I’m sure I’m not alone in having central heating problems over the Christmas period, but – with the benefit of happy hindsight and having fixed the matter at hand – it did raise some useful points.

When we built our house a few years ago, we installed a boiler (I won’t name it) that at the time was a state-of-the-art model – condensing (when it didn’t need to be), with full controls and weather compensation.

I didn’t really think at the time that a phrase I’ve often heard in homebuilding circles would come back to haunt me quite so much. The phrase is “Don’t let tradesmen learn on your job” and what it means is that you should always ensure people you’re having on site should be familiar with the technology and what you’re trying to achieve.

A few years in – and being eternally grateful to a father-in-law who’s an expert in engineering – it’s become all too apparent that our plumber didn’t know much (to say the least) about installing high-tech boilers. Most obviously, he didn’t actually install the weather compensation device at all; and didn’t even install the control panel on the front of the unit.

So the new year for me has been a voyage of discovery working out all the fancy things my boiler could do if only it had been installed properly in the first place. We’re setting modulation paths, dealing with slopes for underfloor heating outputs, and generally getting the boiler to work as intended – which is very efficiently and quite intuitively.

The lesson is a simple one, but a costly one for me. As any father or husband will know, there is no greater sin than being unable to provide heat or hot water for a young family. If only I’d taken greater notice of that ‘experience pays’ lesson in the first place.

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