Npower Central Heating Install Disaster

  lucysettle 11:15 02 Feb 2011

Think Twice About Employing Npower to Install Central Heating In Your House!!!

Last September me and my boyfriend employed Npower to install a full central heating system to our house. We were very proud first time buyers, but were realistic and knew that a full install including new pipes throughout would be disruptive - there's no way that the damage and mess caused by npower could ever be described as within acceptable levels.

We've started a blog with photos and I really think the pics illustrate what I'm describing far better!
click here

To keep it brief, we went with npower over similar quotes from local contractors because they guaranteed they'd be in and out really quickly and I had my 30th birthday coming up, so this was important to us. The beautiful sales brochure shows npower workmen branded in npower sweatshirts with npower dust sheets, but without us knowing our job was then outsourced by them to a Glasgow based gas company who carried out the work. (300 miles away from our house?!?)

The work was very poor to say the least - including using the wrong sized gas pipe being installed, so even if it got that far the boiler probably wouldn't have worked anyway. Pipes were installed at funny angles on the wall, so that they couldn't be boxed in or pressed so close together they were rubbing and creaking. Joints weren't holding so we had gas leaks during the install that the engineers struggled to source and water leaks through the ceiling. Pipes weren't sleeved through exterior and interior walls - against GasSafe regulations. And on top of that a huge amount of damage was caused (burnt carpets, burnt wall paper, stained walls, stained carpets, snapped floorboards etc) and eventually nPower stopped the work in the middle of the install.

Despite us asking, no dust sheets were used to protect our belongings or carpets, there were no guards used on the blow torches, so skirting boards, carpets and wallpaper were burnt. And my brand new washing machine and dryer that I'd be given as a house warming gift only a couple of weeks previously, they used as a saw bench which scratched the top and they got covered in brick dust in the back vents. They used my brand new vacuum cleaner too to hoover up brick debris. They had no wet/dry hoover so they couldn't suck out the gunk from the old pipes, so they either let it drip down the walls or onto the walls or on a couple of occasions I grabbed a couple of my bath towels to mop it up.

Npower have since returned to our house with their 'best men' and have reinstalled the gas pipes and tried to fix the banging/creaking pipework. In the end my boyfriend, who has absolutely no diy knowledge or experience whatsoever fixed the creaking pipes after npower failed to do so after three separate visits by an engineer.

The house is now warm, thank goodness, but we are now faced with the enormous task of fixing the damage. This is our first house and although the decor is dated, we needed to do one room at a time and slowly, so we could save up! We're now faced with pretty much every room having some damage that needs fixing.

Npower to their credit have admitted that they've left themselves wide open to criticism, however they have not been forthcoming so far with the money to fix our house and we've had to outlay money or rely on exceedingly generous friends and family and local businesses to get our house roughly back to normal in time for a family Christmas.

You think you're paying for the best when going with such a big company as npower, but if they're going to subcontract out, then what's the point? We may as well have gone with a local firm. And although the two young lads who came initially to install it are completely to blame for the damage and mess, they were left with no support and barely any instruction from npower and we feel the damage caused was down to inexperience on their part and them panicing when things started to go wrong like the gas and water leaks. Despite a very lengthy planning meeting between us and the sales person from npower, all these two lads were given on the first day was a lined a4 piece of paper with a top down drawing of our house drawn in biro... is that the extent of npower's resources??

We're waiting to hear back from npower about our compensation claim...


  spuds 12:11 02 Feb 2011

You will find that most utility companies employ sub-contractors and more so at peak periods, and people do not seem to realise this when obtaining quotes and services. But having stated that, in the end it would be the main company dealing with the final sale that would be responsible for resolving any issues, and in a speedy customer friendly fashion.

When we had our first set of central heating installed, it was no better than the photographs that you have shown. Trying to get sense out of the main contractor was extremely difficult, with constant arguments between ourselves. Even Corgi, who the contractors were a member, didn't want to know about the poor installation work. In the end we went to the small claims court, were judgment was found in our favour. The people responsible for the initial quote, gave assurances that everything would be 'put right' with compensation as a gesture of goodwill. That never materilised, and we ended up out of pocket, not only for the remedial work, but an independent report.

We have since had a refurbish exercise on the central heating via a government grant, and the work on completion was inspected by an independent surveyor. A number of item were found to be wrong, including parts covered by regulations (electrical safety links missing etc), and all this was completed to both our and the inspectors approval. We did allow one thing that was incorrectly located to pass (an upstair thermostat), but this was due to the upheaval of disrupting an household again.

