- Frequently Asked Questions
This section is for business operation not for technical issues
- Is it true you don't charge for a callout?
- Do you charge for callouts in London?
- Do you always adopt a "no fix no fee" policy?
- I am a landlord, why do you require my personal details?
- As a tenant, can I organise a gas job with you on behalf of my landlord?
- How likely you will fix my boiler on your very first visit?
- How is it justified that you charge me a fee by a boiler reset?
- Do you have insurance to cover your work?
- How long a warranty will you give after a repair?
- After you repaired my boiler, an existing part has stopped working, will you give warranty for that?
- What is a typical fee after a successful boiler repair?
- Have you successfully repaired all the boilers you attended?
- Is being Gas Safe registered a guarantee of carrying out competent repairs?
- A gas engineer said I need a new boiler, is it always true?
- What is your approach if I still have a problem after your repair?
- Why are boiler spare parts so expensive?
- Who do you recommend to repair my boiler if you are not available?
- Why do you hate an intermittent problem on a boiler?
- Where is a good forum for me to ask for plumbing and heating questions?
- Is it okay for me to ask for “no fix no fee” on my boiler repairs?
- First time fix on a boiler repair, why are you so passionate on it?
- You just replaced part A, how could you say part B is also faulty?
- I am a home buyer, is it worth organising a gas and electrical inspection?
We don't charge callout fees for local domestic clients within a 10 mile radius of St Albans. As we adopt a "no fix no fee" policy, customers are not even charged for a diagnosis if they don't want to go ahead with expensive repairs (exceptions apply). We quote and charge by completed jobs - not by hours spent.
Apparently there is nothing free while running a business (business costs are about £25 per hour). Please be aware that if we need to come back with a new part or similar, the labour charge is from £90 to £120 for two visits. We just want to look after customers who are unfortunetely in having their boilers break down. We usually don’t charge customers if they don’t want to go ahead with further repairs by us, and we don't charge customers if we are struggling with a diagnosis or we have failed on your boiler repair.
In the mojority of cases, we can get to the bottom of your boiler problem on our first visit, explain the fault to you, and give a reasonable quote and timing to come back and fix it, if we can't fix it on very first visit.
We also reserve the right to charge a diagnostic fee £60 if all three conditions are met: 1. A significant amount of work is involved before we get into the bottom of the fault. 2. The diagnosis is correct and given to customer. 3. The customer decides not to go further repair or a new boiler with us.
If we fix your boiler on a first visit, we normally charge you between £60 to £90 for labour, plus part or parts incurred. The "fixed" means your boiler is up and running again.
We aim to make our customers happy and hope to be employed to fix your boiler not only this time, but possibly in the future. We value the trust from returning customers and recommendations and we are getting more and more work by word of mouth.
We charge for weekend and evening callouts as out of hours, and we charge for callouts for rented properties. We also charge for a London callout if we agree. We might also charge for a callout if it is over 15 miles distance.
Yes, we do charge for callouts in London. At the moment, it is £90.
We are often requested to travel to London for unusual domestic boiler repairs, and also for commercial boiler repairs. The above fee is for domestic clients.
For most boiler repairs, the faulty problems are persistent, so we know which parts need to be replaced. We adopt a "no fix no fee" policy.
Occasionally, we come across intermittent problems, and thus cannot be 100% certain in our diagnosis. In such a case if we are with a boiler and it is up and running again after a break or cooling down period, the problem isn't always evident at the time. We will let you know of this uncertainty, and it is up to you to decide whether or not go ahead with a repair with some degree of uncertainty.
If unluckily we make a wrong diagnosis, we can’t refund you all the costs incurred. But, we will try not to charge you for our labour.
If you are a landlord and it is also a very first time we do business, we require your full name and home address for insurance purposes.
5. As a tenant, can I organise a gas job with you on behalf of my landlord?
Yes absolutely. But unless we have known your landlord before, and we has his or her approval for this particular job, you are obligated to pay us first then claim the payment back from your landlord late. It is the same for letting agents.
As the number one boiler repair business in St Albans, we are very busy. If we don’t need to come back with a newly purchased part, we will still have a new job to undertake. So, we have a passion to fix people's boilers on our very first visits, but, it depends on our competency and particularly on van stock. For the record, we have fixed more than 50% boilers on our first visits.
There isn’t any national or industrial standards for van stocks. From 2019, we have documented our company van's stock lists. We probably have the most comprehensive van stock in St Albans, but we are not able to carry all boiler spares in our van stock as that would be impossible. If we don't have a particular spare part in our van stock, we will have to come back with a new part, so the labour charge will be normally based on our two visits.
So with a good van stock and our experienced engineers, the customer gets cheaper and quicker repairs, and we then move on to the next new job for a new customer.
