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Help! Anyone have multi fuel central heating (or know anything about it)

(22 Posts)
SmokyMountains Sun 30-Oct-16 23:25:39

Have just bought a new house. It has a log burner type thing in the living room that also runs the central heating radiators......A hetas engineer checked it had been properly installed prior to exchange of contracts at our instigation and expense as it was put in prior to 2003

One of the conditions of sale was that we would be given the manual and written instructions on how to operate as we have no clue.

(Huge backstory-sale forced by court following a divorce with one party not wanting to sell, refusing to leave on day of completion once money had been received & we had to go to court to force them out etc etc...)

Finally got into manual and no instructions.

Estate agents & sellers own solicitors are refusing to have any further contact with seller, so now no chance of getting any instructions out of seller.

Have rung the HETAS engineer who we paid to check it prior to exchange, they can't come out until mid dec, have rung every other HETAS engineer listed for our area, all are either not able to service as it runs the radiators, or are booked up installing log burners on the run up to Christmas to come out until Jan.

So I have new house, no way of heating it except using fan heaters which isn't really working and a young baby.

Am wondering if I just light a fire in the log burner thing what will happen? I've read online something about if the water valve isn't open, it will blow the whole system, but can't find any switches to turn things on or off...

Does anyone have one of these systems and can tell me what you do to light/turn on the heating bit of things??TIA

Idefix Mon 31-Oct-16 06:32:55

Have you tried to google instructions for your burner? Ours is coal only (has a hopper that you load and slowly adds fuel through the day) but online we found instructions.

If you are in a village location it may be worth asking on village facebook for tips (our village facebook page is very helpful)
There also a lot of Eco/rural living forums with lots of advice on how to use systems.

Sorry if you have considered or tried these suggestions already.

PikachuSayBoo Mon 31-Oct-16 06:55:11

Personally I have no idea but when we bought our non central heating system log burner I found a great log burner forum full of advice. Have a Google as I can't remember the name and post on such forums. Hope you sort it.

PikachuSayBoo Mon 31-Oct-16 06:56:07

Think it was this one

Wallywobbles Mon 31-Oct-16 07:15:54

Ours is triple fuel. Light log burner, which heats the back boiler and it heats radiators. Turn on heating element of Rayburn likewise. Electric likewise - but never do as it's a fortune.

Don't need to check anything.

There are 2 tiny pumps that help the water to circulate round the heating system.

Light it and see what happens.

YorkshireFatRascal Mon 31-Oct-16 07:34:01

I used to have a Morso multi fuel burner which heated the radiators. Ours had a pump which needed to be switched in order to circulate hot water to the radiators. If the pump was not switched on then only the upstairs radiators would get warm. Just light your burner and check which of your radiators get warm - if they stay cool start looking for the pump and switch. If it is a multi fuel burner you really need to use solid fuel rather than logs if you want to keep a fire going overnight so you still have heat in the morning.

IAmAPaleontologist Mon 31-Oct-16 07:35:39

Mine, and others that have solid fuel around here work like this.

You light the fire and it heats the water tank. On the tank is a thermostat and when the tank hits the temp on the thermostat the heating pump comes on and the radiators are heated. When the tank cools the heating switches off. We have an override switch so we can put the heating on continuous if we want, eg in the evening. You can adjust the temp on the thermostat so eg in depths of winter have the water temp a little lower so get more heating and in warmer months have it higher so heating comes on less. It is a different way of heating to get used to, more about a stable ambient temp rather than a boost of heating at key times like with gas central heating.

Have a look at your tank to see if you can find a thermostat and hunt around, probably in the room with the stove in,for a switch that might be the override. I'd light a small fire and let the stove heat up then if you've found the override switch put it on and see if the heating pump comes on. Once you've checked if your radiators heat up switch the pump off again, build your fire and see if the heating comes on automatically, this can take a considerable amount of time when starting the system from cold so don't worry if it takes ages to come on this time.

frenchfancy Mon 31-Oct-16 07:41:50

You do need to make sure the circulation pump is on. Do you have a hot water tank? The circulation pump may be in the same place. We also have a valve - looks like a big dial with numbers 1-10. This allows us to chose how much of the heat goes to the heating and how much to the hot water tank. Careful - if you leave the dial on 5 and the tank valves open then any electric hot water heating you have can end up in the radiators which is an expensive way of running them.

You will do no harm if you light a small fire. Then check radiators etc to see what is happening. There should be a safety valve in the system so if it all gets too hot and the pump isn't on the safety will go (you will hear a big hissing sound - again this might be near the hot water tank).

