When should you upgrade your boiler?

It is quite common for people to consider boiler replacement only after it breaks down completely. People have a habit of replacing their smartphones, refrigerators, washing machine, etc at regular intervals but they never think about replacing their boilers. The primary reason for this mindset is the cost of buying a new boiler and installing it is highly expensive. It is not a good idea to wait for the boiler to break down and then buy it. Just imagine your boiler breaking down during a peak winter season and your family will be left exposed to extremely cold climate. Ideally one should not wait till the boiler shuts down instead should look for signs that indicate it’s time to replace.

  • If your monthly energy bill is higher than the average for 2-3 months consecutively then it indicates your boiler has lost its efficiency. Your boiler might still be working, but it will consume more energy than what is actually required. This will lead to an inflated monthly heating cost. When you encounter such a problem, then it’s time to replace your boiler with a modern high efficient one.
  • The average lifetime of a well-maintained boiler is 15 years. If you carry out annual boiler service without fail and do the regular maintenance then your boiler will work without problems for 15-20 years. Experts recommend that you should start planning your boiler replacement when the boiler is 15 years old.
  • If you have purchased a boiler which has a low energy efficiency rating then you might be spending extra each month on the energy cost. Instead of waiting for the boiler to stop working completely, it’s a good idea to consider replacing it with a high energy efficiency rating boilers. Most of the modern boilers have an energy rating of 90%+.
  • If your boiler takes more time to heat up than usual then it is a clear indication of fading performance. You should consider replacement when the time taken to heat is getting longer.
  • Whenever your existing boiler starts leaking carbon monoxide gas, then you should replace the boiler without delay. Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas which can cause even death. Carbon monoxide gas is both odourless and colourless and hence you need to install a carbon monoxide alarm to detect the leak.
  • You should consider replacing the boiler when the frequency of repairs increases. Boiler repairs are expensive and when the frequency increases, you will be losing a lot of money. Instead of wasting money on the repairs, it is better to upgrade it.
  • Buying a boiler cover will protect you from unexpected boiler repair expenses. Most of the boiler cover companies reject boilers after inspection. If the boiler cover is denied for your boiler, then it is an indication that it is nearing its end. Consider boiler replacement when you can’t get a boiler cover.

How to install the hydronic central heating system

This is a type of underneath heating system which heats the home by heating the floor. Hot water is circulated through tubes which are installed underneath the floor. When hot water is circulated in the tubes, it emits heat through the floor surface. The tubes are connected to a boiler disperses the hot water. Installing a hydronic heating system by hiring a professional heating engineer can be quite expensive. Installation can be achieved with the help of a plumber too at a reduced cost. Here are steps to install hydronic heating system efficiently.

List of materials required

  • Aluminum-based MDF board kit
  • PEX tubing
  • PEX tubing spacers
  • PEX tubing spacers
  • Drill

Step 1:

We are going to use aluminum-backed MDF board for installation. Aluminum backed MDF does a great job in retaining the heat. The first step is to take a measurement of the house to determine how much MDF is required. Measure the length and width of each room and calculate the total square foot of livable area. Buy the MDF board for 10% extra to make up for the wastage during installation. MDF boards are already cut into sections to accommodate the PEX tubing.

Step 2:

Once you have bought the MDF board now it’s time to lay it on the floor. This will become your sub-floor. MDF boards for flooring are assembled like a puzzle. It should form a snake pattern when assembled properly with the corners. Once you have assembled the MDF boards, apply adhesive to the floor in an “S” pattern. Without much delay lay the MDF boards on the adhesive one by one. Install PEX tubing at the connecting points of the MDF boards. Make sure that the boards are glued tightly and it shouldn’t move or even wobble. For additional stability, you can nail them to the base too.

