1. zippy

    zippy Registered User

    May 24, 2007
    Hi just wondered if you could help with this problem. Mum had her gas fire serviced about 2 months ago and the council gas and heating contractors stuck a warning sticker on the front saying do not use. I contacted the council on numerous occassions because mum kept taking the front off the fire and worrying about the flame (back burner). I was worried she might turn it on so I took the knob off but mum found it and tried to put it back. The council advised me that the fire had been isolated and that mum could not turn it on. The council has now told us that the whole central heating system will need replacing but they cannot do this because they have no money??!!!! Mum relies on the fire all the time during the winter months and without it she will have to have the heating on 24 -7. The other day I went round and mum had her heating on and it was like a greeenhouse - rather than just putting the fire on to take the chill off. As mum has got central heating and hot water the council do not see this as an emergency - but I know just how much mum uses the fire and I know this is going to cause a lot of upset. Is there anything I can do?:confused:
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Zippy,

    I have recently had to replace our fire, as it was an open flame and my husband was throwing things on it. I got a good fire for under £200. The only trouble is that even though the switch is on the top and very simple, my husband can`t get to grips with it, and instead of turning it so the pilot light stays on, he switches it right off. This means I have to light the pilot manually every time he wants the fire on, as he`s unable to do it.

    So be very careful when you get a new fire. Your mother might not be able to operate new controls.

    You might be better letting your mother use the central heating instead of getting her a new fire, as it`s obvious she still knows how to use it. You could have the old fire taken out and the fireplace boarded up.
  3. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I take it this is council rented accomodation? Apart from paying to have a new gas fire installed, I'm not sure what else you could do. And bear in mind, that if you DID do this (or the council installed a new fire) it is quite possible that your mother would not be able to turn on the new one: such things seem to confuse dementia sufferers. I take it you're concerned about the potential bills if she runs the central heating as seems likely? Would there be any way to permamently set the maximum temperature on the thermostat? I have to say that central heating would seem to be a much safer option than a gas fire anyway.
  4. zippy

    zippy Registered User

    May 24, 2007
    Actually thats a great idea setting the central heating to a constant temperature and yes you are probably right about a new fire confusing mum. I think what really concerns me is how mum will cope without one - for years she has sat by the fire "warming the cockles of her heart" as she puts it!!!
  5. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    #5 Cliff, Sep 26, 2007
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2007
    Hello Zippy,

    If the Gas fitters condemned the fire then there would be a good reason,

    If they were responsible guys and am sure they would be, then the pipe work is capped off, so the fire cannot be used.

    Fraid there is no choice but to replace the fire - usually straight forward - unless a long section of piping is faulty.

    Specialist shops sell gas-fires and use CORGI registered fitters - essential - never use the helpful handyman for gas-work.

    It will cost but small fires are not exhorbitant.

    Hope this is a little help

    Best wishes
  6. zippy

    zippy Registered User

    May 24, 2007
    The council are saying that if they fit a new fire the whole central heating needs to be replaced - probably because the bungalow has had no maintenence for over 20 years (except new windows). I have been assured that the gas to the fire has been capped off but mum keeps fiddling and taking the front off the fire - worrying about the flame from the back burner. I really dont know what to do for the best - I can see problems from both sides arrgh!:eek:
  7. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    I almost can't believe I'm reading this. I have been hesitating on posting about recent - and ongoing - experience with a 'national utility' who saw fit on an 'annual service contract' to declare my mother's heating system 'at risk'. 'At risk' meaning it wasn't condemned and capped off ..... 'at risk' meaning they stick a label on an applicance (lot of use that!!!) - quote an astronomical fee to have said appliance fixed ..... then expect an elderly person (with or without dementia) to cope without their main heating supply until their sub-contractor can come out and fix the problem at THEIR convenience - the problem being?????? - The regulations have changed!!!

    A flue that was checked and passed as perfectly safe last year is not now!!!!!! (and nothing to do with age etc) After much battling and chasing, mum is being classed as an 'emergency' but I have had hell on to get the work promised to be done within three weeks!!!! A benefit of her paying a ridiculous fee for the insurance in the first place????? (And of course the cost of the replacement and associated labour is not covered!!!!) Grr, sorry, rant over ......

    Sorry, Zippy, on a more creative note ..... if mum's central heating suffices for actual warmth but the fireplace is mum's focus perhaps there are other ways to 'warm the cockles' - let imagination run riot creating something heart-warming for her to sit beside which doesn't involve new-fangled switches .... floral arrangements... photographs ......

    I'm sorry but I don't understand why the council are not under an obligation to make the property and its facilities 'sound'. If they have failed to maintain it for 20 years - isn't it time they did?

    Love, Karen, x
  8. janetruth

    janetruth Registered User

    Mar 20, 2007
    Hello Zippy

    Because the fire can not be removed, how about putting a heavy coffee table in front of it, something your Mum can't move, or the heavy chests that people use as coffee tables these days.
    At least the heating is working and people with AZ do seem to feel the cold, even when it's warm.
    Mum lives with us and our heating is on more than it's off, my partner walks round our house in his shorts in the middle of winter.
    Any change, even in their own homes is hard for an AZ sufferer to get used to, however small that change may be.
    Best of luck

    Janetruth x
  9. christine_batch

    christine_batch Registered User

    Jul 31, 2007
    Don't know if this will help

    Through our County Council and with the support of the S.W. there is Goverment funding for Disabled people and the maximum £20.000 per home. This is to ensure that evry appliance in the home is safe..A Occupational Therapist does come out and access. This is how I got my stair lift. If my kitchen, central heating, new bathroom needed replacing to my disabilities and Peter A.D. Fortunately it was the stair lft as I had already used a great deal of our meagre saving to have central heating etc., checked. Good Luck. Christine
  10. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    Zippy, maybe you need to take it one step at a time.

