Regional Winners

Yorkshire & Humber Regional Winner 

Name: Grant Gundelfinger
Business: Mayfly Group Ltd

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

I feel this job gives a good indication of the level of expertise, consideration, care and service that I provide to all my customers. I was asked by our customer to quote to replace an ageing boiler that had become uneconomical to repair. The heat exchanger had failed, was leaking into the condensate pipework, and needed to be repressurised twice a day to provide heating and hot water. They also had issues with poor circulation in their system – almost half of the radiators never got hot and some of the rooms never felt warm. On the whole the system was poorly designed and installed, its faults having never been remedied. It was very inefficient. The controls were a mix of elements and did not work in harmony with the system. 

On inspection of the system, I discovered that a second pump had been installed in series under the floor to try to fix some of the circulation issues however it caused further issues by starving other parts of the system of heating water, had no means of control and was permanently on. I also found that the pipework was a mix of copper and non-barrier plastic pipe. A system water sample showed that there was no longer any form of chemical protection in the water, with advanced corrosion causing many of the top floor radiators to fill with air and hydrogen that required venting on a regular basis. 

Once I discovered the problems, I discussed their long terms plans for their home to find a solution best suited to their needs (for example, I find that budget rather than performance becomes a major consideration if clients have plans to move within a short period of time). After discussing the pros and cons of various solutions suitable for their home, I offered them three options; to have the system repaired, replace the inefficient boiler and controls and remove the extra pump, or to have the system fully replaced. 

As they were planning to stay for the long term they chose to replace the boiler and controls and decided to refurbish or replace the existing radiators as a part of their longer term renovation plans. I explained about the efficiency benefits of the new boiler, sized and range rated correctly for their house, fitted with compatible controls and balancing thermostatic valves, with a means of separating the two heating zones. 

The clients were in the process of home schooling their vulnerable children because we were in full lockdown in the early stages of the COVID-19 breakout. They were understandably nervous about having myself and my team working in their house. There were rumours about the means of virus transmission at the time and, as there was very little known, we had to make sure that we put measures in place to ensure that both parties’ safety was kept at the highest level. It was a struggle to find appropriate PPE, however I was able to source everything that we needed at great cost to complete the job, remain COVID compliant and provide for my customer’s comfort and safety so that they would remain safe whilst we worked. 

My team’s and client’s safety and wellbeing are always at the top of my agenda.  Unfortunately, the deliveries of the boiler, controls, plate heat exchanger and accessories were fragmented in the first few days, largely due to the effect of the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses at the time, so I was up against the clock once again as we had other appointments booked and a tight timeframe to complete the job. Despite being on a tight schedule, I feel it is always important to protect the client’s property and belongings from dirt and damage, and work in a considerate way, especially when the property is occupied so it is safe for everyone to move around. I spent time covering vulnerable areas using adhesive floor protector and sheets where necessary. I explained that there may be some inconvenience but asked the clients if it was ok for me to work into the early evenings if necessary, in order to keep my promise of heating and hot water by the end of the second week. They were more than happy that I was prepared to do so, and we made arrangements for rooms to be made vacant when we needed to be working in those spaces. 

After putting in the hard yards, I kept to my promise and by Sunday afternoon of the second week I had completed the works with minimal disruption, cleaning up properly when we had finished.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

Because the property required 22.51kW of heat (having done my heat loss calculations for the property prior to the installation), I recommended a Vaillant ecoTEC Green IQ 627 system boiler as it is capable of being range rated. It is a 4 pipe system boiler, meaning it has an internal diverter which allows the boiler to also directly control and heat an external cylinder, with a high level of modulation capability (1:10), and efficiency benefits such as a self-setting gas valve, primary flow monitoring and management, and intelligent control compatibility along with a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty. It also uses the best components in the industry, allowing for easy maintenance and repairs. 

I also chose to fit Vaillant’s fantastic 250 litre uniSTOR heat pump cylinder. With a coil that has a surface area of 2.4m², the reheat time is significantly reduced compared with a standard cylinder which only has a 0.9m² surface area. This therefore reduces the gas consumption required to bring the hot water up to temperature and maintain it. I also fitted the VR71 wiring centre to simplify the system wiring. This works in perfect harmony with Vaillant’s sensoCOMFORT two zone controls, with weather compensation to help run the heating system optimally to heat the house, saving the customer money by running as economically as possible. The system was also set up for priority hot water in order to keep hot water hot, as well as keeping the heating at good comfort levels, maximising the weather compensation capability. 

The addition of a sensoNET Gateway also allowed them remote system access and control via the internet. I chose to fit a 40kW plate heat exchanger from UK Heat Exchangers (the smallest that they offer), opting to have the exchanger made with extra plates in order to minimise any potential heat loss from the plate transfer, to hydraulically separate the boiler from the rest of the system due to the condition of the radiators and the client’s plans to gradually change them. This would also provide protection to the new installation and my clients investment! 

I elected to keep the radiator circuit pressurised to minimise corrosion issues. I also decided to fill the whole heating system, on both sides of the plate heat exchanger with demi- water (de-ionised and demineralised water to the lay person) supplied by a PuroTap Leader device with a PH balanced cartridge. The client also chose to have a PuroTap Micro installed in case the system needed to be topped up, to maintain the integrity of the system water on refill. This will help to keep the system healthy whilst renovation works are carried out, as well as prolong the heating system’s expected lifespan significantly. I fitted Vaillant’s Protection Filter Kit on the primary circuit. 

On the radiator circuit I installed an IMI Hydronics Zeparro filter and de-aerator for passive de-aeration, as well as their sacrificial anode, to provide maximum system protection and help with the systems longevity. I chose to use an IMI Hydronic Statico expansion vessel, deliberately oversized, as there was a possibility that the client would increase the size of the replacement radiators or ‘perhaps add a few extras’. This was fitted with IMI’s servicing lockshield to ensure that the expansion vessel could be easily maintained to reduce water wastage when servicing, and minimise inconvenience should the vessel need to be repaired or replaced in the future (this is something that I do as standard on my installations).

I upgraded the pumps using Wilo Stratos Pico 25/1-6s. I have found Wilo pumps to be fantastic value with excellent performance and reliability, with the capability of modulating as low as 0.5m head, allowing an easy set-up and the perfect balance of a heating system without the need for flow management systems. Two sets of ‘Perfect Pump Valves’, which are reliable and easy to dismantle, made for easy maintenance or replacement of the pumps in the future. 

Since the boiler was being installed in the garage, I had a relatively blank canvass to work with however I had to design the installation to work around the garage side door, the main garage door and the consumer unit all whilst still being used as a functional garage. Our client is a car enthusiast and lover of all things mechanical. All pipework within the garage was insulated once the system had been commissioned and checked to comply with building regulations and to minimise unnecessary heat loss from the system pipework where it was more exposed. I also installed IMI Hydronics Eclipse TRVs throughout the house. These were a key part of the newly upgraded heating system’s success as they allowed us to perfectly balance the radiators to achieve a Delta of 20° across the radiators flow and returns. These were carefully set based on our previous heat loss calculations in conjunction with IMIs HyTools app. The system was thoroughly powerflushed using flushing points I installed when completing the pipework connections to the boiler. I always install them on the flow and returns to ensure that further maintenance flushes are easy to perform without the boiler in the circuit if necessary.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

With all my installations I always think about the future and maintenance of a system when planning and specifying for my clients. I plan my work methodically, normally giving myself plenty of time to do a neat and thorough job and this job was no exception. Every portion of the installation can be isolated, drained and flushed for maintenance or repairs. The task of designing and installing a system utilising a plate heat exchanger had its own unique challenges and made the installation far from conventional for a domestic installation, however it was definitely the best solution for this property. Even if pipes are concealed, they are given the same care as those on show, as aesthetics as well as performance are important to me. 

