broader areas such as 'engineering'. BPEC, on the other hand, designs training courses for, inter alia, plumbing, which are delivered by training providers such as local FE Colleges. BPEC accredits these courses and their awards.
Thankyou for the detailed response. Based on what I've been advised here and taking a look with a few other neighbours now we think this 1 plumber is trying to pull a fast one with the shower pump works. They are both cheaper and more expensive than some of the other quotes which are all remove old bathroom, make good and decorate/tile the walls as well as put in a new sink, higher toilet, probably a sit-down shower now, 1 or 2 grab handles on walls plenty of space, swap the old radiator for a towel rail and put some new flooring down.

She said she had the pump installed years ago as the shower was very poor and she had started having to use the shower more than the bath so wanted the shower to be stronger. She needed a new boiler and hot tank so got the shower pump added in at the same time and she said she has not had any issues with either of them since and now just wants to have her bathroom made nice and more accessible for her.

Thanks to all who gave their time, me and her neighbours appreciate it ;)
 

acctofquestioniness

Messages
12
I just want to say good job with the detective work and providing the information we asked for in a concise manner. It helps us “fault find” immensely.
Thanks, you all pointed me in the right direction and it was enjoyable and informative working it out. I've been browsing some other questions on this forum learning DIY things, it's a good forum full of good people.
 

Ric2013

Plumber
Messages
3,765
From the OP's description, the shower pump sounds like it is pumping the cold from a distributing pipe that is shared with the cylinder feed. This is not good practice, so there is something slightly incorrect about the system. Am I the only one on here thinking this?

I wonder if we have a case of chinese whispers here in which the plumber suggested he might need to move the pump and has explained this in non-technical terms, or has used the terms incorrectly? This would not necessarily make him a bad plumber. I'm not quite sure how the plumber who mentioned the shower pump is pulling a fast one if his price is neither the cheapest nor the more expensive, though it would be desirable to know what he is proposing to do about the shower pump. Obviously if he cannot make himself clear, that may be a problem.

FWIW, I have the level 2 NVQ and I know, and just from my own college (private company owned by the local authority and therefore better than some private firms?) just how talented some of those I studied alongside were, yet how slapdash and lazy others were. I get the impression we all passed eventually, but, while there is quite a lot in the syllabus, you can pass by knowing very little.
 

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