Category Archives: Living in Portugal

Practical advice and recommendations to enhance your life in Portugal.

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Bought a house in Portugal is the boiler is safe

Bought a house in Portugal is the boiler is safe

 Old boilers,oil boilers, servicing boilers, gas boilers, gas installations, converting boilers,ventilation

Most people are so preoccupied with the location, views and the property structure when they buy a permanent homes holiday home in Portugal that they overlook a few things. One of the most common omissions is the hot water boiler or central heating boiler.

If you’re lucky you will just connect up the gas, fill up the oil or buy some logs and off you go.

It rarely happens that way of course.

Often the previous owners will remove the boilers, take out the wood burners and empty the oil storage tank. In between you paying your deposit and buying the property.

TOP TIP – write into the promissory contract that all boiler, heaters, and stoves are to be left in place.

Even if they are actually left in place you may find that the rusty brown sludge coming out of the hot tap is a little off putting.

The thing to understand is that unless the property is new less than 3 years old. Nothing will have been given an annual service and many gas boilers are as old as the house itself.

These badly installed serviced/checked water heaters can be a potential death trap due to carbon monoxide poisoning or faulty gas supplies.

Apart from 0 servicing the main problem in the flue even on modern installations in an effort to save money or make a little more money flue pipes from gas heaters and wood burning stoves are deliberately reduced in diameter so that a cheaper flue pipe can be used. Often there is a flue pipe but it is only a meter long which the home owner thinks is going all the way up the chimney as it should but isn’t. Another favorite with gas boilers is just to pass the flexible flue tube into the loft with no grill over it to prevent nests being built in the flue and so that the flue gasses cool in the loft space and because they are heavier than air the come back into the home. They may come back into the home another room, your child’s bedroom for instance Scary indeed!

Make sure that your boilers is fitted as the manufacturer dictates and that all flues exit to the outside of the property in the approved manner and make sure a grill is fitted over them to prevent birds nest from blocking them.

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Portuguese home warm in winter

When you are staying in Portugal for holidays or even living here for the warm nine months of the year it is almost impossible to contemplate how to make your Portuguese home warm in winter.

 Portuguese home warm in winter

All it will take is a week spent in a drafty, un-insulated apartment of house for you consider quitting Portugal for good.

I have met many people who complain that the coldest they have ever been in their lives is during a winter in Portugal.

Is Portugal cold?

No its not but what the main cause of complaints is about feeling cold is the massive difference in day to night temperature.

As an example 22 C degrees during your outdoor lunch to 2 or 3 C degrees at night and the cool down is very rapid indeed. It is felt with more impact because out bodies and clothing choices take longer to adapt.

Most people react rapidly to the problem by rushing off the following day to buy electric or portable gas heaters. These are not good solutions and are expensive to run.

I have written a few blog posts over the years about heating your home with wood burning stoves.

http://www.casteloconstruction.info/2017/01/06/condensation-on-your-windows/

http://www.casteloconstruction.com/

But where should you start to make your home during the winter.

Firstly you will have to accept that even if your home is fairly new you are unlikely to have any insulation in the walls or roof. Even if you do it is unlikely to be installed to a standard that you would expect in northern Europe.

Windows and doors will not be sealed as well as you would expect at home.

Most people keep their gas boilers until they fall apart. They will never have been serviced. The flue may be dangerous and the gas supply will no doubt need to be replaced to meet modern standards of safty. The boilers usually only heat the water too.

castelo construction, portugguese home warm in winter

Gas boiler

So this is an ideal place to start.

TIP- Budget to replace the gas supply from bottles to boiler. While you’re at it make the gas bottle connections suitable for 2 or even 4 large bottles of gas if you are over wintering in Portugal.

You will need to build a small “gas house” to house the bottles and keep them safe out of the sun/frost.

Now choose a boiler that will heat both hot water with an internal tank big enough to satisfy a long shower and also heat the radiators.

What is a big enough boiler?  It’s no good asking a local gas boiler vendor as they are usually responsible for some of the awful and often dangerous installations that we come across.

There is a way that you size your boiler and radiator requirements yourself or you can just ask Castelo Construction we will be happy to help.

Here is a link to a Heating Calculator – BTU Calculator which may come in handy for you.  https://www.plumbnation.co.uk/heating-calculator/

Also because your house in Portugal wont be well insulated I would advise upping the number of BTU’s that you calculate by 20% to make sure you will stay warm in the event of a cold snap.

Fire spreading

Fires in Portugal

Fires in Portugal

 Fire spreading

It can be alarming and saddening to witness the Fires in Portugal.

 

Most people who have a full time home or holiday home here worry about the Fires in Portugal and the effect that the Fires in Portugal will have on the value od their property and their ability to insure a hone against the Fires in Portugal.

Its a fact we have Fires in Portugal every year. Normally during the hottest period of the year July – August and September.

Usually people are not killed and few properties are actually destroyed by the Fires in Portugal. Occasionally like in 2017 things are bad and many people are killed.

So what can you do to protect your own life and that of your family and pets from the devestating fires in Portugal.

1, Don’t buy a house in a highly forested area.

2, Don’t live in a wooden or timber house

3, Old houses with their very dry timber roofs are often set alight by brush fires nearby concrete roofs are safer.

4, Clear the land of weeds, grass and shrubs around the perimeter of your land. Make a 4 meter wide clear band.

5, Make sure that your neighbors’ are obeying the law by cleaning their land along your perimeter. If you are not you can ask them to carry out the work promptly or ask the Camara to enforce the law and contact the owners.

6, Make sure that your neighbors’ are obeying the law by clearing the trees on their land along your perimeter if they are too close to your home. If you are not you can ask them to carry out the work promptly or ask the Camara to enforce the law and contact the owners.

7, Make plans to have a water spraying system or enough large bore hoses to reach all around your property. Preferably at the perimeter so that you can wet down large areas before the fires reach you. You will need a motorized pump and a water source like a swimming pool or well.

8, You cannot rely upon the public water supply having any water that you can use or for the electricity to work as over land wire become rapidly burnt out in a Portuguese fire.

9, If you are not living permanently in the property you must have the land cleared regularly and have a neighbor who will react to save your property in the event of a Portuguese fire.

10, Planning aids prevention. Just hopping for the best will cost you dear in the long-run.