Hi I’m Steve I have a large four storey house in Bath road Swindon that had been split into three sections to run as a two residential dwellings and a commercial premises. As the building was constructed in the early 1800’s, the construction, layout and the considerations of dealing with a listed building had meant that the plumbing and heating system had evolved into a messy, convoluted network of cast iron pipes (with rusty innards) multiple sectors with booster pumps, ugly retrofitted boxing, exposed pipework, pressure leaks… not only was it a mess, it was insanely complicated, before we could even think about replacement, we had to try and understand it.
We had multiple issues to resolve:
Running cost the boiler was massively over spec’d to deal with the demands of running three buildings in one (one of those being a business with high demand) it was also fairly old, therefore not very efficient. With all of the additional pipework (a lot of it was triplicated) we found that the volume of heated water to feed our radiators and taps was huge, there were no direct routes for any of the piping.
Functionality we only had one way to control the heating and water for the entire building, you could shut off parts of the building on a semi permanent basis by decommissioning and draining sections but in real terms, it wasn’t feasible. If we wanted to turn the heat up or down, we had to go down to the basement boiler room and manually make the change, that change would then affect the entire house in every room on every floor, the whole place (four storey 7 bedroom) was running as one large zone. Theoretically you could adjust each radiator thermostat but you need a small amount of heat for short periods in each room to keep the rooms fresh and free from damp, it’s not an option to just turn off the heat permanently
Flexible demand we have fairly unique demands on heat and hot water, it’s a huge house with many bedrooms and bathrooms but 80% of the time, there are only two of us living there. We needed a system that was economical for low use yet flexible enough to deliver large volumes heat and hot water when needed, there are four power showers that could potentially be used simultaneously, the transition from very low to very high demand needed to be seamless.
Simplicity of control with the future in mind we needed multiple zones that we could access easily, aqua plum exceeded our expectations with smart energy thermostats that we can control from any of our existing mobile devices, remotely if needed.
Consistency the system just works, we no longer have to worry if the baby’s room will be too cold if the ageing boiler decided it was going to have a bad day.
Appearance we have some amazing period features that were obscured or ruined by messy exposed pipework or boxing.
The biggest challenge we faced was finding someone who could understand the system to propose even a start point, traditional plumbers would not touch it, the boiler was an unknown (too large, too commercial) and the setup was almost impossible to understand. As a result, those who were brave enough to look at it would generally suggest ripping the entire system out and starting from new (based on their lack of understanding I suspect).
AquaPlumb took the approach of using as much of the existing useful features as possible, to clean up and upgrade what we had in place. All of the cast iron piping was replaced but routed in a manner that was respectful of the period features, excess parts of the system were streamlined and in many cases removed entirely, all of the pumps were removed and the entire system was pressurised.
Zones were added, and the large inefficient boiler was upgraded to two state of the art smaller boilers, they share the workload and provide additional redundancy if needed, reliability is no longer a concern.
We settled on a solution that was economical to run and maintain, inexpensive to fit and incredibly flexible. Neil and his team achieved everything we asked for and more, all with the absolute minimum of disruption. The team turned up when they said they would, they didn’t leave to address issues at other customer projects, they stayed until the job was done. Nothing fazed them, they were professional and a real pleasure to have around. I would recommend them for any plumbing project, if they made this one look easy – I can’t think of anything that they couldn’t cope with.