Step 3

Now that we have the MDF board in place, we need to bring hot water from the boiler. This is achieved through PEX tubing. PEX tubing will distribute the water from the boiler to the floor. First, measure the distance between the boiler and the board. Cut the tubing with 5-10% extra length which can be trimmed after installation. Make a hole using a drill and insert the PEX tubing. You need to make several holes in various sections to install the PEX tubing. Now lay the PEX tubing in the groove of the MDF boards using the mallet.

Step 4

Make sure everything is installed correctly without any leaks. The next step is to connect the PEX tubing to the boiler and this is something which can only be done by the plumber. So call your regular plumber and ask him to carefully connect boiler and the tubing.

Step 5

Now that we have everything in place, switch on the boiler and test the water pressure levels. Keep it on for 45 minutes to experience heat. Once everything is working and there are no leaks, you can install your regular floor.

Maintenance guide for home boilers

Let me start with an interesting fact: The performance and the efficiency of a boiler decrease each year. The quality of heat will also degrade with each passing year. This situation can be prevented with proper maintenance. From our experience, we have come across many people who do no maintenance except for the annual boiler service. An annual boiler service will fix all the problems in the boiler but that alone is not sufficient. Homeowners should carry out minimal maintenance each month to keep the boiler in best working condition. These are not complicated tasks instead of normal things like observing, cleaning and lubricating various parts of the boiler and the central heating system. These simple measures will increase the lifetime of the boiler and also increase its operating efficiency.

Installation and start-up

The most important maintenance starts with the installation. Boiler installation is extremely complicated and should be carried out with a Gas-Safe certified heating engineer. Most of the boiler problems in the first year are attributed to improper installation. Care should be taken to ensure it is installed properly as per the guidelines.

The next critical step is starting up the boiler and should be done only by the heating engineer after testing all the modules. Here is a checklist of things to inspect before the initial start-up

  • Carefully inspect all the gauges, controls, water glass, and piping. Ensure both the waterside and fireside is clear of any foreign objects.
  • Switch on the electrical equipment to test its operation and lubricate all the rotating parts. You might notice the presence of chemical or gases leftover, they should be cleaned away to avoid corrosion.
  • All other standard tests should be carried out before starting up the boiler for the first time. The heating engineer should also provide a report after starting up the boiler.

Water level

The boiler requires sufficient level of water pressure to run smoothly. When the water level drops, the pressure reduces which affects the performance of the boiler. The gauge glass should be frequently monitored to check water levels. Once in a month check water columns to ensure connections are clear. The water should return to the original level once the drain valve is sealed. This can be seen in the gauge glass. Reduce the stress on the boiler if water is not visible in the gauge glass.

Regular Inspection

Various parts of the boiler should be inspected at regular intervals. During the inspection, one should look for leaks, noise, the color of the flue, water pressure, etc. These are some of the vital factors which determine the performance of the boiler. Leaks are critical and should be addressed immediately to avoid large-scale damage. It makes sense to call a profession for the inspection. A professional inspection would include the above tests and additionally will also look out for a hydrostatic test, flame safeguard supervisory system and other safety controls. This will ensure that the boiler is both safe to use and operating at a higher performance.

Pros and cons of cast iron radiators

Whenever the temperature drops, our focus turns towards the radiators which keep our rooms warm. The radiator is an important part of the central heating system that keeps your house warm during the cold winter months. It is difficult to imagine a life without these radiators during the peak winter season in London. Though there are many types of radiators available in the market, cast iron radiator is the most preferred choice. Let us understand in depth about the pros and cons of cast iron radiator.

Pros

Safety

Cast iron radiators are completely safe for home usage. It has a built-in safety mechanism which prevents overheating of the radiators. It is very well insulated which makes it safe even for kids.

Reliability

Cast iron radiators are found to be highly reliable and can last longer than other types of radiators. The average lifetime of cast iron radiators is clearly on the higher side.

Superior heating

When compared to a steel radiator, cast iron radiators offer the highest quality heating. Industry records show that cast iron radiators are the most efficient heat emitters. Research proves that cast iron radiators have the best heat output compared to a steel radiator or wood-fired furnace.

