Its raining cats and dogs today, grey skies, cold and miserable. One of those days when you have to motivate yourself to go out.
Although it is late November it is not cold enough to have the wood stove or central heating on until around 4 pm. (I live in a properly insulated and heated home)
I recently met a couple who have lived here in central Portugal just under three years the other day they both said they had never been so cold in their lives as their first year in Portugal this is something we hear often from people that we meet socially. So why is it so common?.
I believe that there is often a blindness or mental block (I don’t know what to call it) when it comes to home buyers thinking about, heating, cooling and ventilation.
It could be because most people have only visited Portugal in summer when it’s hot and sunny all day especially July and August up until the first half of September. Cold and Portugal just doesn’t seem to equate.
Take the Coimbra area where I live as an example. Coimbra, situated in central Portugal, enjoys a climate cooler than Lisbon and, is normally warmer than Porto. Temperatures here are mild with warm summers. The area within 10Km of the coast is mildest and as you head further east to locations like Arganil, Castanheira de Pera and Serta you get a little more rain than Coimbra.
One thing that is worth knowing if you are house hunting. Those villages strung out in lines along hillsides are built there for a reason. They are usually at low cloud level because the rely on the early morning fog/mist/rain to help water their crops. Old villages in Portugal are always located next to a natural water supply because that’s house people lived. Growing things on their land that the family could eat and sell.
Enough about the weather let’s take a look at why your home is so cold.
The average Portuguese home is as well protected from drafts as your home in the UK if you left the back door wide open all winter. Coupled with the fact that very few homes are insulated at all, have draughty single glazed windows and doors and a heating system that is totally inadequate.
The lack of insulation, dramatic daily temperature changes during the day, high humidity drafts poor heating systems it’s a recipe for months of misery.
We understand how to make an old house warm and a new house as warm as you would expect. Contact Kelvin by email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your problem.
In fact, annual precipitation amounts to 1,450 mm (57 inches) in Braga, and 1,100 millimetres (45 in) in Porto, while it drops to around 900 mm (35 in) in Coimbra, to 700 mm (27.5 in) in Lisbon, and to about 500 mm (20 in) in Algarve. The rainiest season is winter.
Winter, from December to February, is mild on the coast, even in the northern part, since the average temperature in January goes from 9 °C (48 °F) in Porto, to 11 °C (52 °F) in Lisbon, to 12 °C (53.5 °F) in Faro.
In winter, there are periods of good weather, because the Azores Anticyclone can move over the country even in this season, but there are also waves of bad weather, with rain and wind. Sometimes, gale force winds may blow from the ocean, especially in the north.
The position of the country, overlooking the ocean, provides good shelter from cold winds and night frosts, which in fact are very rare and not intense: the coldest records along the coast are around -1/-2 °C (28/30 °F).
You may not have used portable gas bottles before unless you had a caravan or a boat.
Gas is the most common source of hot water and cooking here in Portugal.
A lot of people don’t like gas bottles, they are heavy 47 Kg or 13 Kg for a small one, people think that they may explode and they are ugly. They are also inconvenient when they run out.
The thing that I dislike the most is the time it takes to have a replacement full bottle delivered because you stand the risk of having no gas for a couple of days unless like me you have kept a small gas bottle in reserve.
Gas what sort of gas are we talking about ?
There are two types. Propane and Butane which are LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas. Butane is the one used most commonly for homes.
In their natural state, LPG (Propane and Butane) and Natural Gas are all odorless. The distinctive gas smell that people associate with these gases is added to them as a safety measure.
Bottled gas safety.
Leaks. Fortunately you can usually smell a gas leak. Do not ignore it and make sure to turn off the gas at the bottle and remove the regulator.
The leaks usually come from the regulator vale that sits on top of the gas bottle. There deteriorate over time.
The connections to the hose from the regulator up to the gas appliance,
The gas hose its self.
If its black in colour renew it immediately. The hose should be white and have its replacement due date stamped on it. It should have the correct gas hose connections fitted not hose clips.
Gas bottles should be kept in a gas house with a ventilated door so they are safe from interference and shaded from the sun.
One cheery piece of information– Gas bottles even when full do not explode.
