Winter is nearly over which means the weather will start to improve and you’re likely to turn off your heating. However, you still need your boiler to heat your water so it’s important to look after it all year round. Question! When was the last time you had your boiler serviced or replaced? Have you recently moved house? What do you know about the condition of your boiler? We know it may seem like a boring task but if your boiler was to suddenly pack up unexpectedly, not only is it an inconvenience being without heating and hot water, but if you need it replacing or repairing it’s another expense which you wouldn’t have anticipated! With this in mind we have identified the different types of boilers that most homes will have and a guide to how often your boiler should be serviced or replaced.
What boiler do you have?
A common replacement for some old boilers are electric boilers. These work by taking power from the main house supply and uses it to heat elements within the boiler. When water passes over the elements, the water is heated allowing it to then circulate through the central heating. This is a safer type of boiler as it doesn’t burn any fuel or produce fumes or gasses like carbon monoxide. The benefits of having an electric boiler is that they are easy to service and maintain and can be fitted easily as they don’t require a flume, or fuel storage and are efficient.
A condensing boiler passes hot gas through a central chamber which heats up water and a second chamber is used to warm up water through the remaining heat coming back into the heating system. There are different types of condensing boilers with one of the more popular ones being a combi-boiler. A combi-boiler has a hot water unit and a cold-water tank in the same unit which is easier to install. A combi-boiler also ensures that the home has a constant supply of hot water which means you don’t have to wait for the tank to warm up. The only problem that you may encounter with combi-boilers is they can’t produce large amounts of water which means you will only get maximum pressure through one tap at a time. This is down to the size of the combi-boiler units.
According to www.uswich.co.uk, four million homes in the UK are not connected to mains gas so an oil boiler is used as an alternative. These types of boilers work in a similar way to gas boilers but use oil to create hot water. The water is then pumped through to the radiators in the house. These types of boilers can be slightly more costly than gas boilers as the oil has to be delivered.
A biomass boiler uses wood pellets, logs or chips to heat water. Like oil boilers, they are suitable for people whose homes are disconnected to the main gas. A form of biomass heating system is a wood stove. Biomass heaters tend to be larger than gas or oil boilers and if you were to have one of these fitted, you would need a flume or chimney and planning permission is required.
When should you replace your boiler?
The average boiler lasts around 15 years if well maintained and although a yearly service can improve the lifespan, an older boiler has to work harder to heat your home. If your boiler needs replacing it could be costing you more money as the energy efficiency is reduced and there is a danger that they are not safe. Follow these steps below to identify if your boiler is in need of a replacement.
1. Increased bills
If you notice that your payments to the energy supplier have increased, it could be an indication that your boiler is not working as efficiently as it should be. Alternatively, you may need to look at changing your energy supplier to save on your monthly bill. For more information on switching energy supplier, read our blog here.
2. Feeling cold
If you’ve lived in your house for a while, you’ll know what feels like a normal temperature when the heating is on. If you feel cold you may want to get a plumber or gas engineer to investigate as there may be a problem with your boiler.
3. Waiting around
An obvious way to tell if your boiler is in need of a replacement is to see how long it takes for the boiler to heat up. Most modern boilers should produce heat instantly so if you’re having to wait for your hot water or heating to come on, it may be time to look for a new one.
Many newer boilers come with an energy efficiency rating. The scale ranges from A – G which indicates how efficient each model is. An A-rated boiler means it’s one of the most efficiency groups with more than 90% efficiency and rating G, indicates less than 70% efficiency. Have a look at your boiler to see if you have an efficiency rating. If you have a low rating, it might be investing a new boiler to improve efficiency and reduce your monthly bill.
5. What’s that noise?
By now you probably know the sounds that your home makes, however if you hear unfamiliar clunking or whirring sounds coming from your boiler, it may be worth getting a professional in.
6. What’s that smell?
Carbon monoxide can be produced by a faulty boiler. It’s therefore very important to look out for signs of emitting gas. If your boiler emits a faint smell, it may mean your boiler isn’t burning properly causing carbon monoxide to be produced. If this occurs, there may be dark marks that appear on the actual boiler. If you notice any signs like these, ensure you take action immediately.
Servicing your boiler
Okay, so if your boiler isn’t 15 years old and you don’t notice any problems its probably fine. However, you should always consider having a regular service. Here at the key times when you should consider having one…
It’s very important to have your boiler serviced annually. This is regular enough to ensure your boiler is in good working condition, limits the wear and tear and keeps it safe. As well as ensuring the boiler is working, having a yearly service may also be a part of the warranty. If you fail to keep your boiler serviced annually, the warranty may be invalid. You may also find that if your boiler breaks down and you went to claim on your insurance, that the claim would void because the servicing hasn’t been maintained.
When you move
As we mentioned previously in the article, if you’re moving into a new home, you’re unlikely to know when the boiler was last serviced. It may have been something on your list that you were meant to ask the previous homeowner or the estate agent but never got around to doing so. Having a service when you move in is worth doing as this will take the worry away of a problem occurring further down the line.
You may be thinking why would I get a boiler service in summer!? But it’s always worth planning ahead and you may find that engineers are lot quieter during the warmer months and therefore likely to get an appointment easier than you would in winter.
Boiler protection schemes are something to consider especially if you are looking for that added peace of mind. There are a range of different policies out there that offer protection again breakdowns, call outs and parts and labour. For a monthly fee you can ensure your boiler and central heating is covered against those unexpected events.