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Monthly Archives: September 2016

  • How to test your central heating pump

    With the summer soon coming to an end, the nights will start drawing in and you’ll start looking for comforts again to keep you warm and cosy throughout those cold winter evenings. That’s right - sooner or later, it’ll be time to fire up the central heating once more.

    heating pumps

    Central heating is a ubiquitous feature in modern houses, and many older homes have been retro-fitted. Anyone who has lived through a winter with central heating will know the massive difference it can make to your levels of comfort and relaxation during the colder months, alongside preventing such annoyances and hazards as frozen or burst pipes.

    There would be little worse than rushing to switch on the central heating pumps on a chilly evening, having just got back from work, only to find that it’s not working. Your pump has probably not been used over the previous few months, and for this reason we thoroughly recommend testing your heating pump now to avoid disappointment down the line. Follow this guide to make sure your central heating system is up to scratch.

    How to test your heating pumps

    1. Start by checking that the settings on the pump are as they should be. Modern heating pumps can have a variety of settings and features, such as variable flow speed and power consumption settings. Ensure that your system is setup correctly, and remedy the problem if it's not.

    2. Next, after making sure that the electricity supply to the pump is switched on, turn on your central heating. You should be able to hear your pump rotating. If you have a quiet pump, place the metal end of a plastic-handled screwdriver on the pump with your ear on the end of the handle. You should be able to hear the mechanism rotating.

    3. At this point, your pump will either sound all right or won’t appear to be rotating. In either case, switch off power to the pump and remove the pump bleed screw. Be prepared for a small amount of water leakage as you do this. Remove any debris that you find inside. If your pump wasn’t turning before, gently try to turn the pump spindle with the screwdriver. If it’s stiff, turn it several times to loosen it up. Return the pump bleed screw to its correct location.

    4. If your pump still doesn’t rotate when turned back on, check the fuse. A blown fuse may even have tripped the RCD. Reset the RCD and replace the fuse, if appropriate. If you still have no luck, turn off the electrical supply to the pump and try checking the electrical connections with a voltmeter. You may feel more comfortable calling in a professional at this stage.

    5. Another common problem with heat pumps can be poor circulation, with hot radiators downstairs but not upstairs. The pump may be old and unable to supply sufficient pressure. Try turning up the pressure to see if this helps. Bleeding the radiators, as well as the pump itself, is also a good idea in summer, as any problems uncovered can be rectified whilst the system isn’t needed.

    Following these tips should ensure that you’ll be nice and toasty during the long, cold winter nights. Did this work for you? Do you have any other tips for keeping your central heating system in tip-top condition? Get in touch and let us know.


  • The basic central heating terms you need to know

    Central heating makes a huge difference to how comfortable our homes are in winter. However, installing a central heating system can be quite a large undertaking, especially for those new to the world of boilers and central heating pumps. Here is a rundown of the basic terms that are used when discussing central heating.

    central heating pump


    Boiler types

    Combi (or combination) boiler is one of the most used terms in the world of central heating, as this type of boiler is very popular in the UK. The combi boiler will take care of your general hot water needs and the central heating from one piece of equipment. One of the reasons for the popularity of the combi boiler is its ability to provide hot water almost immediately.

    Another type of boiler is the high-pressure system (unvented), which has a separate cylinder for hot water. Then there is also the gravity-fed boiler, which will have a separate cylinder for hot water.

    The condensing boiler is often hailed as more efficient and a way to save money on fuel, but it will probably require a condensate pump and a drainage pipe.

    Domestic hot water

    Also known as DHW, this indicates what part of the boiler system is being discussed. The hot water is one part of the system, and the central heating is the other. With a combi boiler, the hot water is produced inside the unit. With other types of boiler, the hot water is contained in a storage cylinder.

    Bar pressure

    This is an important part of the combi boiler system. A gauge measures the pressure in the combi boiler's sealed circuit, which requires a certain level of bar pressure to work.

    Flow rate

    This is a measure of the combi boiler's performance. It quantifies the delivery of hot water - that is the amount of hot water flowing to a tap from a boiler.

    Flue pipe

    This is an essential part of the boiler. It carries boiler emissions to the exterior of your property and safely discharges them outside.

    Central heating pump

    This is a pump that moves water around within your central heating system. The central heating pump forces hot water to make the journey from your boiler through the radiators and back to the boiler again. When water leaves your boiler, it is at a high temperature. As it moves through the system, the water will cool down, and the latent heat that is transferred into the air heats the room. When the water is pumped back to the boiler, then the process begins again.

    Condensing boiler

    This is a type of boiler that condenses water vapour in the boiler's exhaust to recover some of the energy already used and thus achieve greater fuel efficiency.

    Condensate pipe

    This allows by-products of the boiler, such as alkaline water or condensate, to be conducted into a drain. As it is a conduit to the exterior, it is possible that this pipe can freeze in winter, and so adequate insulation must be installed to prevent this happening.

    If you are thinking about installing a central heating system, the best idea is to consult boiler experts such as our team at Pump Sales Direct. We can help you ascertain what hot water and heating system best suits your household and what will fulfil your needs.

  • Common self-priming pump issues: 10 things to look for

    At least 80% of self-priming pump problems occur on the suction side of the pump. These are the ten key issues to be aware of when installing and running self priming pumps in any application.

    self-priming pump


    1. Prime your pump

    It’s essential that you fill the pump priming chamber with water before its initial use. Consult the manual for its location and use. Be aware that you will still be required to manually re-prime after the initial priming, as liquid can be lost to evaporation, leakage and movement of the pump.

