Boilers: we tend to take them for granted, don’t we? I know I only really think about ours when it stops working, or when the energy bills arrive! But if you’ve ever suffered through a boiler replacement in the colder months of the year – which is when they tend to break – you’ll know just how vital a boiler is to the comfort and function of your home.
The reason boilers tend to break down in winter is because that’s when the most strain is put on them to keep the house warm and supplied with hot water. So, if your boiler is coming to the end of it’s life, it makes a lot of sense to think about replacing it in the warmer months, when you can cope without it for a few days much more easily.
If you’re looking to replace your boiler soon, here’s what you need to think about before you buy a new one.
Types of boiler
If you’ve never dealt with boiler replacement before, you may not be aware of the different types of boiler on the market. Here’s a quick guide.
- Conventional, or heat-only boilers have a water cylinder and a water tank. This means you need to find room for the cylinder (typically in an airing cupboard) and the tank, and once the hot water has ran out you have to wait for it to reheat.
- System boilers are like conventional boilers, but without the water tank, so they take up less space. You’ll still need to find room for the cylinder, and wait for the water to reheat once it has ran out.
- Combination (or combi) boilers heat up the water as and when it’s needed, so you don’t need a cylinder or a tank. They’re ideal if space is tight, and will give you a constant supply of hot water.
You can find lots of information about different boiler brands and models online from sites like Heating & Plumbing World.
Boiler replacement budget
Boiler replacement is an expensive investment, so naturally you want to choose the right one for your home but also for your budget. Working out how much you want to spend before you start getting quotes will help you narrow down your options more quickly.
When it comes to setting a budget, remember this is an outlay that ideally you don’t want to make very often, so if you can stretch to a better brand or more energy efficient option it’s worth doing so.
Finding a boiler engineer
A good boiler engineer will be well-qualified to assess your specific needs, and able to give you lots of advice about your options when it comes to boiler replacement.
They will most likely have a couple of makes of boiler that they like working with, as well as lots of experience of the makes and models that they have to repair frequently, so they’re a great source of information. Just be careful that they are not being incentivised to install a particular brand.
Gas boiler engineers must be Gas Safe registered, so make sure you check this. The Gas Safe Register is a quick way to check a particular tradesman, and you can also use the search function to find registered engineers in your area.
What size boiler?
The size of boiler you need will be based largely on the number of radiators in your house, and the number of bathrooms that will be demanding hot water. Again, your heating engineer is a great source of advice here. Before having a discussion, it will help to think about things like how you use your hot water and whether that changes at different times of year, any problems you have with your current system, and any home improvements you’ve got planned.
It’s also worth thinking about how much space you have, or would like to save; for example, replacing a conventional boiler with a combi will free up quite a bit of room. And it might sound silly, but make sure you check the dimensions of your chosen model carefully; you don’t want to get to installation stage before you realise it won’t fit!
Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your new boiler running efficiently and safely. An annual service is the usual recommendation, so make sure you speak to your boiler engineer about a service plan. It’s also worth considering the warranty offered on your new boiler, and whether there is an option to extend any standard time period. This can vary between brands, and could be a big factor in which option you ultimately go for.
Have you replaced your boiler recently? What tips do you have for getting it right?