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Were older products built better?

Old radio

Most of us have at least one old, trusty appliance that’s faithfully serving us after many years. So here’s your chance to sing its praises and give it a little love back as we search for the nation’s oldest appliance.

Like many sleepy-eyed commuters, I greeted Metro’s story of a 58 year-old fridge that’s still going strong with a wry smile on my journey to work on Monday.

But possibly with less surprise than others, as here at Which? we often hear similar stories from our readers.

Your trusty old appliances

In recent years, we’ve been told of a Hotpoint dishwasher from 1984 whose only breakdown was caused by an escaped hamster chewing through its wiring. It survived (the dishwasher, that is) and the last we heard, was still running.

And only recently, Dave D posted here on Which? Convo about still using his grandparents’ Hoover, originally bought in 1957. Sophie Gilbert echoed the trend, celebrating the sterling service of her relatively juvenile AEG old vac, still working well after 20 years and destined to stay in action until its eventual death.

I’ve worked in product testing at Which? for nearly 10 years and, while I’m always excited to find out about new home products being released, the romantic in me loves to hear about these valiant old workhorses still in regular service.

I don’t think I’m alone. What really shines through when people tell us about their geriatric appliances is the massive affection in which they’re held. This is sometimes coupled with a dose of scepticism about all things new, but the uniting feeling seems to be if it ain’t broke why bother replacing?

Are older products better?

What’s even more amazing is that none of these appliances – unlike the legendary Trigger’s Broom from a classic Only Fools and Horses episode – seem to have needed much repair. Which begs the question – were old products built better?

We’ll be publishing the results of our latest brand reliability survey soon and revealing if your newer washing machines, dishwashers and vacs are likely to break.

But meanwhile, we’d love to know of any prehistoric appliances that are still in use at your home. It looks like Dave D holds the record at the moment with his 53 year-old vac. Can you beat this? And how long do you expect your new appliances – large or small – to last?


I do not believe that there is any legal requirement for UK or EU manufacturers to hold spares for their products. Even where official spares are available the cost can be very high. The quality of spares from alternative sources is variable. Cars are expensive, so it’s not surprising that parts often remain available long after production has ceased.

I see little chance that the Consumer Rights Act will help consumers over durability. I very much support better quality and more sustainable products but unfortunately that’s not going to happen overnight. In the meantime I’m going to shop around and look for products with longer guarantees and warranty promotions that are offered to encourage our custom. Hopefully we have seen the end of extended warranties that can cost more than the goods themselves.

This Conversation is nearly five years old and we are just on the second page. Perhaps it’s time for Which? to explore the issues further and bring us a new, improved Covo.

In the meantime, can someone identify the make and model of the wireless (radio) shown in the photo at the top of the page?

So far as I can see this is a stock image, probably based on an original wireless set but with the manufacturer’s symbols photoshopped out. I don’t recognise it but we once had one of a similar vintage [late 40’s I’d guess] in a veneered wooden cabinet that had a green ‘tuning eye’ to assist with station location on the medium wave. I wondered whether the radio in the picture was an early attempt at stereo sound as it appears to have two speakers behind the fabric screen.

It’s a licensed Shutterstock image, and I do agree it has been tinkered with. Early 50s would be my guess.

I think it is tuned in to Radio Luxembourg. Horace Batchelor is helping someone win the pools.

Not the man from K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M?

I forgot to say that the two sets of press buttons and two thumb-wheels are distinctive features. There’s a stock image giving a different view. Maybe @user-66219 knows the answer.

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Thanks Duncan. In the 70s I was delighted to find some unbound copies of Wireless World dating from the 20s or earlier, in a library. They included adverts for ‘distortion-free loudspeakers’. Misrepresentation in marketing has a long pedigree. 🙁 We have been bemoaning the poor sound quality of flat-screen TVs, so perhaps a couple of hundred year old horn loudspeakers would help and also provide an interesting talking point.

Don’t forget to read page 1! And should we get Which? to lead the way in getting more durable and repairable products? Or shall we stay with a throw-away culture?

I’ll admit I havent read all the posts just yet but maybe this hasnt been mentioned
Look up Phoebus Cartel. I remember learning about their action many years ago. They joined forces for the early 20th century to control the lifespan of incandesent bulbs from 2500 hours? I think to 100 hours and also controlled an increased price for an inferior product
Back then such actions were legal but rules had to be made to overtake the new industries
Are we back at a point that we may need rules again
I dont like Nanny State theory but it seems that unless we get our Gov’s to make rules then the result of our not so great freedom is we get ripped off
So is it a case of trading freedom for quality??

We have rightly had a lot of public criticism of the VW Group for cheating exhaust emission tests but most people don’t know about the Phoebus Cartel, where a group of manufacturers worked together to decrease the lifetime of incandescent lightbulbs to around 1000 hours. If you trust large companies it’s worth looking at this and learning more about planned obsolescence.

It’s not necessary to do anything illegal to get us to spend our money on new products. Electrical goods taken for recycling are often in working order, as newspaper articles occasionally report.

Good point wave.
We had hoarder in our family circle and when the day came we had to spend weeks sorting his place out
If he had one “4 grnder he had 50, same for”9, same for chop saws and countless other items. I remember him being in disgust at all these good items be thrown in the skip. He would once say, “they’ll pay a price for this waste” That they did in 2008 onward. That what some builders done. Complete a house renovation with new cheap tools and once the job was done the whole went in the skip along with the last tidy up. Now not all builders done this but if you had tasked with the clearing the place out you’d have thought the whole country was at it.
I could not believe how many items we plugged in actually worked.
Waste and more waste

I don’t go back as far as the Phoebus days, but its interesting to see it used in conjunction with VW. I’m sure the Slave Trade for which we were responsible also has a part to play.

Incandescent light bulbs for general service – GLS or standard household bulbs – were rated at 1000 hours life until there demise. This was because there is a relationship between filament temperature – and therefore light output – its power consumption (Watts) – and life before the filament failed due to loss of tungsten. 1000 hours was judged to give a reasonable balance between life vs electrical cost vs light output. Tungsten halogen lamps had a longer life – generally 2000h – because some of the evaporated tungsten was returned to the filament and they could also be run hotter and therefore were more efficient.

There is always a danger when standards are written that “standardise” performance that there must be a conspiracy afoot (ametre now?).

I made the same point in an earlier Conversation, Malcolm. 1000 hours seems a reasonable compromise between light output and life expectancy. Halogen lamps are a more recent development. As far as I know there is unequivocal evidence of cheating by Philips, Osram, General Electric and various other manufacturers.

I would leave development of standards with independent scientists and engineers.

Many standards written around products for example require an intimate and detailed knowledge of the products. This will not exist with people outside the industry. However, standards are not written by industry experts (including scientists and engineers) alone, but they include input from members representing users (let’s say local authority engineers), independent scientists (let’s say NPL), government bodies and others with interests and expertise drawn from a range of disciplines relevant to the standard. Overseen by BSI. for example. So to suggest that standards are written only by “non-independent” people is to misunderstand the way the standards process works, both nationally and internationally. Individual manufacturers are usually not represented; those that take part represent the industry as a whole, through say their trade body, to ensure a cross-industry input. If you pick up a standard you will find a list (usually quite long) of all the bodies that have contributed to it.

Hi, I dont mean to try and rewrite history but in the early 20th century there wasnt much association between written standards and the light bulb
Whilst today the likes of VW managers deny knowledge of their cheat back then it wasnt a problem.
I cannot find the documentary I wanted and it’s so long since I was in a Library I certainly dont remember the title of the books but try this one.
You can watch the whole thing almost all of the info is the same as I read many years ago but there is an actual recording of a US businessman laying it all out for all to hear. Around 19:04 He states quite clearly his intentions. That’ll grab your attention if your anti obsolescence.
American dream, or American nightmare?
Yes its a bit conspiracy kinda thing but there are references to several things. Particularly patents on bulbs that would last many 1000s of hours. I checked those things out years back and I’m sure the info is still available.
There are so many instances of forced obsolescence its beyond debating about.
There are still bulbs around today that were made before Phoebus Cartel.
Forced obsolescence is what Malcolm wants rid of. You like good electronics you say but even they most likely have a lifespan that could be longer, much longer.
I have a friend, former work mate kinda thing, a former instruments technician and real good with stuff. He has told me countless stories about things not being made to last. He has also said repeatedly that for very little more money one could make electronics that would last a lifetime.
Surface mount has not been our friend but thankfully the chinese cheapies are mostly not surface mount just yet which in a kinda funny way has helped me loads of times. I have rather a large amount of cheapie PSUs in various guises near all powering control gear. All I have to do is dismantle them once i get them and make sure that everything is well insulated, plenty of heat sink compound, cut some pins from the back of the pcb ect. Maybe a little better quality heat transfer sheet instead of a bit of stuff so thin that it is nearly bound to short to the casing.
I have great results just as long as I give them a good going through and last but not least run them at no more than half their rated current.
I’m guessing but Id say I have maybe 20 x 25w to 100w PSUs running at any one time and I have no trouble.

I don’t accept that those outside industry cannot compile standards any more than I am happy with companies testing the emissions of their own cars.

Here’s a typical BSI committee concerned with lamps. LIA represents lamp manufacturers.

British Sign and Graphics Association
Consumer and Public Interest Network
Institution of Lighting Professionals
Lighting Industry Association
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited
B B A – British Board of Agrement
Lamp Coaters Association
S L L – Society of Light & Lighting
Secretary – IEC/SC 34A

Seems a pretty balanced one to me.
Manufacturers have knowledge and expertise that others do not. What is the point in excluding them?

However, this is still off topic. Sorry Patrick. But many products are “better” because national and international standards ensure the are designed to meet certain standards. Often these are safety standards and I would be surprised if that was felt to be a bad thing.

Perhaps we should concentrate now more on durability standards, for example for white goods, to ensure what we pay good money for lasts.

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A major problem affecting repairability of small goods is the difficulty of dismantle cases, which are generally designed for ease of assembly rather than opening. In the worst cases, it is impossible to release plastic clips without breaking them, and sometimes cases are glued together.

My electric iron is about 20 years old and I have recently replaced the flexible cable for the fourth time. The only challenge is to find suitable heatproof replacement cable. I wonder if it’s possible to do this job on a newer iron. Most members of our throwaway society would simple replace the iron, and I’ve seen new irons in Lidl for what I payed for a a new cable.

I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to identify the featured radio image, but the nearest I can get to it is a Schaub Lorenz. But searching reminded me that manufacturers building new models to stimulate increased sales is nothing new, either. There are vast numbers and that’s only from the ’40s / ’50s period.

What surprises me is how long it took them to get the sound approaching reasonable. It seems that few had much idea about bass or a decent frequency spread, and my first record player incorporated a four inch speaker. However, I don’t recall any of them actually failing. My father would trudge up the street to the local valve shop as the odd one gave up, but was always able to get them working again. He would buy them often to listen to the short wave (so that’s what folk did before the internet…) and then spend an afternoon taking them apart before reassembling them.

I also vividly remember the ascent of stereo, promising vast panoramas of sound and being mildly disappointed when it proved difficult to discern separation. But the early ‘transistor’ radios seemed built to last, if not to sound good. However, in 1965 I invested in a B&O system – reel-to-reel recorder / amp, 2 x B & O speakers units and a magnetic stylus record deck. To this day they all work flawlessly.