Even though the time frame was short, I proved that I was able to produce another excellent result, making good use of my skills and ability, relying on my experience to complete the project in a timely fashion.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The end result was that the client had a superb heating system fitted with significantly increased efficiency (with a gas meter that wasn’t running excessively) and peace of mind that their Vaillant installation will give them many years of reliable performance. The client’s wife was so impressed that she actually had to turn the heating down for the first time ever. Needless to say, they were very happy with the result and have already seen a good reduction in their energy consumption, despite increased system usage from having to work from home due to COVID-19. They now have a home that is as cosy but efficient as could be.

North East Regional Winner 

Name: Frankie Barea
Business: Elite Heat P&H Engineers Ltd

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer?

We carried out a bathroom renovation that had been previously done only 6 months before but was riddled with problems and installed by a DIY bathroom fitter, the customer had terminal cancer and just wanted a nice bathroom to soak and we felt obliged to carry out the work. The job was extremely difficult as your probably well aware as somethings it is a lot harder to repair someone’s work than install it from scratch so we stripped it back as started again including repairing damaged walls floorboards and joists and in the end having to replace the soil stack completely due to the previous installation. If the customer didn’t have enough bad luck her boiler broke down a day into her renovation so we ended up replacing this at the same time. The customer was ecstatic with our finished product and we did the job at a reduced cost to help out, we are happy to say that the customer enjoyed the bathroom and heating system for several months before sadly passing away but she was without a doubt one of the best customers we have ever had and it’s a job we are extremely proud of and will never forget.

Which products did you select for the job and why?

We sourced a full bathroom suite from Showermania which included Rak and Hansgrohe to provide the customer with quality and reliability whilst also meeting their budget which was quite low.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out?

The customer became a friend and the job was extremely testing and I wanted to achieve the best result possible due to her situation and were on a limited budget. It’s just a job I will never forget!

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer?

A reliable and comfortable bathroom and heating system for her to enjoy, a big difference from the hell she was going through previously with all of the leaks and problems that the previous bathroom created.

Midlands Regional Winner 

Name: Glen Wakeling
Business: Heatspec

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

We were invited to look at a job where the customer thought he may have a couple of leaks. He had been badly advised by a couple of other engineers about his boiler. I arrived and assessed that the boiler unfortunately was at the end of its life as the previous engineers hadn’t maintained the system well and that went for the unvented cylinder as well. We specified a new boiler which the customer had already expressed an interest in, and our first one. The incredible Viessmann Vitovalor PT2. We had a large boiler to shoehorn into a small space, the hardship of COVID-19 to get around, to maintain hot water throughout, a mix of underfloor and radiators to consider and multiple bathrooms for hot water output! It was a challenge we accepted and took head on and wanted to install a flag ship product to one of the world’s best boiler manufacturers. The excitement we had to install this and the customer seeing this installed made it enjoyable and took our mind the current pandemic.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

The main part of the job was a Viessmann Vitovalor. A domestic combined heat and power hydrogen fuel cell. The huge benefit for this boiler is it provides heat, hot water and generates electricity! It has a hydrogen fuel cell inside which will generate 750W of electrical energy per hour. It’s crucial to match the boiler output to match the heat loss of the property, so a full heat loss calculation was done so we can size the boiler correctly. Sizing the boiler too big would mean there is chance of the boiler cycling and stopping the electrical generation. To add to the specification, we installed a mixed circuit for the UFH and an unmixed circuit to the radiators, this gives the customer complete flexibility with heat usage as they can have different time and different temperatures per circuit and both having the benefit of weather compensation on each circuit.  Viessmann mixer units or most commonly known as divicons are the most advanced mixer/pump stations on the market for the ultimate of heating comfort. The boiler comes Wi-Fi ready and the customer was soon online using their phone, not only to control the boiler but to monitor the electrical generation daily. The customer is now experiencing base load electrical generation to the household which will give substantial savings annually. The good part of the boiler being online is that I can monitor the boiler remotely, this will allow me to receive notices on any faults, make tweaks to help the customer to maximise efficiency and to remind me of any servicing requirements yearly. To make sure this investment of an incredible boiler, we needed to make sure the system was ready for it to be installed. We removed the old boiler and old cylinder but re-installed the cylinder in a different location to maintain a hot water supply, it was imperative to keep hot water on, as during this installation we were up against the COVID 19 saga, we needed to make sure we could wash hands for all in the house hold and having a customer’s wife who was very sensitive to the situation we needed to keep them confident we could keep a safe working environment for us and a safe home for them to live, not to mention the extra wearing of face masks, windows open, hand sanitising etc. The system was flushed when the old boiler was taken out, we used a Norstrom Magnetic flush machine to make sure every single part of the system was dirt free. The system was checked regularly to make sure the hardness of the water wasn’t too high and the pH level didn’t rise or drop. We were considering using demineralised filling but didn’t need to as we had a relatively low hardness level of 200parts per million so didn’t need to complicate things further. To make sure the system stayed clean as we made it, we installed a Spirotech RV2 Air Seperator and a Spirotech MB3 dirt separator. This is the best dirt and air prevention/ protection solution for heating systems on the market. We used this heating system to keep problem free needs to have the smallest amount of oxygen in it. So, having an air separator it is removing the micro bubbles continually which naturally appears on the heating process of water. By ridding this, the system will not deteriorate, rot and create magnetite. The dirt separator is part of current building regulations but definitely worth doing to make sure there isn’t any dirt particles going back to the boiler. Once the new boiler was fitted, which was a challenge in itself as it’s a very delicate piece of equipment, and having to level it to make sure it allowed to drain correctly, we used the best press for fittings on the market to the pipework we installed. We used Geberit press fittings which are a premium product which suited its premium boiler to make sure we had a leak free installation. We noticed the customer had a mix of small-bore isolated valves which internally had a centre of 5mm and they reported of poor performance to baths and showers. We took all of them out in the manifolds and replaced them with full bore lever valves, instantly the flow rates and pressures were noticeably better, best shower we have had here in 14 years was said by the customers. We also labelled each and every valve to the zone they supplied so for future maintenance each area can be isolated but all other areas remain working. When the ceiling was lowered the horrors which we found were dreadful, speed fit fittings had been used without inserts which are compulsory, how the house hadn’t flooded I don’t know. These poor fittings were removed as much as possible and replaced with better fittings to make sure the system stays strong for a long time.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out?