The first incident and installation I would have wished on nobody, the second 'modernisation' was a dream come true!.

What still concerns me to this day, is how a company can provide sureties of workmanship and safeguards, by quoting membership to certain organisations, and at the same time of desperate need, some of these organisations fail the public and appear to defend their members.

You have stated "but we are now faced with the enormous task of fixing the damage"- you should not. Could I make the following suggestions. Contact your local Trading Standards or free Legal Advice Centre for advice. Check to see if NPower are registered with any organisation or arbitration service. If you paid for the installation via credit card or a special finance packet or agreement, then take the matter up with the finance provider. And write a polite but firm letter to NPower stating that you regard then fully responsible for resolving the issues to your satisfaction. If you have to take a small claims court action against NPower, then if judgment is in your favour, you should have a swift resolution, and not like me who was was fighting and losing a battle against a very much smaller independent company.

Good luck.

  birdface 12:17 02 Feb 2011

I have to agree with you a total bodge up if I ever saw one.
I think I would want them to rip it out and start again.
The soldering looks bad as well so I could see some leeks appearing in the near future.
Not got a clue as to how you would claim against the shoddy work that was carried out but I am sure someone on here would be able to advise you.

  spuds 13:26 02 Feb 2011

buteman. Did you not read my essay? ;o)

  birdface 13:57 02 Feb 2011

No unfortunately I posted instead of updating first sorry.

  HondaMan 14:07 02 Feb 2011

Compensation, a lot of it is the order of the day. I hope you have not paid the bill yet or paid by credit card, but whatever you do, keep the pictures. Write therm to a CD or DVD straight away and put it somewhere safe.

  kidsis 16:06 02 Feb 2011

hi, what a dreadful experience. I would agree with finerty's comment at 1328 - as much exposure as possible and send npower the links to all of the sites that you post on to.

  Forum Editor 16:41 02 Feb 2011

is that we'll have no more remarks about cowboys, based on a few photographs, and a personal opinion.

The second thing to say is that it's normal for companies like Npower to use sub-contractors, and in the normal course of events there's nothing wrong with that.

From what I can see in the photographs, and from what you've said in your post I would agree that there is cause for concern - the mess that's in evidence in almost all the images is indicative of workers who haven't been properly trained in how to respect customers' property, or how to work in a neat, methodical way.

Faulty work is something that's more difficult to assess without a proper inspection, and in order for you to make proper representations to NPower for compensation you would need to have the opinion of a qualified third party - an experienced and qualified Gas-Safe registered installer. It might have been worth paying someone like that to carry out an inspection, although I appreciate that you had to get the job finished.

  lucysettle 18:22 02 Feb 2011

Thank you for all your comments.

In reference to your concerns about the safety of the work that has been undertaken, the area manager (eventually) came out to our property and stopped the original install half-way through the work. He then got npower staff to come in and 'make good' the work that had been done. In the end though, the majority of the pipe work was redone completely and most of the joints replaced. Obviously we do have residual worries about the safety of the work, but we have regisered our property with GasSafe for a safety inspection.

In terms of the Forum Editor's comments about subcontractors - I appreciate that many large companies use subcontractors, but my point is that if you're not warned about it and are expecting npower staff, then where's the incentive to go with them rather than employ a local firm? I think all companies should legally have to make it very clear that subcontractors will be used.

We have had an inspection of the work made by a local firm with 30 years experience and they told us about the wrong sized gas pipe and the bad joint work. Even though we had this information, Npower have not so far refuted that the original work was of poor quality and not done to GasSafe standards.

We are waiting to hear back from them this week with a settlement figure, although they have already said that they have issue with a few of the things that we are claiming for.

  spuds 19:55 02 Feb 2011

I could be wrong, and possibly stand to be corrected, but isn't Gas-Safe the old Corgi. If so, and things have not changed, then this organisation will only be interested in gas safety (the pipe from the main outlet to the boiler) and not the central heating system itself.

For the central heating system, and a possible independent survey or report (that will be accepted in court) then I would suggest that HVCA Heating and Ventilation Contractors Association or APHC Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors approved member be consulted.

  Forum Editor 00:42 03 Feb 2011

You're correct - Gas Safe has replaced CORGI, and you're correct that Gas Safe is only concerned with gas connections and gas pipes to gas appliances and the proper means of disposal of combustion gases - they're not involved with the plumbing side of a central heating system.

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