Ask the experts

Swale Heating has been installing boilers in homes across Kent and the South East for more than 40 years. Matthew Edwards, Sales Director, is here to answer your questions to help you spend your money wisely.

A: Before I give a fuller answer, I should say that even if you do, you should still fire up the system occasionally over the summer months to make sure that the pump and diverter valve don’t seize up. If they do, you’re going to have problems when you try to restart the system in the autumn.

If you have an older boiler with a continuously burning pilot light then you might save some money by turning it off for a few months; the same goes for more modern boilers if you have an older water cylinder that isn’t coated with insulation. But apart from that, it’s a matter of lifestyle.

Do you shower (using an electric shower) rather than have a bath? Have you got a dishwasher rather than doing the washing up by hand? Modern washing machines don’t need any external hot water supply and even older ones are able to heat up cold water to the correct temperature.

So if you are asking for reasons of cost then, yes, you can probably save money by turning off the system for a couple of months. If you are asking whether it’s useful to give the system a rest (the boiler equivalent of two weeks on a beach) then there is little to gain.
A: As long as you had all the installation carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. It’s possible there are traces of poisonous gases in the cloud but not enough to cause harm. Building regulations dictate that a flue must be fitted sufficiently far away from any doors and windows to ensure that these will have dispersed outside before there is any drift back into the house.

If you are still concerned, contact your engineer again to check the flue position meets building regulations. In addition, you might want to see if your boiler manufacturer has a kit that could be fitted to divert the plume and, again, this should be fitted by a registered installe
A: This sounds like a common and completely normal phenomenon that happens sometimes with combi boilers, particularly in hard water areas. What’s happening is that calcium bicarbonate in the water is changing to calcium carbonate. You then get carbon dioxide creating millions of tiny bubbles which make the water look cloudy. It’s not harmful and you’d probably find that, if you let the water settle, it would slowly clear.