Because this is a CHP and we don’t see this that often, my mother’s customers who I have told are amazed, the neighbours of this customer are all intrigued and wanted a visit when possible. This now leads the way for technology and breaks the boundaries for further installations. Having the Viessmann energy console on the front which has a 7” colour touch screen with intuitive menus this boiler certainly stands out as being incredibly efficient, productive and easy to use.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The customer now has a boiler which has the lowest modulation on the market of 17:1 so idles at 1.5kw or so to provide maximum efficiency, it generates its own electricity, supplies 18-20 litres per minute of DHW and more importantly a boiler which works perfectly, trouble free and no more leaks.

Midlands Highly Commended

Name: Neil James
Business: JMS P&H

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

Over the last two years I’ve developed a professional partnership with a luxury building contractor. This relationship allows me to work on some truly stunning properties, installing innovative solutions while working to the highest standards of craftmanship. 

When I received the call that the next project would be for one of the Chief Engineers of the Mercedes F1 team I knew that my workmanship would be inspected by someone who knows what they’re looking at and expects craftmanship that is nothing short of perfection. 

The project involved the complete renovation and modernisation of an extensive listed country property in Leicestershire. I was contracted to rip out the existing plumbing and install a modern system with multiple circuits which consisted of central heating (underfloor heating radiators and towel rails) and a hot water system which included two cylinders with hot water circulation pumps. 

The system, although complex, was not the main challenge of this project. The biggest challenge was the available space for pipework and making sure the hot water was delivered to any outlet as quickly as possible. Given the size of the property and number of circuits, this required innovative solutions. The constraints on the development meant that the system had to be designed to be as compact as possible, so it conformed to the architect’s plans. This meant installing cylinders in spaces half the size of a typical installation. 

Rising to the challenge, I not only conformed to all the specifications of the system by investing in the planning, calling on technical advice from manufacturers where required and installing an innovatively packaged system, but I pushed my own boundaries on workmanship and quality of installation.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

Once the scope of the project was defined, I set to designing and specifying the system. From the outset I decided that a project of this scale and standard required only the best components, which meant no push-fit, no sub-standard parts and that all pipework would be copper except for the underfloor loops.  

The products included:

  • Grant Vortex 34/46 Oil Fired boiler, as it had the sufficient output to meet the demands of the system and it is easy to adjust the internal pump speed to ensure the return temperature is at maximum efficiency for the boiler
  • SpiroTech SpiroCross AX125 hydraulic separator, which was selected to equalise the flow around the primary and secondary circuits  
  • Grundfos Alpha 3 25-80 central heating pump, which I chose due to the circuit size its ability to auto-adapt in order to continuously adjust the output performance to match actual heating demand. This will help the customer to reduce oil usage and emissions while increasing the energy efficiency of the system
  • Grundfos UPS 15-50N secondary hot water circulation pump to meet the demands of the hot water circuit size and thanks to its low noise output and reliability
  • Megaflow 200L Slimline Eco & Eco 170i hot water cylinders were selected as they are supplied with an built-in expansion vessel which, due to the tight spacing requirements, was the only way the slimline cylinder could fit in to the provided space and allow access for future maintenance
  • MagnaClean Professional 2XP filters, were used for the primary circuit to ensure all debris is collected for years to come, maintaining the longevity of system 
  • MagnaClean TwinTech filters were installed on each underfloor heating manifold to filter bacterial growth in the lower temperature areas out of the system. Each filter allows access to insert biocides to flush, should this be required
  • Temperature gauges were installed on all individual loops with isolation valves that can also drain. This allows easy verification of working temperatures against specification and ensures that differential temperatures are maintained
  • End-feed and Y-shaped 2-way fitting pipes were selected to loop the hot water around the system and allow water to bypass even when in use. This was done to prevent any delay in hot water reaching the other outlets on the system 
  • 2-port hot and 8-port cold manifolds were chosen to prevent any joints in the floor and to allow easy isolation of individual outlets 
  • Pestan 16mm Pert-Al-Pert underfloor pipe was selected as this 5-layer composite pipe combines the benefits of metal and plastic. The aluminium core prevents the ingress of oxygen and helps it to remain stable, safeguarding against any future leaks.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

The main challenge of this job was to package the pipework and equipment into the very limited available space. It was only through extensive planning that required a significant investment of time to ensure no unforeseen issues were encountered later down the line that we could so this. Pipe clamps of differing heights were required to offset so that all the fixings could fit neatly within the space available. 

In the loft, there was concern over the location due to the weight of the cylinder. It was agreed that structurally the best place would be over a supporting wall with a platform to ensure the joists would not sag. The impact of this was that there was no structure to mount the pipework ancillary items too. I built a customer frame and installed it onto the platform with heating and hot/cold water on each side. As with all circuits, isolation and drain valves were installed along with drain down waste pipes to ensure ease of future maintenance. 

The underfloor heating in the kitchen was split into two zones due to the differing heating demands and to account for the large amount of glass from the custom bi-fold doors. If not properly designed, this could have resulted in uneven temperature distribution across the room. I installed floor sensors so that direct sunlight or cold losses could be controlled in differing seasons while maintaining a stable even temperature. 

Using the best quality products and designing the system so that it is easy to maintain in the future was challenging but highly rewarding. This project pushed my craftsmanship and planning skills to ensure the highest standards were met and it is one that I am the proudest of.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

A compact modern system that meets the customer’s specification and is designed in such a way that it is future friendly for maintenance. All circuits are easily identifiable thanks to the tags used, they can all be isolated and drained individually, and all items have been packaged in such a way that access to them is available. 

For me, the greatest reward was when the customer commented, while pointing at the airing cupboard: “I am excited to move in because I can’t wait to show my colleagues who are geeks this, because I know they will really appreciate the craftsmanship”.  

North West Regional Winner 

Name: Paul Clark
Business: Concept P&H

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

A project I am particularly proud of is one where I successfully met the needs of the customers even though their expectations and needs for the job were completely different.

The customers in question were a husband and wife who has been married for a few years and were looking to extend and improve their much-loved family home. The husband and wife’s ideas were quite different. The husband wanted things to be changed in the house with lowest cost being the main factor. Whereas his wife wanted the install to be as high tech and efficient as possible.

The property was large and had 30 radiators as well as a utility room, 5 bathrooms and an annex which they rented out which had 3/4 radiators. In the rented annex the bathroom suite ran off their heating system which they had no control of.

I came away from the initial meeting with them both and had to come up with a plan of how to do this. They were having underfloor heating in their extension and a brand-new kitchen. Additionally, their utility room was currently unusable as it was filled with boilers and they also had massive water tanks in the loft which isn’t good, especially for a family. 

To plan the project, I started with the controls first instead of the boiler etc, like I usually would. So, I started with the controller and worked backwards. The controller had to be simple to use for the husband but good tech for the wife and so I had to build the heating system around the controller. It wasn’t the case of turning up and fitting a product which I wanted to use – it had to be particularly for their needs and also complied with all regulations in place.

Which products did you select for the job and why?

The controllers I sourced were Valliant. The boiler systems I used were also Valliant with Valliant combination boiler 28 KW, 2 system boilers, one vented hot water and new/state of the art Valliant VDM pumping stations – I selected all this as I could link the controllers. For example, the customer could have Valliant controller running hot water, upstairs central heating, downstairs central heating, underwater heating, secondary ventilation loop on the hot water, all in one package, which was particularly important for this project. The controllers linked to weather compensator which means you get a lot more energy efficient as it’s reading outside temperature and adjusting heating accordingly. The Valliant controls modulate differently to other controls so they were a lot more efficient. Valliant also offer a 10 years warranty which was peace of mind for the customer and another reason why I chose their products. 

