Ambitious and progressive plumbing firm, WPJ Services Ltd of London, has taken the decision to incorporate Sentinel’s X100 Quick Test Kit – a simple and inexpensive tool that rapidly confirms correct inhibitor dosing – into its water treatment process. This forward-thinking move ensures that all new boiler installations are dosed with sufficient inhibitor to prevent limescale and corrosion, which is vital not only for protecting boiler warranties, but also for avoiding future call-backs and potentially costly system issues such as noise, leaks and breakdowns.
Battersea-based WPJ Services Ltd, which comprises 26 plumbing and heating engineers, customer service and office staff, provides a full range of plumbing and heating services to hundreds of homeowners, estate agents, and property management companies throughout South West London. Highly regarded, the company has achieved over twenty industry accreditations from industry leaders such as Worcester, Bosch Group and enjoys an exceptional reputation. In fact, WPJ Services boasts a checkatrade.com score of 9.8 out of 10, a 98% positive ranking on mybuilder.com, and full marks on Which? Trusted Trader. The company’s success, explained PJ Luard, Director at WPJ Services, is its dedication to excellence in plumbing and heating engineering:
“WPJ Services has a wealth of experience in domestic plumbing, and we place a lot of emphasis on training and professional development. However, our most important asset is our customers – we pride ourselves on repeat business and client loyalty, and that means delivering the best possible service, using the best products,” he said. “That’s why we decided to give the Sentinel X100 Quick Test Kits a try – it means we can be 100% sure that a system is treated with enough inhibitor, which is better for us and our customers. Plus, we enjoy a great relationship with Sentinel and have always found Sentinel products to be extremely reliable and effective, which gave us extra confidence in the product.”
Before incorporating the test kits, WPJ Services’ typical water treatment procedure would begin with a site survey to assess the system’s age and condition, followed by an appropriate regime of system cleaning and inhibitor dosing. The company uses Sentinel X800 Fast Acting Cleaner and Sentinel X100 Inhibitor on a regular basis, plus more specialist products like Sentinel X200 Noise Reducer and Leak Sealer where required. To ensure that treated systems are protected from corrosion and limescale, the company’s engineers used to err on the side of caution and introduce extra inhibitor.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to work out how much inhibitor is required, especially for larger or more complex systems,” said Grahame Crew, Technical Manager at WPJ Services. “For example, if an installation has 22 radiators, do you need one, two, or three bottles of inhibitor? Adding extra inhibitors means that an installer can be more confident that there’s enough in the system, and so avoid problems arising as a result of undertreating, but it’s not a good business strategy as it squeezes already-tight margins,” explained Mr Crew.
When it comes to the role of inhibitor, Mr Crew, who qualified as a plumber after school and has been in the heating industry for over 25 years, wasn’t initially convinced:
“Boiler manufacturers tell installers that inhibitor is fundamental to looking after a new boiler, but years ago the science behind it wasn’t properly explained – we did it because we were told to, but the whole thing felt a bit smoke and mirrors. Of course, with experience you get to see just how damaging under or poorly treated water is to a heating system. Rusted radiators, leaks, corroded heat exchangers, cold spots, poor efficiency, pipes blocked with sludge and limescale – it’s amazing what you find when you go to properties where the heating system hasn’t been properly treated with high quality inhibitor,” he said.
WPJ Services integrated the X100 Quick Test Kit into its water treatment routine in November 2014, using it on new boiler installations, of which the company does approximately 17 a month. Briefly, WPJ Services’ new regime typically consists of system cleaning using Sentinel X800, system flushing with mains water, fitting of the new boiler and system filter, and inhibitor dosing with Sentinel X100 inhibitor, before finally checking inhibitor levels with the Sentinel X100 Quick Test Kit.
Each X100 Quick Test Kit comprises a clear tube, tablets (enough for two or ten tests of system water, depending on the pack size), a colour chart and instructions, and could not be simpler to use. After dosing Sentinel X100 Inhibitor to a system (making sure it is evenly distributed), the installer takes a sample of system water using the clear tube, drops in two tablets, puts the lid on and shakes the tube. After a few minutes, the colour of the water sample should be compared to the colour chart, which will indicate if the system has been treated with an adequate amount of X100 inhibitor, or whether more is required.
“The test kit is implicitly simple to use and the results are very easy to read. All of our apprentices and installers use it and really like it. The kit itself is very small and lightweight, so it’s no hassle or burden to take into a property, and because it’s disposable we can just drop it straight in the bin afterwards. What’s more, there’s no time implication because it’s so quick to use,” commented Mr Crew.
Over the three months since the company started using the X100 Quick Test Kits, WPJ Services has found the product very valuable. “Knowing if there’s adequate inhibitor in a system is so useful. We have had a few instances where we’ve done the test at the end of the job and there’s not been enough inhibitor in the system. On those occasions we’ve just topped the system up with more inhibitor and retested a new sample. There’s no guess work involved anymore – we’ve got complete confidence that the system is protected.”
WPJ Services’ engineers have also found that the test result doubles up as an added value customer service tool. “The guys now have evidence to show the homeowner that we’ve taken the best care of their new boiler. Most customers seem to really appreciate it – even if they don’t quite understand the principles of water treatment and how it prevents corrosion and limescale, they definitely understand that we’re giving them a better level of service just by taking the time and effort to show them,” said Mr Crew.
As well as giving customers assurance of a job well done, WPJ Services has found the test kit to be invaluable to its business: “WPJ Services is a Worcester Accredited Installer, which means that we can offer an eight-year guarantee to our customers. In that light we would never want Worcester, Bosch Group to say that we’re routinely under treating their boilers. The fallout from failing to dose enough inhibitor in a heating system can be very costly. With some boiler manufacturers, if they have any doubt whether a flush has been done correctly, or whether the system has had enough inhibitor, they will invalidate the warranty. The margins are quite small on new boiler installs, so if we had to replace a corroded heat exchanger, for example, it would wipe out any margin,” explained Mr. Crew.
“Moreover,” he continued, “some customers do check. We’ve had instances where the customer is clued up on plumbing and has checked that we’ve installed inhibitor – you just never know.”
Ultimately, the reputation of WPJ Services is clearly extremely important, and the X100 Test Kit is another way that the company can make sure it remains intact.
“Basically, the kit helps to protect the boiler, the warranty and the installer. Plus it costs a matter of pounds, so using the test kit is a no-brainer,” concluded Mr Luard.