The secret lives of Pipes!

I keep meaning to share these pictures of various pipes (which sounds very boring to most I’m sure!) but may be interesting for you to see. These instances are common place within most peoples properties, usually unbeknown to the them.

The first image shows a system that clearly hasn’t been drained for many years. This particular pipe within the airing cupboard has blocked some 90% of its original diameter/bore. The original concern/complaint was that the radiators took what seemed a lifetime to heat up. By curing this fault (cutting out the blocked pipe), the radiators were said to be ’hotter and quicker than ever’!

The following two images show a very alarming (not to mention unsafe) build up of scale inside one of the homes most important pipes. This pipe is the ‘Hot Water Open Vent’ pipe which when the hot water is heated, allows potentially boiling water to build up and exhaust itself into the large loft tank. It is rare for the hot water to be literally ’boiling’ of course – as most people have a hot water thermostat. Should the thermostat fail then the boiler could keep lighting and therefore boil the hot water within the system. By design, rather than pressure building up (and ultimately bursting a pipe) this would usually carry the boiling water safely away. The top image shows the inner bore of the pipe significantly reduced by scale. The image on the bottom shows the open ended pipe with a massive build up of scale.

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The next images show what we come across unfortunately frequently and not necessarily expected (i.e when we are replacing a boiler and cut a pipe in order to join onto. These pipes are common and can be seen full of sludge and rust (from radiators that have no corrosion inhibitor). They’re not from particularly old systems either - both are from houses built in the 1990′s! This is because builders (not all) tend to employ fast working engineers whom install systems the quickest and most cost effective (for the builder) and not necessarily the end user (you and I) – so air is continually sucked into the system when the heating is on. This in turn eventually leads to rust and sludge build up over a short period of time.

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Lastly, here we have a typical gas cooker connection coming out of the wall in a relatively new build house. All appeared well until the plasterboard was removed to find the cause of a gas leak (note: we didn’t cut the plasterboard as this was made accessible for us by somebody else). The installer had for some reason used a brass fitting which has the modern ‘push fit’ pipe connection method – the gas was leaking from this joint as the aforementioned modern ‘push fit’ brass fitting is for use ONLY with water! I.e used to fit an outside tap – and definitely not a gas cooker! Instances like this are reported to our regulatory body called Gas Safe as could endanger life or property. Once reported, this could be used by Gas Safe as evidence to crack down on illegal gas workers.

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