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




If you are buying a property an Independent expert Building Surveyor can help you and give advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, engineers reports, independent valuations, specific defects report relating to issues such as dampness, building disputes or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors. We would like to meet you at the property during the survey and are more than happy to talk about the report and discuss any concerns you may have.


Thermal image of a property

Looking at heating systems from approximately the 1970's onwards

This is one of several articles we have written about how our homes and houses are heated. This particular article looks at things such as warm air heating, hot water cylinders and insulation in the roof.


Heat loss in a property


A house can lose heat through a
poorly insulated roof

Please also take a look at this article below that covers traditional heating such as real fires through to modern radiators:-

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

Why should you have a Building Survey?

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; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any as he has only been commissioned to sell the house.


Sketch of a typical house

Heating system and a Building Survey

This article gives a general look at different heating systems. If you do not find the information you are looking for then please have a look at some of the other articles we have carried out. We believe we have carried out articles on most types of heating systems over the years. We have included some links to other property articles within this article or you can go to our Free Property Articles page where you will find an index of different articles if you scroll down the page.


Boiler system for the warm air heating


Grill for the warm air heating system
transfers the warm air around via
ducts which are often Asbestos

Here is an example of a warm air heating system

There are tell-tale signs externally such as vents to the ridge of the roof.


This looks like a perfectly normal
house from the outside but if you
know what you are looking for you
can see the vents in the roof


Vent in the roof

Internally you can see the warm air heating system, this looks similar to the system in the previous photos. There are also air vents at high level. Sometimes these can be found above doors.


Warm air heating unit


Vent in the ceiling

There is a lot of ventilation pipe work hidden within the roof.


Vent pipes in the roof to feed
the different rooms


Vent pipes covered in insulation


Duct work leading to the roof

There are also pipes that can be seen in cupboards in the property.


Factory lagged hot water cylinder.
in the airing cupboard. Above this is
the ductwork for the warm air
heating system


Ductwork for warm air heating system

Heated skirting boards

A concept that was seen in the 1960's and 1970's and that is still used today is heating via the skirting boards. This gives the advantage of not having radiators taking up space on the walls especially as many people also consider radiators to be ugly. We recently carried out a survey where the property had heated skirting boards.


This skirting board is heated


This is what it looks like with a
thermal imaging camera

Heating systems are not just about heating the rooms they heat the hot water as well

The photo shows an original type of water heater found in a Victorian property. There are now modern equivalents. Today modern electric water heaters are still very popular with their capacity to heat very quickly whereas older ones tend to not be as efficient. There are various models by manufacturers such as Triton, Mira, Bristan and Aqualisa.


Very old Victorian water heater

Hot water cylinders

There are also various cylinder systems, which have improved over the years, and provide hot water throughout the house. These are not as popular as they once were with boiler systems now offering instantaneous hot water.


An older style cylinder with a
loose insulation jacket


Factory Insulated Cylinder


Modern version of the hot water
cylinder known by the trade name of
Megaflow which is a sealed unit tank
and is very popular

Airing Cupboard

One of the unseen advantages of having a hot water cylinder is having an airing cupboard that allows clothes to be dried or aired within the airing cupboard rather than on radiators (which can cause all sorts of problems with condensation).


Airing cupboard

Ten minute heat test

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 ten minutes.

It's no use having efficient heating if you do not insulate and ventilate properly

During our structural surveys we still come across roofs that are not insulated or have very little insulation.


No insulation in roof space

Some people seem to buy too much insulation.

We do not know if people get carried away when they are insulating their roof or simply do not think to measure the roof before they buy the insulation. We often come across rolls of insulation left in roofs.

Our other concern is where over insulated roofs have a lack of ventilation.


Too much insulation in the roof space


Ventilation is needed for heavily
insulated roofs

In the photographs below the venting pipe from a shower has been damaged and is allowing humidity to transfer into the room.


Damaged venting pipe from a shower


Damaged venting pipe

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

The photos below were taken during a building survey of a house with reasonable insulation.


Photo taken during one of our surveys of a property with reasonable insulation


Thermal image shows heat coming
out of the chimney and an upstairs

Other things we have noticed whilst using our Thermal Imaging Camera, just for fun!


Electric pylon


Viewed via a thermal imaging camera

We noticed how warm trees are?




Thermal image of a tree

Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a Building Surveyor with regard to structural surveys, building 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 ovals or circles in our building surveys mean?

We utilise a system of ovals and circles within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.


Radiator under window helps air
movement in the room

Our Good, Bad & Ugly surveys!

If you are in the process of buying a new home we would like to tell you about what we call our good, bad and ugly survey. This is a Building Survey 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 Independent Surveys are easy to understand and written in plain English.

Examples of our surveys

If you would like to see some examples of our building surveys we are more than happy to send you these via email. The surveys contain photos, sketches and definitions that help to explain the specific problems that we find within the property.

Surveying articles

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel 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 hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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.

All rights reserved by

All rights are reserved the contents of the website are not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of