The hot water we converted to 300L unvented hot water cylinder. Because of the annex and wanting it to be separate we fitted a Valliant combination boiler separately. I did this because the controllers could be the same in both the house and the rented annex so everything would run seamlessly.

I also installed Polypipe underfloor heating system overlay as they are the market leader and I have fitted them for over 20 years. It is the only underfloor heating product that doesn’t give me any comebacks. 

I also used an IMI low loss header as this gives a neutral point in the heating system. I like this as it comes with a micro bubble separator, a cyclone filter and a dirt separator and all in one unit which is convenient. 

Within by business I realised if I surround myself with good products, I get a good reputation. I work closely with the brands to build relationships with them and also ensure the customer is getting the best products.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

The uniqueness about the job wasn’t about what I could fit in someone’s house, it was dealing with the two customers simultaneously and both of their expectations which were poles apart. It was difficult to do this as one was receptive to modern technology and one wasn’t. The design was the most cost effective we could have got it at the time which fit in with what the husband wanted and still used the latest technology which met his wife’s expectations. Working backwards from the controllers was also unique – I couldn’t just turn up and install the right boilers which I thought was best. I had to ensure the system was inter-usable with three different people with three different expectations.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The husband is very happy as they now have energy bills which are a lot lower than before. The wife is happy as she is able to control her central heating via her mobile app. When they go away, they are able to control their heating even when they are not there. It’s also changed the way that they live. With the underfloor heating they are able to heat one room and are not having to go in another part of the house, they can have one family room which is nice. 

From the energy usage side, they have now got tenants who are paying for their own usage instead of the couple. They are both extremely happy with the system which is great to hear. 

In addition, the utility room used to be full of heating products but now I have put the cylinder in the corner and the rest of the products wall hung. So, they also gained an extra room in their house – they have a sink, washing machine and dryers in there, I even installer a small radiator in there as a shoe/boot dryer! 

I’m proud to say that I met their high expectations with the heating systems. Previously they couldn’t use all of their bathrooms as they had 5 water pumps in the loft which were trying to give them pressure. This didn’t work as they had high pressure taps and valves and a noisy system. By converting this system, we gave them a higher pressure and ability to use all 5 of their bathrooms.

East of England Regional Winner 

Name: Michael Abbott
Business: Relyon Gas Services Ltd

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

I’m particularly proud of a recent job in Potters Bar which was at an old four-bed, Victorian detached house which the owner was completely overhauling. The plan was to create a five-bedroom house that included a large master bedroom, four ensuites (with showers and toilets in all of them and also a bathroom and heated towel rail in the master ensuite) and a downstairs cloakroom.

Achieving this involved a lot of work, as I had to plan and fit an entirely new heating system throughout, which included all new pipework, 12 designer column radiators, a mini plant room, all four new bathrooms and a 300l mega flow cylinder.

I had a blank canvas for this project and designed the system from scratch, which involved a lot of work as it’s an old house and it was vital that the sizing, balancing and water flow was all right for the new home the customer wanted. 

Due to the size of the system I had to create a mini plant room that would accommodate it all. Another key design feature I implemented was the low loss header, to help with the efficiency and circulation. I also installed the pipes and manifold so that when the customer completed a new kitchen diner extension it could be upgraded with underfloor heating at a later date. 

I was brought onto this project as the customer saw my work on Instagram and wanted me to design and fit the heating for his renovation. Originally the builder wanted to use his own plumber so he wasn’t onboard with my involvement which was challenging, but I was able to overcome the issue and carry out a high-quality job.

One of the main obstacles that the project presented was that I was the first trade onsite. This meant that when steels and supports were put in for the loft conversion’s floor the pipes were in the way of the other trades. However, I went back to the site to reroute the pipework and solve the problem.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

For this project I selected a Spirotech x100 low loss header, Vaillant ecoTEC 637 boiler and Hive active heating control alongside a 300l mega flow cylinder and the components required for the four new bathrooms.

I installed a gas boiler, rather than a heat pump, as the customer requested it, but I got round the flow rate and efficiency issues with the low loss header

In fact, the low loss header was a particularly important part of the project as the large volumes of water required for the column radiators combined with the fact that there was an extensive amount of pipework meant that the system needed a strong flow of water. A low loss header achieves this by keeping the boiler within its temperature range limits and stopping to locking out.  

The Hive active heating control was required as the customer wanted the heating to be in four separately controlled zones, these were:

  1. The underfloor heating 
  2. Downstairs heating
  3. Upstairs heating
  4. Hot water 

The Hive controls themselves were located both upstairs and downstairs for the customer’s convenience and ease of use. 

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

The scale of the project and the need to design so much of it from scratch – including a plant room – made this project stand out. In addition, I had to troubleshoot problems along the way, such as opting for a low loss header because the customer wanted a gas boiler and rerouting the pipework when other trades got involved. Yet despite the complexity and challenges the end result was a really high-quality installation. 

Also, I don’t normally do bathrooms but the customer was so happy with the heating work that they asked me to do the plumbing too. 

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The customer has a heating system which is able to provide heating and hot water to multiple new points around the house despite the age of the existing building. The design I put in place meant that this system would not only be reliable and highly effective but also efficient and controllable.

The customer was really happy with my work and I’ll be returning to service and maintain the installation.

South East Regional Winner 

Name: Ryan Cole
Business: Cole Bros Plumbing & Heating Limited

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

The project I have been most proud of this year is a recent day nursery renovation we carried out in Southgate for the largest day nursery Franchise in the UK.  I began the project by carrying out the heating system design and planning. I am meticulous with my designs and spend a lot of time ensuring everything is always picture perfect. I issue a drawing to each of the engineers to follow this as a future reference point for pipe runs etc. It is crucial to ensure we spend considerable time carrying out each job’s planning stage to ensure complete efficiency during the installation process.   

The excessive distance between the plant room and index radiators was a clear issue and added a complex layer to this job. We overcame this issue by installing a low loss header, which enabled us to install a higher output pump on the secondary heating circuit to effectively reach the flow rates required to heat all the radiators. The LLS also allowed the two system boilers to cascade to give the heat out needed for this large building. 

The heating system has been thermostatically zoned for each age group. This gives the nursery staff greater control over room temperature within each setting. e.g., active children (toddlers & pre-school) may require a lower temperature setting than non-active children (babies). It also means that should any problems occur within the heating system in the future, the entire nursery is not impacted by the loss of heating. 

The plant room is carefully designed and laid out to keep future maintenance as easy and as quick as possible. We will always maintain our works; however, should another plumber ever be called out, they could walk in and identify quickly how the system operates.  As well as zoning the heating, we also zoned the hot and cold-water supplies; this will reduce system down time, and this way, they can locally isolate any issues and keep the nursery open. 