For a persistent fault (not an intermittent fault) we always adopt a "no fix no fee" policy. Contrasted with some fellow gas engineers, we don’t charge for a call out if we can’t fix your boiler or heating by our first visit. But if we fix the problem we charge.
Sometimes we work on a boiler and use tools, and even put a new part in, but we still can’t get the boiler or heating up and running, then we don’t charge.
If we “fix” the problem, regardless it is a switch on, boiler reset, or system pressure top up etc, as a customer you get a working boiler in the end, an expected outcome.
Being a business, we have to draw a line here - no fix no fee, but if fixed we charge.
Yes. As a limited company, we always have an insurance policy to cover our gas, heating, plumbing and electrical work. Fortunately, so far we haven't used our insurance cover for any work carried out by us.
We give a one year part and labour warranty for the part or parts we replaced. For the rest of the boiler we don't give any warranty.
Seized fans, pumps and motorised valves are very common in boiler and heating repairs. If we and customers decide just to free a fan, pump or valve, we will charge a fee, and there will be no warranty on these existing parts. The same is also applied to heat exchanger cleaning for combi boilers.
Very unlikely we might have caused a workmanship minor leaking while doing repairs. We do need to work on old existing parts of the boiler to get a repair job done, but we can’t hold an endless liability on exiting parts. Any suspected workmanship leaking should be reported back within two weeks for a possible warranty recall.
10. After you repaired my boiler, an existing part has stopped working, will you give warranty for that?
We only give warranty for the part or parts we fitted it. Inevitably while we repair a boiler, we are not only dealing with the faulty part, but sometimes also need to take off other existing parts and put them back on. It is very rare but it did happen before a boiler had another faulty existing part unpredictably. Being a top boiler repair firm in St Albans with a good reputation, we want to look after our customers, but we can’t give warranty on all existing parts.
First we always endeavour to inform you of any chargeable service beforehand if you are reachable.
For a one-visit repair, the typical charge is between £60 to £90 for labour. The labour charge will be between £90 and £120 for a two-visit repair job.
As a rule of thumb, we charge around £60 per hour, and we can't work for free.
We don't add any money on parts or materials.
No! We are still struggling on about 5% of boilers attended, ie, one in twenty boilers, for various reasons - parts are obsolete, beyond economical repair, intermittent problems or even wrong diagnosis etc.
Compared with fellow local boiler installers, we are highly competent at boiler and heating repairs. We earn money on most boiler repairs, and don't mind not earing on a few of them.
The answer is a big no! Being Gas Safe registered is only proof of knowledge of certain safety standards, and it is nothing to do with boiler repair skills.
Before I registered with Gas Safe in 2009, nobody at my training centres and none of my gas safe inspectors had taught me anything about boiler repairs.
One of my fellow boiler repair men said this in a closed forum: "To be able to repair modern boilers, a heating engineer should be accomplished in the following areas:
- A degree in electronic engineering.
- An understanding of what the boiler is actually doing and what it does normally.
- Years of doing my own car maintenance.
- Common sense.
- Then, ring manufacture technical support if stuck. They are supposed to know their own boilers best and most likely better than we will."
Fortunately, or unfortunately, it isn't always true, because more than half of gas engineers are incompetent at modern boiler repairs. As we said above, being Gas Safe doesn't mean an engineer knows how to repair boilers.
Mark Ray from southeast London, he is an experienced boiler engineer, and a former frontline engineer at Vaillant boilers. He made this Youtube video, which we totally agree with.
In most cases, around 90% to 95% in total, a boiler breakdown is caused by only one fault, or one failed part. We fix the problem, and you get a working boiler again - job done!
But in some cases, customers are indeed unlucky if another problem follows. If the second problem is unrelated to our first fix, we will treat it as a new repair, ie a chargeable service. We give a warranty on the part or fault we fixed, not on the remainder of the whole boiler.
On average, a boiler is sold for about £900 to an end user. The maximum profit for its manufacturer is about £300 to £500. Quite a few boiler manufacturers operate in this way: make a cheap boiler to entice people to buy poor quality, and then sell parts for a fortune. For example, Halstead comes to mind, and Biasi spares are outrageous, too, as are Ravenheat and Glow worm.
There was a story I heard a while ago about someone pricing up a Ford in spare parts. It costs about 50 times as much as buying the car apparently. Buy a car, don't drive it, break it, and flog the parts on fleabay as genuine, unused parts for half the price; you'll still run a 2500% profit.
By the way, we don't add a mark up on any boiler and heating spares.
Modern boilers are also classified as electrical equipment. In reality, boiler repair jobs are not for traditional plumbers without an engineering mind and electrical knowledge. But by law, you have to be on the Gas Safe register to work on boilers, so many Gas Safe plumbers are messing around with boiler repair jobs, until you decide to go for a new boiler.
