Marshall Plumbing & Heating Ltd

Your local professional plumbing, heating and gas service specialists in Milton Keynes. Providing you with expert service and support from start to finish. Check out our services below and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

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Pros and Cons of a Gas Fireplace

The popularity of gas fireplaces is only continuing to grow — according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, which represents the hearth products industry, nearly 70 percent of the hearth products used today use natural gas or propane as a fuel.

The ease of using gas fireplaces and logs plays no small role in that popularity — instead of chopping and stacking wood, painstakingly building fires and scooping up ash, homeowners are pressing a button and enjoying a warm, mood-enhancing fire. Convenience isn’t the only benefit you get with a gas fireplace, though — these units can provide consistent, efficient and cleaner heat, and you can have far broader installation options, too.

Choosing between fuels is a personal choice, and gas might not be the ideal choice for you. If you’re trying to decide whether a gas fireplace makes sense for your home, here’s a little more info that might spark a decision.

Gas Fireplace Pros

Push-button warmth and ambience

You can’t oversell the convenience of gas fireplaces — and as busy as we all are these days, between careers, home and family, the minimized work plays a big role in many homeowners’ choice. But it goes beyond the ease of starting and maintaining an enjoyable fire — manufacturers have added plenty of other figurative bells and whistles to modern units, including remote controls, timers that turn the fireplace off so you can fall asleep to a warm fire, blowers and fans that circulate more heat through the room and thermostats that keep that heat consistent.

Realistic fires

True, you’re not stacking up logs for flames to curl around, but that doesn’t mean your fireplace won’t look like you have been. Ceramic refractory gas logs have come a long way — many are hand-made and hand-painted to look incredibly realistic, from knots and bark to glowing embers. You could choose deep, charred logs, light beach wood — sacrificing aesthetics for function is definitely a thing of the past.

Broader installation options

There are multiple considerations when you’re installing a masonry wood-burning fireplace, from the chimney to the concrete footing that holds it up. Pre-fabricated gas fireplaces can offer more flexibility. Zero clearance units are constructed so that minimal space is needed between the fireplace and surrounding combustible materials. Vent-free units don’t even need a traditional chimney. Chimney professionals can help you understand the options that might work best with your needs and the room you’re hoping to add a fireplace to.

Gas Fireplace Cons

You have to buy fuel

Homeowners in wooded areas often use fallen timber, cut and dried thoroughly, to fuel their wood-burning fireplaces for free. With a gas fireplace, you don’t get option.

If you love the smell of burning wood, you’ll miss it

It’s a personal preference: Some homeowners can’t get enough of that smoky, oaky smell that comes with a wood-burning fireplace; others hate it. (Still others find that wood fire byproducts flare up asthma and other health issues.) If you’re in the love camp, you’ll miss that smell, with a gas-burning fireplace. But then, they do make wood fire-scented candles these days, too.

Whether you’re a fireplace lover looking for heat or ambiance, convenience or aesthetic, there are options out there that meet your needs. And once you’re settled on what you really want, chimney and fireplace professionals can help you find the perfect fireplace.

Most homes will utilise hot water storage cylinders to supply hot water and due to the ease of installation the majority of newly built properties will be fitted with unvented hot water systems.

These type of hot water systems work directly from the mains water and enables hot water to be supplied and because the pressure comes direct from the mains water the flow rate is much better compared to a vented water system. Unvented hot water systems have safety devices inbuilt to help it cope with the high pressure and expansion of water.

You may find you have a small tank sitting in the loft for venting and feeding your central heating, however unvented cylinders provide hot water constantly at mains pressure, so there is no requirement for a cold water storage tank and the extra pipework to link it up. And because you’re relying on the pressure from the mains rather than just gravity, you can situate the hot water cylinder in almost any location.

An unvented hot water storage cylinder can be heated directly by an electric immersion heater, or indirectly by most heating systems – although appliances that burn solid fuel are the exception.

The advantages and disadvantages of unvented systems

Unvented hot water systems have advantages and disadvantages. Most notably, these type of systems are historically difficult to install and will require the skills of a trained engineer. Not only that, but they are more costly to install compared to a conventional hot water system and they won’t work with power showers and certain types of mixer shower valves.