It is important to note if there is no access to hot and cold water and the temperature drops below 16°C within the nursery, the children will need to be sent home, which can very quickly damage the reputation of the business and cause loss of earnings and major inconvenience all round! Hence the lengths we have gone to ensure full control over the system.  I will always carry out a full system hand over and demonstration of use. I produce videos demonstrating how to use the programmers, boilers, refilling the system pressure, etc. for them to refer to and allow the owner to adjust where required confidently. Each isolation valve is also clearly tagged to ensure the system is entirely understandable by the nursery staff.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

  • Stelrad Low Surface temperature radiators – to prevent the children from burning themselves. These rads produce a low surface temperature and are finished with anti-bacterial paint. This ticks all the boxes for being in an environment for young children. 
  • Danfoss Zones Valves and heating controls – for their ability to withstand wear and tear, ease of use, and serviceability.   
  • 2 x Worcester 27kw Greenstar I boilers and Worcester Green HWC 
  • Worcester Low Loss Header
  • Wilo Yonos MAXO – proven power and reliability
  • Due to the strict deadlines imposed on this job, we opted to use Polyplumb pipe within concealed areas such as the grid ceilings due to installation speed. We find Polyplumb to be time-efficient and easier to use over other push-fit brands. We always use Worcester products for their proven reliability and performance. 
  • We are Worcester accredited installers, so we can offer 12-year manufacturers guarantees for added peace of mind for our customers.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

  • Tight completion deadlines to adhere to – OFSTED (regulating body for day nurseries) due to inspect the site within a particular timeframe. I directed a team of 3 engineers working a 6-day week to meet these deadlines.
  • System to be easy and efficient to operate by the nursery manager and all members of staff. 
  • System to be space-efficient and compact – the nursery is expected to allow a certain amount of floor space for each child. A bulky system is not an option.
  • Safe and eco-friendly for children aged 0 -5 – the system must also reach the required temperature quickly and efficiently; this is so important as children and babies cannot regulate their own body temperatures. 
  • This project had no room for error, so stress testing of the system before handing over was paramount.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

Plumbing and heating are a fundamental part of the day-to-day operation of a day nursery. There are legal obligations to adhere to ensuring the children and staff have access to water and that the learning environment is at an adequate temperature.  I have now worked on behalf of this nursery group for seven years; I also know the impact of shutting the nursery due to short notice closure.  The customer has peace of mind with the 12-year manufacturer’s guarantee on his new gas boilers. The heating, hot and cold water are now zoned; if an issue should arise in a particular area within the nursery, they can isolate it and keep the business open. I have left our customer with an extensive guide on operating the heating system and will be back in 12 months to service the boiler. I believe we have changed the customer’s opinion of plumbing and heating engineers, and he now has restored faith within the trade.  

South East Highly Commended

Name: Todd Glister
Business: Glister Services 

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

This project I will remember for the entirety of my life. I was never ready for what was about to happen upon my survey of the property which, I learnt from the customer, was a farm house that was over 550 years old.  I was brought in as the elderly couple who owned it said to me that British Gas will no longer cover their house as the heating system was so old and recommended a powerflush. Upon my survey I discovered heaps of problems. For example, only 3 of the 31 radiators were getting warm, not even hot! They had a 40kW Worcester Boiler that was on 24 hours a day / 7 days a week which had several problems, including case seal damage, which was caused from the looking glass on the heat exchanger, the condense terminated into a rain water pipe which was completely blocked, the flue seals had gone and it was leaking from several places inside the boiler into a bucket they kept having to empty. 

The gas pipe was undersized and they told me they had not only a £1400 a month gas bill but an extremely high water bill too! They had their controls set to constant the entire time just to try and stay warm. When I did the survey, the elderly couple had extended their holiday in South Africa as they found out from their daughter who was living there that the heating wasn’t working. I had to FaceTime the couple and explain that if I was going to take on this mammoth job, it was not only a powerflush that was going to solve the problem as this is what they were expecting – they had a few prices over the phone of around £1000 to just flush the system. I sat down and explained that I had carried out a heat loss on the property with their Megaflo (24.2kW), 31 radiators (46.5kW) and their outside swimming pool heat exchanger. I informed them that their boiler was well and truly undersized and was at risk, explaining that not only am I going to have to flush this 70 year plus old central heating system, I am going to have to upgrade the boiler, change every pair of damaged valves, change the controls and also upgrade some of the original radiators because I wouldn’t want to be held responsible if they were to split in the powerflush. 

As you can imagine the elderly couple were in shock so over FaceTime I drew out a few options in front of them explaining that we will get this solved. The boiler was situated not in the main house but an old stable that had been converted into a laundry and changing room for their outside pool. I explained that normally in this situation you would cascade two boilers for this size system but having the space to do so was the problem. Behind the original boiler set back to the left was an outdoor toilet room, and the house and laundry room was made out of wood that had been there for half a century. So, with tight available space they were adamant that they can only have one boiler to replace the one that was there. Obviously, this amount of work was going to be way more expensive than they were ever expecting and hearing the news came as a bit of a shock. I really wanted to do everything I could to help so I explained that I would go on a day rate and charge them directly for what I paid for the materials to keep it as cheap and fair as I could.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

After hearing my options, they were appreciative of my help and were happy for me to go ahead, so I did an incredible amount of research to try and rectify this problem I had of delivering the performance needed without having the space to do so.  I quickly booked myself onto a Vaillant Light commercial boiler course to learn about their new 48 & 64kW boiler range. I had done boilers with low loss headers before but with this large, extremely old central heating system which was on gravity. I really didn’t want to seal and pressurise the system as the pipes on the ground floor were submerged under a 300mm slab of concrete and had been installed 40 years ago. 

Also, with it being a beautifully finished farm house, any hidden pipes I couldn’t see (practically all of them) could have weak points and potentially ruin the home. Knowing that, and the space available, I went for Vaillant’s 64kW boiler which I piped into a Vaillant Plate heat exchanger. This allowed the boiler’s side of the plate to be pressurised clean demineralised water that had a Spirotech RV2 Deaerator to make sure that every micro bubble circulating on that side was eliminated to prolong the life of their new boiler. The other side of the plate heat exchanger was the existing low pressure gravity system, which as you can imagine, wasn’t in the best state – so, I fitted a MagnaClean Pro2 to try and catch as much of the iron oxide in the future use of the system and to also keep costs down, I salvaged the new Grundfos Magna 1 Pump that British Gas had fitted not long ago to try and solve the heating problem. I also fitted a new Nest thermostat so they could have monthly reports of their new heating costs and usage. I also fitted new Drayton Thermostatic radiator valves and lock shields to each room to make it easier for them to shut down any of the 31 radiators they weren’t using. And, I upgraded the extremely old ones for new Stelrad’s.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

The reason I will never forget this job for the rest of my life, was the amount of pressure and stress I was under doing it. After I completed the FaceTime with them on the Friday, that weekend the heating system had packed up altogether and their daughter had moved out and moved in with her sister whilst the work was being carried out. 

At that time in March, Covid-19 appeared and the elderly couple had to book an emergency flight home with the fear of being stuck out in South Africa for the foreseeable. They arrived home from the warmth of South Africa to the stored cold of their home in March. Covid was brand new and luckily with the size of their home they had a room they could sit in which had temporary electric heaters brought in to keep them warm and before the rules were well established they used their common sense and tried to isolate from me whilst the work was being carried out. 

