This winter has caused much of the country to suffer from disruptions such as road travel, air travel and problems with public transport. It has also been said that it’s not been this cold since the 1930’s so places that don’t really see much snow on the UK have been hardest hot as they simply never have this extreme weather. On top of all the things we have had to contend with a major problem has been flagged with many of the nation’s central heating system. If you haven’t heard of the latest uproar then prepare yourself.
It has been 5 years since Labour approved and encouraged home owners to upgrade their boiler systems to condensing boilers and since 2005 it has been illegal to install anything but this. To date there are around eight million condensing boilers that have been fitted to upgrade previous boilers and every year more than a million are scrapped and upgraded. Condensing boilers are said to reduce carbon emissions and reduce fuel bills so as this as an incentive homeowners have been swayed to upgrade.
During this recent spell of bad weather a major flaw has been found with them with energy suppliers reporting an increase of house holders calling up with problems regarding their boilers. British Gas reported 60,000 visits in one area alone. During the seasonal holidays calling out a plumber can be as much as £300 not including VAT.
So what is the problem with condensing boilers in winter?
Simply put the waste pipe that carries waste water from the back of the boiler out of the property is freezing solid because of the extreme cold weather. As a result of this the boiler cannot function and will not heat radiators or provide hot water. It can cause permanent damage and shut down the system altogether, what’s even worse is the older style boiler doesn’t have this waste pipe and lasts much longer than condensing boilers.
In 2008 a scrappage scheme for boilers was introduced, it offered people around £400 towards the cost of a new boiler if they had the old one replaced, meaning perfectly good older style boilers were ripped out. Millions of home owners jumped at the chance as the government and salesmen made it sound too good to be true, along with the promise of saving money on bills and recuperating the cost in just a few years.
In reality if you put aside the freezing waste water pipe problem it doesn’t make good economical sense because a top of the range boiler costing in excess of £2000 will take ten years to pay for itself and they do not last that long! Condensing boilers are supposed to last at least 10 years but you’d be lucky if it lasted you half that time, the older boilers were still going strong at 20 years. It has been said by plumbers that if a condensing boiler was to break down after 4 years it would be better to get a new one than try to fix it as the parts are too expensive and don’t really justify a repair.
As a result of this finding it makes sense to keep your existing older style boiler and have it serviced yearly and as long as it continues to do its job well then there is no need to fork out up to £2000 for a new one. Until your old boiler breaks down completely it makes sense to keep using it as the condensing boiler is more trouble than its worth.