Disadvantages aside, unvented systems do have certain advantages, not least because they are an efficient way of storing and distributing hot water throughout your home at mains pressure. Other advantages include:

  • Fast filling baths
  • Hot water at mains pressure
  • No restrictions on where in a property the system is installed
  • No need for cold water storage
  • Utilises existing pipework
  • Drinking water at all taps

If your property has more than one bathroom or shower then unvented systems are ideal to meet demand for simultaneous hot water from more than one outlet, with flow rates reaching more than 22 litres per minute.

Contact us for further advice.

Combination boilers (also known as "combi boilers") have become more and more popular in the UK over the past few years, with over 70% of homes choosing to install a combi boiler, over regular hot water or system boilers.

What is a Combi Boiler?

Combi boilers are essentially high efficiency water heater and central heating units, which means that they can heat your home and provide hot water, without the need for a separate water tank. They tend to be more compact than other central heating systems, as they combine these two household functions into one appliance (hence the name "combi boiler").

Who Should Use a Combi Boiler?

Due to their small size and ability to heat water on demand, combi boilers are most suited to homes with limited space, or for couples or small families. It is possible to purchase an oil-fired combi boiler, however, gas and LPG models are more common.

The Pros and Cons of Combi Boilers

If you are considering replacing your current boiler with a combi boiler, or moving into a house with one, it is important to know the pros and cons of these systems.

Pros: The Benefits of a Combi Boiler

There are a number of great features that have made combi boilers the most popular boiler type across the UK. In general, combi boilers are:

More Efficient

Combi boilers are highly efficient when compared to older boiler models. In fact, replacing your boiler with a newer combi boiler could help you to save up to £300 a year on your heating bills.

Cheaper

Combi boilers are far less complex than traditional heating systems, which means that installations tend to be cheaper. It is also easier to find replacement parts if a problem occurs.

Faster

With no water tank to heat up, combi boilers can provide an unlimited supply of hot water on demand. No waiting time!

More Compact

As there is no need for a separate water tank, combi boiler systems take up much less space than conventional heating systems. This makes them ideal for homes that have limited room.

Safer

The cold water from a combi boiler system is always safe to drink as it is fed directly from the mains. However, this is not always true of traditional systems, which may store cold water in a tank before it is piped through the house.

Easier to Sell

As combi boilers tend to be more efficient than other boiler types, this can be a selling point if you are looking to rent or sell your property. This will also show on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Less Likely to Suffer from Pressure Issues

Combi boiler systems do not tend to suffer from air locks or low pressure, as the hot water is taken directly from the water mains.

Cleaner

Central heating systems with a combi boiler generally have less sludge build up, because the water is piped directly from the mains and not kept in a tank where it can accrue rust and debris.

Easier to Service

Your boiler.

The disadvantages of combi boilers include:

Dependence on Mains Pressure

To ensure that your combi boiler is working properly, you need good mains pressure. If you are having a new boiler fitted, you should check what the mains pressure in your area is before you go ahead with the installation.

Limited Use

With a combi boiler it is not possible to run more than one shower or bath at a time, or to turn on the hot tap while showering. This may be an issue if you live in a large house with a number of bathrooms and en suites, or with lots of people.

No Immersion Heater

As there is no water tank, if your combi boiler breaks down then you will be left without hot water as well as central heating (unless you install an electric shower).

No Power Shower

You can't have a power shower with a combi boiler, as the water pressure is set by the pressure level at the water mains.

Stay Gas Safe at home by only using registered engineers

Anyone who has gas appliances or fittings in their property needs to be aware of the risks of unsafe gas work. This section provides valuable information on gas safety in the home and how to ensure you and your family stay safe.

Get your appliances checked

When did you last have the gas appliances in your home checked? Gas appliances should be safety checked every year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Find out why it's so important and what checks your engineer will carry out.

Are you having a new gas appliance fitted?

There's a lot to consider when getting a new gas appliance. Read our advice on how to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and your appliance is fitted safely. Buying a new home?

There are so many things to think about when buying a new property that gas safety may not be top of the list. Make sure you know what to look out for and how to ensure your new home is safe.

I have a danger sticker on my appliance?