At that point I knew I had to be quick so I begged a couple of heating engineer friends to help me out for a couple of days with the draining down, radiator changes etc, after the first day, one of my friends woke up the following day and felt a bit ill and didn’t want to risk what could potentially be Covid so stayed away, especially as they were an old couple. So that already put a lot more pressure to get this up and running for them. I was arriving at the job at 5:30-6am as I could carry out work in the laundry room which was in a separate building and working until 9pm to get this mammoth job done. 

After I piped the boiler and the work had been carried out on the house, which we had to anti bac wipe every door handle we touched and go through numerous amounts of gloves. It was time to powerflush this now 30 radiator system, as we took out two old ones and replaced for a modern vertical radiator. We began the flush at 2pm using the powerflushing machine to push clean water through each radiator, and dumping each radiator until it was clear. The water dumping out was the thickest black/brown water I had ever seen! We finished that night at 10pm only achieving to clear 6 of the 30 radiators. The next day I awoke at 4:45 and got there at 5:30 and started flushing the house as I knew it was going to take an extremely long time. That day we finished at midnight, not having completed the radiators yet. I went back again early the following morning and carried on flushing. It took all day but eventually by about 8pm we had finished the powerflush altogether, successfully cleaning each rad, so clean running water was running through them. That night we decided to stay late, and finally get this boiler up and running for them. 

It took absolutely forever to fill and we hit several airlocks, but by the time we cleared that and commissioned the boiler, we finally got it up and running and left the house at 1am on the Friday. As you can imagine we were absolutely exhausted, I thanked Ian for helping me and all his hard work and we went home to bed! The following day I get a phone call explaining that part of the heating system was making a lot of gurgling noises and the radiators I previously filled and were hot were now cold. 

I went back over alone on the Saturday and presumed that the air had found its way round the system into the radiators. I re-vented them, got them hot and left explaining if they get any problems to give me a call. The next day (Sunday) they explained that the same had happened again only more radiators had gone cold. I drove back over there immediately. I discovered after a long inspection that the tank that feeds the central heating system was constantly filling which meant that water was escaping the system as quick as the tank was filling! As you can imagine after all them hours and thinking this job was behind me, I had the most heart sunken feeling I’ve ever had.  This 550 year old farm house had absolutely no water what so ever coming through any ceiling and this water had been running out somewhere on the system for over 48hours. 

I looked absolutely everywhere for hours to try and find any evidence of a leak but had no such luck. Talking to the couple I explained it has to be the pipework under the ground floor and is running out somewhere under the house (which is on a hill) and running underground down the hill somewhere. I explained that I will try and put some miracle seal leak sealer into the system to see if I can repair it from within as the cheapest option to try and repair it. I was there all day Sunday til late again, and the system was big enough to keep the ground floor filled and circulate some heat and we turned the new repaired immersion on their Megaflo for hot water.

I woke on the Monday and at this point, shops everywhere had shut down and I rang around every merchant I could find to see if anyone had any leak sealer. I finally found a place an hours drive away to get some, I bought 5 bottles and came back and went to work to see if it would stop it. After I poured in all the leak sealer eventually I learnt that it had not been successful. I’m not going to lie I felt like I could’ve broken down. Horrified at the news I went back down stairs and explained to the couple how terrible the situation was and that they won’t have proper heating until this leak (where ever it was) gets sorted. At this point they were as depressed as I was, knowing that we had an impossible task ahead, I explained to them I would do everything in my power to try and fix it, I went home that night and did so much research on what would be the cheapest way to fix it for them. I came to the conclusion that if I was to invest in a decent thermal imaging camera I could fire up the heating and, in theory, see the heated water leave the pipe under the house somewhere through the camera. I scanned the internet that night as I couldn’t sleep from anxiety of getting it sorted. As all the shops were closed there was no way of buying a thermal imagine camera so I finally found a guy who was selling one on eBay, I spent £1400 of my money and drove a 4 hour round trip to go and collect it as he couldn’t post it as that wasn’t available.

I went back on the Thursday and spent the entire day doing my absolute best to try and find this leak. I found out roughly how the pipes were run in the floor when they weren’t under the 300mm slab. After hours of looking I found through an educated guess that where the pipes went under the slab, the couple had said that the wine cellar walls certainly looked a lot damper than they used to. So we agreed that I would have to try and dig up the 300mm slab in inspection holes to find the leak. This room was in the middle of the house so, to get the carpet up, I had to move an incredible amount of furniture which hadn’t been moved in decades (old dressers etc). I spent the entire Friday digging up the room. It was exhausting but, I found the pipes and after 6 holes I discovered yet again that the leak wasn’t coming from there. I went home feeling deflated and wishing I’d never started the job in the first place and wanted to quit. 

Speaking to the couple, I just couldn’t apologise enough, I had done everything in my power and more to try and solve this problem, they looked as though they were going to breakdown which gave me the strength to try my absolute best and find a solution without giving up. I went home and did another immense amount of research to discover my last option. I returned and told them that my last option was being in a leak detection company. I rang around 20 different companies to try and find one that was open and wasn’t charging the Earth. I booked one in for them and managed to get them in on the Monday. We left my bore holes open to help find the leak and filled the system with part nitrogen and hydrogen and used a sniffer to try and sniff the particles that were leaking through the ground. After a couple of hours we discovered that outside between the main house and the laundry room, the smaller detection had been made under the huge granite slabs. I started digging the slabs up, it took me ages and it was also raining. After lifting the entirety of the patio granite slabs, I started digging the garden up, about 500mm down in the mud, I eventually found some pipes. I started digging along and clearing and washing the pipes down to eventually find the leak! 

There was a few pin holes in the main heating pipes. I could not believe it. So I chopped out and changed as much of the leaking pipe as possible. I then went to finally fill the giant system again late one evening to find that the tank yet again had not filled. I was distraught. I went back outside this time to find that the trench I had dug up looked slightly wet again. The next day I went back and dug even more of the garden up, the entire section between the house and the laundry room to discover that the entire pipework had not been protected and had holes in it all along! One was the size of a 5p piece! Which explained why the powerflush took so long! Once we had cleared most of the sludge out the pipework, it exposed the holes and the majority of our clean water was just escaping out underground which is why it took 3 long days to flush the system. 

I replaced the entirety of the pipework in the mud, I then went to try and fill the system and for the first time it actually filled up! I was the happiest I’ve ever been, the relief was another level. I went back the following day, made good of the garden and filled in the holes and put all their furniture back and cleaned everything. After all of that, I then went into full lockdown the following day. Living on my own it was terrible but nothing like the ordeal of that job.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

My customers, after I fixed the problem were absolutely thrilled. I got the entire home and every room red hot, and showed them every radiator was roasting through my new camera. They said to me that the entire time they’ve lived there they have never had heat in that house. It’s never been hot and cannot believe how well it works. They had a bit of trouble getting used to the Nest control, so I kept going back and setting up schedules and showing them how it works, and now they’re absolutely over the moon. Their gas bill was only £200 that month and it was by far the coldest month, and I spoke to them about their water bill and they couldn’t thank me enough! 

Previously, the tank that filled the system was constantly leaking underground so since that has stopped, they’ve saved a fortune and gave me a bottle of wine to say thanks. That summer they also messaged me again to thank me as they had “never had heat in that outdoor pool before!”  They haven’t had a problem since and it’s genuinely the best achievement I’ve done to date and I doubt I’ll ever have anything like that again. It tested every part of me, it was both physically and mentally draining but I got there in the end!