The controls that I mentioned suggested Schaub Lorenz to me, Ian, but that’s just from looking at photos online. I don’t recall old radios and TVs being particularly reliable, but maybe I saw more of the broken ones.

Interestingly, some of most popular radios for non-specialist collectors are bakelite models that are of very poor build quality, for example having no mains transformer to save costs. Sixty or seventy years ago, our predecessors could have rightly been asking ‘Were older products built better?’

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I do recall burned rear panels and bakelite cases too hot to touch, live chassis and even mains cables used as external droppers. The battery chargers for early Black & Decker cordless drills had no transformer, relying on a capacitor to limit the current. 🙁 Old TVs had line output transformers in which the windings were embedded in flammable material (wax?) and I once had to deal with a fire in my parents TV. Thanks to prompt action it was repairable.

I have no doubt that safety has improved over the years and repairability is often poor or expensive by comparison, but I’m still undecided whether our view of household goods being more reliable in years gone by might be something to do with the decline in repairability.

Thanks for the suggestion Ian. I’m convinced it is a Schaub-Lorenz radio. Here is a link showing a fairly similar model on a German website: pauls-roehren.de/radios/schaubLorenz_savoyStereo10/SavoyStereo10.php

Assuming that the wireless is VHF stereo I guess it will be late 50s.

Hi, I dont mean to try and rewrite history but in the early 20th century there wasnt much association between written standards and the light bulb
Whilst today the likes of VW managers deny knowledge of their cheat back then it wasnt a problem.
I cannot find the documentary I wanted and it’s so long since I was in a Library I certainly dont remember the title of the books but try a search on the web for The LIght Bulb Conspiracy. You’ll find a video of such
You can watch the whole thing almost all of the info is the same as I read many years ago but there is an actual recording of a US businessman laying it all out for all to hear. Around 19:04 He states quite clearly his intentions. That’ll grab your attention if your anti obsolescence.
American dream, or American nightmare?
Yes its a bit conspiracy kinda thing but there are references to several things. Particularly patents on bulbs that would last many 1000s of hours. I checked those things out years back and I’m sure the info is still available.
There are so many instances of forced obsolescence its beyond debating about.
There are still bulbs around today that were made before Phoebus Cartel.
Forced obsolescence is what Malcolm wants rid of. You like good electronics you say but even they most likely have a lifespan that could be longer, much longer.
I have a friend, former work mate kinda thing, a former instruments technician and real good with stuff. He has told me countless stories about things not being made to last. He has also said repeatedly that for very little more money one could make electronics that would last a lifetime.
Surface mount has not been our friend but thankfully the chinese cheapies are mostly not surface mount just yet which in a kinda funny way has helped me loads of times. I have rather a large amount of cheapie PSUs in various guises near all powering control gear. All I have to do is dismantle them once i get them and make sure that everything is well insulated, plenty of heat sink compound, cut some pins from the back of the pcb ect. Maybe a little better quality heat transfer sheet instead of a bit of stuff so thin that it is nearly bound to short to the casing.
I have great results just as long as I give them a good going through and last but not least run them at no more than half their rated current.
I’m guessing but Id say I have maybe 20 x 25w to 100w PSUs running at any one time and I have no trouble.
I’ll just edit in a little here
10 years ago in Aug my eldest daughter and I went to AU and NZ. I bought a new phone to take with me. I used it right up to earlier this year until i could not hear on the thing. I he says and now he has a smart phone. No I says not long after I bought my new phone I noticed they were getting cheaper so I watched for about 2 years to they came done to below a fiver for a brand new one. So I have a couple more. I dont think the network system will change so much I’ll not be able to use them but I have been phoning and receiving call now for over 10 years for £25 of phones including the current one or £30 if you include the one I have for my pension.
So today all these super smart distractions that barely last a year and seldom 2 years are worse than my 2004 one. No I cannot do so as much on my old thing but I dont want to. I have a laptop and a camera for the other things and they do a much better job than the smart phone because if nothing else I can see them.
To to h**** with obsolescence.

“The LIght Bulb Conspiracy.”

https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoebus_cartel

Think this is it, DK.

Thats about in in a nutshell Ian.
I have only glanced but there seems to loads of info on the web,
I hadnt bothered about it until it came into may head with this topic.
I have been looking at early 20th century photos and paintings of early Newyork, Berlin etc and there is little if any orange/red light so the bulbs were pretty white it seems

Here is a piece about the Phoebus cartel on the IEEE website: spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/history/the-great-lightbulb-conspiracy

It is instructive to search for cartel fines to find some more recent examples in Europe. The name Philips, a member of the Phoebus cartel turns up as a member of a cartel involved with computer and TV screens, and the six members were fined over £1 bn. I used to trust Philips.

Hi Wave, If you were with me a lot of the time you would end up trusting nothing and no one. Even employees can and do fall for the company blurb.
They think its in their interest to be a company man or woman.
The marketing has bluffed the very employees because like the public they are kept a million miles from the truth and if we/they are getting paid we dont want to know.
I have worked for big name business.
I was good, I got to go on those nice corporate trips. It was a job. Take what I can just like them. Real blurb it was.
Flown off to F1 GPs, Moto GPs, factory visits, more than you can eat, pocket money every morning how could you not be won over by the generosity of the company.
I wasn’t won over. I just like many needed a job. The job was good but I could not stick keeping a straight face on. It was dishonest. I’m not good with dishonest. I left, my choice.
All I had to do was manage a dept and be nice to the customers. Tell them the product was the best available. Customer is king, Customer is always right but in reality I knew full well the customers were the cash cows. Sales staff bought in to it buying new for themselves and the company got profit and then the finance kick back on the backs of the companies own employees.
They were going up the road with a product that was barely a shadow of that companies past products. Rubbish. Disposable vehicles
This is the result of our consumer society.
This is obsolescence
The country is a big business in a the worlds high street and we are the customers not the shareholders that we should be

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A slight benefit of having successful businesses is they provide employment, taxes, exports, to fund the government’s expenditure including the benefits system, the NHS and education. Profitability is necessary to do this.

Light bulbs that last “2500 hours” and longer have always been made, but they trade off light output efficacy (lumens per Watt) against life because the filament runs at a lower temperature.

The lamp industry has been one of innovation since its inception. Co-operation worldwide existed particularly in patent licenses and technical know-how agreements. Otherwise a company that made a significant step forward in say gas discharge technology or fluorescent phosphors would have dominated a particular field. I saw the benefits of this at first hand.

It is one field where newer products were built better than old, partly by improvements in technical design, partly by better production techniques and partly by improvements in quality control. This does not always. of course, apply to rogue operators who sell you substandard LEDs.

I dont disagree with you Malcolm.
I think we are all clued up enough to know that cooler elements will last longer but where I started was with manufacturers instrumenting obsolescence and as best I have seen this the earliest noted time several companies joined forces to empty our pockets more often by selling us a worse product

DeeKay, long-life light bulbs simply trade off life against electricity usage. Developments in filament material and design, gas filling, quality control all helped to produce more reliable and longer-lived lamps, but there is no magic solution – well the halogen cycle was a big step forward for some filament lamp types. Fluorescent. low pressure sodium and high pressure discharge lamps for commercial and public use were the real step forward.

The Phoebus agreement was a world-wide agreement that, in the early days of lamp development, included interchange of technical information, use of patents, co-operation on innovation, introduction of standards and development of quality control that was funded from major manufacturers. The successful development of lamps and promotion of the widespread adoption of better lighting (we were still using gas) would have been retarded were it not for such cooperation.

However, it was 90 years ago and a little off topic. I built my garage / workshop 30 years ago and installed fluorescent lighting with wire-wound ballasts (electronics not generally available) but using newly developed electronic pulse starters (instead of the glow type). I have not replaced any starters or lamps in all that time.

Fluorescent lighting is an excellent example of an extremely dependable product that led to the development of the compact fluorescent lamp, often regarded as anything but reliable. CFLs tend to be over-run to maximise light output in a small space and contain electronic components that can be overheated if used in enclosed or semi-enclosed fixtures. It was many years before I saw a product (a Tesco spiral) that warned against such use and there are CFLs on current sale without this warning. With choke ballast fluorescent lighting, there is no electronics to overheat and fail and with more modern electronic ballasts they are separate from the heat generated by the tube.

The main advantage of electronic starters over glow starters is that they will detect a worn out tube and not repeatedly attempt to start a discharge, which can overheat a choke, with the possibility of fire.

I’m not too keen on the illegal actions of a cartel being portrayed in a positive way but perhaps we should be grateful to computer crime and hackers for encouraging the development of security in our banking system.

Good man Wave, This topic is about obsolescence and the actions of business to rob the people.

I’m have never been convinced that business sets out to rob people but sometimes I do wonder. I’ve just been looking at a hand-held blender at a friend’s house. It is a shoddy construction that anyone practical could have seen would not be durable. I don’t know which supermarket it came from but I don’t believe that the supermarkets (all large companies) should be selling cheap & nasty products.

Hi Wave, Not all business’s do and like you I’d like to life in wishful thinking land and think that where i spend my money cares that i at least make it out their door before I fall down.
I have dealt with some reasonable business’s and some not so.
I have ran my own business’s and I was in it to make a living but I cared and I done my best provide a service at a fair price but I never made my fortune.
There are sometimes too sides to the coin and customers can be as greedy as any big company.
It didnt take me long to get ripped off a few times and I soon learned a lesson.
My worst enemies were the type who would tell me that I could fix this or that without using loads of parts. ” I know you can do it” They really blew hot hot up my ***
Those were the worst people I have every met. If you fell for that story you’d fall for the next one too that they were getting paid for something and they’d be straight down to pay just as soon as the cheque arrived. That was often never. You see like a thief, they had cased me out. If I believed the sob story and that I was a great fellow I’d believe anything.
As bad as any greedy company
Its people who run companies.
Today there is little chance of management being in it to provide a service and get paid for that. Its the callus greedy types that are there also.
We all have to go out and shop and the prime mover in the supermarket is price but they are also trying very hard to sell us stuff we dont need
These supermarkets dont care about you or I or the grower/farmer.
We all know the stories from the news that when a shop decided to do a 2 for 1 offer they landed straight to the grower and told the grower that they have to supply twice as much for the same money. Thats callus.
Big business never gives anything away for nothing in return.
Back to cars. Why do we have cars with systems that dont often dont work beyond warranty and the replacement parts are so expensive the residuals would hit the floor if it were not for the 1000s of remapping services everywhere.
Without those guys disabling the emissions equipment the cars would be unaffordable and would simply need scrapped. Ask anyone buying one of these cars if they would like to take the whole hit of the price over 5 or 6 years. They’d laugh you out of town.
Ask the owner of a 5 year old for £1200 for an EGR and they’d have a heart attack.
So the manufacturers have obsolescent due to terrible products but they want their cake and eat it at the same time
I know I often end back on cars but these are the second biggest expense to our houses so why not. They are terrible. They should be better

“I’m not too keen on the illegal actions of a cartel being portrayed in a positive way”. Well, that seems to be that then.

CFLs are reliable if you buy decent brands. Even in enclosed fittings – just choose the right wattage for the size of enclosure. Chokes could certainly be unreliable if poor quality ones were used – they could overheat in “normal” use. Nothing is as clearcut as is sometimes “portrayed”.

