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Liability for burst expansion vessel

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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 11:32 am Reply with quote

Guys,

Wonder if you might be able to offer me some advice.

I'm a plumber (not CORGI registered). Yesterday I fitted a new radiator into an existing system. The heating is provided by a combi boiler. I drained the system before fitting the radiator.

Once all the pipework was in place and the unit fitted I continued by filling the system. The filling loop was controlled by means of a washing machine tap, the handle was missing and could only be opened using a spanner or pair of pliers. I filled the system to 1.5 bar as is the norm and went to bleed the system. Unbeknown to me the washing machine tap was faulty and would not fully close. Resulting in the system offer pressurising. The first thing I knew of the problem was when the pressure relief valve opened to dump the excess water. This did not shut off though and the pressure dropped to 0 bar.

When I noticed what was happening I attempted to close the washing machine tap again, however it would not fully close. I tried to turn the mains stop tap off only to find that this didn't fully turn off either.

Upon looking at the boiler again I noticed water streaming down from within it. I suspected that the expansion vessel had blown.

The customer has British Gas cover, when they came to look at it last night they said the expansion vessel had burst because of over pressurising the system too fast (in my opinion I hadn't at all). They have said that it would cost the same to replace the vessel as it would install a new boiler!, as the boiler and flue has to be removed to gain access to the vessel (sorry don't have the details of the make or model). The cost for the wok is 1500!!!

My question is this, would you think I am liable for the cost? I believe the washing machine tap was at fault, I removed this and replaced it with a similar valve, leaving it with the customer (he has since said that it has been thrown out). I accept I was the last to touch it and that the damage happened as a result of me filling the system but I have done it hundreds of times in the past so I know what I'm doing.

I'm being threatened with legal action if I don't rectify the problem. Your comments would be appreciated.

Mark

p.s. As I'm not CORGI registered can't sort out the problem myself, Any idea of the cost to replace a combi's expansion vessel in the Leeds area?
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breezer

from United Kingdom

Joined: 03 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:21 pm Reply with quote

legal advice you need a solicitor, not us, we can only give opinions.

i would suggest you pay for a corgi enineer to change expansion vessel, assuming its not just the feed pipe to the expansion vessel that has come off.
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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:35 pm Reply with quote

I've contacted a heating engineer who said that he'd have a look at the boiler, he was a bit surprised to hear that the pressure relief valve had not stopped the expansion vessel from blowing. Especially given that when the relief valve opened it didn't close upon the pressure returning to below 3 bar

British Gas said it was a result of the system being filled too fast? Does everyone agree with this or do you think they are just trying to avoid having to carry out the repair work and sell the customer new boiler instead?

M
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doitall

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:38 pm Reply with quote

Pity you dont say how old or what make the boiler is.

British Gas are ripping off again, 400 tops depending where you are and the make.

Your insurance should cover the (accident) icon_confused.gif
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kevplumb

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:41 pm Reply with quote

how do you blow the e/v icon_question.gif
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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:44 pm Reply with quote

I'll attempt to find the information about the boiler, an idea of cost would at least give me piece of mind.

From what you say it sounds like you think that liability does end with me? The only way I could have avoided the problem was to get the customer to fill the system.

In future whenever I see a dodgy filling loop I'll either replace it or tell the customer to fill the system themselves icon_cry.gif
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doitall

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:45 pm Reply with quote

Some will leak at the seam when the bladder goes KaaPut.
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doitall

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 1:52 pm Reply with quote

watertight wrote:
I'll attempt to find the information about the boiler, an idea of cost would at least give me piece of mind.

From what you say it sounds like you think that liability does end with me? The only way I could have avoided the problem was to get the customer to fill the system.

In future whenever I see a dodgy filling loop I'll either replace it or tell the customer to fill the system themselves icon_cry.gif


On the contrary quite the opposite, although you should cover your a--e for such eventualities.

Depending on the age anything over 5years stands a good chance of needing a new vessel, especially if the boiler hasnt been serviced properly and not a BG wipe over, the charge in the vessel should be checked with the annual service.
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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 2:06 pm Reply with quote

I can confirm that the boiler is likely to be over 5 years old. They have a BG service plan, so I assume that the annual serivce is as you suggest.

I certainly don't want to sherk (?) my responsibilities but don't want my pants pulled down in the process.
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doitall

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 2:18 pm Reply with quote

British Gas don't service boilers, a visual check is all thats covered by their cover plans.
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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 2:28 pm Reply with quote

I'll attempt to ask the customer if this is the type of check he's had.

I have a limited knowledge of combi boilers, if the charge in the vessel hadn't checked could it be that this was an event waiting to happen?
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doitall

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 2:44 pm Reply with quote

It don't help, once you know the make and model the manufacturers service instructions are advisable.

As I said bg service plans only cover a visual check, and replacements parts, and not a proper service
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watertight

from United Kingdom

Joined: 11 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 3:47 pm Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I've spoke to the customer who has advised me of the following:

Boiler Model: Gemini (Solar 80E)
Age: 1996

It is checked on a yearly basis by British Gas on their 3 Star cover plan

Can you advise me as to whether or not this sort of check would involve ensuring that the expansion vessel was charged to the correct pressure and that all safety devices operated correctly?

According to British Gas they say that damage to the boiler was due to 'over pressurising the system too quickly and causing the expansion vessel at the back of the boiler to split. Not good practise'. They have come to this conclusion without even seeing the vessel!

I've spoke to BG who say that this is a service (although their website chooses not to call it that). The woman who discussed it with me said that they don't take boilers apart as this can lead to causing more problems then it solves, instead they do an emissions analysis. If this comes back too high they then investigate! The website states that they check all things 'except for parts of the system that aren't readily accessible'.

I know the customer believes that he has had a proper service. I think I'll find it difficult to explain the difference.

Mark
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doitall

from United Kingdom

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 3:56 pm Reply with quote

Tell the client to read the small print on her contract.

It says Visual inspection, that is not a service.
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croydoncorgi

from United Kingdom

Joined: 06 Jun 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2005 4:23 pm Reply with quote

There is muchas mierda del toro flying around here!

For a start, if the EV in a boiler is stuffed and is hard to replace, then don't! Plug off the internal connection if necessary (ie. it's leaking!) and install a SECOND, separate EV somewhere nearby on the main Flow pipe from the boiler. Job done for about 85 including labour!

If you were filling a boiler through a broken washing machine valve, it's hard to see how you could go 'too fast'! Chances are that the PRV was stuck and the internal pressure went a lot higher than 3 Bar before it lifted! Count yourself lucky you did not pop a rad! Either way, the boiler had an internal fault that was nothing to do with you: a stuck PRV or a very weak EV. In any case, a 1996 boiler is old iron!

Your mistakes were being 'last man in' and failing to anticipate problems with the (obviously dodgy?) filling loop before you started. And then not being able to take action quickly enough to prevent damage (eg. manually open the boiler PRV as the pressure went towards 3 Bar and get the main stopcock shut. I''m afraid if that was stuck too, that was down to you, because you should have checked first when you noticed the state of the filling loop.

Best advice is probably fix it at your expense (NOT letting BG run off with 10 pounds of flesh for a simple job!) and then everyone will be happy, even if you get no more work from that customer.
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