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  • Things to Consider Before Buying a Hot Tub

    According to the British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association, there are 10,000 hot tubs sold in the UK annually. If you are considering adding to that number and taking the plunge yourself, there are a number of things you should know first.

    Deciding between the different types of hot tub

    Negotiating the minefield that is the world of hot tubs is far from a straightforward task. And if you want to make the right decision, you’re going to need to know about the different types of hot tubs. They vary by the external coating that defines their appearance, and the jets that determine the kind of experience they're going to give you. Above-ground hot tubs are considerably cheaper than their in-ground counterparts and have the benefit of being loosely ‘portable’ - they can be moved, but, on average, they still weigh 225 pounds.

    The cheapest and most portable hot tubs are inflatable or made from PVC, and the higher end ones are made from acrylic or wood. The complexities of hot tubs don’t end there though - hot tubs can be differentiated by the labels: whirlpool tub, jacuzzi or indoor spa. Despite the apparent differences, they are all relatively similar. All hot tubs are capable of producing the ‘whirlpool’ action of water, the term indoor spa is pretty much interchangeable with hot tub, and Jacuzzi is a brand name that  has over time become synonymous with the term 'hot tub.'

    Deterring health concerns

    In 2014, Huffington Post ran a horrifying article on hot tubs, bringing to light the plethora of diseases and infections that can get to you via the simmering water and steam of a hot tub. From ‘hot tub rash’ to a potentially fatal respiratory infection called Legionnaire’s Disease, the article certainly pulled no punches. While a single read-through would be enough to put many a potential hot-tub owner off, it did stress how achievable it is to vanquish microbes from the water, and we’re going to do the same here.

    There are a number of signifiers that are indicative of an unsafe hot tub- an odour, sticky or slippery tiles, an absence of the sound of a working filter, and a temperature in excess of 40°C. More subtle warnings are a pH that isn’t between 7.2 and 7.8 and an unbalanced composition of chlorine or bromine - these you can check with a test strip.

    How much will a hot tub set you back?


    Initial costs, installation costs and running costs for hot tubs all depend on the type of hot tub you elect to buy. Initial costs can vary from a few hundred pounds for inflatable versions to tens of thousands for an in-ground wooden or acrylic one. Running costs are similarly variable, but not quite to the same extent as initial cost of course. Inflatable hot tubs can be plugged straight into a mains socket but more elaborate hot tubs may require re-calibration when it comes to plumbing, electrical and even gas work.

    Given that hot tubs are essentially kept warm 24/7 whatever the weather, it is fair to say that they can surmount a considerable challenge to the health of your finances. The US Consortium for Energy Efficiency suggests that the running costs of a hot tub typically account for half of a single home’s entire energy use.

    How is your hot tub going to affect the environment?

    Grundfos Magna

    Accordingly, you can imagine that the effect on the environment is equally significant. If you are considering investing in a hot tub that is anything more substantial than an inflatable one, it is also worth  investing in an infrastructure to accommodate it properly - an infrastructure that will minimise your tubs running costs as well as its contribution to global warming. A Grundfos Magna circulator will do both of those.


  • Surviving and thriving in the coldest places on the planet

    I’m sure you would be inclined to argue otherwise, but, despite what you’ve probably been led to believe by sensationalist headlines, the UK isn’t actually the coldest place on earth. In an average year, the temperature doesn’t even drop below zero. The inhabitants of Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk meanwhile, have the unique pleasure of living in the two places considered the coldest in the world. But the cold isn’t even the most interesting thing about these places, it is how the people that live there have adapted their lifestyle to not only survive, but thrive.

    Oymyakon, Russia

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    You can understand why just 500 people are brave enough to make Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on Earth, their home. During the winter months, the temperature hovers around the -50°C mark and a measly four hours of sunlight puncture the semi-constant cloak of darkness each day. With such an inhospitable climate, how do residents possibly cope?

    The icy conditions prevent the growth of produce, and for that reason, the local diet is overwhelmingly reliant on meat. An average day can consist of raw fish, horse liver and rabbit soup. In keeping with the mantra that alcohol can warm you up; there is regular consumption of vodka, or as the locals call it Russki chai, which translates as the more docile-sounding Russian tea.

    Layers upon layers of animal fur are considered the only worthwhile defence against the biting cold. And this even extends to footwear - the most popular of which are constructed from reindeer leg fur. So adapted and used to the freezing conditions are the people of Oymyakon, that the only time schools are forced to close, is when the temperature dips below -55°C.

