Do Independent Building Surveyors
look at the heating system and services
during a Structural Survey?


Building Surveys can help you with your building services

Our experienced Independent Building Surveyors can help and give you advice with regard to independent building surveys, structural surveys, engineers reports, independent valuations, specific defects report relating to issues such as dampness, building disputes or any other property matters. We would like to meet you at the property during the survey and are more than happy to talk about the report and the problems identified within in.


Thermal image of a radiator

This is one of several articles we have written about how houses and homes are heated. This particular article looks at traditional heating with real fires right through to modern radiators and should be read in conjunction with our other article called: -

Buying a new house and home, is the heating system working and are the building services in good condition?

Leaking radiator

Building Surveys and building services

During Structural Surveys and Building Surveys Independent Building Surveyors look at the heating system. We believe that the Independent Building Surveyor should be the first point of contact when buying a new house. If the services that we look at are in need of work then we will advise you of this and we will advise you if we do not technically understand them. We will also include costs that are associated to any problems that we identify in the property. This article looks at some of the things we have come across over the years.

We are experienced Independent Building Surveyors and have seen most property problems over the years

We carry out Building Surveys on all different types, styles and eras of property. Whilst carrying out a Building Survey on a Victorian property that was up for sale, and that had not been modernised for many years, we found many original features in the property including a hot water heater for the bath water. This was complete with lead pipe that supplied water to it.

Caveat Emptor

Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property. Remember an Estate Agent will be working for the seller of the house and remember the mortgage company, be it a bank or a building society, could have their own Surveyors carrying out the valuation. You need to have someone on your side and this is why we recommend that you have an Independent Building Survey carried out.


Typical Victorian house

As Building Surveyors we can help with Auction properties

This particular Victorian property was sold at auction, yes we can help you with property bought and sold via auction.


Victorian water heater for
the bath water.


Victorian water heater with
lead pipe circled.

Completely at the other end of the spectrum we would advise you that we have had experience with modern under floor heating.


Under floor heating being installed


Air movement in a room with under
floor heating system.

Now that we have established that we do look at heating systems during the course of our building surveys we thought you may want to have a look at the sort of things we have found over the years.

Let's start at the beginning with heating systems Real fires, original or not?

This would once have been our only form of heating but now a real fire tends to be very much a feature with coal burners and log burners being very popular. Even real fire effect fires that do not need chimneys are also popular. Gradually over time we have moved from having a real fire in every room in the house to other forms of heating systems. The real revolution was when back boilers and radiators were added.


Real fires, chimneys and property problems associated with them

You need to be aware that a real fire needs a chimney to allow any fumes or smoke to be drawn away from the actual room. A fireplace does allow the heat to be given out but it also rises up into the chimney. We are finding now with the arrival of central heating that more and more often chimneys have been altered to make more room, for example, when a kitchen layout has been changed or for built in cupboards to be added. The problem with real fires is that they need chimneys for them to be used. Sometimes chimneys will have been removed.


Chimney has been removed with
gallows bracket support circled


Gallows brackets

Back Boilers

These are boilers situated within the chimneys which are very basic but heat the water for the central heating system. Often the older ones have a gas fire in front of them and were very popular. Many plumbers and heating engineers would say that back boilers are very inefficient. This is true in one sense although if you speak to one of our property managers they tend to like them because they find that they keep on working and if they do break down it is relatively easy to find parts. We have come across back boilers that have lasted for thirty or forty years whereas we are finding modern boilers last in the region of ten to twenty years.


Gas fire in front of the back boiler

Older style hot water heaters and boilers

Modern boilers tend to be square so if you see a round circular boiler it is likely to be an old boiler. It's very important that boilers are not too old so that spare parts are still available particularly on a more modern technical style boiler.


Old round style boiler


Old boiler that needs repairs. Parts
may be hard to obtain

Independent Building Surveyors with Thermal Image Cameras

Yes we do have thermal imagers and yes it can be dangerous for Surveyors using thermal imagers if they do not have enough experience working with them. We have developed knowledge of thermal imaging cameras over the many years we have now worked with them. We have even given lectures about them at universities.

We can use our thermal imaging cameras to help identify if the heating systems are working effectively.


Thermal image of a radiator

Here are some of our other surveying articles that you may help you when buying your property.

What do Surveyors do?
Should I have a structural survey?
Buying a house
Heat loss in a poorly insulated house


Radiators, over the years, have developed in several different ways including electric and gas central heating the latter of which is the most common today.

Electric radiators

Do not right off using electric radiators. We recently had the choice with a property of either connecting to the new gas mains in the area or using oil tanks or electric radiators. In the end we went with modern electric radiators and which have now been in place without any complaints.

Previously older style electric radiators were popular particularly storage radiators. These have now been replaced with fan assisted wall mounted radiators. Some radiators also contain and heat liquids which we believe is usually oil.


Old storage heater


Oil filled electric radiator


Fan assisted electric radiator

Older style electric heater/storage heater defined

This is typically an electric heater that heats during the cheaper heating hours such as the economy 7 night hours. The bricks or blocks within the heater are heated and then radiate heat during the day.

The paragraph above is an example of a definition that you will find within one of Structural Surveys carried out by an Independent Building Surveyor.

Older convection radiators

When heated water radiators were first developed they used convection. You can still see this style of radiator known as school radiators or hospital radiators. These tend to be larger than a modern radiator and use the width of the pipe to allow the water to convect and move naturally around the system rather than with a modern pumped system.


Convection school radiator

Modern radiators

Single panel style radiators have now been superseded by double panel convection radiators (see adjacent photograph).


Single panel radiator


Double panel convection radiator


Air movement in a room

Ten minute heat test

As mentioned earlier whilst we are carrying out structural surveys and buildings surveys we always comment on the heating of the property as it is so important. In fact we do something that, as far as we aware, no other Structural Surveyors do and carry out a ten minute test of the heating. This is very simple we literally have the occupier turn the heating on to see how warm it gets in the ten minutes.

Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 and we will call you back.

What do the circles and ovals mean?

When you read our structural survey and building survey reports you will see that we use a system of circles and ovals to highlight problem areas and to explain the issue clearly so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.


Micro bore piping

Our sketches

In addition to this if the photographs do not explain the problem well enough, together with our survey report, we also add in our own sketches that have been drawn up especially for our surveys with our copyright.


Plumbing pipes

Our Good, Bad & Ugly surveys!

We would also like to introduce to you what we call our good, bad and ugly survey. This is a building survey that is also sometimes known as a structural survey. We have developed this over many years, in fact several decades. We have listened to feedback from our clients and amended and altered our surveys to make them easy to read and describe issues clearly. The key factor we believe is our surveys are easy to understand in plain English.

Examples of our surveys

We would be glad to email you several examples of any of our tailor made Building Surveys, Structural Surveys, Schedules of Condition and Property Reports. As you can see from this article we use lots of sketches and photos in our reports as the feedback we have received from our clients is that the sketches and photos help them understand the reports.

We have many other articles on our website for you to read

Please have a good look around our website to see how much detail we go into regarding property and its associated problems in our articles. We go into this much depth and detail within our reports as well.

We trust you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you believe should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not pause to contact us (we are only human). Your comments will be appreciated.

The contents of the website are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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