If in the event of a fire they are subject to direct and extreme heat the safety release valve will vent gas however so keep your bottles in a gas house.
For more detailed safty information on gas bottle fed appliances go to.
Home gas appliances need to be regularly checked and have routine scheduled maintenance.
This is important to maintain proper function and safety.
Important for Safety & Saving Money
Having your gas appliance inspected and cleaned periodically by an authorised service technician will benefit performance, help ensure safe operation, minimise any potential down time and extend the life of your appliance.
Only use Qualified Personnel
It is important that your gas appliances are only service by qualified technicians.
In most cases, this means a licensed gas fitter or a factory technician.
Never attempt to fix a gas appliance yourself or allow an unqualified person to attempt to fix it for you.
Regular Home Gas Appliance Maintenance
Manufacturers typically recommend that their gas appliances be serviced every one or two years.
For example, both Rinnai and Bosch generally recommend 2 year service intervals while Rheem and Paloma recommend annual servicing.
You should always refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule that is applicable to the make and model of appliance you own.
A ‘tune-up’ just before heating season is ideal.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
It is very important that you understand the correct and safe operation of your gas appliances.
Improper use can result in safety hazards.
If you don’t have the owner’s manual, most gas appliance manufacturers have them available for downloading on their web sites.
If not, contact them directly to request a copy.
Yellow flames are a warning sign
Key warning signs that your gas appliance requires servicng are a yellow or red flame, a flame with a yellow burning tip, the accumulation of yellow/brown soot around the appliance, pilot lights that frequently blow out or an acrid smell and eye irritation.
The exceptions to this are gas fireplaces and gas log fires that are designed to have yellow flames.
The above signs may be indications of incomplete combustion.
The result is that you could be wasting gas and/or generating carbon monoxide.
The latter is a serious safety problem, if it occurs with an indoor appliance.
If you observe any of these warning signs, you should schedule a service ASAP.
The burner should be cleaned and checked for proper operation.
Burners blocked with dirt can result in improper combustion, leading to soot build up inside the appliance.
Air filters and fans can become blocked by lint and dust. The result can be overheating and burner combustion problems.
Depending on the make and model of gas heater, you may be able to clean the air filter yourself.
Please consult your owner’s manual to see if this is recommended and how to do it.
Flue pipes should be checked for damage, corrosion and blockages.
Holes, punctures or loose fitting joints require immediate attention.
If a flue needs servicing, call your licensed gas fitter to have it cleaned or repaired.
Part of the regular service should include the checking for correct gas pressure and adjusting, as required.
Incorrect gas pressure can affect the amount of oxygen drawn into the burner with the gas.
If this happens, it can cause improper combustion. Excessive pressure could also create a safety hazard.
Fluctuating Water Temperature
If you have a tankless continuous flow hot water heater and the temperature keeps fluctuating, you should call for a service.
It is normal for a gas hot water storage tank to experience a gradual temperature change, as you use up the available hot water.
Storage Tank Hot Water Heaters
Hot Water Pressure Relief Valve
These units have a Pressure Relief Valve.
This valve relieves excessive temperature or pressure build up that may occur inside the tank. It is normal for the valve to release a little water.
A continuous leakage of water from the valve and its drain may indicate a problem.
If you notice this valve frequently venting or continuously leaking, you should contact your plumber/gas fitter to check the entire water heater.
If you smell gas take the following gas safety precautions:
Turn off the gas at the source. At the meter for natural gas or at the cylinders for LPG gas users, but only if safe to do so. Avoid contact with any visible gas cylinder leak, as the gas stream can cause cold burns.
Extinguish all flames and do not smoke or strike matches.
Do not operate electrical switches or devices, including mobile telephones.
If the leak is inside of your home, open doors and windows to ventilate the area, but only if safe to do so.
Keep people away from the affected area until the gas dissipates.
Call your gas supplier or gas fitter, from a safe area, for repairs.
This is a short sampler video comprised of excerpts from an online training module created by Chiltern Consulting Ltd, a leading Health & Safety consultancy. The training covers handling, transporting and changing of these cylinders. For more information call 01494 778499 or check out www.chilternconsulting.com.
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.
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.
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.