If an engineer has identified a gas related danger in your home, they’ll attach a Danger Do Not Use warning label to the dangerous gas fitting and provide you with a warning notice. Find out the meanings of these warning notices and what action you should take if you get one.

Improving your home?

If you're thinking about home improvement you may be tempted to save money and do it yourself. However, if you work on gas appliances without being qualified, you could be putting yours and others' lives at risk.

Risks of unsafe gas appliances

Unsafe gas appliances can put your life in danger. Make sure you're aware of the potentially dangerous consequences and the warning signs to look out for.

Gas safety tips

A one stop shop of top tips to keep you and your family safe in your home all year round.

Can you smell gas? Feeling ill – headaches? Nausea? Dizziness?

Poorly fitted and serviced gas appliances can cause:

  • Gas leas
  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

In a gas emergency you need to act quickly and take the following steps:

  • Get fresh air immediately - open all doors and windows to ventilate the area
  • Switch off the appliance and gas pipework by turning off the gas supply at the emergency control valve at the gas meter. Do not turn the gas supply on again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Do not operate electrical switches, operating electrical equipment can ignite escaping gas.
  • Extinguish all naked flames.
  • Call the National Gas Emergency number – 0800 111 999 (If you're deaf or hard of hearing, you can use a textphone (Minicom) on 0800 371 787). Please note: This number is for England, Scotland and Wales – for emergency numbers in other regions and for LPG visit our useful contact numbers page.
  • If you are feeling unwell visit your GP or hospital immediately and inform them that you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide.
  • Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to check and fix the appliance.

You can't see, taste or smell it but it can be deadly.

What is CO poisoning?

Unsafe gas appliances can produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long term health problems such as brain damage.

CO is produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This happens when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

Oil and solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce carbon monoxide.

CO poisoning occurs when you breathe in the gas and it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die. Even small amounts of the gas can cause CO poisoning, and long term effects can include paralysis and brain damage.

Remember the six main symptoms to look out for:

  1. headaches
  2. dizziness
  3. nausea
  4. breathlessness
  5. collapse
  6. loss of consciousness

Being aware of the symptoms could save your life

CO symptoms are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections and fatigue. That’s why it’s quite common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else.

Other signs that could point to CO poisoning:

  • Your symptoms only occur when you are at home and seem to disappear when you leave home.
  • Others in your household (including pets) are experiencing similar symptoms and they appear at a similar time.

What to do if you suspect CO poisoning

  • Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.
  • See your doctor immediately or go to hospital - let them know that you suspect CO poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.
  • If you think there is an immediate danger, call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.
  • Ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect your gas appliances and flues to see if there is a dangerous problem.

To find engineers who are qualified to investigate the presence of fumes, follow the link to the ‘Find by Location’ page. Enter your postcode and select either Domestic or Commercial Appliances and press ‘Find’. Under the ‘Select appliance type’ tab chose ‘Fumes Investigation’. Remember to click ‘Find’ again to see the updated results.

The warning signs of a CO leak

Any of the following could be a sign of CO in your home:

  • Flames of a lazy yellow or orange colour on your gas hob, rather than being a crisp blue;
  • Dark staining on/around appliances;
  • Pilot light that frequently blow out;
  • Increased condensation inside windows.

Faulty appliances in your home can lead to CO poisoning. Get your gas appliances checked regularlyto avoid this.

The benefits of having a CO alarm

An audible CO alarm will alert you to the presence of the poisonous gas in your home. Although no substitute for having your appliances serviced and checked regularly, fitting an audible CO alarm in your property is strongly recommended as a second line of defence.

Modern CO alarms are similar in design to smoke alarms (which do not detect CO) and can be purchased from around £15 at many major retail outlets including DIY stores and supermarkets. Before purchasing an alarm, make sure it is marked to EN 50291 and has the British Standards Kitemark or another European approval organisation’s mark on it. We do not recommend the use of 'black spot detector' warning strips - they are too easy to miss and won't alert you if you have a CO leak when you're asleep.

It’s advisable to fit an alarm in every room with a gas appliance – when installing and siting the alarm make sure you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, audible CO alarms have a battery life of up to 5 years. If you’re unsure which alarm to get, you can ask a Gas Safe registered engineer for advice.