    2. Check the lift

    At sea level, it is theoretically possible to lift water at a constant 65 degrees by 34 feet with a self priming pump. But if your pump location doesn’t fit these ideal conditions, then you will need to be realistic and limit the suction lift by around 10 feet. This accounts for variations in fluid temperature, elevation about sea level, specific gravity and so on.

    3. Is Your self priming pump in the right position?

    Your pump should be positioned no more than 30 feet from the suction source, as limiting the length of pipe is essential to a long pump life. The shorter the hose, the shorter the initial priming time. Check with your manufacturer whether your pump is robust enough to cope with any solids in the pipeline or whether you will need to fit a foot valve or strainer.

    4. Check for leaks

    If your pump is taking more than four minutes to prime, then it’s likely that you have an air leak in the line. Try wrapping cling-film around flanges to test for leaks. Because the pump is operating at lower than atmospheric pressure, there will be no water leakage - it’s air in the line that causes priming problems.

    5. Does your pump have an air vent?

    For your pump to prime properly, the air in the suction side of the system needs to have somewhere to go when displaced by liquid entering the system. You may need to contact the pump manufacturer for a solution to this issue.

    6. Is your piping the right size?

    Your suction piping and your pump suction must match in a self-priming pump - more air means more priming time, which can adversely affect the efficiency and lifespan of your pump. Don’t use piping that is either too big or too small. Check that the suction pipe does not rise higher than the pump - these high points cause air to accumulate, binding the pump suction line.

    7. Check your PSI

    It’s highly likely that your water source will change constantly - the cooler it is, the lower the vapour pressure will be and the greater the PSI. At higher temperatures and levels of vapour pressure, you may experience negative lift, so monitor PSI regularly. Proper submergence is also important in avoiding air bind.

    8. Avoid damage from freezing

    If the temperature is set to fall below freezing point, it’s important to drain your self-priming pump, as the water in the priming chamber can freeze and expand to crack the chamber. If draining the system is impractical, ensure you provide a heat source to prevent freeze damage.

    9. Check your impeller

    If the impeller comes loose, it may damage the pump through reverse rotation. This can cause inefficient operation, preventing the pump from priming or operating correctly. Check the impeller is correctly seated on a regular basis, particularly if your pump is over a year old.

    10. What’s the internal diameter of your flex pipe?

    The internal diameter of flex pipe is usually smaller than that of standard pipe and can affect your net positive suction head available (NPSHa) calculations. And some older flex pipes have a liner that is prone to collapsing under suction and thus blocking the line.

    Following these ten simple checks should ensure that your self-priming pump runs smoothly and efficiently for many years to come.


  • Maintenance tips: Preventing a plumbing disaster

    There are times when problems will occur with your plumbing and you will need to call out an engineer to check what the issue is and resolve it. This can often be costly and inconvenient, resulting in your having to take time off work and stay in the house. However, a number of plumbing issues can actually be avoided by taking some preventative measures.

    maintenance tips: booster pump

    By having a well-maintained plumbing system and being aware of the damage that you can cause, it is less likely that you will have an emergency and your pipes will continue to flow smoothly. Here we’ve put together some top tips on how you can look after the pipes and drains in your property and avoid the need to call an emergency plumber.

    1. Carry out checks

    It’s important to check around the toilet and underneath sinks on a regular basis to make sure there are no leaks or signs of moisture. If you get this sorted straight away, it can prevent any damage being caused and save you from wasting water.

    To see if the toilet is leaking, simply put a bit of food colouring in the tank and check after a few hours. You will be able to see if any is leaking from the tank if the water has turned a different colour, and replacing the tank ball can rectify this.

    2. Be winter ready

    Before the cold weather sets in, it’s a good idea to ensure that your plumbing system is protected. All the tanks and pipe work need to be properly insulated to prevent them from freezing and cracking.

    During the winter months, if it gets particularly cold, you can keep the loft hatch open for a bit to enable the warmer air to heat up the space and stop your cistern from getting too cold.

    Your boiler and heating system, including your booster pump, should be serviced every year so that you know everything is working as efficiently as it should be.

    3. Know how to isolate a booster pump and other appliances

    If an emergency occurs, it’s important that you know how to switch off the main water supply and all your appliances, including a booster pump. When you move into a property, familiarise yourself with the location of the outdoor and indoor isolation valves, and then check them every three months to make sure they work properly.

    Have a look at all your appliances and see if they have a way of isolating them and that you know how to do this. You also need to know where the emergency controls are for your fuel and electricity supply so that you can get to them quickly if necessary.

    4. Prevent the drains from clogging

    One of the most frequent plumbing issues can be a clogged drain, but this is fairly simple to avoid if you take more care of what you’re putting down the plug hole in the first place. You should avoid pouring cooking fats down the sink, as they harden once they’ve cooled and can soon block up the pipes. Put a strainer over your plug hole to catch any small items, such as hair and soap in the bathroom, so you can dispose of them in the rubbish and minimise costly repairs.

    If your drains do become blocked, try to use a pipe snake or another manual instrument first before resorting to chemicals, and when using any cleaning agents follow the instructions closely.

    We have a wide range of plumbing accessories available to help you keep your pipes properly maintained, including valves, hoses, pressure switches and a range of water pumps.

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