Sizes

Modern cast iron radiators are available in different sizes and styles. You can get a compact yet elegant radiator for a smaller room and a large radiator for bigger room sizes.

Design

Gone are the days when radiators appear ordinary and used to kill the appearance of the rooms. Cast iron radiators are not only efficient but also offer rich aesthetics. They enhance the overall appearance of rooms. Cast iron radiators offered by reputed brands comes with paint effects which act as a home décor.

Heat retention

Cast iron radiators take a longer time to heat up compared to modern steel and aluminum radiators but on the flip side, cast iron radiators retain heat for a longer period of time. Since these radiators offer extended heating, they have a better energy efficiency.

Quality of air

Traditionally cast iron radiators are considered to be unhealthy since they didn’t have mechanism to filter out dust particles. Since their come back, most of the cast iron radiators have a built-in convection fan which forces out the dust particles that comes in. Due to this superior technology, rooms fitted with modern cast iron radiators will have a superior air quality.

Consistency

One of the important factors for a good radiator is how evenly heat is distributed. Due to the large size of cast iron radiators, heat is consistently distributed and offers high-quality heating for an extended period of time.

Cons

One of the notable disadvantages of cast iron radiators is their cost. They are relatively expensive compared to steel or aluminum radiators.

Though it is expensive, considering the superior heat emitting ability and high energy efficiency, it saves cost on the longevity.

Considering their superior heating, energy efficiency coupled with enhanced aesthetics, cast iron radiators clearly has the edge over others.

Pros and Cons of combination boilers

Combination boilers are on the verge of replacing the traditional boilers in the UK. Due to their dual benefits and compact size, more than half of the boilers in the UK are now combi boilers. They have gained significant popularity mainly for their size and their higher efficiency. Though system boilers have been in use for centuries, people are gradually shifting to combi boilers as it occupies lesser size and is easy to operate.

What is a combi boiler?

A combination boiler is not only a high-efficiency water heater but also a central heating boiler. Since it combines two functionalities into a single unit, it is called a combination boiler. Most of the modern combi boilers have all its components contained in a single standalone unit which can be easily connected to your central heating system. Due to this very reason, they are relatively small in size compared to traditional boilers which have a separate water tank. Combi boilers are highly efficient since they directly heat the water from the mains. There is no need to store hot water and it can dispense hot water on demand whenever required.

Pros

  • With the traditional boilers, one need to wait for few minutes after switching on the heater to get hot water supply. W.r.to combi boilers, there is no waiting time involved. Just switch on the heater and hot water will be available instantly saving time for the users.
  • For smaller families, storing hot water is not economical and hence a combi boiler is an optimal choice.
  • A combi boiler does not contain an external hot water cylinder or a storage tank which makes their size miniature. For homes with space constraints, combination boiler offers a fantastic solution.
  • Since combination boilers heat the water directly from the mains supply, one can enjoy a high-pressure hot shower instantly.
  • Since there are no external tanks required, a large amount of time and money is saved during boiler installation.
  • Combination boilers are highly energy efficient compared to the conventional boilers and will save you money in the long run.

Cons

  • Since there is no water tank, you cannot use an immersion heater. If there is a power failure or your boiler breaks down, then you are left with no hot water.
  • Not suitable for households with many bathrooms as it cannot deliver hot water to multiple showers at the same time.

Interesting aspects of combination boiler

  • A combination boiler will save you money on the energy bills if the household has few members. A combination boiler is not suitable for a big family with many members and it will be expensive to operate.
  • Since combination boiler heats the water directly from the mains, hot drinking water is available in the taps. It is designed in such a way that the tap water and central heating water is never mixed.
  • Combination boilers are best suited for hot showers instead of filling a bathtub which is a time-consuming process.

Reference: https://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/combis.htm