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Council contractor wants to replace conventional boiler with combi

Discussion in 'Plumbing and Central Heating' started by dupfold, 30 Jan 2016.

  1. dupfold

    dupfold

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    Hello

    I live in a 3 bed/1 bathroom mansionette and I've always had a conventional boiler, so when the boiler is working ok it's something I'm happy with and I don't give it a second thought. After on going issues with my current boiler (Baxi Solo 3 PFL 50), the time has come for a replacement, however, Smith & Byford want to rip out my conventional system and replace with a combi. When I was told this I advised I'd much rather stick with conventional. Reply was that they will add a note to the quote given to the council saying I'd prefer conventional replacement, but as it will be cheaper to install combi they can't see council opting for anything else.

    Given the fact that to install a combi would need a lot of extra pipe work in kitchen, extra new mains pipes runs upstairs and removal of HW tank and cold water storage tank, I cannot see how installing a combi would be the cheaper option over simply removing old conventional boiler and replacing with new. That just seem logical to me, but I'm no expect in these matters so it would be good to hear your thoughts on this please?

    As I'm 'just' a tenant I don't have much say in the matter at the end of the day, as was so clearly illustrated to me by surveyor who advise council will simply say 'you're get what you are given', however, if my logic is correct that like for like replacement should actually be cheaper (or at worst same price) than converting to combi, then I'll have a good reason to backup my argument.

    Until my recent boiler problems, I knew next to nothing about combi. The only think I knew of combi was that they produce 'instant' hot water. I'm perfectly happy with my hot water which is pretty much already instant, so this benefit is lost on me. Another main benefit appear to be that you can get rid of tanks, but I already have enough space that only fills with junk. Thought I'd do some research re conventional vs combi and opinions still seem largely divided, and very much depends on user demands.

    From extensive reading various forums and guides, I think I've pretty much got to the bottom of the pros and cons of the two systems now, and I'm sure the conventional will still suit me much better, but would still like others opinions in case I've missed something. I've included some facts and questions below so you can tell me what you think is best suited for my situation... conventional or combi?

    I got surveyor to measure mains. He used just the kitchen tap (no others were running). His meter reader maxed out at 22 liter, so couldn't gather an accurate reading other than it was over 22 litres.

    Mains litres per minute:
    22+ litres
    Mains Pressure measured: 3.8 bar
    Current Boiler: Baxi Solo 3 PFL 50 (around 15 years old)
    Proposed combi: Valliant ecotec Pro 28
    Proposed conventional: Valliant 615 or 618 (IF council would agree to conventional)

    1. I use very little hot water. I heat up just enough to cover for what I use. The boiler is on 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in afternoon ready for a bath after work. Other than that it's on for heating 1-2 hours some nights. Gas usage averages around £30 a month which I think this is pretty good. Combi are said to reduce bills, but is this likely considering my limited use already?

    2. I mainly bath and understand that it will take considerable longer to run a bath with a combi. Takes about 5 mins at present. Taking in to account my mains pressure/flow rate (3.8 bar / 22), any ideas how much longer it would take? Boiler they propose to install would be Valliant ecotec pro 28 which has 11.1 flow rate.

    3. Some years back I saved and got a power shower (Mira Excel) installed. 2 bar pump and shower is fantastic, very powerful to the point you get that tingling feeling from water hitting the skin (on particular head settings). Some people have said it's a little TOO powerful as they feel like they have just been beaten up by it! Of course I can kiss good bye to the pump if combi is forced on me. Using pretty basic method of bucket and measuring jug I measured 11.5 litres per minute for current setup. This was surprising as thought it would be more. Taking into account mains pressure/flow rate (3.8 bar / 22) and combi boiler output (11.1), would I noticed a considerable difference? Would shower still be half decent at least?

    4. If I have no choose but to accept the combi, I'd consider asking if I can pay the extra for next models up (maybe Plus 832 with 13 litre per min) for increased flow rate for better shower and faster filling baths. However, I've read that while a more powerful combi will help achieve this, the output for the heating would then be overkill and therefore it won't run as efficiently. True? Would 13 l/m vs 11.1 l/m give noticeable different that you can feel in shower?