South East Highly Commended

Name: Michael Walsh
Business: Walsh & Son Ltd 

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

The project was at an old Victorian house which the client was renovating. He really wanted to make it more energy efficient and was doing a lot of other work to achieve this, such as installing new windows, doors and insulation. 

However, the heating system was very old and was losing heat. It consisted of an old floor standing boiler and gravity fed pipes which were in a reverse circulation set up. The customer therefore wanted an entirely new system that would be aesthetically pleasing and which would reliably provide heating and hot water in as efficient a manner as possible. 

After carrying out the heat loss calculations I knew that a 12-Kilowatt system combined with a boiler that would modulate both up and down would do the job. The boiler would also provide priority domestic hot water (PDHW) to help reduce energy wastage. By taking heat out of the domestic boiler and putting it into the cylinder it would enable the system to warm up incredibly quickly. 

The building’s cellar was the obvious location for the plant room, as it was the only space large enough. This solved the problem of where to put the system but it raised another issue, as the discharge from the cylinder and boiler condensate had nowhere to go. To overcome this challenge, I installed a high-pressure discharge pump which also included a built-in safety that would cut out the boiler if required. 

The client then wanted to use another one of the three rooms in the cellar (the largest of which now housed the plant room) as a utility room. This meant that I needed to install a Saniflow system to deal with the discharge from the washing machine that would be put in. 

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

I chose to use an ATAG multi-temperature boiler, in large part because of the extensive menu options that it provides which gives you an incredible amount of control. There are few boilers out there that are able to match this level of control and personalisation. 

Other key products for this project included: 

  • IMI Eclipse radiator valves due to their automatic flow control technology 
  • ATAG unvented cylinder to run on PDHW and ATAG controls with load compensation
  • Pump set for mixed temperature flow made by Joe at Radiant Controls Ltd
  • Underfloor heating from Wunda. This was made to suit our specific application and was designed to be tiled to add further insulation
  • Manifold from Joule, chosen for its high quality, high temperature pump house and pressure relief pump with built-in cut-off which was required because the plant room was below ground level
  • IMI Hydronics filters and deaerators as well as an expansion vessel which was chosen in a striking duck blue colour 
  • The client originally requested that I use plastic pipes, but I advised that we use copper instead as it’s a proven and reliable material. 

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

Overall, the system is efficient, low temperature, balanced, controlled and hassle free. It was a challenge as I had to channel all my product knowledge as well as the lessons I’ve learnt from a wide circle of supportive peers and influencers in order to deliver a high-end design and system. 

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work, but I’ve been upskilling a lot and really improving my product knowledge, which all came together on this project. Being able to do this reinvigorated me and gave me a huge sense of achievement. It’s taken me from thinking that I was a dying breed to realising that the young guns in the industry are fighting hard to change the sector for the better, and it’s a great feeling to be part of that movement. A large part of this circle of support came from interest and connections generated by my killakillowatt campaign, which highlights how homeowners can cut their energy bills and be more energy efficient just by making simple changes to their boilers. 

Strong product knowledge was particularly vital for this project, as I used a lot of different manufacturers to achieve the end result. I’ve been especially focusing on learning about low temperature products and technologies, which are central to creating highly efficient systems like the one I created for this project. Knowing the parameters of an ATAG boiler and how its extensive menu options work is a good example of how my product knowledge meant that I could build the system with the right components for the task at hand.

Peer-to-peer learning has been an important part of my upskilling and being part of a very informative circle on Twitter has allowed me to learn a lot about how to best tackle projects like this. In particular, I worked out the heat loss calculations for the house using an app that was recommended by a peer, which allowed me to conduct a full heat loss spec throughout the building. 

The energy saving that was achieved on this project is incredible and it’s a real showcase of what can be achieved and the direction the industry needs to move in if we’re to make existing homes more energy efficient. 

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The client was very open with me and took a leap of faith in following my advice. When I came into it, the client had originally been quoted a much higher cost by another business, but I advised that we could get the result he wanted for less. 

One of the telling signs that the client was pleased with the work is that he now calls the plant area the “Mustard Room”, as it’s a word I use to describe things that are fantastic and this project was definitely “mustard, mate”. 

Even after the project, the client was still really engaged and interested in how the system works. He was calling me to tell me the temperature of his stored water and asking what specific settings do and what would happen if he turned the temperature of the water up. It was great to have that level of engagement and to know that he was not only happy with the energy efficiency and thermal comfort but also enjoyed the simplicity and user-friendly nature of the overall system.

South West Regional Winner 

Name: Chris Organ
Business: Intergas Cheltenham Ltd

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

A project I am proud of was a Manor House full refurbishment I did this year. The property is off grid so biomass energy was decided as the best route. We created a sub plant room with two 400L unvented cylinders and a water filtration system which included a UV bacterial prevention due to being spring fed into a break tank and boost set. I also put in a underfloor heating system throughout the ground floor and installed original refurbished cast iron radiators on the first and second floor. I was a newbuild building and the project took around 8 weeks.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

I used a DAB boost set, joule cylinders, HDG biomass system as these are all products I am familiar with, I know they are reliable and they provide the best results possible for what the customer needed.

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

The fact that this project was off the grid made it stand out to me. We provided sustainable and cost effective solutions that needed to be found and required a lot of thinking outside of the box to provide the best results.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The results for my customer were reduced energy bills due to the sustainability of the products we used, reliability, consistent water pressure and my client was over the moon with the results.

Wales & Northern Ireland Regional Winner

Name: Huw Jenkins
Business: Thornhill P&H

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

I was approached by a pair of doctors who have busy lives with young children, and have were plagued with heating and hot water problems since they purchased their six bedroom Victorian house two years ago. They have had numerous heating engineers try to resolve their issues without any resolution. 

They called me desperate to be able to use their hot water and to have a reliable system. I walked into an overly complicated system comprising of solar panels that had never worked, a clandestine underfloor heating system that could not be controlled or balanced, a very problematic and oversized boiler and a thermal store set up which was very inefficient and all had been piped up together incorrectly with many redundant pipes / pumps / valves where plumbers in the past had made alterations to the system in an attempt to get it working correctly to no avail. 

The whole system was badly designed and the customer was wasting a lot of energy (and patience as they were always running out of hot water). There were many different pipes (many of which were not serving any purpose) all disappearing behind walls and snaking off into the property. My job was to design a system that would give them a fast recovery of hot water, a heating system that was as reliable and efficient as possible, and to re configure the underfloor and radiator circuits to give optimum control and comfort; this was achieved by the used of a priority hot water valve, zone manager with mixed heating zones and a balancing header. 

After chasing back all of the pipes of the existing system and drawing a schematic of what we had, I went about making a heat loss calculation of the property and determining the exact hot water requirements. I planned to use smart controls for the heating, underfloor and hot water and incorporate a hot water secondary return on a push button system (so the customer could push a button near each outlet and would have instantaneous hot water rather than having to drain a leg of cold water first). 

I also wanted to use weather compensation for the heating and underfloor whilst using a high recovery unvented hot water cylinder which was given priority over the heating for faster recovery time. Any radiators that did not have thermostatic valves would be fitted with the valves which perform the best in my experience. The system would need to also incorporate a low loss header to improve the efficiency of the system and to give us greater control of the flow and return temperatures to the underfloor and heating circuits whilst allowing the hot water cylinder to use the full potential of the boiler. 

