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My Nightmare Heating System

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As suggested by @Nickfromwales I am starting a new topic to see if anyone can help me with my heating nightmare as no one local seems to be able to work out how to get it working properly. I can't believe I am the only person in the country to have this type of system however! I just about exist with heating 1 room at present as I can't work out how to get the upstairs working at all, and I just really heat the room I use downstairs now. 

 

I am totally without knowledge when it comes to heating etc so am only able to explain what I know from the scant paperwork I have here. There are a number of issues with it.  

 

From my limited knowledge, the system has an electric boiler (no gas in the village), a thermal store and evacuated tube solar panels which are all supposed to feed wet underfloor heating (in every room) and provide hot water. 

 

The issues I have with the system are:

 

  1. The solar no longer works. I can see when the column is heating and the metal round thing :$ at the bottom gets warm / hot (not too hot to touch) but the water temperature never rises so I assume it's not working. It used to work! I had the guy out who installed it and he said that 'he doesn't install solar anymore' and that as it had been switched off for a period (as in the Delta Sol thing was switched off for ages) the solar panels were probably rendered useless as they may have 'turned to jelly' and were never designed to be ever switched off. Now if that's the case I guess I have to live with that (expensive white elephant on the roof mind ......) but would like to check as they would be quite handy in the summer months. He came on a cloudy day when the solar wasn't running, but promised to come back when the sun was out. I tried contacting him about half a dozen times after that but he never replied to phone messages or emails. 
  2. I cannot get hot water unless the underfloor heating pump is on. The issue is that if that is left on all the time all of the hot water runs away under the floor somewhere (even if all of the heating in individual rooms is switched off) so unless I run the boiler 24 x 7 which isn't really practical the water is cold within about 20 minutes of the boiler going off. I have had a few people out to look at it but they look at the thermal store, scratch their heads, and go away again. A couple have apparently tried to obtain details from the company who the store was purchased from but they apparently say that they are no longer trading under that name or something. 
  3. When the boiler is up to temperature (seems to be at 50 at present) I can just about have a single shower or half fill a bath until the hot water runs cold. One of the guys who came out said that the tank wasn't big enough but that's pretty hopeless in a house with 6 bathrooms / shower rooms TBH!
  4. There is a controller on the wall that shows as ?? against all rooms. Occasionally after a power cut it resets itself and shows the temperatures again but it doesn't take long before it goes back to ??
  5. How can you tell if the underfloor is actually working in a specific room? There are 4 sets of manifolds round the house. The kitchen / family room has 2 circuits (I think!) and the underfloor in the family room seems to get warm but the kitchen underfloor doesn't seem to (in that the tiles in the kitchen never seem to get warm). It's all one big room so really needs both sides to be heating to make it more efficient I imagine. I've had the upstairs room thermostats set to a higher temperature than the existing temperature (which I assumed would start heating the room) but the rooms never seem to heat up so I assume that no heat is getting to them. When I touch the pipes at the manifolds they are warm so I assume the heat is getting there correctly. I don't want the heating on all the time, but I would like to be able to switch it on in other rooms when someone comes.
  6. One of the rooms is not connected up to the manifold. The pipes were all put in and hubby said it was ready to be connected up but I haven't found anyone who deals with underfloor heating to connect it up and I've no idea how to do it myself. 
  7. The heating seems incredibly inefficient. When I have been away in the winter and the heating has been switched off it takes more than 24 hours, probably more like 36 hours, with the heating on full time to get the room back up to anything like a decent temperature. If it's off for too long during the day it also seems to take forever to heat back up again. Is that normal? 

 

I think those are the main issues anyway! 

 

I've had a few people out to look at the heating but mostly they've run away never to return. Most of them don't cover electric boilers, or underfloor heating, or solar, or any combination of those. Everyone in the local town where most of the tradesmen live has gas central heating with radiators. No one wants to work on a weird system, they are only interested in fitting new central heating systems which is where most of their money comes from I imagine.  


I've taken some photos of what I've got and will post them in the following posts. Thanks in advance for any help! 