    5. I haven't done much reading up on conventional boilers, but IF council would agree to go with another of these, is the Valliant 615 or 618 a good choice, or should I look toward next models up? I understand bigger combi's equals better flow rate, but as flow rate wouldn't be issue with new conventional, not sure of any benefits of bigger/more power conventional? Considering current boiler has output of 18.3kW, Vallient 615 has 15.9kW and 618 has 19.1kW makes sense to opt for 618 as this is closest to my current boiler's output (which I'm happy with... when it works). Make sense or would 615 be ok? What difference if any would I notice with lower output of the 615?

    6. Surveyor said they would only do a chemical flush (not power flush). All rads have typical 'mountain' shape area at bottom of rads which I understand is a clear indication of sludge. Is chemical flush acceptable in such instance?

    Thanks for reading, and sorry it's so long. I just want to make sure I don't end up disappointed. Might not have much say in the matter really, but have a better chance if I can put forward a well informed argument.

    Thank you
     
    Last edited: 30 Jan 2016
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  3. Aquaheat

    Aquaheat

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    I could fail to be disappointed if someone were to install me a free boiler!

    This is where this country is going wrong. If you want a system boiler tell the council to forget the one they are installing and pay for the entire install yourself. There will be no issues then.

    That was a very long winded post for next to nothing useful.

    1st world problems eh

    Jon
     
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  4. SteveP86

    SteveP86

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    Get your own place then you can get what ever boiler you want. Then again you would be paying proper rent or a mortgage so would have to just put up with those mountain shaped radiators you speak of. Nah best to stick with your subsidised rent and a free boiler
     
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  5. dupfold

    dupfold

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    Wow. Ok I hear what you are saying guys, and I am truly grateful for my home, somewhere where I have lived my whole life. A home that one day I do hope to own, which I'm working hard to do via self employment working more hours than I have ever worked before. This was my family home. My mum passed away suddenly at just 47 years of age, which left me. I'd much prefer to have my mum still around, in which case this place would still be her's and I would have moved out long ago.

    I will be grateful for whatever the council decide to install, however, that decision will be based on what the contractor recommends, so if they have an agenda and want to install combi, then that is the one they will push for. Just trying to ascertain if ripping out current system and converting to combi would actually be cheaper than simply replacing current boiler (as stated by contractor)? Logic dictated that simply replacing like for like would actually be cheaper no? If so then contractor would be giving council incorrect recommendations by recommending combi install.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jan 2016
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  6. OvertonPlumber

    OvertonPlumber

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    I do a lot of council funded boiler changes in refurbishments and disabled grants. There all conventional. Not once have I ever fitted a combi in a council house. Last one I did in January was a Vaillant 618. Vaillant are the approved brand at the moment.
    We also just finished ten houses for elmbridge housing trust they had solar panels, megaflos, 12kw convential system boilers. 2 even had air source heat pumps.

    Not a combi in sight!!
     
  7. flameport

    flameport

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    To answer the questions:
    1. No saving at all, it's the amount of hot water used that makes the difference, not when/how it is heated. £30/month for gas is already tiny anyway.
    2. Measure flow of the bath hot tap now (use a bucket and see how long it takes to fill), then compare that to 11 litres per minute.
    3. Not a question, but combi means that pump will be gone. Probably keep the same shower. With 3.8 bar of mains pressure it's doubtful anyone would notice the difference.
    4. Minimal or no difference particularly considering you use little water anyway. To put this another way, the extra is equivalent to adding a single bucket of water to the bath every 5 minutes.
    5. Boilers are sized to the heat load, which is primarily the heat losses of the building, which should be similar to the total output of all of the radiators. Unless the property is vast or has poor insulation, 18kW for a 3 bed maisonette would seem rather oversized already.
    6. Chemicals may be sufficient, or not. All depends on how bad the current system is. They won't do a proper power flush as that will take a whole day and cost them more.