I wanted all of these components to be supplied by the same manufacturer as to simplify things down the line should a warranty call be needed on any of the components, and to streamline the whole installation. I paid a heating consultant who is said to be the best in the business to assist me with my calculations and the setup/commissioning of the various components to ensure the system I was installing was spot on perfect. 

I always use pulled bends where possible to help with flow rates, system noise and make for a neater job. I take great pride in all of my work and make each of my installs better than the last. I take a lot of inspiration from other people’s work on Instagram etc. and I strive to be the best installer I can be and to make my installations something special. The installation has to be perfect to the finest details. The pipework has to be as low profile as possible and all components positioned so that we can maximise the space in the room. The pipework and other components have to be sized correctly, such as the volume of the hot water cylinder, the power of the boiler, the expansion vessels. The system has to have valves and drain points placed in the most accessible places to make future maintenance easy, only brand name quality fittings are used. British standards and manufacturers instructions must always be adhered to, and if I am not clear on anything, I ensure that I get the appropriate training and know where to find the required information. 

A very important part of the job is the system flush and water treatment which is often overlooked. Each individual radiator is flushed and agitated for a minimum of ten minutes, and the water quality is checked before moving on to the next radiator. Any radiators that we suspected had a lot of sludge were removed and taken outside to be blasted through with water from a hosepipe and agitated with a white rubber mallet (we call this the old school powerflush). Only quality chemicals are used and I never complete an installation without the use of a primary magnetic system filter and a means of deaeration. Upon commissioning it was important to balance all of the radiators and underfloor as to ensure everything heats up evenly. 

The parameters of the boiler were all carefully chosen to give the optimum flow and return temperatures / weather compensation curve / room influence etc for comfort and efficiency. The thermostats were placed in the most convenient and effective places and the finished installation was insulated throughout. The customer was very impressed with the rate of hot water they were receiving and being able to control the heating via their mobile devices. I am able to monitor their system remotely via the app and have returned a fortnight after the install to answer any questions, fine tune the system and check it all over. The heating is running at much cooler temperatures thanks to the weather and load compensation. 

The use of the twin Coil high recovery cylinder piped up using the reverse return method and use of a priority hot water kit means that the hot water heats up rapidly, and should the customer bring the solar panels back into commission, they can be tagged into the second coil with minimal pipework adjustments. 

I am very impressed by the efficiency of the system and have set it up so that the flow and return temperatures are modulated on the measurement of the outside temperature, the indoor temperature and the value set on the thermostats. The installation is very neat, unobtrusive and will make future maintenance a breeze.

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

The system incorporated the following main components. 32KW system boiler (sized according to my heat loss calculation and hot water requirements), mixed zone module cabinet which incorporated a low loss header, pumps for the heating and underfloor zones, a mixing valve and zone manager which communicates with the boiler. 

A twin coil unvented cylinder was used with a priority hot water kit for fast recovery of the hot water and as the customer plans to use solar panels to heat the water in the future, the second coil can be re assigned to the solar panels without much alteration of pipework. The cylinder was sized according to the hot water requirements; not too big, not too small. The two coils were piped in reverse return configuration for maximal effectiveness. I also used a weather sensor and smart controls for the heating and underfloor zones which connect to my customers’ mobile devices and also my phone so I can monitor their heating system remotely should they need assistance. 

I selected ATAG brand based on the build quality of the boiler (especially the icon heat exchanger) and the fact that the boiler has so many parameters that can be tweaked. The boiler carries a 14-year warranty. 

For water treatment, I selected ADEY chemicals, a Magnaclean professional 2 magnetic filter (as I find it has a large and very powerful magnet) we can achieve air and dirt separation via the low loss header and the design of the boiler heat exchanger aids in deaeration. Full bore lever valves, drain off cocks and automatic air vents were fitted to all recommended places to aid in future maintenance. Expansion vessels were calculated using the flamco recommended method and placed in such a way as not to be obtrusive but also be easy to maintain. 

I supply a custom-made folder (stickers and hat) containing my business details to keep all of the documentation safe. We had limited space in a small utility room, so placement of the various elements of this system was important so the customer was left with plenty of space. Copper pipework used throughout with each joint either hand bent where possible or soldered very neatly (even though the pipework was also hidden behind pipe Lagging)

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

It was great how the whole system came together, even as it involves so many different parts, they all communicate with one another which makes this a truly smart system which gives excellent energy efficiency and comfort for the customer. I really wanted to use a mixing cabinet and it has really made our installation very neat by having many of the components hidden within (pumps, header, control module and mixing valve) the mixing valve automatically adjusts the temperature of the underfloor to achieve a 7 degree delta T and it also reacts to the outdoor temperature as well as the room temperature and the temperature set on the underfloor thermostat. The customer now has a cutting edge extremely efficient system which is unobtrusive and easy to control.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

The final product has made the home much more comfortable, and the family can relax knowing they now have a very reliable system which has been simplified so as it is very easy for them to control from wherever they are. The hot water performance is excellent and they are now able to have consecutive baths (!) and the kids can stay in the shower as long as they want. It has been a huge relief to them to have all of their issues resolved and with the peace of mind of the long warranty and the aftercare that I provide as the installer. I have called into the property a number of times after the installation to check they are happy with everything and that they understand how their system is operating (much of which is done by the automation of the water and load compensation). A reliable, efficient system which meets their hot water demands is what we were aiming for and we have exceeded our customers’ expectations which is great! My personal favourite thing about the install is how I’ve managed to place all of the system in places where it won’t get in the way and there is still lots of space in their utility room for their white goods etc, yet the system is easy to access and maintain.

Scotland Regional Winner 

Name: Ian Williamson
Business: Dynamic Energy

Please tell us about a project you are particularly proud of – what was the problem and how did you solve it for the customer? 

I am qualified in gas, lpg, oil, heat pump, biomass and solid fuel but specialise in solid fuel heating installations. This area can be particularly challenging and whilst most companies in my area pick the easy gas combi swaps, I prefer a challenge, something that most companies would walk away from. 

My most recent and ongoing project is a new house, off grid with no mains power or mains water. I have installed underfloor heating and radiators along with a solid fuel / multi fuel stove, 500 litre thermal store. As there’s no mains power we have had to incorporate inverters in order to allow the heating controls to be overrated at 230v whilst the supply is from wind, battery and solar pv.

This was a particularly interesting and complex job which I am due to commission and handover tomorrow as planned in time for my client and his family to enjoy Christmas and new year in their new home for the first time after spending the last 10 years in a caravan on site!

Which products did you select for the job and why? 

Macdonald engineers custom designed (by myself) and custom made a 500 litre thermal store in order to provide copious amounts of heating and hot water all year round

Tell us what was different or unique about this job? Why does it stand out? 

It was off grid with no mains water or power. There was temporary water fed from a spring supply until the client saves up enough money to invest in a bore hole to supply their water.

And finally, tell us what the end result was for your customer? 

Highly efficient and effective heating and hot water systems which allows the client to live off grid at very low cost whilst keeping cozy and providing them with plenty of hot water.

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