Plumbing Solutions

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This article provides solutions to the kind of problems a typical plumber encounter that we can help out with. If you know of a better solution, please let us know (or become an author on this site).

Need a larger indirect hot water cylinder

If the customer has a hot water cylinder already, but its not large enough to cope with demand, the normal approach would be to fit a larger one (or swap to a combi).

Instead, you can use the SLIM HIU to convert the cylinder into 'PHE-storage' providing the best of both worlds. Instantaneous hot water plus stored water to hit very high flow rates.

This approach has the added advantage that you wont need to heat up an entire cylinder just for a small amount of hot water. Like a combination boiler, the system can deliver hot water instantaneously when the cylinder is still cold. It can in fact heat up a chosen volume of water into the top of the cylinder offering, significantly reducing heat losses from storing hot water that goes to waste.

  • Equipment cost: £400
  • Time to install: 3 hours

How to speed up the time it takes to recover a hot water cylinder

See above.

Need the performance of an unvented cylinder, but have no route for a discharge

Use a Pandora Heat Bank to provide mains pressure hot water from stored heat, with no discharge pipes. No annual maintenance.

The Electric Pandora is, without doubt, the easiest mains hot water system there is, taking less than an hour to install. That's why there are thousands of them now installed in London and elsewhere. Only two pipes, cold in and hot out, no discharges, no mains pressure limitation to taps at all, and over 100kW DHW.

The Indirect Pandora is the perfect swap-over for an existing vented hot water cylinder, not having to worry about any additional pipework such as the discharge pipe.

The existing combi-boiler cannot keep up with peak demand

Add a cylinder. Where there is no space, we can offer a small wall hung PHE-store providing unvented hot water performance, with the instantaneous benefits of a combi-boiler. The store can go at high level in a cupboard, or under a kitchen worktop. A 90 litre store of this type delivers more in an hour than a 300 litre indirect unvented.

Something is not working


You may have suspicions as to the cause of a problem, but need to see problem to be sure. Possibly air in the system, or the pump is undersized, or the system is unbalanced somewhere. Maybe its a faulty boiler but you need evidence to be certain and request a new one.

We have solved the most mysterious problems on a number of occasions, by leaving an IHIU monitor strapped to the system for a few days to record whats going on. Been able to see a week or more's worth of flow and return temperatures plotted on a graph tells almost everything about what the system is up to.

  • Equipment cost: £95
  • Time to install: 5 minutes

I need technical assistance

Give us a call on 0345 2411441.

That's the beauty of dealing with an experienced UK manufacturer. We know our subject inside out, and we have the UK based expertise, both office based and on the tools, to help, or point you in the right direction.

Where technical questions can be answered through the use of software, we provide online tools. Over the years the library has built up, and there are now a wealth of calculators through to more advanced design packages all free to use on our web sites, as follows:

  • Power, Flow and Temperature Calculator
  • Power, Energy and Storage Calculator
  • WATERLOAD Calculator
  • PANEX Heat Bank designer

I want to add a wood burner to an existing pressurised system

Plate heat exchangers let you connect a vented system to a pressurised system. While there are pressurised wood burners (stoves) available, the nature of the beast would advise this as a last choice, especially when there are simple ways to of keeping a wood burner vented, and at the same time keeping the main system pressurised.

Wood burner technology is possibly the most difficult there is in the plumbing world. Its about the only completely uncontrollable heat source dealt with, and once going keeps going, yet it sits in the living room next to loved ones. The need to understand gravity water circulation as well as thermal storage makes this a science rather than a textbook affair. The good thing is we have been doing it longer than anyone, and will be pleased to work through any inquiries you have.

I want to add solar panels to an existing hot water cylinder

Our SLIM HIU can be used to connect a boiler to a hot water cylinder, replacing the coil with a more efficient method (see answer for question 1). As such, the SLIM frees up the existing coil in the cylinder for connection to an alternative heat source such as solar panels.

The end result is arguably the most efficient solar system there is, with the ability to vary the solar reserve to match solar input. The boiler heats water instantaneously, like a combi boiler, removing the need to heat up stored water at all with the boiler unless there are known periods of high demand coming up, and then only heating what is needed.

How big does a pump or boiler need to be?

How big does a hot water cylinder need to be?

We have developed three tools dedicated to this question. They take the guesswork out and provide you with a proper calculation that has never, in over ten years of use, never been wrong.

Most notably, the WATERLOAD tool lets you setup and play around with various hot water use patterns, giving a detailed graphical calculation of store size required. Various patterns can be printed off and can prove to be invaluable when discussing expectations with a customer.

What is Stratification and how do you to stop it?

Stratification is a measure of how distinct the layers of heat are in a hot water vessel. In a poorly stratified cylinder, the temperatures will vary gradually, without distinct hot and colder areas. We like to keep stores well stratified, wit the hot water at the top, mixing as little as possible with cold water below. Hot is good - luke warm isn't.

De-stratification occurs when cold water rushes into the store and mixes it up. Measures can however be taken to avoid this, including diffuser plates built into the store, or diffuser tubes, that can also be retro-fitted. These act to take the momentum out of the water, spreading it out as much as possible so the body of water in the store can remain settled according to temperature and density.

What to do when the mains water supply isn't powerful enough

  1. Check internal supply pipework and restrictions or valve sizes smaller than the incoming pipe size.
  2. Fit an accumulator.
  3. Fit a cold tank and pump set.
  4. Fit a new mains supply (talk to water supplier).

We have no unique products to offer here. Just advice on sizing.

What do I need to ask when approaching a multi-fuel installation?

Inefficient wood pellet boiler

How do you get a well balanced heating system?

How do you get a condensing boiler to condense?

Where can I get the best training for the least cost?

At the Sudbury facility you will find the following training:

  • The Thermal Integration factory, for those who wish to learn how stuff is made.
  • The HIU development and training facility, for informal (free) training on anything regarding district heating.
  • The UK's first and largest HETAS training and test centre with a massive range of biomass devices.
  • The UK's most varied renewables training.
  • A large range of BPEC approved courses.

We have industry leading expertise in design, through manufacture to installation and servicing, all in one place, and at your service. As well as an extraordinary array of official courses, this is where cutting edge systems are invented, developed, and manufactured. The site is truly a hidden gem for those who wish to learn how heating and plumbing technology has advanced.

We can also deliver training to offices in the form of approved CPDs on renewables and separately on district heating.

What is MMSP, and how can I offer it to customers?

How do you monitor whats going on in a buffer store?

What goes on inside a buffer store is generally a mystery. We get some indication from a cylinder thermostat, but this tells us nothing about whats going on above or below it. You can always buy a cylinder with load of bosses and fit sensors or thermostats, but this is costly, and introduces heat loss. You certainly can't retro-fit bosses.

The IHIU Plumb Pi field computer we now have in our range allows one to connect a string of low cost temperature sensors, daisy-chained in a row, and slid into a 15mm pipe fed through the vent connection. An 8mm soft copper version that can be bent and straightened as its fed in is possible. The data can simple be used to monitor the temperatures inside (typically at five or more points) and even be used to implement boiler control.

As an example, we use it to great effect on the biomass boiler in our factory. Been able to see the stratification within the store has enabled us to work through system balancing and boiler control strategies, that have significantly improved overall efficiency.

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Another example is the first renewable branch of KFC in Wincanton, where we supplied a system that ran from CHP running on chip fat. The data fed from the store proved invaluable in remote fault finding. The following dashboard was knocked up to give a visual representation of data to client...

Equipment cost: £120 Time to install: 1 hour