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Central Heating Conundrum


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I have discovered over the years of being part of this Forum that there are some members who are real DIY experts. I am therefore hoping to tap their brains a bit about our heating situation.

We live in a 3-bed terraced house dating to 1910 and during this latest spell of cold weather, it has been almost impossible to keep warm. Our central heating comes from a Baxi back boiler and through pipework that is 1970s in date. Most people would suggest that we just rip everything out and install a new system with a modern boiler, but when we had someone round to take a look, it was clear that the work involved in was more than just disruptive; it would be almost impossible to live in the house while the work was going on.

Having considered this option, which would be incredibly expensive and disruptive, I looked online for other solutions and came across electric boilers. The advantage for us would be that these boilers can be situated in areas of the house where there is no access to an outside flue, meaning that the installation would not require major works. I also wonder if we can, at least temporarily, attach an electric boiler to our existing pipework and take the slow road to replacing pipes and radiators. Could we also retain the airing cupboard which we find most useful due to the warm tank?

I would appreciate any advice on this

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This is a tough one considering I have literally just ripped, gutted, cut out my entire central heating system & replaced it all with a brand new set up!

One of the issues you will face is the efficiency of your current boiler, you could potentially leave all the existing pipework in place but this would require a very good power flush to remove the years of sludge build up but any decent Gas engineer would recommend this when changing the boiler. The next thing would be to change the radiators like for like this will also increase the the whole efficiency thing but less disruptive then changing all the pipework!

Electric boilers could be the way forward but you would really need to understand if they would be able to cope with the size house, number of radiators & overall running cost. 

To replace the boiler, flush the system & replace the rad's would be the least disruptive & most effective as you would not need to rip floorboards etc.

Also consider roof insulation pretty easy to do even for the causal DIY'er.

Hope that helps!

Some inspiration!

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I know how you feel. We've had a back boiler ( Thorn) for 30 odd years and it's great, red hot rads and plenty hot water.    Yearly service costs 40 quid, simply                   because there's nothing much to go wrong, unlike a combi.     In all that time its only needed two ignition units, at 60 quid each. But last December it wouldn't fire           up, got the bloke out ( the same one that's serviced it all that time) and it was the gas valve.   He said I'd be lucky to find one, and if I couldn't I'd have to upgrade            to a combi.    I got the number of a little supplier off my son's girlfriends dad, who is a plumber.  Quick call and the guy says I've got a few of those!    I picked it up 20 minutes later, 70 quid.  Fitted next day at the ridiculous cost of 25 quid!      Gave John 40, over the moon.   Sitting here sweating,  I might turn it down a bit !                       Sorry, this isn't advice but the thought of all the upheaval of replacing with a combi is not something to look forward to. 

Hope you get sorted out. 

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Would it not be easier to put in a complete new system, ignoring the old system and just disconnecting it?

I had a new system fitted in a couple of days in a house which had no heating and while we were living in it. Once you take out the cost of the boiler, which it sounds like you would have to replace anyway, the rest of the system is not that expensive. Plus with new HE boilers you'll save money on gas.

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12 minutes ago, eezy said:

Would it not be easier to put in a complete new system, ignoring the old system and just disconnecting it?

I had a new system fitted in a couple of days in a house which had no heating and while we were living in it. Once you take out the cost of the boiler, which it sounds like you would have to replace anyway, the rest of the system is not that expensive. Plus with new HE boilers you'll save money on gas.

It's the labour to replace the new pipework which puts a massive cost onto the overall price.

To replace the boiler should cost typically £600-1000 Labour some may include the Power Flush but a proper flush would cost around £400.

Replacing the radiators like for like can be done a plumber as it has nothing to do with being Gas safe so this cost around £40-60 per rad to replace.

If you decide rip out the entire system your looking at around £5-8k depending boiler brand, spec etc.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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41 minutes ago, Karrusel said:

 

This may take some of the pain away, Honour?....

 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme

 

Beware

We have friends who's boiler gave up the ghost and they applied for some sort of dot gov grant. They sat for three months without heating or hot water before giving up and just paid to have one fitted. 

 

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Honestly as much as it is a pain and cost, a few tweaks would ensure everything is modern, done correctly ,efficient and up to spec. Increase the boiler output, fit an upstairs /downstairs zone stat, pump size increase, pressure tank expansion. Pipework could stay , I see no reason to find fault with it, everything goes to where it needs to and in the right order.  Depiding on your your system you might already have the electrical wiring and all in place.

We only just finished ours a few months back with new rads and trv valves.  Fitted a room stat downstairs and motorised valves for the rads and one for hot water. System is so hot and efficient.  Go for the gov. grant if your eligible.  No matter what route you go there will be floorboard lifting, dust and hassle. Might as well do it right and once. Can still keep the airing cupboard. I've included a few pics. 

 

frXEKVh.jpg R6hZTh7.jpg

 

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You can get heated Gilletts from amazon.  Why heat the entire house when you can keep yourself warm!

(I have one I use either when the kids are playing football, or if I am being a soft lad with the roof down in my car in the cold )

 

Otherwise I definitely agree with do it once, right, than fiddle around the edges

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3 hours ago, Craftycockney said:

It's the labour to replace the new pipework which puts a massive cost onto the overall price.