    Verkhoyansk, Russia

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    Oymyakon’s closest rival for the king of cold is also close by geographically - relatively speaking anyway. At less than 1 person per square mile, the Sakha Republic has an extremely low population density, making the 400 miles that separate Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk seem reasonably  tame. Even though Verkhoyansk has close to three times as many inhabitants as Oymyakon, it is far from an indication that their climate is three times as accommodating.

    Verkhoyansk describes itself as the Pole of Cold and claims it has recorded the lowest ever temperature in an inhabited place. Do the daily lives of Verkhoyansk’s residents differ much from their neighbours in Oymyakon? In short, no. Pony innards are considered a delicacy and copious layers of fur clothing are an absolute prerequisite for braving the elements. They even share their neighbours’ penchant for vodka.

    Both are decidedly isolated but Verkhoyansk even more so - there are strictly-speaking, no roads leading to the town, and it is only accessible in the colder months when all of the lakes that surround it are frozen over - making for a treacherous trip. For this reason, heating is that bit more difficult. As is the case in Oymyakon, the residents of Verkhoyansk rely on wood burners, and some coal, to provide them with warmth. But because of their severity of their isolation, over a third of their income is spent purely on heating, with approximately seven truckloads of wood needed to keep a single home warm over the winter months.

    King of Cold? Oymyakon or Verkhoyansk?

    central heating pumps

    You would think their shared way of life would give them a certain sense of kinship and put them on the same page. But when it comes to the contentious issue of whose home is coldest, Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon couldn’t be more divided. Both have monuments proclaiming their status as the pole of cold. As well as the faux-mammoth head declaring just that, Verkhoyansk has a commemorative black marble plaque marking a record reading of -67.6°C, whilst Oymyakon has a distinctly Communist-style monument stating a record temperature of -67.7°C. The miniscule 0.1°C difference leaves just enough doubt to render the result inconclusive and the debate unwinnable.

    Regardless, just reading about temperatures that cold should send a shiver down your spine. Central heating pumps can ensure that your own home is warm whenever you need it to be.

  • Is infrared heating here to stay?

    Infrared heating has struggled to find its market - that is, until late last year. Having been all but dismissed as a viable alternative to LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) infrared heating has since pivoted to great success. Infrared saunas are the latest craze gripping the famously fickle attention of the health industry - but is it just another fad that will stick around for a matter of months before exiting as unceremoniously as it entered, or is it built to last long-term?

    The history of infrared heaters  

    It wasn’t for another 150 years after the discovery of infra-red radiation that it was properly adapted for the purpose of heating. During World War Two, infrared heating started to prosper more. Banks and banks of infrared lamps were constructed to dry paints and lacquers on military equipment. After the war ended, infrared heating failed to go from strength-to-strength, with its use floundering rather than flourishing.

    Fit for use in the home?

    grundfos alpha

    Infra-red heating models itself as an alternative to the gas heaters that have a stranglehold on the heating market. Better for the environment and better for your bank balance apparently. Whilst the former can be true (if the source of electricity is renewable in origin) the latter certainly isn’t. At 14p per kWh (kilowatt hour) infrared heating is the most expensive heating fuel available. And it is perhaps for this reason that infrared heating has failed to cut into LPG’s sizeable market share in domestic heating - especially as LPG costs a meagre 6p per kWh. With tech like the Grundfos selectric ensuring maximum efficiency, the price battle between LPG and infrared becomes a complete mismatch.

    The revival of infrared heating?

    Infrared heating has experienced a resurgence as of late, mostly thanks to the infrared sauna and the growing roster of famous clientele that swear by its effects. Unlike many other health fads that fail to expand beyond the trend-setting hub of Los Angeles, infrared saunas have successfully breached the proverbial ceiling - and for that reason, they look set to stay -at least for a while anyway.

    What are infrared saunas?

    grundfos alpha

    As you can probably guess from the name, an infrared sauna replaces the heat that is typically generated through traditional means (hot rocks and water or something of that ilk) with radiant heat from infrared light. Because the infrared rays heat the body directly, rather than the surrounding air, a lower temperature of around 70°C (normal sauna temperature is around 90°C) is required to achieve the same cardiovascular exertion.

    Does the science back up the reported effects?

    What infrared saunas haven’t escaped is the absolute scarcity of scientific evidence backing their extensive list of miraculous effects. Improvements in cardiovascular health, weight loss, detoxification, and even euphoria are just a few of many supposed benefits.  The cardiovascular benefits are well-documented, but the rest, not so much. The weight loss claim is dubious at best - water weight is lost through sweat but is quickly replaced when rehydration takes place. As for the detoxifying effect, there is no evidence that any heavy metals or radiation are wiped from your body as many ‘experts’ have claimed. The purpose of sweat is to cool your body, not to expel toxins.