I have posted before about the need to keep the electronics cool when using CFLs. Hot electronic components may survive being cooked for a time, but it is not a recipe for reliability. I have dismantled a fair number of old CFLs that I know to have been well ventilated and it’s remarkable how cooked they have become inside even if there is little overheating obvious from outside. On the other hand, CFLs used in enclosed fixtures are invariably cooked unless only used for short periods.

Looking at a Tesco lamp (950 lm), the box is marked: “Do not use in enclosed fixtures. Usage in recessed fixtures could result in reduced product life.” Very sensible advice and perhaps we could all enjoy decent life of our CFLs if it was on all packaging.

Yes they were.

My mother passed on her Electrolux freezer to me & I reluctantly replaced it when it was approx. 45 yrs old because I could not get new door seals (it needed defrosting every 3 months & was using 1.6kw elec a day).
It was made of metal & my replacement, is of course, made of plastic & I will be lucky if it lasts 10 yrs.

The appropriate use of a CFL depends upon its wattage and the fitting it will be used in. A high wattage CFL in a small enclosed fitting is clearly not sensible. But to suggest that no CFLs can go in enclosed fittings is incorrect. I have tested such combinations in the past, and currently use them successfully. Light fittings designed for CFLs should show the maximum wattage recommended, just as GLS fittings did.

The electronic components used in good quality CFLs are designed to run at appropriate temperatures. Poorer quality lamps may not. Similar situation with GLS lamps where if a high wattage lamp was used in too-small an enclosure the lamp base cement could fail.

The only recent light fixture I have is a reading lamp and one of the reasons I chose it is because it provides good ventilation for a CFL. It does not show a CFL lamp rating. Many people have older fixtures so the information needs to be supplied with the lamp. I think that Tesco’s labelling is commendable, but don’t know how many other manufacturers/retailers do the same.

Incidentally, which brands would you see as good quality CFLs?

I’ve used GE and Philips for some years now successfully – good colour, quick to start and have lasted well. However some months ago I bought some B&Q enclosed lights and am using their own brand (Diall) spiral CFLs in those. So far so good but too early to draw any conclusions of course.

I’ve used Philips and GE too and have usually had exceptional service. I deliberately bought a couple of cheap Tesco CFLs to try to understand the problem of poor life that others have reported with CFLs, but I have been very pleased. I can’t say I’m impressed by a lot of their own brand electrical goods.

A major problem with newer products is the lack of repairability and the cost of repairs. I have not had any bills recently but a friend was charged about £800 for a rear wheel bearing, £80 for a new bulb behind the heater controls and £60 to have a headlamp bulb replaced, all done at the main dealer. Thankfully the parts are available but if you are unlucky, repairs can be expensive. I don’t know how much it will cost to have the timing belt replaced next year as part of a service. I know there are some cars where the engine has to be lifted for this job.

On the other hand, I find it difficult to believe how reliable most modern cars are, most of the time, compared with say 40 or 50 years ago.

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A slight correction. The car is a Toyota Yaris and I realise that the cost will include the cost of a service, MOT and ‘free’ valet. My friend did query the cost to no avail.

Up until now I’ve done most of my own servicing and repairs outside warranty. I did once get a timing belt replaced because it looked and was a big job because of poor access.

Timing chains can fail as a result of poor servicing and I know someone who has recently had a Mitsubishi engine wrecked in this way.

Chains are for the best part more reliable??? but they can and do break and the results are the same as a belt breaking except that you now have the price of a chain and the chain and covers are not as easy to get around as a belt.
If you have chain driven cams and you every hear a little jingley noise be cautious the first thing to fail is often the chain tensioner and although the chain hasnt the room to hop over the teeth the loose chain gets quickly stressed by slapping. The slapping is the noise.
Chains were around around long before belts. The Lotus Twin Cam was chain as was Fiat Alfa. nothing new there.
Belt services are way too long. Anything can happen in 70 or 80k.
Change them all at 40k and dont, dont over-tighten them. Over-tightening a timing belt is much worse than it being a little the other way. They dont stretch and they would have to be serious floppy to skip the teeth.
Personally i have never had a belt break but i have removed loads of heads and replaced valves. Big job today with 4 valves er cyl and if its a diesel with its inherent close clearances the problem can be worse.
Change the belts and often. Their not dear.
Its a bit like the countless oil debates. Some oil is better than no oil. A new belt is always better than no belt.
Hope that helps

I’ve not had any problem with timing belts, but still envy those with timing chains. As you say, you get an audible warning of a worn chain. If cars were designed to enable a simple visual check of the condition and tension of timing belts, a lot of grief could be avoided. It might have helped a friend who had a belt that broke only 17k after replacement on his Land Rover.

I specialised for some years in LRs and in that time we never had a TB failure.
We repaired many front pulleys that fell off destroying the front of the crank which had to get metal sprayed. The front pulley had a very high torque and was never done up properly. We repaired many bent valves because of belts not making it the later extended recommended intervals.
It seems that near 20 years on things have not changed
I could not say that a belt will never fail but I was on the forefront of the industry for 20 years before I sold up and if everything was as should be a belt should do well.
It would not be easy inspecting a belt. you kinda need it off and bend it backward to see the cracks at the edge of the teeth where the first signs appear.
The belts I hated the worst were the old BDAs. They were dire
It may be a bit of statement but if you had any skills it may be better to do your own work. Dealer workshops are so poor.
The wifes car has a chain. Suzuki
Personally I have a safe engine. The belt can break without damage but believe it or not I have had to rescue an old friend years ago who had been quoted many 100s to remove the head and replace valves etc on one of those very engines. An hour and a half and she fired up first turn.
Believe it or not that engine is still in production after 30 years. Same block, same 8 valves. Only difference to now is sequential injection So much for progress.

I don’t have your expertise but on at least one of my cars it was easy to remove the cover and check for obvious problems with the condition and tension of the belt, even if it is not a thorough inspection. In my father’s day it was a standard recommendation to inspect the condition of belts, hoses, etc. I still do this and so far have avoided failures. Unfortunately, manufacturers have made it more difficult to make simple checks. Cars are more reliable but can be much more expensive to fix if something goes wrong.

Your attention will serve you well. Dont be afraid to have a look behind covers even if you cannot see much. There are not many oil leaks now but at the silly timing belt service intervals anything can and does happen. A very slight oil leak to the belt will shorten its life seriously. Oil is their biggest enemy

Yes modern cars are really very reliable. I dont know of a car that needs the engine lifting as you say. maybe a mount removed but I would not term it being lifted. Most timing belts are 2 to 4 hours about. My son has a 159 5cyl Just about as big and tight as you’ll get and its about the 4 hours mark.
Main dealers are awful.

Things keep coming to mind
I once needed a compressor and I needed one that would put up as much air as possible on single phase
I didnt like the twin motor twin pump high rpm ones.
I didnt like large receivers because they took too long to build up and the bigger the receiver the longer the pump has to run at the last where it is getting a harder time
I went about things different as usual.
Indecently I already had had 2 of the modern versions that I was sold as being for my purpose. Near every tool I had was air driven.
A single unplanned breakdown was a mad rush to the phone to get another on the way, Now. At the second failure I hired one albeit at a silly price per week but I knew this quality of machine was no good to me.
I went to the place that had built my last two compressors and who still build garage compressors.
All similar spec idea to Clarke etc.
They would not build what I wanted
They sold me a 28cfm pump though
I went and got myself a 4hp 3000rpm motor
I mounted the two items and started to play.
Knowing that the only off loader was the one in the switch that goes hiss as the switch goes to stop in prep for the next start the only buffer for air is the pipe between the pump and the check valve and is not enought real relief at start up I added a 240v solenoid valve just like big industrial compressors to the pump hose.
I added a Sytelec 10sec timer set to 4 sec in order that every time the unit started the valve would open for 5 secs to allow the single phase motor that is poor at starting to get off of its start windings
I swapped motor drive pulleys until the unit started cold easily and started within the rating of the motor.
That was when our boy was born 25 years ago.
It has never failed in any manner and there were 3 of us at one time working off of it.
The compressor salesman of the day is local and has never forgot the supposed ott unit I built.
He is retired but every time I see him the same question. Is the compressor still going?
The pump has never used oil and the same oil is in it to this very day.
It obviously doesnt get much use now but last week we fitted a set of new track pads and the 3/4 gun got a load of work without a problem.
So where am I going with this in relation to the topic
The pump I got was a modern alloy thing.
The two cyl, two stage tye that usually does a few years but it runs about half speed of the self destruct cheapies.
So the cheap alloy pump is fine if its kept about 800 or 900rpm instead of near 2000rpm
Again I was not offered such a machine.
I was told a single phase motor would never start it yet one could turn the pulley easily by hand and I could still hear the rings going up and down the newly honed bore.
A 3000rpm motor has no torque, you’ll need to use a 1500rpm motor to start the thing with obviously no understanding of gearing.
So if you want a compressor, a good compressor you can have one without a kings ransom but you might have to built it yourself.
Even 25 years ago compressors had become rubbish.
The high speed pair I had often ran for hours. The temperature was such the pump and motor would have taken the skin off you.
I looked for an old proper British built ones but even second hand they commanded a serious premium.
Really there was little choice. Buy a new compressor every two or three years or move to somewhere with 3ph supply.
My answer worked. Yes it ran for hours and days on end also but it was never so hot you couldnt have touched it an time has been the test.
It’ll probably be going when I’m not around which will be no odds to me but about 2 days engineering left me with a product that’ll last a lifetime.

I’ve just come in from the garage where it got a bit cold. Cleaning up sawdust with our Rowenta Wet ‘n Dry vacuum – a big tub on wheels with the works sitting on the top – I realised we’d had it for around 32 years. And it has had a hard life including cleaning up an awful lot of dust and small rubble when building the house extension and garage. It was replaced for the house with a Miele, and consigned to the workshop to suck up sawdust, shavings and bits of wood. And still going strong.

Ah, yes: from the description exactly the same model and age of our Wet ‘n Dry Rowenta which we also use in the garage 🙂 I suspect the key to success for that model was supreme simplicity (lift off the lid to change the bag / filter, simple mechanical clamps to hold it closed , two sizes of hose (large one excellent for leaves) and an engine that seems destined to go on forever.

It is the same. Ian. I’m right out of new bags (have been for about 25 years) but still have a much used one that, if the occasion permits, I reuse. But generally it gobbles up rubbish straight into the tub.

I’ve had very good service with a Rowenta filter coffee maker. It has a gold filter, so no messing with paper bags and none of the grounds get through it. The filter is immaculate and the machine works fine but looks very tatty. I would buy the same machine again if it was available, but all the ones I’ve seen have a cheap nylon filter. I have a pressure coffee maker but cannot be bothered to use that every day.

Many people hold on to older household products because they don’t like what is on sale today.

We have a Spong 1940’s runner bean slicer for that very reason. Runner beans being the supreme vegetable it is important to slice them nicely and this does it very nicely with a hand-turned rotary action. Nothing we have tried has come close to producing attractive runner beans and, so far as we can see, there is no gadget on the market that does such a good job.

I have a fan heater that I use in my garage workshop. My father bought it when I was a young child in the 50s. It is much more strongly built than the fan heaters now sold for domestic use, it is easy to open the back to oil the Garrard motor, and there is a fusible link in case the air flow is blocked. I still have a spare. The original red/black/green mains cable has been replaced. I reckon it will outlast me. Unfortunately it no longer bears the manufacturer’s name.