 

Edited by newhome

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Here is the heating controller (and one of the thermostats). As you can see the temperatures are all set to ?. How can I fix this please? I'm scared to reset anything in case it loses all the settings. I don't seem to have a manual for this and can't find one online. 

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Here is the solar controller thing. There is this metal bottle next to it which I assume is something to do with it? The pressure dial next to it is set very low. 

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Here is the bit that has most of them running for the hills. No one seems to have a clue about how this should work. 

 

 

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afraid to say if i saw that, i'd run away as well :ph34r: hope you get it sorted soon

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The pipes going from the top of the thermal store appear in a cupboard in one of the bedrooms where they join up to this small water tank. I have no clue what this does. 

 

I've also shown a photo of one of the manifolds. As I said, the pipes are warm but the heat never seems to reach the right rooms upstairs unless I'm doing something wrong. 

 

The 3 boxes on the wall were installed by a plumber to allow me to control when the boiler and the underfloor heating pump come on. I have to keep them in sync otherwise I have no hot water. I can only get hot water from the taps when the pump is on, which isn't a massive deal when I'm here on my own but it's far from perfect. 

 

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Edited by newhome

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It was the reassuring Welshman that asked @newhome to prepare the post for the rest of us. I am just dusting off my books on oil refineries to see if I can find anything quite as complicated to compare it all to. We need to make a schematic, of all this and get the parts labelled so it starts to make some sense. Fab challenge though!

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It looks worse in the flesh believe me! Oh for my old house with a Potterton boiler and radiators .......... 

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Hi

 

Lets start with some basics.

 

How big is the house?

How now or more importantly how well insulated is it, particularly how well insulted are the FLOORS?

Has the system EVER worked properly?

Is the electric boiler on an economy 10 tariff, or at least an economy 7 tariff.

 

Now I will try and explain a few basics.

 

A "heat store" is just that, a big water tank that sores heat.  The idea being the boiler heats the heat store, and then the heat store provides the hot water and under floor heating. Remember that bit. The heat input control is quite separate to the heat output controls. They need to be analysed and investigated separately.

 

Assuming you have economy 10 (I really hope so otherwise it is going to be expensive) then you want the boiler programmer set so the electric boiler is on at all 10 of the cheap rate hours in a day and will heat that tank quite hot, probably 70 or 80 degrees.  There is often a thermometer on a heat store tank if you have one what does it say.

 

Domestic hot water is just achieved by cold water in through a heat exchange coil in the store and out as hot water.  If the tank is hot then you will get hot water, which will gradually reduce in temperature as you run it unless the boiler can keep up with the rate you are using heat. If you can only get half a bath, then the water in the thermal store is nowhere near hot enough.

 

Now the under floor heating. I am not familliar with that exact system but I know the heatmiser system uses a 4 core cable and all thermostats are linked to the same cable. You set a code inside each thermostat with a switch so the controller know which one controls which room. I suspect the question marks either means they are not set correctly, or there is a cable fault. Hence the question has it ever worked.

 

When it is working, then whenever a room thermostat calls for heat, it will turn on the manifold pump, open some valves on the manifold and send heat to that rooms heating loops, all the while taking heat from the thermal store and cooling it down.

 

I am pretty sure I could get this going but I am at the wrong end of the country so not practical for me to travel but I will help all I can on the forum.

 

Start with answering those questions and see how we go.

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So the stats look like a Heatmiser Neo or earlier system with the Touch Screen programmer. 

 

Is there a black box in the heating wiring system somewhere ..? That will help to sort the actual model and get the right manual. 

 

Thermal store is a a pretty standard one by the looks of it - Heatweb made them from the late 80s. Still in business and still service them too so nothing lost there. Just go to the website on the tank. 

 

The plastic tank is a header tank - no issue with that. 

 

The worry for  me is the new thermostat as that shouldn’t be needed. The Heatmiser system is pretty good once set up but takes time. That looks like the new plumber has added controls over the existing ones which may have added to the problems. 

 

The solar thermal...?? Well that looks like it needs a refresh ..!!

 

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Here are the invoices I found which I assume list all the components of the heating system in case this is helpful. 

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Okay some more thoughts as you posted more pictures while I was typing.

