Guide To Boilers

The old, the unsuitable and the plain dodgy

Many people just accept the shower going cold as your kitchen taps are turned on as one of life’s annoyances, along with inflated bills and the inability to simultaneously have a bath when the heating is on. The question is, why?

Boilers do not have to be useless; it is perfectly feasible for a boiler to supply plenty of heating and hot water (simultaneously), economically and efficiently, exactly as they are supposed to do.

Life expectancy

If your boiler is over 15 years old then the likelihood is that it is operating at around 65% of its maximum efficiency. When put in a language that everyone understands, that means that it is costing you more money than it should, to do its job not very well.
(recommends that you replace your boiler every 15 years.)

Replacing your Boiler

When you take the plunge and decide that it is time for a change, the first thing that you must establish is your choice of fuel.

The market boasts three alternatives: town gas, Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), or oil.

Next, you must decide on the size of your new boiler in measurements of BTU (British Thermal Units) or Kilowatts. Then you will need to decide on the amount of radiators that you will need, the type of hot water system you want to employ, and whether or not you are planning on upgrading your system.

Choosing and installing

Do not install a boiler yourself! Boilers must be fitted by a qualified engineer and inspected on a regular basis.

It is always wise to ask to see some ID from anybody who is tampering with your boiler system as it is important that they themselves are registered engineers and it is not just their boss or the company’s owner that is registered.

Once your boiler is fitted you will need regular system checks, however you should not just ignore your boiler and rely upon the inspections to uncover any abnormalities.

In fact, while it is being installed you should listen to anything you are told by the engineer about the workings of your boiler and, in particular, how to spot a drop in pressure as this could be valuable in the future and prevent damage to your system.

Service care agreements against future problems and emergency cover can prove to be valuable with something as important and potentially expensive as a boiler.

Types of boiler

Conventional boiler

This type of boiler uses a traditional system which, via a hot water cylinder and header tank, heats up a limited store of water before you use it.

If your water tank is in the loft and you have a gravity heating system then you will require a conventional boiler.

Condensing boiler

Condensing boilers are highly efficient – using an extra heat exchanger to extract further heat from the water vapour produced in the combustion process, wasting very little heat.

You get what you pay for though and this type of boiler is more expensive than a conventional boiler.

Combination boiler

Combination boilers, or ‘Combi’ boilers, heat the water as you use it, providing you with a near instantaneous supply of hot water, on tap, 24 hours a day.

This type of boiler therefore saves space as it requires no cylinder, no tank and no connecting pipe-work and reduces hot water costs.

These features make the Combi boiler the perfect solution for flats or smaller homes.

Heating System Maintenance

Some tips and hints to keep your heating system in good working order:

  • Ensure that your central heating and gas appliances are serviced annually by a CORGI registered engineer.
  • Never block or cover your vents as clear vents allow your gas appliances to breathe and burn safely and efficiently.
  • Consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector in your property; these devices are small and inexpensive, and could potentially save your life. Maintained correctly, they will warn you if the carbon monoxide level in your home becomes dangerous.
  • Firing up your central heating system occasionally in the summer, even though it is warm and you do not need to, can help to keep it ticking over and prevent it from jamming when the cold sets in.
  • Bleed your radiators every now and again to ensure they have no air in them. You will know that your radiators need bleeding if they feel cold at the top when you have the heating on.

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