Now winter has well and truly arrived, a good central heating system will be the priority for many households. It can be uncomfortable and even dangerous to be in a cold home for too long, so it’s vital to be able to find professional repairs when you need them. This is where a heating engineer steps in; their skill set overlaps a lot with that of a plumber, but they specialise solely on the heating concerns of a building. Many plumbers are also trained in boiler installation, but if you have a more serious problem or aren’t sure what the issue is, it’s usually best to call the specialists. Heating engineers cover many jobs beyond installing boilers, and are integral to ensuring buildings stay comfortably heated, warm and dry. Read on for a more thorough explanation of the many roles of a heating engineer.

Qualifications and skills

Also called a gas engineer, if candidates want to become a heating engineer they must obtain an industry qualification, like an NVQ or Diploma in a course such as Gas Utilisation or Domestic Natural Gas Installation. All gas engineers are legally required to join the Gas Safe Register, which can be obtained by passing a Gas Assessment Training exam.

All potential candidates will need to be part of an apprenticeship scheme in order to start studying for the above qualifications. Most apprenticeships require four A* to C grades at GCSE, including Maths, English and two other relevant subjects like Science or Technology. As you can see, it takes a lot of work and training to become a registered heating engineer, so you can be secure in the knowledge that your worker will be fully qualified and experienced.

Boiler repair and installation

We all need hot water, so boiler installation or repair is one of the most common reasons to call a heating engineer, and is a vital part of being comfortable in your home, especially during winter.

A boiler can be powered by electricity, gas or oil, and rapidly heats water for either central heating or hot water from the taps. Installing a boiler can be a complicated process, and should always be carried out by a trained professional. Before the installation, an engineer should visit your home to assess several aspects, including the position of the current boiler, the water pressure, number of radiators and bathrooms and the position of the flue.

A boiler installation usually only takes one to two days, and you don’t need to be on the property while it’s happening. The engineer will connect the boiler to your electrical heating controls, place sealants to make sure there is no leakage, and possibly carry out a power flush to get rid of any dirt or debris that could cause damage. Be aware that if you’re changing the type of boiler (e.g from a combi boiler to a conventional one), this could cost more and be more complicated to install.

Heating engineers are also trained to carry out a range of boiler repairs, which might be necessary if you find yourself with no hot water, low water pressure, if your boiler is making unusual or banging noises or if the pilot light keeps going out.

Some emergency plumbers may be qualified to carry out boiler repairs, but to be on the safe side it’s best to choose a heating engineer as you can guarantee that they’ve been specially trained in this area.

Boiler servicing

Regular boiler maintenance is important to keep your boiler running safely and as efficiently as possible. Ideally, you should have your boiler serviced once a year, which is another role a heating engineer can provide. A thorough service check will include making sure there’s the correct gas pressure and flow, checking the seals are intact, the electrical connections are in good condition and the safety devices are working effectively.

The law requires that all boiler safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and if the boiler is still under warranty, annual servicing is part of the terms and conditions. Regular servicing has many benefits, like improving the efficiency of your boiler, helping to save money on heating bills and extending how long your boiler runs reliably.

Central heating services

Central heating can be powered by a combi boiler, regular boiler or mains pressure heating system, and each come with their own specific service requirements. As discussed above, it’s good practice to have your boiler serviced annually to keep it running as smoothly as possible. Heating engineers can also install thermostat controls, fit radiators, underfloor heating and more. Some of these jobs will overlap with plumbing services, but again it’s usually more helpful to hire a professional who specialises in central heating services.

Ground source heat pumps

Although a relatively new and less common way to heat properties, ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are gaining traction amongst homeowners who want to lower their carbon footprint or be more environmentally friendly.

GSHPs run on pipes that are buried in the garden or outdoor space and extract heat from the ground by circulating water and antifreeze around the pipe. The ground heat is absorbed by the liquid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the pump. They’re very versatile and can be used to heat hot water, radiators or underfloor heating; and require minimal maintenance once they’re installed. A heating engineer will be able to assess whether your home is suitable for a GSHP and install it for you if you decide to go ahead.

Water heater services

A water heater is similar to a boiler in that, (you guessed it), they both heat water, however, there are a few crucial differences. A central heating engineer will be trained to deal with both, but it’s a good idea to know the difference so you can inform them in advance and help identify the issue. Unlike a boiler, a water heater stores water until it is ready for use at a constant temperature of around 125 degrees. If someone takes a shower, washes up or uses the washing machine, water is taken from the tank through the pipes before more cold water flows in to be heated.

A heating engineer will be able to assist with water heater installation, offer advice about which type of heater would be best for your home, and carry out replacements or repairs.

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is growing in popularity as a heating option, and isn’t as expensive as you might think. There are two different types – a ‘wet’ system that heats up via water in pipes under the floor, or a ‘dry’ system made up of electrical coils.

Installing underfloor heating can actually save households money in the long run, as they distribute heat more evenly and use less water than radiators, which also makes your boiler more efficient.

The biggest expense comes from the installation itself, as you can imagine it’s quite a complicated job, so it’s vital to hire a qualified heating engineer to do the work. Electric systems can be installed yourself, but you’ll always need an expert to put water systems in place. Water-based systems are a network of pipes which connect up to the boiler, and putting a ‘wet’ system in place involves laying the pipes, connecting them up and even possibly raising the floor if there isn’t enough room.

If you need a qualified, professional heating engineer to help with any of the issues mentioned above – give Prestige Plumbers a call. We’re a family run business with over 40 years experience in all aspects of plumbing and heating, so you’ll be in safe hands. Available 24 hours a day, any day of the year, our engineers can perform central heating repairs, install thermostats, central heating pumps, boiler installation and much more. Visit our website today to see the full list of services, and if that wasn’t enough, we also have a 24 hour plumber service near you.