We also have a fan heater which is 49 years old. It’s a Centrifugal fan (horizontal impeller) and when new it was highly efficient but above all almost silent. However, I remember we had several, and in turn they all became noisy to operate. But the original one still works silently when you start it.

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We’re all lit up this morning we are.
Having all sorts of electrical heaters I am always on the look out for older heavier models.
The proper heaters with big solid elements instead of these fiddly thing not much thinker than a hair. The older ones had the elements inside the metal and didn’t mess up our air the same
Imagine buying an electric heater and drilling a wall or worse still tiles to fix it to. In about 5 years you’d have to re-tile to cover the amount of different holes.
Even the old fan heaters like above are still kicking around
Good stuff
Some thing have have improved but not electric heaters

I’m not convinced that old products were always better made even if they were repairable.

When I was a child we had no central heating in our village bungalow. My bedroom had a coal fire and and a 2kW portable electric heater with two heater elements consisting of coils of nichrome wire supported in ceramic radiants. It would have been easy to poke a metal object through the grille at the front and touch the live element. When an element broke you joined together the broken ends or took out the old element and threaded a new one in the ceramic radiant.

I was very glad when electric fires with silica-sheathed elements, oil-filled radiators and fan heaters arrived.

Hi Wave. You were lucky, we didnt have leccy back then but I agree wholeheartedly that proper sheathed elements were good but now we have the biggest rubbish of elements I could have dreamed of.
We were told “dont touch, it’ll shock you” and we didnt touch
I read lately that children are more likely to start fires now because they have been so shielded from matches etc that they literally start playing with fire and then cant get it stopped. The dont understand because they have no experience and received no instruction
Have a look down inside a modern cheapy and not so cheap heater. It just a big stamped out matt stretched out not unlike a Xmas decoration.

And yes I see some things as better in 2 ways. More reliable like cars and much of the throw away stuff has so little in it you could throw away several before you’d amount up the equivalent product of yesterdays repairable stuff
But its only some stuff. Tv’s and some electronics go out of date so quick that they suit this style but other things maybe I’d like to see a return of better.
A fridge or a washer doesnt go out of date at least not in may eyes. And could we have hot connections back again please.

Still I like sheathed elements and bi-metal stats.
Its not easy making loads from wire-wound stuff. Sheathed are great for forming to fit various housings an so on.
Those other things with digital timers and solid state stats dont suit me.

Memories!!!!!!! Friends house was like yours. Fireplace in bedroom electric heater that you weren’t allowed to switch on.
It saved on matches though for those who wanted to hang out the bedroom window with a ciggy!!!!!

Gerard did do belt drive models, probably late 70s, but they were looked down on because most of their production was cheaper models with the turntable driven by the rubber idler wheel.

Kettles used to have replaceable elements and it was often possible to buy a suitable one from a local electrical retailer. Now the element is usually under the base of the kettle and non-replaceable.

I like the idea of having a kettle with a shiny flat base that lime scale does not stick to and the troublesome seal between the element and kettle body is eliminated, but it is not good to have to throw away the whole kettle if the heater fails. Dualit have produced a kettle with a replaceable base but the reports I have read have not been kind.

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Duncan, you have just brought back terrible memories. We had no Leccy and for outside we had Hurricane lamps like you describe with the wick. For inside there were pressurised type lamp that you pumped up and then clamped a alcohol soaked thingy to and preheated the globe/fire bit to get it to light. Very bright and white and kept up an awful racket.
There were pressurise versions for keeping little piglets warm and versions for chickens too. There were even paraffin incubators.
No I dont want to go back to that. Ceilings all sooty and black. Fires waiting to happen.
Leccy all the way.
If it doesent run down a pipe or a wire I dont want it
Speaking of which I have plenty in the wires tonight. Dump loads glowing outside.

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If there was no Leccy I’d light one up before I’d sit in the dark but Id want some form of better ventilation than I currently have because like it or not the by-products are not good for you whether you see smoke or not and I’m choked with by-products anyhow and feel the slightest fumes.
I’ll agree that they do give off some heat and that nothing is wasted unlike near every other form of heat or light but maybe there is a good reason others have flues
Even after the end of WW2 there were fears about poisoning from oil lamps
A gas cooker gives off CO but they are exempted from needing a fixed exhaust flue as it is unlikely to be operated in closed space as it is assumed a vent or window will open to remove the heat and steam.
Every cooker instructions warns not to use the cooker as a heater.
As best I am aware a cooker is the only combustion device exempted from now accepted normal ventilation rules.

I also liked the old fire-bar heaters but they were a fire hazard and the ones without the glass were a shock hazard,
Mind the ones at present have a lightweight element not very far off of the bottom of the heater.
Certainly a child would have no trouble sticking a knife or spoon handle in there. I know we have RCDs now but I’d rather not rely on the last chance hotel per se.

Electric fires with exposed elements have been consigned to history but in the 21st century it is still possible for a child can still poke fingers into the lamp socket of a table lamp.

Many don’t realise that a gas hob gives off carbon monoxide in use because of ‘flame chilling’.

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There was a spot on our tv news about parents taking pictures of there children sitting on a railway line whilst out for a country walk. And not just an isolated incident. The same story showed cyclists, cars and pedestrians with a pram dodging the closing gates on a road/railway crossing. We can take all the safety precautions we like, but I don’t think there is a cure for stupidity.

Hi Wave,
I know from your posts that for whatever reason electrical and other safety is very interesting to you.
I am not nearly as interested for as I make sure that all circuits here have proper modern protection on them but I dont miss much and I can see the potential problems for many households.
Have a look if you can at the many 1000s of convertor heaters on the market from countless sources.
Look say on Amazon for OYPLA convertor heater. Oypla are not on their own by a long shot, it was the first to appear.
Once you recognise the beast the next time you see one in the flesh turn it up and look in the bottom. You’ll see uninsulated elements within easy reach.
Now if all things were as probably you and I would want them to be every house would have a nice consumer unit with RCDs or RCBOs on every circuit and if that were the case then about the worst would happen would be an unsustainable shock.
However all houses we know a to well are not equipped with what I would term as proper protection and in this case the electric will cause you muscles to hold on indefinitely if the contraction acts to keep you connected you are in trouble.

Gas cooker/grill/stove instructions should spell out the dangers but like the conditions online we just bypass them

Many European Standards EN (and the equivalent BS ENs) are safety standards to ensure that we are protected from unsafe products. Anyone who allows the import of, imports or distributes unsafe products (that don’t comply with the appropriate EN) should be prosecuted.

Trading Standards used to be better at this than they are now, in their decimated condition. Perhaps Which? could organise a campaign and involve the Minister for Consumer Affairs (if he can find the time with has many other jobs) in getting consumers properly looked after.

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Yes Duncan, There is little good in having policies or standards of there is no one to police the thing.
At present the Gov is so focused on Fiscal policy they see nothing else. Nothing unusual there. Tunnel vision.
The problem is that we came to expect a certain standard of safety and perhaps became complacent expecting everything to be safe.
Safety can be and mostly is really good in comparison to yesteryear but there are many houses with little more than a big fuse in them. No earth leakage protection at all.
Those houses should long since have had at minimum had their consumer units upgraded to more recent equipment even if the wiring wasn’t upgraded.
I am aware that there are certain conditions and requirements about wiring but a consumer unit full of proper rated RCDs and MCBs or RCBOs will be a heck of a sight better than being dead.
I worked my way around this old place of mine over the last years and there is no part without earth leakage protection. I even added it to the underground cabling form the distant meter box with 150mA time delayed. I feel better having done so.
I suppose I’m back with logic instead of written rules but anything improvement is better than no improvement.

Modern lampholders have, for some time, included a feature that disconnects the supply when the lamp is removed.

I had a think about this after reading that bulb holders now disconnect with removal of the bulb and I couldn’t remember any real change over the years at least visibly so I had a check around.
I have a complete extension finished 10 years ago. There are 7 pendant bulb holders. All remain live with the bulb removed
I have then tested the ones in may fathers cabin that is 2 years old, the same, live
I then went to the big bins where I keep surplus of everything and that is the newest stuff and all four pendants test for continuity so no disconnect there either.
I have googled just about every term I can think of about bulb holders and pendants having a built in disconnect and I can find nothing.
It was required for a particular part of my job that I done my 17th edition and I done my 17th edition just over 8 years ago and I recall no info on this suggested modification to bulb holders.
So for those reading be cautious of bulb holders they can and do shock

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Hi Duncan, Thanks for the Duck-Duck-Go. I’ll try it a few more times later as google does follow you around as such and my searches cover a wide range of topics so sometimes the first search page is more of a marketing exercise than anything of real interest

Looking on the web a number of “safety” lampholders come up from regular wholesalers and outlets – Crabtree, MK, Hager using for example shielded contacts until the lamp is inserted. The relevant British Standard is, I presume, BS7895:1997 “Specification for bayonet lampholders with enhanced safety” .

A pity we can’t look at BSs to see what they say and where they apply but it would seem to me that any accessible lights should be fitted with these.
Perhaps Which? can tell us?

Okay, You guys, you found them but I’ll bet you can go from one end of your street to the other and maybe not find a single one.
Can we start with your own houses please
As to standards. The 17th edition is the standard.
There is a Part P to building control that puts the onus on the property owner to make sure all electrical in/on the property will meet required standards
The current version is BS 7671:2008+A3:2015 (the 17th edition incorporating Amendment 3:2015)
I have the big bible here and if someone would direct me to where it says we need to use bulb holders with a disconnect I would love to see it.
This is not because I want to use one thing or the other not has it anything to do being right or wrong or maybe more to the point who is right or wrong.
It is because there is an onus on wholesalers/suppliers to supply equipment to the current requiements and if I’ve been supplied equipment below standard I want to take it all back with the invoices and dates.

If these things had been compulsory for some time the basic ones would/should not be available as it would be an offence to supply such in the same manner as a recent change has meant that most if not all consumer units cannot have flammable case. There are a couple of exceptions but in a house the combustible ones are now a no go.

I know I court debate
I originally commented on Malcolm’s post that bulb holders had for some time had a disconnect.
I personally had not used or seen such holders anywhere but because I had not specialised in this field all my life and dont so every day and in case I had missed something as I often do I conducted a quick set of tests at home followed by a quick google search.
I was not looking for a supplier, I was looking for a requirement, a regulation change which I did not find.

I have not had offered to me as an alternative any such holders so as to whether they are available or not is not the question.
What is in question
Does the current regs require bulb holders to have a disconnect upon removal of the bulb? I dont know.
I was made to read and pass a test on the above mentioned standard and during this I was not made aware nor did I read anything about such and was interested in much of the teaching but the teaching left a load to be desired as did the test for reasons directly involved with my then industry and although the 17th edition had all the info I required in connection with our industry and our requirements there was not a single question on much if any of that part of the 17th edition.
In other words the test felt very like it covered the basic everyday domestic/commercial requirements which could be argued that that covers most electrical work..
That being said the standards I had to work to required that all personnel directly involved with the machines had have the 17th edition.

Have bulb holders had for some this disconnect device built in? Just at this moment I dont know but I am fairly sure if I go to town today and ask for 10 pendants I wont be asked about a disconnect type.

