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Discuss Advice Please - Flow/Return Reversed in the Central Heating Forum area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. jules.r

    jules.r New Member

    I could use a quick bit of advice if possible please. I will explain the situation in as few words as I can listing just the important stuff. I would like to know if running the system as it is could cause any damage to anything, or reduce it's life?

    I had a new 18/25 Utility System boiler fitted, My system is S Plan and before the new boiler it wasn't sealed, now it is and has an expansion vessel.

    Boiler fitted over 2 days - When fired up downstairs rads got hot, upstairs didn't - Stone Cold. Hot water working OK.

    2 Day wait for engineer to come back - Diagnoses the problem to a faulty non-return valve stopping the water flowing upstairs. He didn't touch that pipework so the fix will be chargeable and treated as a new job. Can't do it there and then as wants to go home.

    10 days later he comes back - Removes non return-valve, adjusts pipework slightly and upstairs starts working fine right away.

    Next day - I'm tidying up and notice that the arrows on both my zone valves (HW & Rads) are pointing the wrong way so I send an email to engineer with a picture saying "My zone valves are the wrong way around"

    Reply by email points out that he didn't touch them and the fact that everything is working means they are okay as they are.

    My reply was along the lines of "the zone valves don't have arrows on them for fun and I want the system right", I also pointed out that if he had noticed this when the system was drained down, and half the pipework was cut away, it would have been a 15 minute job to swap them around, but now it's all back up and running it will be considerably more work, and also that I would have expected him to spot it, especially as the valves are both right in the area in which he was working.

    Reply by email says that he wasn't looking for things like that and would have expected them to be right, and if he had noticed he wouldn't have had time to put it right anyway as he worked late enough as it was.

    In my reply to that I said I was going to check with the guy who installed the zone valves (10 years ago) just incase there was a good reason why they were reversed, and asked them (again) how long it would have taken to swap the valves around when system was drained and pipework cut away, and how much they would charge me to come out and do the job.

    I have had no reply to that email.

    After spending hours looking at pictures, making phone calls and looking at installation instructions I have worked out that the zone valves were originally fitted on the return, now they are on the flow.. so it's been plumbed in the wrong way around and the water is being pumped around the whole system the wrong way. That explains why the upstairs didn't work to start with, the non-return valve that I paid to have removed wasn't faulty at all and didn't need to be removed.

    I haven't spoken to the engineer yet, I'm writing a fairly long email to him at the moment and will send it in the new year on Monday.

    I just want to know if I'm likely to damage anything running the system in reverse, and if the life of any of the components is likely to be shortened because of this?

    Any other comments or observations about this situation are welcome!
     
  2. deg

    deg Member

    Flow and return crossed at new boiler install..

    Only advise I would give is that life is too short...
     
  3. joni os

    joni os Plumber

    Zone valves normally on flow not return pipework. Explains why non return valve inserted to make original system work. Should have been having this conversation 10 years ago.
     
  4. SimonG

    SimonG Trusted Plumber

    Not enough info in your post. You say a lot but tell us little.

    I take it it's an oil boiler?

    What was in the estimate?

    Something sounds a bit off.
     
  5. jules.r

    jules.r New Member

    Thanks... Yes, it is an oil boiler.

    This is whats listed on the estimate

    Drain down system.
    Remove existing boiler & localised pipework.
    To supply & install the Boiler, plume management kit, plume extension, magnetic filter, programmer, bypass valve, Pressure Vessel kit and a new pump (which wasn't actually needed as it's in the boiler)
    Adapt localised pipework for new boiler and reinstate.
    Connect all supplies to new boiler and fill system.
    Supply chemical cleaner and flush through. (Which didn't happen)
    Upgrade condense pipe.
    Re-fill system and apply inhibitor.
    Vent rads and leave in good order.
     
  6. jules.r

    jules.r New Member

    Can anyone advise if pumping the water around my radiators & hot water system the wrong way will cause any problems or damage to anything, please?

    How about the Zone Valves, they have arrows on them for flow direction and it's going the wrong way through them.

    Most of my rads have basic Drayton TRV's on them and they can flow both ways.

    The pump is inside the boiler so thats OK.

    The water tank looks pretty basic, just an 'in' and an 'out'

    Thank you!
     