IAmAPaleontologist Mon 31-Oct-16 16:09:04

My safety valve thing is a small pipe that goes through the wall to the outside so if the hot water tank overheats (basically it will act like a giant kettle if it is overheated) then water flows out of the pipe.

zombiesarecoming Mon 31-Oct-16 16:24:55

If it was installed prior to 2003 it will probably be fairly basic with no extra dials and switches like the later systems

Ours is a multi fuel burner with back boiler, it heats hot water and radiators

Once hot water is up to temp then a pipe thermostat senses temp and switches the circulation pump on

This then circulates until there is enough cold from the rads back in the boiler and overall temp has dropped then it stops while it gets upto temp again then switches on again

After an hour or two with burner going well water is up to overall temp and will keep circulating through radiators and keep things warm

It will probably at that age be an open vented system so it won't be under pressure and will have an open expansion tank in the loft somewhere with an overflow outlet on it

Personally I would light it and feel pipes and radiators after an hour to see what if anything is getting warm

If burning wood use the top vents for airflow over the wood if burning coal use bottom vents for airflow through the coals

SmokyMountains Mon 31-Oct-16 22:47:10

Thanks so much for all the replies, much appreciated. Our phones don't work at the new house so I had to wait till I got back to PIL again this evening to read them.

Will have a good gander through the green living forum, thanks for the link PikachuSayBoo

Idefix I have tried to google instructions but I can not find a make or model number anywhere so I'm really guessing if the advice applies to our system. Not many houses locally but a village shop about 3 miles away so might call in there and ask about village facebook etc.

As to the other advice, I'm going to print it all out and take it with me tomorrow to the house and have a good investigation, as I think I may be confused about what we have/haven't got....

so far I have found one water tank in an outside utility which seems to be an immersion heater that runs off electric and heats the tap water, but I haven't come across any other sort of tank, and there is also a pump by this tank, which makes me wonder if it isn't just electric but is also part of the system and I've misunderstood.

The pipes from the log burner bit go up into the ceiling (its a bungalow) so will have a look in the loft above and try and follow where the pipes go in case there is another tank up there.

I think it is like Zombies advice and due to age doesn't have many bells and whistles since I can't find any switches or temp gauges or any type of override or on/off switch. .

I'll try and take a pic of the tank /pump etc and upload tomorrow evening!

IAmAPaleontologist Mon 31-Oct-16 22:53:39

Zombies is how mine works but with an override switch in addition. It is common top have am immersion heater in the same tank that is heated by the stove, very useful in the summer when you don't want the fire on all the time! I had an electrician bung a timer switch onto my immersion for a few quid so i don't have to remember to switch it on and off every day in the summer.

SmokyMountains Mon 31-Oct-16 23:01:10

Paleontologist, sorry I must sound totally thick, but are you saying your immersion heating of the water and water being heated by the stove is all going on in the one tank?

I am so baffled!

Could heat from the stove in the living room heat water in a tank in another room through pipes connecting the two? It is beyond meblush

SmokyMountains Mon 31-Oct-16 23:04:13

Also, if you switch the immersion heater/tank thing on at the wall switch, hot water appears out of the taps about 30 mins later which is otherwise cold, so seems to be connected to the taps rather than the radiators?

TondelayaDellaVentamiglia Mon 31-Oct-16 23:27:12

not sure if this will help but we have an oil range in the kitchen and a wood burning stove in the room behind it....they can both run the CH/HW

Also there is an immersion heater, or there used to be, we had the Hot water cylinder changed due to a leak and I am honestly not sure if there is an element in there now or no!!

The range also does cooking

when the heating timer comes on the range will heat water (in the pipes and cylinder) to the required temperature, when the water is hot enough the central heating pump starts to circulate HW to the radiators (there is some sort of thermostat on a pipe somewhere...henceforth know as The Magic)
if I have the range set for cooking then any excess heat goes to the water cylinder, and to the bathroom and hall rads...magic is not required for this
The range is on timer for the CH but can be overridden to go at anytime by pressing the central heating timer to Boost.

If we light the fire somehow the magic doesn't work, so we have to turn the range down so it doesn't start up, but turn the CHtimer to Boost to ensure the pump is running.

...otherwise i suppose the hot water would just get hotter and hotter, and the bathroom/hall rads would be on fire.

Sounds to me that you have a similar system, but without the range, so I would guess you have the timer, the magic, a central heating pump and an immersion. so once you have lit the fire then the water will circulate about via the pump and the HW will get nice and hot in the cylinder.