The reason I commented on the post and the reason I metered our holders and googled for what should have been common knowledge is because to say “for some time” could/would/maybe lead a reader to think that for some time these items had been commonly or compulsory installed thus those with fresh houses or those in renovated houses should have bulb holders with a safety device fitted is misleading.

So unless someone can categorically state that “for some time” all houses should have been by regulation fitted with these isolating type bulb holders can we at present assume that in fact not all houses and possibly very few houses have been fitted with isolating type holders.
Otherwise a reader could be mislead.

As to whether a person would be silly enough to test his holders out with his finger is not the question but silly’er things have happened

Yes we can buy safety lampholders, and they have been available for years. But as Dee says, most of the ones in use and on sale are the dangerous type. Why do manufacturers continue to produce goods that are so obviously hazardous? It is illegal to sell products where live parts can be accessed without use of tools, so why do we allow hazardous lampholders? It’s not just inquisitive children that are at risk but doddery old people perched on stepladders at the head of the stairs, trying to extricate a broken lamp.

The traditional hazardous bayonet lampholder had a makeover when the BC3 version was introduced and installed in new houses to ensure that householders could only use low energy bulbs with a 3-pin bayonet instead of old fashioned light bulbs. The resulted in many complaints about lamps with a BC3 bayonet being sold at inflated price. The BC3 lamp holders I have seen were not safety lampholders and I expect that many householders have now replaced them by now, probably with the equally hazardous old fashioned design.

I bought a new reading lamp a couple of years ago and it takes screw-fitting lamps. This reminds me that I have never seen a safety version of a lampholder for ES lamps. Maybe the combined incompetence of industry, standards institutions and government is not confined to the UK.

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Sorry Duncan. The comment was intended to mean that we put both young and old at risk because a simple safety issue has not been addressed. I do my own repairs too.

Hi Guys,
I handnt even remembered about all the ES holders out there today. I avoid them like the plague but yes they are as dangerous as all others
As to BC3, that was little more than a gimmick

Now I’m probably about too put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Everything is based on the 17th edition like it or not.
The 17th edition is Gods word on electricity whether it is right or not.
Like it or not there most likely was input to those regs from people who could not wire a socket. Sorry you guys but that’ll be a fact.
Electricians do everything to the 17th edition whether it is logical or not and logic is in short supply.
You see once you have regulation to cover load of things the regs become the easy way of doing things whether they be good or not.
If you question anything in connection with the regs you will often get a retort if its not in the regs then I dont require it and the regs are very good. So in other words I’m right and p*** off. We dont need bulb holders with a disconnect.
I had an instance of fitting a largish component outdoors and it was fed by 2 x 16mm Tri-core cables and all we had was 10mm earth.
I said to put it (10mm)on and the other fully time served dude said no, it had to be equal to the conductor because that is the way the regs were and he wouldnt see the regs broken.
I didnt not argue and I didnt run looking for the bible to look it up but in common T&E the earth conductor is not as large as the other 2 conductors so where is logic.
Surely the earth is there to protect the human body for the most part although in our case at the time a missing earth caused problems with damp and switching negatives as is the norm for IGBTs.
Back to the earths. There is reference to both ideas in the regs but the big manufacturers choose the cheapest route and run with a smaller earth.
Malcolm keeps going back to what I would call naked conductors.
Not being an expert but having read at least the bits that interest me and the bits needed to get me out the door with a bit of paper per se, (like most) my understanding is that all terminals and connections are required to be enclosed. I dont remember any reference to contacts or the like.
Yes it is bonkers to think that terminals even inside a consumer unit have covers but a bulb holder has live terminals once the bulb is removed.
So unless its in the bible you wont be getting it and unless its in the bible the manufacturers are not keen to try and sell it.
Were any of you ever in a wholesalers, Stand back, keep quiet, dont let on your an outsider and listen carefully most electricians would swap your soul for a penny and that is why if you want anything done it needs to get into the BS standards.
I have a daughter who has just moved into a little bungalow.
There was a new kitchen and bathroom suite
The water system is a good old gravity with tank in the roof space
The flow is s**t
The shower didn’t work more or less
The many previous owners could not possibley have lived with the system as it is today and I am very sure they did not have a system as my daughter now has
Now this was obviously put in by a local qualified plumber.
It doesnt matter in my mind if the customer supplied the stuff or not, the plumber should not have followed through on a rubbish job. An old friend later in this story would not have done this.
He would have said, excuse me Mr’s but this will never work, you’ll need a couple of changes to make a half a job out of this.
The new plumber now first said it needs swapped for a pressure system to which I nearly took has face off.
They (daughter and side kick) had lived with us for some time and the next time they were here at home I pushed open the trap door and showed them the tank in our roof space.
The same as they have in their new house and we have a shower albeit we all know that its no power shower but it works.
Also their kitchen mixer has no check valve on the gravity hot so I left instructions for their plumber to fit a swing check valve to that to which he replied that it had to be a spring type check valve.
Now there is no logic in that on a gravity system.
A spring valve by its very nature needs pressure to open it. Pressure they dont have a plenty. A swing valve was the old way and it worked. A swing valve needs near nothing to open it.
But he thinks the regs say he cannot fit a swing valve and he has the b***s to say that it is currently dangerous but turns on his heel and walks out the door. If he only knew. But them he doesnt care. reg’s are regs.
Both the kitchen and washbasin have very modern and new mixer taps and the pipework to my cars fuel system would be as big.
There is no way on earth there is going to be any flow through those from a header tank. They should have never been there in there first place
The bath and shower mixer has two flexi’s 22mm to 3/4 but although the fitting threads are the correct size the actual flexi’s are about the size we have at home on a few 15mm connections.
Again I left word and a proper example of a 22mm flexi but the reply was that the piping is okay and now he suggests a booster pump
So this house is in a row of identical ones and I shouted over the fence at Stewart the neighbour. Is your water system gravity fed. Yes Have you a shower Yes No Booster pump No booster. We went to see. Yes I’ve seen better showers but its got a nice small head with not to many holes to eat up the available flow and is similar to home.
I asked them Would that do you. Yes
I looked at Stewart and asked. Who plumbed this for you as everything was obviously new thinking his plumber could be got and save me a load of hassle. He replied, Me. Does that tell you something
Next thing I done was to give them the shower head out of our motorhome which suits this low flow, low head type of thing. Wow at least the water doesnt dribble back down the outside of the hose and you could just about get washed
So there are two choices
Pay a ransom for a booster pump which will use electric all its life and if it gets beyond 10 years that’ll be about that.
If its anything like around my doors the plumber will try the pump without the proper tank connector as a pump connection should be done
Or alternately re do the connections ourselves and maybe change the taps.
I might add that there is a hot tap outside the bathroom window.
I showed the plumber the shower head and hose attached to the tap and with hot water only one could shower outside with the flow. No tiny flexi’s of course. I got abruptly told that it wont work inside and you’l never get a shower in a bungalow with gravity head???????
Anyhow this will have to be done by someone with out a bit of paper to their name
So as to regulations.
I do not think that we have moved on nearly as well as we should have nor nearly as well as the well intended think we have.
Regs look good on paper but the result is not always what is required
Good old proper trades men would have had the system operating long since and it would be better, less energy usage and last a lifetime but because the regs say this or that and the hoses are made to a spec we are supposed to simply put up with this.
We have a gravity shower at home in single storey and the man next door has a gravity shower in a single storey. We have all got washed in these showers and my daughter just wants water to flow out of her shower and taps. It does need to the Niagra falls because they realise from living here that more always means more money without fail.
You see, many years ago we had no electric. I built generator. I fabricated connections to the generator to bring the waste heat into our house.
Not rocket science. A car, a truck ,a tractor all have heater off of the cooling system
Could I get a plumber to plumb the thing not a cat in h*** chance
My father went and seen an old mate who had survived cancer once at that time
Billy came and with my hands on work we go it all up and running.
It didnt matter to Billy that the header tank was this and the something else was that and not the norm he knew what would work and what was safe. wala it operated great and did so for some years
-Next thing was a solar panel. I only had the panel. I hadnt one one of these pumping station kits. I didnt want a pump.
I wanted thermosyphon but could I get a plumber to do it. I didnt even get a price. they were all too busy
Billy dear old man arrived again and unbeknown to me his problem had arrived back to haunt him so I have a tear in my eye as I write this.
He instructed me on every step. We made him tea and scones etc and we had a great time. It took two Saturdays. I think he really enjoyed being of some use and my Dad and him got going about the old days.
In no time I had a fully functional solar panel with no circulation pump bear in mind of course that without mains electric such a thing would need to be avoided
The hot water from those panels is still being made today, and Billy, Billy is just a memory, a very nice memory.
Billy was old school. He told me stories about how to plumb thermo to radiators even as large as churches he had done.
He told me so much that I probably have forgotten most of it but one thing he was, he was a problem solver and a proper time served man.
Today I do all my own plumbing and I’ll never forget that old man with the pipe and friendly wrinkly face and laid back persona.
So as to reg’s.
I have mixed feelings about them
They do some good but the problem is that today’s installers simply stick to whatever is simple, easy to them and hide behind the regs to do so because they are the people who know and we dont know.
But there are few who do know and wont be bluffed.
Things can be done right, done safe, and done to last a lifetime.
They can even be done easily to regulation and still be all of that but the problem often comes down to money and how much trouble something is.
A few flexi’s maybe a replacement mixer to get a marginally bigger flow is not enough of a story to get a good days wages. A shower pump will not dooubt about it deliver a greater head and it will look like the money we would say.
I would rather pay a good days wages to someone and have them do it right as pay for a load of stuff not required just so its looks like more work and more value
A cheap shower pump that I wouldnt want is £100 and a top valve is £30 odd although I’d rather put a new flange on the tank.
I would rather put 2 proper plumbers sticks below the bath and they’ll never leak or perish
By the looks of it I’ll likely have to do it because I cannot bring myself to stand back and watch

The law requires electrical work to comply with the ’17th Edition’ to protect the public, but the public has no access to these standards. No doubt some will defend this but I believe that standards should be readily accessible to the general public.

If we had seen the appropriate standards for the BC3 lampholder, someone might have pointed out the problems before any were installed in homes.

Maybe we are getting off the topic of whether old products were built better.

Yes why is the standards only readily available to those in the trade.
Wave, might it have something to do with money. We the guys who done the course had to buy the thing and often those who are made to buy such dont like sharing.
I dont remember the cost but it wasnt cheap although I dont care who reads the d**d thing.
I’m not possessive.
It’s very large and perhaps like most standards a little too involved with soem things whilst missing others. such as lamp holder??

If I had my way, the wiring regulations and all documents about British and European standards should be freely available online. If the government wants to recover the cost of production, there are ways of taxing companies. Not everyone can understand technical documents, but there are some who can.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

BSI is not owned by and is independent of the government. It prepares and distributes standards and operates test houses. Its income comes from sales and members subscriptions. The”wiring regs” has been a British Standard for some time.

I would like to be able to look at standards from time to time. They are expensive to buy, members get them half price but still expensive. BSI, when I asked, helpfully sent me a list of public libraries to subscribe to “standards online” where a huge range of EN, ISO and other standards can be viewed online. But usually only if you are a member of the county library and you must visit the library to use the service. 24 plus the British Library. Not mine! Academic institutions will probably subscribe.

I would be interested to know if Which? is a subscribing member with full access.