  7. chris watkins

    chris watkins Plumber

    If boiler is piped correctly but system is wrong way i.e. flow to bottom connection on cylinder & lock shields on the rads then it should be fine.

    TRVs should be multi-directional if only ten years old & some cylinders had instructions to pipe up with flow to bottom. Zone valves round the wrong only likely to be a bit noisy on closing.

    You are being a bit harsh on your installer, as per post 3 & 4
     
  8. Moffski72

    Moffski72 Moffski72 GSR

    Yep, agree with Chris Watkins previous post, although would maybe have expected your installer to spot the non return valve in the first place and just remove it if the pipework is ok....assuming it wasn't hidden in a bit of boxing by the fireplace..;)
     
  9. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member

    You are correct, the zone valves should be installed so the flow is in the correct direction. Whether its worth the cost and hassle of draining the whole system to achieve this is debatable. If I was going to have to pay more than say £100 for this, I'd probably only go ahead if there was an actual, as opposed to theoretical, problem. At some point a ZV is going to stop working and the system will need (partial?) draining to replace it. If they're all old I'd replace the lot of them at that point. Or, perhaps I'd replace the innerds with a service kit.
     
  10. jules.r

    jules.r New Member

    Thank you both for your replies and advice:

    Moffski72 - I also would have expected the installer to have spotted the non return valve, it was in exposed pipework right next to the boiler so not hidden in any way.

    But instead, he charged me £150.00 to remove it one week after the initial installation when in fact the whole problem was caused by him plumbing the boiler in the wrong way round.

    He didn't flush my system through before fitting the new boiler either.

    The problems are still on going, the installer won't admit to anything and even put the phone down on me, an absolutely appalling way to operate.

    Chuck - After spending £3k having a new boiler installed I don't think I should be paying anything to have the zone valve issue corrected. The job should have been done correctly in the first place.
     
  11. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member

    If you've given your plumber a reasonable chance to fix defects in his installation tell him that you'll be getting someone else to bring the work up to standard and will send him a letter of claim for the costs in due course. In due course, when he refuses to pay, take him to the Small Claims Court and find out which one of you the judge thinks is in the right. Reclaim your £150 at the same time if you're feeling lucky.

    There are a few boxes you need to be able to tick for this process to work in your favour so consult your solicitor or the Consumers Advice Bureau, etc. who will be able to give you a check list.

    The best way to settle disputes is to remain calm, friendly and reasonable at all times. (And keep good written records and photos of everything.)
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  12. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber Top Contributor!!

    What I don't understand is why the OP paid the installer if it's as simple as it says here. The system is an unusual one (valves on returns) and the installer missed this, but oh well it happens. But Vent rads and leave in good order would have entailed firing the system up and checking the radiators get hot.

    I suspect there is more to this than we are being told.

    That said, agree with post above that it makes little difference which way round the water flows and if the 2 port valves are functional under their operational circumstances, it's probably fine. If this had been my work, however, I'd not be charging for removal of the non-return valve as it was my mistake to assume that I could reverse flow and return.
     
  13. Bogart

    Bogart Member

    "He didn't flush my system through before fitting the new boiler either."
    Might have an effect on warranty claim on boiler in the future if not flushed. I know Grant oil boilers expect system flushed before new boiler fiutted.
     
  14. jules.r

    jules.r New Member

    Their initial responses to my first two emails regarding the problem kind of sets the scene and gives an idea as to how they are thinking I think.

    My first email simply said "please take a look at the attached picture, my zone valves are both fitted the wrong way around I think?"

    Reply:

    Regards the pic you sent they are 2-port valves that were in situ before we put in you new boiler The very fact that your heating/hot water are working okay means that they are okay as they are

    We can change them if you want but charges will be incurred as we did not install them

    I replied that had they been turned around when the system was drained and most of the pipework around them cut out it would have been a 10 minute job, now it's more like a 3 hr job... and that I would have expected them to have spotted it at the time. At this stage I haven't worked out that the flow/return has been reversed.

    Reply:

    With regard to your zone valves, as you have stated you were with ***** at the time and you didn't notice them either. ***** wasn't looking for things like that as you expect them to be okay and the very fact that you have both heating & hot water is a fair indication that they are just that.

    We do not know why they were installed like that. Had ***** noticed them on the day he would not have had the time to rectify with all the other work he had to do, he worked quiet late enough as it was.