I'd try and get a heating type plumbery chap out to run through the system just to set your mind at rest.

PigletJohn Tue 01-Nov-16 11:54:27

Arrange to have the chimney swept (you don't know when it was last done) by asking around for a recommendation.

The sweep will have considerable experience of stoves, and as well as advising you, may know a stove engineer you could call on.

Make a cake.

The biggest risk is that the water might not be circulating, or might have been turned off, or there could be a fault you don't know about. Stoves can carry on burning for long enough to cause damage, unlike gas boilers which can shut themselves down.

IAmAPaleontologist Tue 01-Nov-16 16:01:34

Smokey yes we have one water tank. The stove in the dining room downstairs heats the water tank in the airing cupboard upstairs through a pipe system. The same tank has the immersion heater in it. The water from the tank goes to the taps. The radiator is a different system, it is not water from the tank that flows round the radiators (heating systems are full of gunk, you wouldn't want it coming out of your taps!) So the immersion doesn't heat the radiators, only the stove heats the radiators.

SmokyMountains Tue 01-Nov-16 23:46:28

Thank you so much everyone!

We now have a working burner and central heating woo-hoo!!

I printed out all the advice, took it with me to the house and got my bearings, and then just crossed my fingers and lit the fire.

It was everyone's descriptions that helped me understand, I was completely baffled before the thread, so thanks to all of you flowers

It is not perfect, random radiators were cold whilst the ones either side were hot, but as it is circulating the heat we can work on the rest.

We seem to have the old school system whereby the water in the pipes hitting a certain temp kicks the pump into gear which then circulates without us having to press any buttons, set a temp gauge etc

I forgot to check if the water in the taps also got hot, I'll do that tomorrow.

My first reaction, after, thank God, I can keep the baby warm, is my goodness we are going to get through some wood and coal this winter! We have a 18 acre wood with the house but not a single tree is cut so its not wood we can burn this winter. I am now desperately trying to find someone local who can deliver in large quantities as we have already used up the sacks of coal and logs I bought this morning,.

PigletJohn, thanks for the tip on getting the chimney swept, as it happens it was done last month as our solicitor wouldn't let us exchange without getting a hetas certificate of compliance, and the seller got the chimney swept by a hetas certified sweep to try to pass of the sweeps receipt as a certificate of compliance and was really quite cross when we insisted on getting someone in to do a proper test hmm. I will ring the sweep and ask if he can recommend anyone to come out to the stove as I would like a grown up to look at it as soon as possible.

Thanks again

frenchfancy Wed 02-Nov-16 08:41:04

Great news.

The cold radiators may simply be ones that have been turned off. Do they have a valve on them you can open? If the heating hasn't been used in a while you may need to bleed some air out. If you have radiators that are warm at the bottom but cold at the top then that is probably the issue.

We get through 18 steres of wood each year. I wish we had our own woodland.

zombiesarecoming Wed 02-Nov-16 09:41:21

As frenchfancy said cold radiators could just be off or need bleeding, once you have checked they are on then feel the pipes to them if they are warm and bottom of radiator is warm it needs bleeding

If valves are open and water isn't flowing through then they could be blocked or the system may need balancing

Not sure I can describe balancing well enough but it is basically having the radiators furthest along the system at point of worst flow pressure with there valve open more so they get flow and having radiators closest to pump and heat source with there balancing valve almost closed but open just enough to allow flow but keep the pressure up for when the flow reaches the next radiator along

Once the valves are all set properly and the system is balanced then all radiators should get even flow and equal heat

I would work on the theory that it was working and balanced so there is either just a rad shut off which needs opening again or it needs bleeding to make sure there is no air trapped at the top of the cold rads

Once those options are exhausted then balancing the system should sort it

IAmAPaleontologist Wed 02-Nov-16 09:44:58

If you are In the north east I can suggest someone to service the stove, does mine every year. Otherwise if the sweep doesn't know then ring a decent stove showroom place as their fitters may well do services. For your fuel have you a decent fuel store? Often most cost excited to get it delivered in bulk, we tend to get 10 bags at £15 a bag which is smokeless ovoids, coal is cheaper but you will need to stay on top of cleaning your stove as you'll get sulphur build up. It doesn't matter, you just need to let the stove cool, take the grate bars out and give them a clean down every so often to avoid corrosion.

Idefix Wed 02-Nov-16 17:52:06

Really please that you got it going Smoky nothing beats stove when the weather turns cold.

I would look into getting a delivery as it will be cheaper, do you have a coal bunker/wood store tucked away in the garden?

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