Many standards are well written but often require a knowledge of the subject they are concerned with to fully understand their meaning. By their nature they need to be as unambiguous as possible.

Thanks Malcolm. I had not realised that BSI was responsible for the wiring regs.

Academic libraries vary in their holdings, largely determined by research interests of staff – past and present. My former university library has only the 15th edition wiring regs listed in the catalogue but the workshops do have the current version. It did not have standards or patents, but the university I worked at in the 70s did.

I would like to see Which? making more use of expertise in universities. There’s occasional reference, such as when they invited emeritus prof. Bill Grant to comment on washing machine temperatures and bleaching agents in washing powder. It’s easy for academics to get hold of standards, official test procedures, theses, official reports, patents and papers in the most obscure journals.

It would be wonderful if Which? looked at subjects in greater depth – as you and Dieseltaylor have pushed for so often – but that seems unlikely without substantially greater funding or narrowing their remit.

I’m glad this is an ancient Convo because we are a long way from the topic on the card. 🙂

We also live in a bungalow with a cold water tank in the loft. When we re-did the bathrooms we had a job to find showers and taps that would flow well off a gravity system. You need to estimate the pressure and then look around for taps and showers that are suitable – they usually publish the bar range they are designed for. One bath/shower ended up with a pump.

1 bar is about 10m head, but I’d to allow for a pressure drop in the pipe – say 20% in a 10m length. Anyone have better information?

This apparently has come about because the continent largely uses pressurised systems and so taps etc are made to suit – so my plumber told me.

You are right to allow for the decrease in pressure due to the pipework, but that will depend very much on the flow rate of the shower.

Google “pressure drop in pipes” and you’ll find a couple of helpful websites relating pipe size, volume flow and pressure drop. But as long as you make a reasonable estimate you should be OK – the pressure range of most taps is wide enough to allow for any error.s

Thanks again Malcolm, I went to my plumbing supplies this afternoon and picked up a proper long shower hose.
Went straight out to their house as my daughter was at home today and between the motorhome shower head and the better hose they now have a resemblance of a shower.
I’ll still have a go at the taps and pipework as all the flexis are too small. The main pipework is fine just those hoses
The original hose was so short it was getting kinked as it turned up out of the taps and her man is a big guy so even with the different shower head when he put it where he needed it it stopped totally. What a b****s of a job
I couldn’t help but notice the bore of the original hose either. Everything seems to be made for pressure systems but all systems are not pressurised.
So older is better
Older taps, shower taps/valves mixers and flexis all worked with both gravity and pressurised. These modern thing dont work with have the houses and no body is telling any body it seems.
Just a little note
Mains pressure system are not mains pressure
At the tank there is a pressure reducer so calling them mains pressure is a bit
No odds what mains pressure you have you end up with the pressure of the reducer which is the design pressure of the system
The reducers are far from regulators. the diaphragms are too small to be a proper regulator so reducer is the best name for them.

I am not sure how the references to domestic water systems arose but I acknowledge that I have not had time to read all the latest contributions, however, I would say that is one instance where the modern unvented mains-pressure hot water systems are better than the traditional vented systems with an open tank in the roof space controlled by a ball-valve. Having moved from a 1994 house with that type of installation to a 2012 house with a pressurised system we are very satisfied with the performance of the system which includes the complete absence of a header tank and a supplementary central heating balancing tank in the loft with their occasional ball-valve hiccups and other niggles. The whole lot is now neatly installed, together with the CH pump and control valves, in a cupboard on the middle floor of the house and provides an excellent flow to all the taps, shower heads and toilet cisterns on all three floors. This type of system is commonly installed in flats and would be very suitable for bungalows. It does depend on a decent pressure from the water supply company in compliance with Ofwat’s statutory requirements. It is probably not worth changing an existing installation unless there are other significant alterations being carried out or if the system is becoming unreliable.

Hi John, To change to a unvented system is beyond their means and is not all its cracked to be either.
Its nice when its new, its even nicer if it doesnt leak requiring re pressurising.
I had an acquaintance. A builder. He built his nice house and his good in his eyes plumber put him in a unvented and sealed pressurised heating system.
After some ten years he got the sealed system changed to a header tank because he said he could not be bothered with a leak no one could find.
Because of pipe sizes he had to fit two booster pumps to get the required flow because without them his flow was even poorer than my daughters.
Not all are like that I hope but I do hear murmurs of discontent now and again.
The old header tank system does have its drawbacks but one doesnt need a pressure pump or any special equipment to work at it.
I have a cabin for wifey and I.
There is no way I can get my old and liked vented system into it. There is simply no way to get a head of water
After building a new smaller cabin for my father I noticed that occasionally there is a funny smell from the water.
Now bear in mind our water has no chlorine in it.
After much reading I discovered this is not unusual in stainless and or steel water systems such as his water heater.
You have various choices. Put up with the odour or remove all anodes. Neither are agreeable with me.
So with this in mind I went to reading again as our old friend has since departed.
After much reading including theories on Legionella which is air born and it would not be particularly good for me to get I decided to go for an unvented copper cylinder as I had to have a bespoke cylinder made anyhow but copper is more expensive. Now this is really not like me to spend more money but this os one of those times.
I went to a manufacturer of cylinders who I had experience of prior to this time and ordered the cylinder with a solar coil and various immersion boss’s where I need them.
The cylinder got made and as is the norm took delivery of it via my plumbing supplier along with the various spec’s of elements to suit my needs.
The cost of the cylinder is considerably more than the mass produced SS one’s
There are may benefits of copper, cleansing being but one.
With copper I dont need elements with all stainless pockets and I dont need to worry about one metal being more proud that the next. I can screw, copper, brass plastic, whatever I like to it as long as its not ferrous and there will not be a problem.
Non of this gets the slightest consideration today
Copper is as good as it gets
I think that is the bit on, old is better.
Stainless is a modern thing but may not be as good as it seems.
That unvented system is fine for us as we dont have an existing system in place but my daughter has a load of perfectly fine pipework, a new cylinder.
If the water could just make its way thought a decent set of pipes as would have been normal in the past. 15 and 22mm, not these micro-bore novelties.
My story here John is that copper has been around a very long time and copper was used for various reasons many of which have been forgotten about.
When stainless has been around for as long many more people will know that it is not all its cracked up to be.
So yes I agree. Your unvented system is good up to a point.
I think personally that the old systems were better.
After all we are still trying to get rid of the last of the lead pipes on many gravity systems so gravity has been around some time.
There is also another thing I like about a big header tank
If the mains gets turned off and it does you still have a source of water.
You can still get water from the bathroom taps.
you can still flush the toilet with a small bucket which is about the best part as a used but unflushed toilet is nobodies favourite item.
Yes the kitchen fresh tap may not work but the minute its stops you still have 100 odd gallon to play with.
You are never stuck
So if your happy with your system and its benefits to you that’s great, I just thought I’d point out the benefits of gravity and copper although you didn’t mention the type of cyllinder

I have an electric shower, so no risk of a legionella infection. No pumps to go wrong and the only problem that I have had is shower heads blocking up with limescale periodically. The cold water system is obviously pressurised but given the well known ability of plumbing systems to leak, it’s comforting that the hot water and heating system operate at low pressure. I did once have a very slight leak from the hot water tank but that was easy to fix.

How does anyone fill a bath quickly if they don’t have a hot water tank?

Indeed Wave How does a bath fill quickly without tank and big pipes
Usually 100gal sitting waiting.
Old man Billy poiinted out to me that in the case of running the bath not only has the water got pressure but once you open the 3/4 tap it soon gains inertia even the pressure has dropped and I think he was right. The speed of the water comes into play.
Big water service valves cannot be closed quickly or damage may occur
A friend has a system that once involved a solenoid valve taking water from a unvented cylinder in a milking parlour.
The cylinder repeatedly got destroyed by the valve closing.
The inertia of the water coming in hit the tank like a hammer. it was actually noisy, you had no trouble hearing the thud.
A big tank and big pipework are good things I think.
Your electric shower head is typical getting stuffed with limescale and the unit itself will fill up eventually also but I actually like them.
They are fast, immediate anytime day or night.
You dont need to put the boiler on in summer and you dont forget to turn the immersion off.
My Fathers cabin has one.
There is just one problem for all my family except my Dad.
I have gathered up a large collection of solar thermal panels and solar PV for everyone.
Both serve to heat a cylinder in their own ways so its in our interest to have a cylinder fed shower.
Indecently your copper cylinder will probably not be adversely affected by limescale in your lifetime.
Legionella can exist between 20 and 60c I’m led to believe.
It might be a problem if it became present in a solar heated system such as many on the continent that dont have an additional source to raise the temp above 60c and their cylinders are usually either stainless of enamelled inside.
Legionalla is supposed to have been one of the reasons copper cylinders became popular as it apparently does not like to survive in copper.
Old times UK homes only had a small boiler in a stove and sometime tanks would not get properly hot.
I’m repeating what old friend Billy told me again.
Every little helps and the more I read the more i think I would genuinely like just some of the old thing back again.

I remember the 1985 legionella outbreak because I had been admitted to the hospital for several days the previous year. Legionella bacteria enter the lungs as an aerosol, so showers are the main risk in the home. Providing that water is stored at 60°C or above and hot water reaches the taps regularly, there should not be a problem. I’m always suspicious about infrequently used ensuite guest bedrooms with showers in friends’ houses – I cautiously run off water with the temperature set to maximum.

In the old days, showers were not common in homes and even if legionella infections had occurred they would not have been recognised.

Believe it or not when your running most taps there is a mist rises and can carry the bug. But showers are the big item.
Many hot taps are taken from beside the hot tank inlet to get a balanced cold so can be close the the bug should it be there.
Anyone with severe chest problems are more susceptible to infection and with the increased problems with lung disease one has to be more careful and I am one of those.
The chances of there being legionella are very small, the problem is that even today it has I think a 10% fatality rate. That is not good by any standard. Many years ago it was worse due to the lack of drugs and medical knowledge. Though my granda’s generation were aware of it because of the conditions they worked in. Hence the old fashioned idea of boiling everything and if you want a drink it’ll be ale. Most houses over 15 or 20 years old have copper pipes and if the original thoughts were correct then even with sitting there should not be a problem with standing water.
I refere to copper there but the water has to stop long enough to have any benefit thus copper cylinders becoming popular for part of this reason.
Copper pipes are every unlikely to help with running water but bearing all thing in mind the most popular place for the bug to multiply is in standing room temp water. This is where the copper tank and pipes come into play. The older generations had their own way of dealing with as best they knew how or so I was told.
Your probably right to run off water but run a load of cold as well because many cold pipe run close to the hot ones.
I run water and walk away leaving the fan on if possible. i have on occasion not used the facilities because it didnt “feel right” I done this earlier this year in a overnight stop in Southampton. The place was clean but no extraction and the water was barely warm. I have no room for an extreme version of pneumonia. I dont even fly because it so bad that the Doc had to get me antibiotics after every trip. Avoid close contact with the world and I have a better life. Took a little getting used to though.
Old houses used to have all the water stored in the roofspace for many reasons. Water supply not constant. Intermittent pumping to fill the tank often the pumping was done by hand once a day.
Those tanks were an invitation to legionella in summer because they were both open and often warm.
We had one of those and I removed it. Replaced it with smaller plastic one in an insulated box to keep the cool water cool. The plan seems to have worked but it needs an endless supply. It would be no use for once a day fill even without drinking water being drawn from it.
We have it pretty good now but there are some things I think should have left alone
Thanks Wave

Cold water from the rising main should not be a problem because it is chlorinated, which is effective in keeping down the number of harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, chlorine will be lost from an open cold water tank, especially if we are away for a weekend and there is no fresh input of chlorinated water. Legionella has a very low infective dose, so very few bacteria may be needed to cause an infection. Immunocompromised people are probably at more risk than you and I with our respiratory problems.