    So, that says that even if they had noticed it they wouldn't have corrected it - That can't be good practice, can it?

    My emailed response to that which said (nicely) that I don't agree but please give me a price to turn the valves around anyway was ignored.

    To be fair a couple of months later they did offer to come back and turn the valves around but only at OFTEC's request, and they expected me to pay (in advance) for any chemicals used. It's not my mistake and I'm already £150 down. Why should I pay anything?

    My response to their offer was a question - "Why did you reverse the flow/return on my system" which they ignored, they just won't answer that question. I think I have a right to know the answer to that. Their only response was along the lines of we are giving you 7 days to accept our offer or we will withdraw it.

    They are just not being gracious about this, not even an apology. It's their mistake, and it is just that, a mistake - they happen, I totally get that. But they should also be delt with properly, I would expect at minimum for them to apologise and ask the question "What can we do to put this right for you?"

    Thank you for the advice re. small claims. It might well come to that, or maybe trading standards - or both, but lets hope it doesn't come to either.

    I didn't pay until they came back and removed the non return valve, once that was done, and upstairs rads got hot, I assumed all was good, infact I was relieved. I paid the £150 for the valve removal with cash and the bulk amount (£3k) for the rest of the job by bank transfer.

    At this stage I didn't know that the zone valves were the wrong way around, if I had I definitely wouldn't have paid.

    To be honest it's being charged £150 for removing the valve that was working perfectly that is really bugging me.

    (The pump was also on the return between the valves and the boiler, the installer removed the pump and wrote H/W on one valve and Heat on the other so he was right there with them, he should have noticed the direction of flow)

    Yes exactly, it should have been flushed - and I wanted it flushed. I have two rads downstairs that are very slow to get hot, considerably slower than all the others. Back at the boiler the return pipe from upstairs is noticeably hotter than the return from downstairs. I'm thinking there might be something in the downstairs circuit slowing the flow down. But before I look into that I would really like the direction of flow of the whole system to be reversed back to the way it was prior to my new boiler installation.

    The installer did fit a Worcester Bosch filter so I guess that is a positive!!

    Thank you all for the advice you have offered.
     
  15. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member

    So, looks like you'd be doing the world a favour by getting another company to put the work right and suing the original company in the small claims court.

    It will, however, end up taking a significant amount of your time, which you can't claim compensation for, and there is always the risk (albeit small) that you'll lose.

    It all depends on how much you value your own time. It would be a lot easier from your point of view to write it off to experience and tell your mates to avoid the company like the plague.

    There's a big car/van dealer near me that ripped me off by about £500 about 20 years ago. I could have sued them and won but I was busy and had better things to do with my time. Every time anyone mentions they are thinking of buying a new van or car from that dealer, however, I tell the story. It's lost them at least £250k in sales that would have been in the bag had I been willing to say "Yeah, you'll be fine with them."
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Oh dear, I pity the poor installer that didn't have time to turn around the valves that were the wrong way round because he reversed the flow and return and wasn't checking that this was an appropriate action on your system. Now you expect him to make good.

    Yesterday I cracked two tiles while fitting a bath. One can stay in place as it's covered by a masticked trim thing and nobody sees it, hence no harm done. Had it been visible, I would have been willing to mend it, although God knows where I'd find a match, and I'd feel hard done by as I wasn't really being ham-fisted but c'est la vie.

    I also cracked a floor tile by my own mistake. The customers are being very good about it, but I have offered to, and intend to replace it. After all, someone has to make good and this is my responsibility. Perhaps I'll tell the customer that I worked late and so I don't need to make good.

    Please sue them if you can win and they won't rectify their cock ups. I hate having these sort of people competing with me on price.

    For what it's worth, I'd be surprised if it were not possible to use a pipe freezer to isolate and turn those valves around. No drain down = no chemicals. It'll take time that you would normally pay for, but that's their mistake.

    If the invoice says they flushed, then surely the warranty is valid and Worcester Bosch would take it up with the approved installer? Not sure how it works in these instances. Re. your radiators being slow to heat up, I'd be inclined to guess at balancing issue rather than sludge.

    Be aware that 'supply chemical cleaner and flush through' as quoted may well be a gravity flush, not a powerflush. It probably wouldn't have shifted much debris.
     
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