 

The little black tank is a cold water header tank. That is normal, a thermal store is full of water that unlike a normal hot water tank, never changes, and that cold tank feeds it to ensure it never runs dry (if there was a leak) and has somewhere to expand to when it gets hot (it's a feed and expansion tank)

 

That under floor heating manifold is a bit basic. Normally they have a thermostatic blending valve, so regardless of the temprature of the water in the tank, they mix it down to a low temperature for the under floor loops. There is usually also a pump.  Yours don't have these so at the moment  what is pumping it and what controls the water temperaure in the UFH is a mystery.

 

One of those controllers, probably the top one, will control the boiler on times. The heatmiser controls will control the UFH on times. (hot water remember is "on" all the time)

 

I don't know why someone has put a room thermostat in what I suspect is a cupboard.

 

 

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@ProDave the Heatweb units pre-blend the water on the thermal store for the UFH. One of the red mixer valves will be doing that. 

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Just a note on the solar thermal.

 

Again that is a separate thing in it's own right.

 

The way they work is this. It's controller will monitor the temperature of the water in the thermal store, and the temperature of the water in the on roof tubes.  When the water temp in the tubes exceeds the water temp in the store, it will turn it's pump on to circulate the water from the tubes to the store. It does this by passing that water through  a heat input coil in the bottom of the tank.  So on a sunny day the pump will be turning on and off to move water around whenever it is hot enough to heat the tank.  This heat just adds to what is in the tank from the boiler and so reduced the boiler load and hence saves you money.

 

It's circulating loop will be filled with brine so it does not freeze on the roof. Don't expect it to do anything at this time of year.

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1 hour ago, ProDave said:

Hi

 

Lets start with some basics.

 

How big is the house?

How now or more importantly how well insulated is it, particularly how well insulted are the FLOORS?

Has the system EVER worked properly?

Is the electric boiler on an economy 10 tariff, or at least an economy 7 tariff.

 

 

 

Thank you so much. I will try to answer the questions as best I can .......

 

House is circa 350 square metres I think.

It's pretty well insulated (I think). It's built using Scotframe's Supawall.

I've attached some photos of when the underfloor heating was installed showing the insulation used etc. It was all then covered in an anhydrite screed and the rooms either have tiles or engineered oak. 

Nope, the system has never worked properly :(. It was beyond hubby's skill level I think (he was an electrician rather than a heating engineer) and then when he got sick it got left. 

The boiler is on the Economy 2000 tariff from Scottish Power which has 2 meters; one 'normal' and the other for heating only which is a cheaper rate which you can only have if you have a thermal store I believe. 

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Edited by newhome

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24 minutes ago, PeterW said:

@newhome do you have any invoices for the heating controls ..?

 

Sorry, what do you mean by 'heating controls'? I don't have any invoices at present unfortunately as I sent them all off to HMRC today but I can try to dig out some paperwork if I know what I'm looking for. 

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17 minutes ago, ProDave said:

Just a note on the solar thermal.

 

Again that is a separate thing in it's own right.

 

The way they work is this. It's controller will monitor the temperature of the water in the thermal store, and the temperature of the water in the on roof tubes.  When the water temp in the tubes exceeds the water temp in the store, it will turn it's pump on to circulate the water from the tubes to the store. It does this by passing that water through  a heat input coil in the bottom of the tank.  So on a sunny day the pump will be turning on and off to move water around whenever it is hot enough to heat the tank.  This heat just adds to what is in the tank from the boiler and so reduced the boiler load and hence saves you money.

 

It's circulating loop will be filled with brine so it does not freeze on the roof. Don't expect it to do anything at this time of year.

 

It didn't do anything in the summer either. Never heated any water even when it was pretty hot outside. I know that it did use to heat the water to about 40 degrees on a decent day but now doesn't do anything at all. I had the solar guy out in August but typically it was a rainy overcast day so the column was not showing as heating. 

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Edited by Nickfromwales

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OK :D

Could you please take a couple more pics of the thermal store, zoomed out a good bit so I can see whats going where. 

Ive just about sussed it but I cant see the path of one or two items. 

"normal service will soon be resolved" lol. 

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Never seen anything like those TBH. Where would they be? 

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