Ian Braithwaite from St Albans AL4, 07837 064698, https://ianbgas.co.uk/, is another local gas engineer who impresses us with his boiler and heating repairs. He was an electric technician before, and he knows modern boilers well. Also, he does not seem interested in boiler replacement, so his opinions on boiler fault finding are at least not biased.
Latest update: Ian Braithwaite has retired since end of 2019, and lives in Shropshire now. We wish him well. Amazingly, he is still answering his phones.
If you have an intermittent boiler lockout or noise, ideally we want to witness it happening - we would wish to see a persistent lockout or noise. Often, a problem described by a customer could be caused by more than one part, so for example if you had a boiler lockout or noise yesterday, then after an overnight cooling down, the boiler may be working again while we are in front of it today. We sometimes can’t pinpoint the faulty part which is having an intermittent play up.
For a good intermittent problem sometimes we ended up with such a situation - we made a few of visits, and we replaced a series of new parts, but the boiler is still having the same problem. If we charge the customer he or she still has a non-working boiler, it is bit unfair isn’t it? But if we don’t charge we lose labour and new parts, it is also unfair to us!
We do believe that your boiler is having a problem since it is your boiler and you are familiar with it. But without witnessing the problem, sometimes it is bit difficult to get to the bottom of the problem, ie, to get a diagnosis 100% right. We don't charge callout fee to local people (except for rented properties), and we adopt a "no fix no fee" policy, so we sometimes don't come out for an intermittent problem until it becomes more persistent.
We also work for insurance companies as a sub contractor. For a boiler repair, these insurance companies don’t allow us to make more than two visits and to fit more than one part for obvious reasons, ie, insurance companies generally walk away from intermittent problems.
Some customers agree for us to gamble on a series of new parts to solve their intermittent problems. In this case, we will use our experience, and replace one part with another, in the order from most likely to least likely, until we fix the problem. Obviously, all parts and labour will be charged.
About 10% of boiler preoblems are intermittent. Having said that, we are not refusing to work on intermittent lockouts, but we just want to let you know that it might take more visits and cost more to get your boiler finally fixed.
At Plumbing and Central Heating forum on www.DIYnot.com.
Under the user name "hertsboilers", we often participate in answering questions along with other experienced gas engineers across the country.
It should always be “no fix no fee” according to common law in this country, as you and the gas engineer have a contract that he or she is going to fix your boiler with a warranty, and you will pay the fee agreed.
We have been told many stories by customers that some gas engineers couldn’t fix a boiler problem, but took money, and refused to come back with a lot of excuses. Should these engineers be taken to the small claim court they would have no leg to stand on.
There are two types of fees as a customer you might have to pay, regardless of repair outcome. One is a callout fee, the other is diagnostic fee. Both of the two should be agreed beforehand.
Needlessly to say, it is cheaper and quicker for a customer to get his or her boiler up and running again.
For our business, it is also beneficial. We use the saved time to do another job for another new customer. End of the day, we have earned the same amount money, but we have one more customer.
Having said that, to have a high first time fix rate, a boiler engineer need to be competent and experienced, ie, he should know what might be wrong by the information over the phone, and get it prepared before attending.
It also needs a good van stock of parts and spares for obviously reasons.
We have a passion to fix people’s boilers on our first visits. This is one of ultimate tricks we have adopted in our boiler repair business.
As a boiler and heating repair specialist, we fix over a thousand of faults each year. Some of them, about 1 in 20 cases (5%), are unluckily to have more than one fault. Once we get your first problem fixed, eg, part A is replaced, then we can see you have a second problem on part B. Again this is not very often, but it does happen occasionally. This un-predicted fault normally leads to unsatisfied customers, and so it gets our competency questioned.
We are very experienced boiler and heating engineers, and it is very unlikely for us to make anything worse. These minority cases of second fault are just unlucky for both parties, but it is your boiler or heating system, we are sorry but you might have to accept this fact, and pay for part B repair too.
One thing is certain that we have more than enough work to cope with, we don’t need to create extra jobs.
We are probably the only firm in St Albans to have both gas and electrical qualifications.
It is £60 for a gas safety check (landlord gas safety certificate - LGSC, required for rented properties on a yearly basis), and £150 for an electrical safety check (electrical installation condition report - EICR, required for rented properties about every 5 years). As by their names these checks are for safety only, they are not for assessment of system performance and functionality, and they are not an energy efficiency survey either, ie, the customer will not get a detailed report like a home buyer survey report of around 20 pages, picked up by a surveyor from a selection of templates, saying found problems with photoes etc.
Here are two blank forms for each checks. After inspection, you will get these forms filled with an overall outcome.
They are more like a MOT test for a car, pass or fail outcome with some advisory recommendation for satety at most. They don’t tell you this is a new Land Rover or an old Nissan Micra.