    In spite of the controversy, infrared saunas are enjoying a period of popularity at the moment and the future of infrared heating seems to rest firmly in the niche of saunas, rather than central heating.

  • How to bleed a radiator in your central heating system

    If your radiators are not heating up thoroughly, it could be that they simply need bleeding. Ineffective radiators can put a strain on your central heating system, including heating pumps such as the Wilo central heating pump from Pump Sales Direct. This means it has to work harder to pump the water around your system, but your house is still not heating up correctly. Bleeding a radiator should ideally be done at the start and end of the winter and is a quick task to complete.

    Radiator Image

    Why should you bleed a radiator?

    If air gets into your heating system and becomes trapped, it can stop it working as efficiently as it should. It is generally very easy to tell whether you have air in your radiator by simply touching it when the heating is on. If it is colder at the top than it is at the bottom, your radiator probably has air in it. Air can also be generated in a heating system when the heating pump blades spin around, such as blades in the Pump Sales Direct Wilo central heating pump. The best method to rectify this is to bleed the radiators.

    How to bleed a radiator

    Bleeding a radiator is a simple DIY task; however, it can become messy and you should always have towels and a jug to hand before you start. This will help to protect the carpets from any dirty water that leaks out of the radiators.

    Turn off the heating

    The heating should be switched off before you start bleeding the radiators. This will stop any boiling water from leaking out or more air getting into the system.

    Bleed radiators in order

    It is important to bleed the radiators in the right order to be as effective as possible. In properties with two or more floors, you should start with the downstairs radiators and work from the one that is located the greatest distance from the boiler. When the radiators on the lower floor are finished, you should employ the same method with the upstairs ones.

    Radiator bleed valves

    The bleed valve is a square plug at the side of a radiator. A radiator bleed valve key, which you can purchase at any DIY store, can be used to loosen the valve. Before you loosen it, hold a cloth underneath and then begin turning it anti-clockwise. You will hear a hissing sound if any air is in the system. When the hissing stops and water comes out, you should close the valve securely.

    This process can then be repeated for all the property’s radiators to ensure they are working efficiently. By doing so, you will heat your home more efficiently and make the best use of your heating system and pump, such as those available from Pump Sales Direct.

  • What is the minimum requirement for workplace temperature?

    A productive workforce is a happy team, and so it pays to make sure their working conditions are comfortable. As an employer, it's important to ensure that the workplace is not hot and stuffy in the summer, and nor will they want to be cold or in draughty rooms in winter; 

    Frozen Office

    The Health and Safety Executive, Great Britain's independent regulator for work-related health, says that there are not actually any minimum or maximum temperatures set in law. A maximum temperature would also be difficult to impose because some people work in high temperatures, such as those found in foundries or glass works.

    Other factors such as radiant temperature, humidity and air velocity come into play.

    However, the HSE does say that the temperature in a workroom should be at least 16º or 13º if much of the work is tough and physical.

    The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that the temperature of work areas inside buildings should be 'reasonable'. Obviously, this is going to vary depending on whether you work in an office, a warehouse, a factory, a bakery or a cold store.

    The simplest way to measure thermal comfort, according to an article on the HSE website, is to ask your employees or their safety representatives if they feel the temperature is right.

    There is a thermal comfort checklist, which you can download here that includes a range of questions such as whether the air feels warm or hot, whether the temperature changes during a normal working day and whether employees complain that the air is too dry or too humid.

    Problems can be rectified by humidifying or dehumidifying the air, increasing air movement by use of ventilation or air conditioning or restricting the amount of time that employees are working in conditions that are too hot or too cold.

    If a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained in each room because of the type of work conducted there, then local heating can be installed.

    There should also be enough space in each room for the employees and their work stations. Employers also need to make sure their heating systems do not give off dangerous or unpleasant fumes.

    Why a Grundfos Central Heating Pump Is the Right Choice

    Maintenance of the heating system is also very important, as a breakdown and lack of heating would be very unpleasant for employees while they are trying to work. Choosing a central heating pump from Pump Sales Direct means there is no downtime because we have such an extensive range.

    Obviously, in very bad weather in winter you may want to think about closing the workplace if the roads are icy or flooded or severe gales are forecast.

    Although there is no obligation to do so, you may not want to risk your employees' safety if they try to travel in extreme weather conditions.

    Some employees may be able to work from home, or you could ask them to take a holiday or make up the time later. You could also put in an extreme weather policy so workers are clear about when they are and are not expected to make the effort to get to work.

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