Rising Star

Rising Star Finalist

Name: Josh Bentley

Please provide at least one example of a problem that you have encountered on-the-job and how you worked with your employer to overcome it:

Example #1: Linda’s pipework: Upon completion of a system boiler swap, I noticed that some of the existing pipework and fittings under the floorboards had considerable amounts of Verdigris on them and were showing signs of advanced corrosion. After consulting my superiors, we decided further investigation was needed, as we were almost ready to commence flushing the heating system. After more floorboards were taken up and pipework was traced it was concluded that there was a strong likelihood that the integrity of the original pipework would fail once put under any sort of pressure.

After a conversation was had with the customer, explaining the likelihood that there could potentially be issues, it was recommended to the customer that the affected heating pipework should be replaced, to prevent any leaks or pinholes opening up when the flush commenced or when the system had been filled and put under pressure. The customer understood everything that was told and shown to them and was happy to proceed with the re-pipe of the heating carcass. Fortunately, since we were already on site and had made substantial changes to the system, (going from open vented to pressurised) we were able to effectively replace pipework with the minimum of disruption since we were able to reuse most of the original pipework routes. The house was packed full of furniture and much of it antique or of significant value and that meant I had to take the utmost of care whilst I was working. This made some parts of the project difficult to manage but I overcame them with patience and care.

Once completed the system was pressure tested and flushed and was finally able to be commissioned and handed over to the happy customer. The result of my diligence was leaving the customer safe in the knowledge that her heating system was leak and corrosion free on the copper pipework.

Example #2: Steven’s clogged boiler: This customer has a Viessman boiler and was having trouble with his heating and hot water. He had several other engineers out to the property to try and resolve the issue with no luck. After having several parts replaced, including the plate heat exchanger, the problem was still no closer to being resolved. Safe to say that by the time we were called to come take a look at the issue he was not happy, after essentially being left high and dry by previous engineers.

After arriving at the customer’s property, I began inspecting various components within the boiler under the close supervision of my Gas safe registered mentor. During my inspection, I came across the two black rubber flow and return hoses inside the boiler. These were both rock solid to the touch and, as we later found out, full of magnetite. I relayed what I had found to my superior and he concurred my findings. I then explained to the customer the issue with the hoses and that a return visit was necessary as parts would need to be ordered. We did not have the requisite parts for the particular model that the client has in the van or back at our base of operations. Despite this, the customer was extremely pleased with the speed and competency of the diagnosis. I recommended to the customer that upon our return a full strip and clean service would be completed to ensure the boilers electrodes and seals were in proper working order.

On top of this, I suggested the boiler’s heat exchanger be taken away and thoroughly flushed and cleaned before being reinstated to ensure that there were no additional blockages other than the hoses and the plate heat exchanger. Once I had opened the boiler up and removed the burner, we discovered that the rear vermiculite insulation had crumbled away. I was astounded that the boiler had been functioning for as long as it had done.

Another recommendation I made to the customer was that an additional expansion vessel be fitted. This was recommended because the existing expansion vessel within the boiler was not large enough to support the customers twenty-two radiator property. The customer was satisfied with this recommendation since I explained the benefits to him. The main reason being the reduced stress on the boilers components that the additional expansion would offer. He was most impressed with how thorough my colleague and I had been with our inspection of his system as well as his boiler and its components. He had never seen so much care and attention being taken towards his boiler and made a point of commenting about that. When we returned with the appropriate parts, and a freshly flushed through main heat exchanger, we effectively stripped and cleaned the boiler and installed new seals and bent electrodes. We also fitted a new auto air vent, along with the new rubber hoses and of course a new vermiculite insulation panel. The previously discussed additional expansion vessel was also installed, and the customer was finally left with a fully functioning heating system. Again, the result of my diligence left the customer extremely happy, so happy that he actually danced a jig in his garden. He even sent us a selection of sweet treats from Betty’s Tea room which I thoroughly enjoyed. His faith in competent heating engineers had been restored and when we left his house his heating and hot water was “Perfect.”

Please provide at least one example of how you have gone the extra mile and/or shown outstanding commitment during your apprenticeship. Please note: working additional hours to get a job done will not qualify:

This was a difficult one for me to answer simply because I feel everything I do – going the extra mile or not – should be standard practice. I always do my best to communicate with our customers to let them know where I will be working so that I reduce the impact and possible inconvenience. No matter the job, I always make sure the property is left in the same manner in which I found it, if not cleaner. Always doing my best to make sure any items the customer owns are out of the way or well protected so they do not become damaged or filthy. Always looking at ways of improving the efficiency of a customer’s heating system, providing recommendations for example an added expansion vessel to lower the stress on a heating system that has a lot of radiators and poor initial provision. The other is to recommend the installation of a passive de-aerator to our clients. Removing the dissolved gasses in central heating water will help to significantly reduce the potential for advanced radiator corrosion to occur.

And finally, what do you think are three important qualities of a good heating installer and how have you demonstrated these qualities during the initial stages of your career?

Customer service – Punctual with excellent rapport with customers, increasing trust between customer and engineer. Competency – Demonstrating an ability to perform work to a competent level with a decent level of product knowledge. Cleanliness – Working in a neat and tidy manner, cleaning up after myself as to not clutter the customers home unnecessarily and to provide a safe working environment.