I agree that running taps adds to the risk but that’s likely to be less important than having your head in a shower of contaminated water and hopefully most of the mist is water vapour rather than aerosols generated by splashing.

I don’t understand why there is a problem with modern closed systems because the chlorine present in the cold water supply should not be lost, but maybe I don’t understand how these systems work.

Hi Wave,, I dont think your big tank will loose all the chlorine over a weekend. Chlorine doesnt disappear that quick.
There are two common chlorinating agents any many others according to local conditions but not all evaporate off easily
Free chlorine evaporates quite easily but you dont see it and Chloramine as C12 is widely used also and doesnt evaporate quickly.
I’d be very surprised if your water was treated with only form of chlorine. I’d actually be surprised if there are only 2 bleach’s used.
Many people are of the opinion/notion that when their water is cloudy that that is chlorine and it disappears if you leave it in a jug to rest.
There is very little likelihood that drinking water would be dosed with a chemical to a degree that would turn it cloudy.
I’m presuming this is what you are seeing,smelling, thinking.
Look at the water, it is full of bubbles. Those are bubbles of air.
They have an effect on the taste of the water but it has more to do with the feeling and the fact that as the bubbles boil off now they bring with them minute particles of chlorine.
Our noses are very sensitive to chlorine of nearly any type
This is a bit like my long winded explanation about heating water gassing.
While the water is in the pipe it is under pressure.
Very very little air in the water under pressure is compressed to it is near nothing. Once you open the tap and let it out it turns into millions of little bubbles.
The reason or common reason.
Particularly in winter and if water has travelled from a very cold place like a high reservoir. The UK climate is such that some hill top ground temps do not warm much in summer anyhow
Cold water holds more soluble air and attracts the air in its cold state more than warm water but once it gets to slightly warmer places the water gets warmer causing the water to hold less soluble air so some of the air comes out of the solution.
Being under pressure in an enclosed place it cannot expand or escape the same as the gassing is held in place in closed heating system.
Once you open the tap wala you have cloudy water in just the same way as a closed heating system needs the pressure to stop the gasses forming and stopping circulation.
If you could see it in the pipe its not cloudy. Add to that water companies purging mains regular and work being done and you have 100s of reasons for air in water.

On top of that there is aluminium sulphate used basically as a coagulant to draw particulates out of the water. This is the stuff that makes your water sparkle. without it your water would be awful looking and the water companies would have trouble filtering it.
Whilst it is not the most desirable stuff to have to drink there are many benefits with its use.
Tiny amounts do make their way done the lines. There was an incident in Cornwall with excess application.
It is also blamed for hydrogen sulphide gas in some systems so dont be surprised where some smells come from.
Your not just having a drink of water sir, your having a drink many things

One thing is good though. you see water workers purging lines here and there
Near all chemicals and undesirables are heavier than water so they collect at low points. If the line is well opened for a few minutes the bad stuff gets flushed out.

We had two 100gal hanging over a wall on brackets with plywood lids one with a float switch for many years.
We needed that because we couldnt run the generator 24/7. I kept a 24vdc circuit for lighting and small tv. The tanks could fill as the genny ran. The generator was our everything. Heat power you name it.
We washed, and even drank from those tanks with no chlorine. We didtn have much choice
As soon as I had electric I quickly changed the system to little pressure set which supplied the drinking water direct and a much smaller header done the hot water.
That was all before we had a borehole. that was from a 17ft spring well
I dont know what all is wrong with me but I do know if I step on a plane I walk off with someone elses bug.
One day the Doc asked me did I fly. I said yes some and while looking at the screen he ask about all these various dates. I had flown just before all. Stay away from planes trains and enclosed spaces you are susceptible to virus’s young man. Young man if only you could see me???
I went from many courses of antibiotics every year and increasing seriously to nearly none. One course this 2015 so far.

A shower is very dangerous and blamed for many outbreaks

Closed systems?
Many systems today do not use copper and hotels and the like are mostly steel.
I have a friend who plumbs commercials in London and that is all he does is iron work.
Legionella apparently can and are found on the walls of pipework (not copper) even in the presence of chlorine and given that these buildings are tall and chlorine is heavy the mathmatics can do the rest given the right conditions such as upper floors being vacant for periods.
As to domestic home systems. That is why I like and rabbit on about copper cylinders and your copper cylinder is very unlikely to have any bugs in the cylinder when you return as the water comes out of the top first being hot.
There is near no mixing of the cold water coming in at the bottom as its is heavier. As the water heats it will kill any bugs anyhow
The pipes to and from your tank will also copper.
Add to that if legionella doesnt like copper its certainly not going to hang around the walls and of its in the middle the chlorine will get it

If your really paranoid fit a UV thingy to your rising main. Not very dear or hard to run and change the tube every year. Also kills cryptosporidium and the likes. A good bit of kit one of those.
Look it up I think I got them from the water filter men in Co Louth Ireland. Ship to all of the UK and helpful chaps.

Hope that makes you feel a little more secure

It is a long time since I took any interest in legionella but it seems that it tolerates chlorine better than other harmful bacteria. It’s not in the same league as cryptosporidium, which is notoriously resistant to chlorine. UV treatment can be used to supplement filtration to remove cryptosporidium.

Legionella can stick to the inside of pipes and tanks as a slime known as a biofilm. Copper inhibits growth of bacteria, as you know, but that requires fairly clean metal to be effective. In practice, the copper can be coated with insoluble material – maybe copper oxide or limescale – that means that the anti-bacterial effect may not be reliable. I rely on keeping my hot water hot and not leaving water standing in the pipes for any length of time.

Many people have problems with viral infections after flying. On a plane there are lots of people in a confined space sharing their germs. Antibiotics are totally ineffective against viruses but may be useful if the viral infection is followed by a secondary bacterial infection.

Must move on to being a bacteria thing. I was in hospital in paris for few days before they’d let me home and that’s when Doc gave me the advice as the amount antibiotics I was needing was getting too large and there may come a day when I might need them for other things.
I followed hs advice and I’ve had no more problems
Keep the water warm

I don’t think you can run a bath quickly without a hot water tank. Our system certainly has a very large hot water storage cylinder and it’s the inflow pressure in the water main that governs the outflow pressure. Obviously the pipework and taps have to be of suitable diameter to get the best performance.

I don’t understand how my comment above has become so detached from Wavechange’s post to which it relates and which was submitted five hours previously. W was asking how it was possible to fill a bath quickly where there was not hot water storage tank. My response was originally immediately underneath it [his comment, not the bath] but has wandered off on a time shift.

At least the link from ‘Recent activity’ works, John. In the Convo about the new site, there are out of sequence posts and the links only take you to the Convo, making it necessary to search the page.

I’m not sure I have seen any problems on pages where there are few comments on posts.

I can see this morning that some posts are converting themselves from ‘replies to replies’ to ‘replies’ – i.e. they are going in to the second indent but then being transferred to the first indent [which is where we are now, as the original post to which these are linked is a long way back]. I am wondering whether the second indent is worth it. I also think the font size and spacing are disorientating contributors who cannot easily tell whether they are adding a primary, secondary or tertiary comment; this is especially the case when there are extremely long posts that run over several screens. The previous format seemed to cope with that quite well – I recall the endless ding-dongs over homeopathy that ran and ran for mile after mile without any navigation problems.

The linking from the activity column is still hit-&-miss – sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. Even when I am on solo watch in the small hours and there is no other pressure on the server the link does not function sometimes. As you say, I think volume has a lot to do with it, although the huge VW Convo seems to be behaving itself now.

Hi John, this is the second indent. I presume you clicked ‘reply’ to Deekay, rather than to Wavechange. The replies sit in the order they are posted, but you need to click reply to the right comment. I can see it is a little odd how it works, but not sure I can change it.

Though contributors have asked for the opportunity to reply to replies, I’m still not convinced of the benefit, because of the increased complexity. One problem with the current system is that it is often not possible to write a response to a post while viewing it. What I do is compose my response where I can view the post, cut it, refresh the page and paste it in a the right place. The other approach is to compose text in a text editor or word processor and copy it in.

Thank you Patrick. I have travelled to Mars and back and now realise that a long chain of comments are all hanging under a reply from DeeKay to a post by Malcolm nearly three days prior to this present post. Once we all got into the second indent I think we all lost track of time and space. The architecture of the column is not conducive to lengthy inserts.

Clearly some of my posts and some of the others’ should have been at the first indent but that would have meant scrolling back for miles to find the correct insertion point.

I note your comment that “replies sit in the order they are posted” but I still think the chronology of ‘replies to replies’ is not always quite as it should be in this particular Convo and the timeline seems to confirm that. But perhaps I have not paid sufficient attention.

I tend to support Wavechange’s comment about the ‘reply to reply’ facility, especially when the structure of the Conversation is not apparent.

Thanks John, feedback taken on board. But as you can see here, our little discussion about comment order has stayed together so that it makes sense…

A few quick points in response –

1. Any system has to be carefully designed by an engineer for the specific property.
2. A larger diameter intake pipe [22 mm or better] from the cold water main will make the system work better because, without a header tank, both hot and cold services are running from the same supply simultaneously.
3. I have no idea what the hot water storage cylinder is made of because it is fully concealed in an impressive white enclosure containing the insulation and the inner tank. The insulation is very effective with barely a warm exterior surface [if we go away for a few days with the hot water programme set to ‘off’ there is still hot water to the taps on our return].
4. The lack of water in the event of interruption is a drawback for which there is no system remedy. Fortunately this very rarely happens without warning.
5. Almost all new homes have this system now; it is the way it has been possible to use the roof space for bedrooms and an en suite washroom without having the header tanks gushing and gurgling away in the background.

No doubt my old-fashioned airing cupboard with a cheerful red jacket on the copper cylinder is an expensive luxury. 🙁 Maybe I should move to a more modern house.

