Leak mystery spoils hopes for money-saving heating upgrade

New boiler bliss was followed by leak misery for two women as they were engulfed by a well of confusion about the cause and how to stop it.

Gas engineers and plumbers came and went. “But they either say different things or it’s for someone else to fix. We’re none the wiser and have got through so many towels,” weary daughter Kathryn told Crusader as she watched the breathing difficulties of her 81-year-old mum Celia Round get worse amid the persistent damp.

Their boiler upgrade plus new radiators in October last year was courtesy of the Welsh Government’s estimable Nest scheme, part of the £420 million Warm Homes Programme that has helped more than 73,000 lower-income households.

The Nest element offers a package of free home energy efficiency improvements for eligible householders such as those with a health problem or receiving benefits. 

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++

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Warning signs that all might not go smoothly in future however came early on although Kathryn, less wise technically then, didn’t realise, she explains. 

“I was told I had to re-pressurise the new boiler every six days as there was a minor leak in the system – no more detail than that.

“I followed instructions switching the system on and off which meant we did not have heating for a short while, but we pressed on.

“But the leak around the radiator in our living room just got worse, black mould started growing on the floor.

“Then the installer said it wasn’t the boiler install and could not help. Other engineers sent by Nest thought it was the pipes, but checking and changing those was a big job.

“We had sleepless nights trying to work out whether it was because of the boiler or a separate problem. Our cottage is old and we can’t go on like this.”

The women were also warned by one contractor that constantly re-pressurising the system might take its toll on the new boiler and could potentially shorten its life.

Most recently a local plumber took a look and advised a change of the system’s stop tap, as the Rounds’ one was old and corroded. “We have done this and, while it is good to have, the radiator leak continues,” Kathryn added.

Following Crusader getting in touch with Nest about their plight and how clear, consistent explanations and action would be really appreciated, it commented: “Mrs Round has been contacted by British Gas – the Nest scheme manager – who is investigating whether her issue relates to the Nest installation or a wider problem.”

Last week another engineer visited. “We could really understand what he said and he has worked so hard,” said Kathryn. “The old pipe within the wall has been capped off and a new external one protected by a box installed, but unfortunately the leak has started again.”

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