Nick Rees, National After Sales Manager at Baxi Heating, outlines five key considerations which should be made prior to the commissioning process to help prolong the life of a commercial boiler and ensure it complies with warranty terms and conditions.

Commissioning is a vital part of any commercial heating installation in order to ensure optimum performance, efficiency, and energy savings. After all, a heating system will only perform as it should if it is installed, commissioned, and maintained correctly, regardless of its efficiency credentials.

The boiler commissioning process consists of a series of installation, safety, operation, performance, and failure checks. This includes ensuring the boiler is installed in accordance to the manufacturer instructions. It should produce the specified output, efficiency, and emissions levels; and the system should respond in a safe and controlled manner during failures or shutdowns. Crucially though, it is important to remember that commissioning is actually a legal requirement to ensure adherence to Building Regulations and gas safety guidelines.

Complete pre-commissioning checks

The commissioning process normally falls down if contractors and end-users fail to complete important pre-commissioning checks. These inspections ensure it is safe and appropriate to commission, whether it is the contractor completing the procedure or the manufacturer. The checklist includes assessing whether the installation has been completed by a competent and, importantly, Gas Safe-registered engineer. Also, that there is sufficient fuel supply (gas pressure) and system load for the boilers to run. Often, commissioning stalls due to a lack of gas or system load to enable the boilers to be run sufficiently to enable commissioning. Checking if there are any restrictions or inductions associated with being on-site is also crucial.

Most manufacturers will supply a pre-commissioning checklist for the product being installed on request or via their website, and this should be completed before they can arrange to attend the site to commission the boiler. At Potterton Commercial, a commissioning engineer will always check everything on this checklist is complete before starting the commissioning process. Skipping steps prior to commissioning will always be noticed, and any other issues with the installation may be identified which could potentially prevent the commissioning taking place. This could cause unnecessary delays and additional costs for the customer/contractor.

Get your paperwork in order

At Potterton Commercial, we aim to attend site and commission a heating appliance as soon as possible after its installation, at a date which is convenient for the client. After all, the quicker the commissioning is done, the quicker the heating system can be up and running. The problem with commercial boiler installations is that you often don’t know when they’re going to be ready, so it can be difficult to get commissioning booked in well ahead of time.

In the interest of making the process as swift as possible, contractors can prepare in a number of ways before they call the manufacturer to arrange commissioning of the product. These include providing the manufacturer with the order no. for the appliance, its serial number, and obtaining permission for the manufacturer to attend site at a required date.

If the product has been purchased through a third party, rather than direct, the manufacturer may need the original purchase order. So, it’s worth contacting the manufacturer directly to get an idea of the information required before booking in for commissioning in these instances.

Prepare the plant room

Once the manufacturer is on-site, everything should be prepared so the commissioning process runs as smoothly as possible. The plant room needs to be clear and easy to access, and there shouldn’t be any other work going on in the space when the engineer comes to commission the appliance. While any boilers installed will have been done so with sufficient clearances, having any additional tradespeople or clutter in the plant room can make the job needlessly tricky and could give rise to a potential health and safety hazard.

Plant rooms have often been considered to be dark and dingy places with the potential for lots of crucial equipment to be installed in what is normally quite a tight space. Contractors and building owners should ensure the plant room has sufficient lighting so the procedure and any ongoing maintenance can be carried out correctly and safely. The manufacturer will carry out a risk assessment prior to commencing work.

Promote warranty benefits

The key benefit of having an appliance commissioned by the manufacturer is the additional warranty available. For example, if our Potterton Commercial Sirius three range of boilers is commissioned by one of our engineers, we can offer an enhanced five-year warranty.

In some cases, the client may request that the manufacturer commissions the boiler, or it could be written into the specification, as is often the case with local authority projects. Manufacturer-led commissioning offers peace of mind to the end-user that a commercial boiler is set up according to manufacturer recommendations from day one and gives the contractor and end-user the opportunity to record the initial settings that the manufacturer specifies, and note any tips for the operation and future maintenance of the boiler.

Attend product training

If contractors are commissioning products themselves, the best way to ensure they are equipped to carry out the process correctly is by attending manufacturer product training. This will help them to understand the product they are installing and commissioning inside out and give them the opportunity to freely ask any questions they may have about the process, and of course the product itself.

Ultimately, the importance of commissioning shouldn’t be underestimated given its potential to secure the ongoing performance and safety credentials of a heating system. Opting for the manufacturer to commission is a great way to access enhanced warranties and to set the boiler controls so that the system works efficiently and can easily be maintained through regular servicing. To make the most of the process, contractors should be as organised as possible by completing pre-commissioning checks, getting any admin in order and preparing the plant room ready for commissioning.