    Posssibly your council is making it sound difficult because the "erk" at the other end doesn't want to get involved in the job which may eventually cost a lot of money if inspectors condemn the central heating system.

    Maybe the central heating does need replacing but the fire is a separate issue and your mum has comforted herself with it in past times.

    Only you know the finances available, but if a private installation of a replacement gas fire is possible why not get an estimate from a reputable shop. Whilst getting the estimate sass out the estimator for an opinion about the condition of the central heating.

    Or if you are sassy enough and can't afford the new fire, why not get an estimate so your mum feels she is being looked after and you can start negotiating with knowledge.

    If all fails, ask the Gas company for an opinion on the central heating.

    Again, hope this helps a little
  11. germain

    germain Registered User

    Jul 7, 2007
    Hi Zippy

    Have you thought of a living flame electric fire as a replacement ? I think these are much safer - the "flame" is really a light bulb under a couple of small fans and with a little ingenuity an electrician can isolate the heat fan buttons so that your Mum can have only flame effect or flame effect and fan on low as you think is best. They don't have the old style bare electric bars any more so are really quite safe. The operating switches are simple on/off ones.
    They can be bought from the very big DIY stores very cheaply and would probably just fit over the hole that the old gas fire has come out of.

    Would top up the background central heating and provide the illusion of the "warming cockles"
    This worked quite well in our Mums old place when we had the back boiler removed.
  12. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Zippy

    I think I would be writing a letter to the Council stating your mums case, including that mum does not have sufficient income to run her central heating 24/7 therefore you are requesting the Gas fire be replaced, and if this means, in their view, a new heating system, well so be it. As Landlords they have a responsibility, their shortage of cash is not your problem. I would request a response within 7 working days. Not unreasonable.

    If after the 7 days, you receive no response, or an unsatisfactory one, contact your local MP, this is why they are in Office to represent the electorate.

    I would also contact Social Services, if mum has her own Social Worker, all the better, if not, I would write to the Director for Social Services in your locality area.

    If all of the above fails, I would contact Age Concern, they may know of agencies that would give a grant for a replacement fire.

    Jeepers, in this day and age, warmth has to be considered a priority.

    Good luck

  13. jude1950

    jude1950 Registered User

    Mar 23, 2006
    I was a Showroom manager for british Gas for twenty years please be careful about any advice members are giving allbeit well meaning ...
    It sounds as though your mum has a back boiler unit that provides the heating for the radiators and the hot water the Gas fire is an integral part of the unit hence the name Fire boiler unit. These fires are not interchangable and by the sound of thinge the boiler in your mum's place is older than 10years and i am guessing that parts are no longer available for it. The boiler will still work ok and that is the flame that you can see in the background. but the fire sounds as though it has been isolated so that it is no longer in use.
    Enough of the technical stuff I would advise you to contact age concern and tell them of your worries about the extra heating bills and see if they can bring pressure to bear on the council to speed up the repair/replacement of the central heating boiler...I'm afraid that the council have done all they need to do in making sure that your mum still has heating and hot water and they will not budge unless pressure is brought to bear on them. Also contact your local councillor and see if they can act on your behalf to speed things up. When the new boiler is installed it should be of the new condensing type and will not be behind a fire If your mum lives alone I would consider wether an electric fire would be a safer option for her.

    Just a thought...I hope things get sorted soon.

  14. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    When the solid fuel heating (rayburn with a back boiler) became unsafe for my parents, they were opening the door and puting all sorts of stuff on it, to see a flame, we removed it and put in a combi boiler.

    That worked because we hid the boiler in a cupboard and taped the thermostat with greenhouse tape.

    Unfortunately, the electric fire we also installed thinking that the glow would be nice, didn't last long, they used the poker, my fault, I hadn't thought to remove it, and fused the fire and everything else on the circuit.

    I consider myself lucky, they weren't electrocuted. We then removed the plug from the fire, but they were still warm with the central heating.

    I have found that as soon as you solve one problem, two more then materialise.

    Good luck
  15. Cliff

    Cliff Registered User

    Jun 29, 2007
    North Wales
    Hello Zippy,

    have just read the post from Judith (Jude1950) which is full of knowledge about the subject and contains really good advice.

    You cannot do better than listen to what she says.

    Good luck,
  16. Lynne

    Lynne Registered User

    Jun 3, 2005
    #16 Lynne, Sep 30, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2007
    Hi Zippy,

    I have no additional suggestions to the main problem, but perhaps an idea for a temporary stop-gap to keep Mum warm & safe.

    A few years ago my Mum's gas c.h. boiler gave up the ghost (in December of course!) leaving her with nothing more than a 2-bar electric fire in her living room.
    As it was obvious that it was going to take some time to get anything achieved in the way of a new system, and my Mum always feels the cold, even pre-AD, I bought a free-standing oil-filled panel radiator for about £80. This is safe and movable (e.g. from living room to bedroom, when it's cooled off a bit!) as it just plugs into a normal 3-pin socket. It also has a thermostat, so you can set it at a moderate temp. & forget it.
    I used to set Mum's at about 4. I'll try to attach a pic & description copied from a website, but if that doesn't work (IT DIDN'T, SORRY) :)o I'm not a genius with computer stuff!) try doing a search on oil-filled radiators. One I found was Dimplex OFX075 Oil Filled Radiator Heater; it was illustrated without feet (ie. fixed to wall) but feet come with it as an optional extra.

    Doesn't help battle with council over whole problem I know, but if you can find an affordable one it should provide immediate warmth.

    Best wishes

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