Plumbing is not something that requires designing as in an architects drawing for a house as in a plumbing engineer sits down and works all out.
There may be those who like one to believe that but plumbing is simpler than it ever was from an installation point of view
Plumbing is similar to electrical work were a 2.5 ring can be a certain size and then there needs to be another ring so plumbing is laid out in a set of regs like most things today
Heating with plastic pipes has all the individual circuits coming back to a nice manifold
Mains connections at the mains are mostly 1/2″ and the pipe used today and for some time will be 20mm od 16mm id
Most utilities require this size pipe
The chances of a 3/4 connection are minimal
It can be useful to up the size of pipe a short distance from the mains connection if you have to travel a distance.
If your right beside (50, 60m)the mains connection there is little point

A unvented cylinder relies totally on the flow from the mains. If the mains is above the regulated pressure of the system pressure reducer will only allow its preset max pressure.
Because the reducer has a very small diaphragm it does not operate like a proper pressure regulator but once the water is turned on downstream the pressure drops often by around a bar if much flow is required
If you want a proper near constant pressure regulator they are widely available in the US. 1/2″ will have a diaphragm around 6″ They would never tolerate the stuff we have to put up with.
Wave you obviously have an old cylinder with a blanket on it but dont be running away changing it. maybe add another blanket
All modern cylinders including copper open/vented for some time have had standard levels of insulation.
The one I have in the old house is around 16 years old and is located in the loft but in winter there is not even a trace of snow melt just directly above it.
All cylinders whether vented or unvented are of similar insulation quality and heat loss.
All cylinders have a heat loss in their spec i.e. x watts at x temp over x time.
So today there are no bare cylinders and it would be unfair to suggest that all open systems are inferior because those old systems had no insulation.
All systems have moved on.
Not all new builds are unvented.
If you are in a plumbing warehouse there are still loads of vented cylinders around and whilst it may be that there are more unvented systems the others are still installed but they are more costly. Not all new systems are unvented/pressure type.
Some builders prefer vented as do some people who have had bad experience with unvented. A bad unvented system can be a nightmare.
Pressurised systems can do things vented systems cannot do though.
In old fashioned systems there is nearly no pressure.
In these conditions plumbers had to be reasonably careful not to have too many sharp ups and downs on the pipe work because water especially changing temp water can gas. Gas can get trapped and cause al sort of restrictions with the limited flow available.
My son currently is renting and there is problem there. Every few months there is an air lock and all water from the header tank more or less stops. just about enough to brush your teeth
Because no one can see where the problem is and even if we did how much wrecking would need to be done to sort the pipe out.
We just put a wet vacuum to the cold tap and you;ll quickly feel a load of jumps in the hose and the air is gone. That is a problem that would not happen on a unvented system but it is not the system fault it is the fault of the long disapeared plumber
in other words an air pocket can gather and it cant get back up because up has to be down for say 6″ and it cant get down because there is not enough flow to drive it down.
With the era of unvented systems came plastic pipe.
Great stuff but it gets shoved in everywhere and ups and downs a plenty.
One doesnt have to be careful any more. Pipes are usually 15mm and with the flow air/gas can easily be chased out of them. Hence the splash splash at the taps from time to time.
If you have a stainless cylinder it should give you a the thick end of a lifetime of use but there are many enamelled mild steel ones also
There should be an anode in those and that anode needs changed every year
So John whether you have stainless or mild steel or copper you should know what type you have and have it serviced every year. Change of anode if its steel and check accumulator pressures in all cases
These are necessary items to be done and not ignored.
I dont see sense in the idea that a heating contractor comes in every year and trust them to do everything. I’d like to know what I had and what should be done. there are many anode’s waste away to nothing and the tank goes rotten and leaks. The answer has been various but the common one is that the cylinder is not part of the boiler Sir. So better careful as sorry
To the heating circuit
On open/vented system there is a heater tank again and pressure is very little.
There usually will be a circulating pump as is with most systems today.
A little 3 gal header tank will keep the system expansion sorted and more important make up for a little leak.
A sealed system is sealed and has an accumulator to take up the expansion. The downside often is that there is a little leak somewhere and it is so small it cannot be found. It could leak a few cc’s per day of on a hot pipe and it would not be found because it evaporates. It may be a few cc’s per month from anywhere and that amount of leak is just about impossible to find
Worse still the leak could be hidden totally.
A vented heating circuit properly laid out vents its gases to the pipe that returns to above its header tank, It does gas because the system has parts that are near ambient pressure. The heating will cause gas to form. This is why a badly plumbed vented system often has one radiator that collects an air lock.
A unvented heating circuit rely’s on the pressure to stop gassing. Pressurised systems keep pressure in the system hot or cold and the above ambient stops gassing.
Without the pressure gassing will happen and with no vent the gas/air will pocket somewhere. So it is very important to maintain the system properly
Unvented system with plastic pipe now have to have the pipes all return to the manifold. This stops joints out of sight and is a good thing. The pipe itself is pretty good and should last several lifetimes but the o-rings in the fittings are not so good and there are problems with them.
The domestic water circuit often has hidden fittings though and an unvented higher pressure system will have more likelihood of a leak than a vented system and if it has a leak it has more chance of being helped on its way by the pressure.
Most unvented systems will be 3 bar reducer pressure which will give out about 2 bar when taps are turned on.
10m head is just shy of 1 bar at 14psi. 10m would have to be a large 3 storey house. Most houses are single or 2 storey and 2 story will be around half a bar or 7psi. A Single storey gets into the problem area of almost enough pressure to have a decent shower. A shower pump is the answer there because hat system needs
You can see a clear difference. This is why gravity has to have larger pipes
If you are in a poor main pressure area it can be an advantage to have an open vented system as with poor mains flow there is no chance of running a bath and getting drink at the same time. These properties are in the minority but large areas of this does exist.
The larger pipes also need more time to get hot water from the tank to you so many like the pressure systems for this also.
There are also pumped hot systems. this is where the hot pipe are arranged in a circuit and a pump circulates the hot water around the system endlessly. There is more or less an instant hot at the tap but the downside is costs both in pumping energy and heat loss involved. Very nice if you can afford it.
So in conclusion.
There is nothing wrong with a unvented system if you like it and perhaps like our cabin there is no choice but unvented/pressurised.
It has many advantages. smaller pipes. Pipes can and do run under, over and just about any route that is easy and that is why many plumbers like the system. The pipework can litterally but put in like wires, right up to the roofspace and back down again and it’ll still work.
Hot water and showers have a much greater pressure so no shower pumps needs no matter what type of building
There are no float valve to replace a washer in now and again.
On the other hand the advantages of vented old fashioned are that yes you might have to replace float valve washers now and again but if you do you are most likely in and area or at the lower end of a main where small grit is making its way to your valve.
If you had a unvented/pressure system the pressure will suffer similar problems with premature wear primarily to the pressure reducer. Yes there is a little gauze at its inlet buts its far from a filter.
Vented low pressure never needs a service or replacement accumulators.
Its down to personal choice but neither is head and shoulders above the other and both are widely used today
To say its worth the additional servicing to have the better pressure is fine.
To say I’d rather have the old fashioned open system is a personal choice and one I would make given the choice but I dont have that choice this time.
One choice I would make and have made is to stay with a copper tank. Yes the others are good and they might be a slightly higher pressure but only slightly.
With copper I will never have odours or anodes or corrosion.
Both system have their advantages but to put one above the other on personal experience is not right.
One may have had an old or badly plumbed unreliable open/vented and then moved to a new unvented pressure system and the advantages will be good and if your fortunate to have a proper operational system it should operate for many years but do take care of it.
One may have had a properly plumbed open system, and that is where the proper skills and care at work comes in because if a open system is properly done it may last several lifetimes and many have lasted generations with little problems.
So is newer better. Its matter of choice and the reasons behind the choice will determined by yourself.
Maybe better to ask will newer last as long with as little maintenance as days of old. Unfortunately No, there are too many serviceable components in the new pressure systems in comparison to the traditional systems. There are at least 2 accumulators that need regular pressure checks and they will fail eventually. There is a pressure reducer that will fail and need replaced eventually and its much dearer than a float valve washer.
Your choice guys but dont put down something because of one bad experience. it has worked for generations and served many well. Just the same if one wants a pressure system then that should be your choice.
We need to make informed choices and just because new is nice it might not be for everyone.
30 years from now my son will most likely be taking a shower from a not so good pressure shower head. my grandson may be scolding about the s**t pressure but it’ll still be going.
One might say, time will tell. Some might say it already has
I’l stay with a big cold header tank any day

DeeKay – I appreciate your comments.

Just a quick note about new houses. You have to put up with what you are given by the developers. In our part of the country I would say 50% of the new houses are three-storey town-house types with a pressurised unvented water heating system and even the smaller houses usually have the same. Copious manuals are provided to the first residents but I have not studied them – they are there in case of a problem. It is a requirement of the NHBC ten-year warranty that the entire heating system is inspected and serviced annually and I should imagine that most people do that.

Your living in a nice area by the sounds of it although we usually have a battle with the planners about everything. Your obviously in an area that has developers and an accepted type of house for the entire area. We’re out in the sticks and everything is one off’s
The ten year warranty thing will keep you right for that period it also suggests you dont have a steel enamelled cylinder.
I dont understand the misery of installing one of those as a stainless one is only a little dearer and copper a but more again.
There are so many people who ask about cylinders after the event of water running all over the show and then they learn that there is something called an anode or that there should have been an annual service/inspection.
Still hope you have good service

John you mention there is no remedy for water being off in a unvented system.
There are loads of nice steel and stainless steel accumulator available right up to 100s of litres.
In situations where supply is imperative one can be added as the mains comes into the house but in a cool place usually in a cupboard or big larger.
It doesnt need to be in line, it can be T’d off of the incoming mains.
Your mains should have a check valve as it enters your house. As long as you keep the accumulator on your side of the check valve you’ll have whatever water is in the thing spare.
I have this because we operate off of a bore and if everyone decides to turn all on then the flow slows down.
The same thing often happens on mains at certain times of the day..
It wont stagnate because every time a good flow is required from a couple taps a little will flow out of the accumulator and a little fresh will flow back in again afterward.
If you already have a sealed system as you have it will be easy to have the pressure checked along with the rest each year.
They are readily available in stainless with serviceable membranes/bladders and I got mine including spare bladder from Germany cheaper as best I know.
Maybe no interest to you but then again maybe it might.

Thanks for that information DK – I did not know such devices existed. I don’t think we shall need one, however. There’s a lot to be said for having a water butt outside to provide flushing water for the toilets in an emergency. We would soon run out of Volvic.

The water butt is good but you cant drink it.
You already have baby accumulators in alongside your big white tank and with your boiler somewhere.
If your hot cylinder accumulator fails you can add a huge one direct to that and it’ll do a similar job but it wont come upstream to the kitchen tap.
Have you a tap in an outhouse or washroom or whatever?
You can add an accumulator near anywhere as long as someone opens a taps now and again. Its enclosed so nothing gets into the water and because its mains water its bleached but it does need a little jolt now and again as the bleach will settle.

The above comment was in response to DeeKay’s of six hours previously but has become displaced by intervening comments. Too much pressure in the pipework I suppose.

Older mains electrical goods were better and safer because the power switches turned off the power rather than leaving some components powered up and wasting power. Unless there is a warning light, most people will be unaware that their electrical goods are not actually switched off.

Bring back the switch.

Thanks guys.
Yes wave you are correct the 17th is to protect people but I could tell you horror stories from around the doors here and I dont work now. I just happen to be someone who is capable and legal.
I was asked to look at an electric shower. Just a look, a little advice In a house not built 15 years.
It needed replaced but the horror was that it had been installed later and the local really well known spark had neither a proper earth nor an RCD. I could not believe my eyes and the owner wife once it had been explained nearly fell into a chair in disbelief
Luckily it was on a wall with built in wardrobes behind and we got another wire to it.
Yes bring back the switch and bring back one that clicks nice and quickly with a definite off and on not these switches I can hold and hear them arc. How on earth did such thing ever make it into use

Malcolm, Thanks for the advice. We have good long standing plumbing supplies nearby who still have a Gloucester single hole kitchen mixer for gravity and bath/shower taps the same.
It would not have taken £20 extra at the time to have done the job right. Thats the really hateful part