To replace the boiler should cost typically £600-1000 Labour some may include the Power Flush but a proper flush would cost around £400.

Replacing the radiators like for like can be done a plumber as it has nothing to do with being Gas safe so this cost around £40-60 per rad to replace.

If you decide rip out the entire system your looking at around £5-8k depending boiler brand, spec etc.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I tend to forget regional variations in labour prices. I wouldn't expect to pay that much up here in the Midlands.

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9 hours ago, scottswatches said:

You can get heated Gilletts from amazon.  Why heat the entire house when you can keep yourself warm!

(I have one I use either when the kids are playing football, or if I am being a soft lad with the roof down in my car in the cold )

 

Otherwise I definitely agree with do it once, right, than fiddle around the edges

Reminds me of Billy Connolly and the big slipper !

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Many thanks to all of you for such thoughtful and useful replies to my question. They have given us real food for thought. For example, I had never heard of a power flush to clean up the inside of the existing pipework. Kris and I can now take a fresh look at the situation, fuelled by all your posts.:thumbs_up:

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22 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

Many thanks to all of you for such thoughtful and useful replies to my question. They have given us real food for thought. For example, I had never heard of a power flush to clean up the inside of the existing pipework. Kris and I can now take a fresh look at the situation, fuelled by all your posts.:thumbs_up:

There is another way. I was faced with the same dilemma three years ago, a house built in the early 1800's that haemorrhaged heat/money. I have/had the ability to do the work myself, along with ripping the house apart to rebuild and make it more thermally efficient, which is as equally if not more important, but I had also planned to move before I got to a certain age. So I moved, and I am glad I did for a number of reasons. My gas/electricity costs have plummeted, no more hours of cutting and splitting wood, and a dust free warm environment to live in. Plus it forced me to clear out all the stuff I'd hoarded over the years.

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Sorry I forgot to mention the method I that posted is what we done at my mums house. 

30+plus old system which had gravity fed tank in the loft and hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard. 

We ended replacing the boiler, removed the both tanks then added a megaflow system but just power flushed the entire system and the guys used a vibration head on a hammer drill to break up the sludge that built up in the rads. I never seen that before & makes a racket! But in the end it all worked out well.

The gas engineer recommended ATAG for the boiler apparently the main business is commercial boilers but they have now moved into the retail side. Done some research seem to be very good technology which puts my Worcester Bosch to shame although still good enough for what I need.

You cannot buy ATAG from your local merchants they are sold through approved engineers.

 

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Edited by Craftycockney
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47 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

Many thanks to all of you for such thoughtful and useful replies to my question. They have given us real food for thought. For example, I had never heard of a power flush to clean up the inside of the existing pipework. Kris and I can now take a fresh look at the situation, fuelled by all your posts.:thumbs_up:

A very similar situation to you a few years back. I lived in a 1940s mid terrace and had a baxi back boiler which died. We went for a Baxi combi fitted in the kitchen and a power flush with a couple of rads upgraded. All the pipe work stayed and the whole jobs took about 3 or 4 days I think. 

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This is what I have now. Hot water plus heat for 6 rooms.

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In the last three years my combined gas/electricity bills have been under £130 per quarter (three months) I usually have the thermostat set around 18°c, and over a 24 hour period the heating will only be on for a total time of around 90 minutes in that 24 hours, and is turned off altogether from mid March until November. This is not because I'm tight, more because it isn't required, as a result of the efficiency of heat retention of the building.

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Whatever system you eventually decide on, get your installer to fit a magnetic filter on the return line. Although not mandatory yet under current building regs., they are listed as a 'best practice' item on new installations. What they do is remove suspended iron oxide particles from the water as it passes through them, stopping it from building up as sludge in the rads. Once a year, at your annual boiler service, the plumber will remove the magnetic core and wash away any sludge that will be stuck to the magnet. I had one fitted when my boiler was replaced a few years ago, and at first, it removed lots of oxide, but now there's hardly any at the annual service, and the water remains clear instead of black. There are lots of different brands out there, probably the best known is the Adey 'MagnaClean'.

MagnaClean fitted to the return line of my Worcester Bosch boiler.

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If at all possible don't go to British Gas or any of the companies offering trade in deals or fixed rates for boiler installations.

British Gas will condemn any boiler they look at and turn the system off and then pressure you into accepting their price for replacement, on credit, at a HUGELY over inflated price and if you accept they will only surface mount any new pipework and leave everything else in place taking the shortest and easiest route from room to room.

The fixed price guys will sell you a boiler for under £2k and then make it up to £3.5 plus with all the add ons.

If you can find a couple of local guys through recommendation and then ask at least two to price the works and check carefully what they have priced for against each other.

I've had two new boilers recently in two houses and as the whole systems were OK the boiler replacement only was around £2k with me buying the boilers and hanging them so the plumber only had to make the gas, water and electric connections.

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Just had a new gas combi fitted and what a difference - the old one was not a condenser so the new one gave an instant saving of about 30%. Actually it's more than that becuase the new one is "intelligent" - it starts to turn the gas down as the actual room temperature gets near to the setting you have put on the thermostat so the rads are then warm rather than hot. Also, my gas man says don't change the rads I will do a power flush + fresh chemicals and you will be OK - he was right. I agree with Darren, stay well away from British Gas (rip offs) and find  a reliable local man.

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