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  • Property-a-holics

    Warning: Rogue Plumbers/Boiler servicing

    It's been two years in a row now that I've experienced this with plumbers.

    The first one came to sort out a problem with the water tank in the loft. I found them through one of those call-dispatcher centres that sends them to you based on distance and earliest availability. My tenants were out so I was there to let him in. I wanted to see what he was going to do but he kept sending me downstairs to turn the water supply off and on. As he was leaving, he ordered me to call him directly next time rather than go through the dispatch centre. Two days after he left, the water started to smell and taste horrid. It's a two bedroom flat and all the water comes from the same tank in the loft. I opened the cover to the tank and saw that there were things in the water that wasn't there before. To prevent the tenants from falling ill from drinking the water and using it to brush teeth sI immediately cleaned out the tank with a diluted vinegar solution and the smell went away. But the problem that the plumber was supposed to have fixed did not go away. So I called the dispatch centre and told them the problem persisted. They sent the same guy back. In the flat, he barked at me, "I thought I told you to call me directly." I ignored that and went up the loft with him. Again he sent me down. When I went back upstairs, he said the problem was now with the tank for hot water. It needed a new ball cock. Then he sent me down again and again. I was alone in the property and there was no one else I could call to help with the tap downstairs. When I went up for the third time that day, he had bagged up everything and was ready to leave. He charged me another 25 quid for the ball cock and took the bag of 'rubbish' with him after telling once more to call him directly next time. I went back to the loft and opened the cover to the tank for hot water. The ball cock hadn't been replaced at all. That was the first time I'd encountered problems like this.

    The second time was with the plumber who went to another flat to service the boiler. The tenants were present so I did not have to be there. I received a call from the plumber saying he had detected a leak and it would cost around £150 to fix it. I wasn't there and couldn't see what he was talking about but forked out the money for the fix. It took him about 2 hours in total so the cost of labour plus parts shot through the roof. Then he came to the second property where I was waiting for him. He spent an hour mulling over some papers as if he were studying for an exam. I've never seen boiler servicing take this long. The guy came with gold chains and bracelets and was dressed like he was headed to some social event that I was footing the bill for. What I wanted was two boilers serviced. I was nearly £500 out of pocket in one day.

    The third encounter happened just last month. I had used this company before and was quite happy with the service they provided in 2016 so called them back in 2018. My mistake this time, as it was raining out, I allowed the plumber to wait in the flat while I went out to check the gas meter. When I returned to the flat, he told me the boiler heat pad was cracked and showed it to me. I had seen the boiler heat pad before and there were no signs of crack. The wasy this one was cracked all the way down the centre suggested that someone took it out and put enough pressure on both sides to cause the crack. Then his company quoted me £131.60 to replace the heat pad. This company charges 65 for boiler servicing and the certificate. They make their money by damaging parts of the boiler with unsuspecting customers so you they get to charge you more to fix the problem they cause.

    I've learnt my lesson. Just a heads up.

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    It's unfortunate but as gas safe/courts do not follow up harshly enough on rogue people and companies, they persist on giving the rest of the industry a bad name. Big companies also cause poor practice as they carry out 10 minute service which are basically a check of the flue and visible pipe work. A service should take around an hour if everything is good. I have done work for corgi and they offer engineers £25 for a service. They are similar to many. My advice is to find a good, self employed gas engineer and stick with them.

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    Never heard of a 'heat pad' in a boiler. Anyone any ideas?

    What area are the properties? Maybe a fellow triber can recommend someone.

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    They're in central London. In old boilers it's a rectangular piece found on the cover. The boilers are old but regularly serviced and I've never had any trouble with them. I wish I could find that picture again. If I do, I'll post the link.

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    Unfortunately bad practice seems impossible to avoid. I use British Gas for servicing and the amount of times I've had bad service, well, I've run out of fingers and toes. I used to use a small business but he was away on holiday when I needed a problem sorting so didn't go down that route again.

    Apparently BG now uses subbies, like most other companies for their workforce. You never end up seeing the same guy twice (probably for good reason) so there's usually no follow-up.

    Being shouted at by a plumber though for not calling direct, I wouldn't have stood for that. There's getting poor service and then there's adding insult to injury by being barked at.

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    My Mom says I shouldn't tell anyone I'm her flesh and blood. "Adopted will do," she insists.

    I use BG up north, too. Not great but not as bad as those i described.

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    A heat pad is what surrounds the burners in the boiler, and are liable to crack.

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    I saw the heat pad last year and there wasn't a hint of a crack on it. One year on, it's cracked completely from top to bottom all the way down the centre.

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