February is typically the coldest month in the UK, which means it’s also the month when we really rely on our boilers to keep our homes nice and cosy. None of us want to spend a chilly Valentine’s Day left in the cold - but thankfully there’s a small army of heating engineers out there who are ready to lend a hand when we’re at our most helpless.
“A lot of people don’t know where to start when something goes wrong with their boiler,” Keith Myler-Dixon told us. Keith, the man behind Gas Tight Heating and Plumbing in Chelmsford in Essex, has been a heating engineer for the past five years and built up 100% positive feedback on MyBuilder. “A large part of my job is explaining things to people and breaking down what the issue is - because sometimes it’s something that they can diagnose themselves”.
Keith is a busy man at the moment, sometimes getting to ten boiler inspections in a day, while also installing plenty of new ones. He’s not afraid of hard work - as soon as he left school he got a job travelling the country installing tennis courts, before becoming a scaffolder. However, his passion for mechanics and engineering - he rebuilt a Mini engine in his shed as a 15-year-old - meant that heating engineering was a logical step. “It’s something that suits my brain,” he said. “Honestly, coming to work each day is like getting to do my hobby full-time. I like solving the problems and fixing them.”
His past experiences have also helped him in his current trade: “With scaffolding, everything begins with the footings, you have to plan the entire structure from the ground up, and know how the top pole is connected all the way down. When I’m doing boilers, it’s the same process - I have to look at the boiler as the starting point and visualise how it goes throughout the house, and see how it runs through the walls and to the radiators.”
Although mechanical tinkering is Keith’s passion, he knows that it’s an area a lot of people struggle with, so he offered some practical tips for anyone concerned about their boiler:
- Make sure it is regularly serviced: “It’s staggering the amount of times I’ll go to see a boiler and it’s been 10 years since it was last checked. I always think, no wonder something’s wrong with it. When it gets to that stage, it’s often very expensive to get it fixed. If you have a regular, annual check-up, you can keep on top of any issues like blocked filters, and nip any problems in the bud.”
- Understand your warranty: “Modern boilers I install typically come with 10-year-warranties which mean you can contact the manufacturer and arrange for someone like me to come and deal with any issues. Sometimes I’ll get called out by someone directly and they won’t realise that they could have been covered. Everyone should make sure they understand what their coverage is - it will save them money, and headaches.”
- Make some room: “It might sound silly, but boilers are typically tucked away in cupboards or out of the way places, and people like to use the space as extra storage. Sometimes I’ll get somewhere to work and won’t have room for my tools because the boiler is hidden by boxes and suitcases. It makes the process a lot easier if people can clear some space so I can take a proper look and get to work quickly.”
When Keith isn’t working or looking after his two young children, he’s still tinkering - he flies model helicopters in his spare time, while his dream is to start working on model steam engines. But for now, there’s plenty of work to keep him busy - and plenty of cosy homes to show for his efforts.
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