I just don’t know what to do

26 Mar 2019
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

Apologies in advance for the long winded post and sounding like I’m a moaning git.

I work for a company which I started off as a plumber, but now do gas work as well, although not tremendous amounts. I do know what I’m doing but I do doubt myself a lot. I don’t have much experience with open vented systems, Y plans, s plans etc, wiring. We mainly have combi boilers. I’ve seen on here and in other forums where people seem to have a ton of experience. My salary is decent enough, and I do callout which bumps it up quite a lot. I just feel,like I’m lacking in a lot of areas and sometimes I feel like I’m not good at my job. There has been many occasions I’ve thought of jacking it all in. I sometimes feel like I should just go back to being a standard plumber, I have taken a couple of confidence knocks.

I have some questions if I may? This may help to reignite a passion I once had and try to be the best I can be.

How does one obtain more experience/knowledge? I have quite a lot of books, but when I read them I’m either distracted or it doesn’t sink in, no matter how many times I read it.

Is there any way of understanding more on the wiring of heating systems, I know how they’re wired, but I’m confused with all of this switched live, common, normally open and normally closed business.

I have seen the Baxi course which appeals to me, but will I learn what I want to?

When I ask questions at work, I don’t seem to get the answer I want, or feel it’s bending the rules. I also don’t want to look a prick. Also my “technical manager” has no plumbing, heating or gas experience. We also have no gas management.

Ideas, thoughts, suggestions welcome. Please leave the taunts behind though.

Thanks for taking the time to read.
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Get yourself onto as many manufacturer courses as you can but nothing compares to onsite experience.

If you are GSR then do some networking, maybe contact a few local independents and offer to be a free pair of hands if they are out fault finding. Join the CC here too but do bring your thicker skin with you ;)
I did the 3 day Baxi course last year and it was great. Really helpful trainer. Learned a lot and also sorted a lot of stuff I did already know into a much more logical framework that has really helped with diagnostics. All for £200 and lunch thrown in.
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try and get a job with BG or SSe or similar, they will only employ you as service only, but use that time to strip down every boiler and see how everything works, yes your manager will be on your arse , but you are learning at their expense so just ignore them , once you have gained enough knowledge the world is your lobster
Clearly you get more experience by doing but, unfortunately, you only learn from your mistakes just after you've made them! That's the expensive way to learn.
As said before, go and offer your services as a spare pair of hands to another co., on the clear understanding that you want to work with their better operatives; someone who will take pride in passing their knowledge on to you. Although you may think working for nowt or little is bad, you'll be stopped from making those expensive mistakes before you make them.

You don't say how old you are, nor the geographical area you work in. Sometimes those who retrain on a short course (ex-squaddies, for example) are given only superficial knowledge of the system they are working on. Some people just don't have the aptitude, learn by rote, and never quite grasp the reasons why they do this when that happens; usually everything goes well until something behaves out of the norm, it is then that more in-depth understanding comes in very useful. Some people have a natural aptitude for physical systems, and learn easily and quickly. Who said life was fair?

Great advice to join up to the Combustion Chamber, there you'll have access to a wealth of knowledge and people who will help you understand, and will answer any relevant questions; remember though, you can't just wallow in a bath of knowledge and expect it to soak in without effort on your part.

As for electrical learning, you could enrole on a boiler/heating fault-finding course, but far better to (again) offer your services to someone who understands electrics and pick their brain so that you have a basic understanding before you go on the course. That way you'llget the most out of it.

Hope that helped.
Is there any way of understanding more on the wiring of heating systems, I know how they’re wired, but I’m confused with all of this switched live, common, normally open and normally closed business.
Draw the circuit yourself in a more logical linear way.

Start at the supply and work your way along adding one item at a time understanding what it does.
Main fused switch >> programmer CH on >> room stat >> valve >> boiler.

Google the wiring diagrams of the different valves to see how they operate.

The 'Normally' are the positions when at rest and NOT activated.
NC = means it is connected to the supply when NOT activated, i.e when the whatever is OFF. Also handily stands for Normally Connected.
NO = means it is NOT connected to the supply when NOT activated. Also handily stands for Normally Off.
Read all the books you can, go on all the manufacturers training you can.

Don't be afraid of new stuff.

Join forums and get involved rather than lurking in the background.

Go to the Baxi training and the Honeywell training. Companies like IMI do interesting training days too. Vokera do good courses too.

Kim Betty in Northampton does a good controls course. (Boilerman Northampton)

Remember heating wiring is little more than a series of switches. It's not rocket science....Today I installed 10 T6 Lyric thermostats to different properties (only 2 were combis). Easy peasy once you can see beyond the tangle of wires and only think about the ones that operate the components. At £70 or £80 a stat it was a pretty fruitful day with a nice nap at lunchtime :D

Get old boilers and strip them down to work out the way they work (or not).

Ultimately you need to decide which part of the industry floats your boat. Some like breakdown and servicing Some like installation work. Personally I love installation and controls with a smattering of servicing I hate breakdowns, although they can be very profitable.

A technical manager with no practical experience is nothing more than a technical muppet.

Nothing comes easy. To do well you have to apply yourself.
If you’re just starting out buy yourself a Honeywell S Plan Kit (or Y Plan), including room stat, programmer, wiring centre , etc and then wire it up on a board whilst referencing the Honeywell wiring guide. You could pick up a lot of this on eBay.

Use your multimeter to check voltages, continuity etc and how it operates.
The single best bit of advice I can give re understanding system wiring is to ignore all the earths, neutrals and to a limited extent permanent lives.

You'll find there are a lot less wires to understand and it becomes a series (or parallel lol) of switches

Honeywell do some really good apps for fault finding on s and y plans with loads of info or at least they used to should be worth a look!

Oh and if you have to remake a component such as a three port cut the old wire off then swap the new ones in one at a time so you don't forget where they go!!
The single best bit of advice I can give re understanding system wiring is to ignore all the earths, neutrals and to a limited extent permanent lives

I still remember the very job in Highgate some 18 years ago where I had this epiphany. It was like the clouds parting in the sky. Before that I used to look at junction boxes with a sense of dread. Now it's all gravy.

We should do a line up of the worst junction boxes we've opened up.

One of the ones today was an S plan crammed into a single pattress box with a mixture of flex and TnE. :mad:.
This church set up a few years ago got the juices flowing:

20131205_120257_Maybury Gardens.jpg


20140107_134727_Grange Rd.jpg


But, as per @Razor900, once all the unnecessary stuff was stripped out, all this was was an splus plus without the hot water....

20140108_140642_Grange Rd.jpg

20140108_140637_Grange Rd.jpg

Did the lot with a honeywell control pack.
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They were replacing this old Satchwell:



And the maintenence man wanted something he could fix off the shelf. Bear in mind that was 1½ and 2" steel pipe and the church had a phuk tonne of fan coils and old panel rads so needed a good old flue rate.

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