One of the major issues with central heating systems is that people usually only think about it when it’s an emergency. For example, it’s freezing cold in winter and your boiler breaks down or the radiator wont come on in the childrens bedroom.
Getting in a heating engineer is often what is known as a ‘distress purchase’ which is basically a situation where the problem is one that people are so desperate to get fixed, they might not employ their usual standards of precaution that they would during a purchase that is less of an emergency. This is often where rogue traders can make their money, offering to quickly fix an issue to a distraught customer.
If you’ve already used a reputable plumber recently, then it’s easy to make a quick call and make an appointment, but if it’s the first time you’ve needed to call someone in, where do you start and what can you do to ensure you get someone who knows what they’re doing and provides value for money.
- Don’t just give the job to the first person you find.
- Ask friends and relatives first for recommendations
- Find out the rates of the plumber or heating engineer. Do they charge a call-out fee? Do they charge you by the half hour or by the hour?
- Ask a lot of questions about what the job involves, how long it will take.
Most plumbers and heating engineers are hardworking and honest, but there are a small minority that take liberties, overcharge for work and, in many cases, aren’t actually qualified to carry out the work they are undertaking. Don’t feel pressured into giving someone the job and feel free to get a second opinion if you’re not sure or aren’t happy with an explanation.
Most local authority websites and trade associations will have a list of recommended plumbers and you can check that they are properly accredited and qualified do the work under the Gas Safe Register. If you live in England or Wales, you can consult the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, a qualified installer can be found via the SNIPEF.
Although not all emergencies can be averted, a very important factor in having a healthy heating system is to have you boiler, pipes and systems regularly serviced. This can nip many issues in the bud before something more sever occurs and can also keep you system running efficiently therefore keeping heating costs down.
Article by Benjamin Clarke