    It is likely the council have some deal with installer/manufacturer/other where they only fit a certain make/model/type of boiler, and this probably includes maintenance/servicing/repairs, so comparisons with the basic price of it are not really valid.
     
  8. roguetrader

    roguetrader

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    Bit harsh when the chap just wants to keep something that suits him.
    Give the guy a break.

    Dupfold,
    Make a phone call to the relevant department and ask the question.
     
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  9. HootingOwl

    HootingOwl

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    I would suggest that the Combi will be the more expensive install option, and as you are a low user of hot water, you are likely to make a good saving on your energy bills. Vaillant is a decent boiler. I would say go for it. Let us know how you get on.
     
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  11. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Not so. You actually have first interest in the property whilst your tenancy contract exists - i.e. you have greater rights than the landlord.

    Anyway, in Landlord & Tenant context this is an improvement, and not a repair; the two are completely different, and are very important concepts.

    With repairs, there are obligations on the landlord to carry out repairs, and obligations for the tenant to let the landlord have access to the property to carry out the repairs. There is a specific duty for the landlord to keep your existing heating and means of hot water "in repair".

    With improvements, there is no such obligation on the landlord. The landlord does not have to improve the property or heating system, just maintain it, and therefore you do not have to let him in to carry out work that he has no responsibility to do - i.e. to change the boiler if you do not want it changed. You just decline the offer (that's all it is, an offer) to replace the boiler for a different one.

    The landlord must maintain the boiler for as long as possible, whatever the cost to him. If the boiler has to be replaced, e.g. no parts available, then unless you agree otherwise, it must be replaced with a similar system, and you do not have to accept a combi if you already have a system boiler.

    Those are your rights as a tenant.

    Do think of the economies and pros and cons of a combi though, before refusing one.
     
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  12. ajsdoc

    ajsdoc

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    Think this thread is awful.
    It seems only to point to a guy who cares about and takes interest in the property he rents.
    What's wrong with that?
    The response seems bizarre.
     
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  13. gas112

    gas112

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    Some right ar5eholes replies here the house isnt free the guy pays rent and if he is a tenant for the average around 50 years he will have paid in rent far far more for the house than its worth not like a standard 25 year mortgage .
    Power shower you have they will have to address this issue.
    As a tenant you still have a say in what is given .
    our council would be asking for powerflush but if yours doesnt then make sure afterwards everything heats as it should
    It would also be cheaper to just do a straight boiler change dont let them fob you off with its dearer
     
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  14. dilalio

    dilalio

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    OP: you pay your rent to the Council and NOT to the Surveryor/Contractor! It is the council you need to speak with, just be persistent if they resist!
    A portion of the rent you pay will be for the heating and hot water system you have the use of, and it is perfectly reasonable for you to not want to pay for something you don't want!
    In addition, you made a considerable financial investment in the property, with the installation of the shower pump, this should give you extra leverage and you could ask for compensation if it were to become obsolete!
    If the cost of replacing the boiler, to satisfy your preference, is not going to cost any more than the install specified by the contractor, I can't see the council having grounds to refuse.
    Bottom line... argue your case and be persistent. Let us know how it transpires but, as said, don't reject the combi out of hand... Another benefit of them is that there are less components, on the ageing system, to go wrong which means less disruption to your life, waiting in for engineers, being without services whilst they get their act together etc etc.
     
  15. Nige F

    Nige F

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    Agree about the Rsole replies. Think on this ....If the o.p takes a "moral" stand and never buys from council .- He will be forced out into smaller property or hit with Bedroom Tax. If he buys, he will upset some Diynotters and have a rapidly rising valuable asset in London that he can sell one day and come and retire in Sussex by the sea. No brainer really - you just gotta love politicians:sneaky:
     
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  16. BigSnoopy01

    BigSnoopy01

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    A heat only would be a cheaper install if it can go in the same place as the solo. Speak to the council.
     
  17. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    Smith and Byford are the "approved" contractors employed by Sutton Housing Partnership, their phone number is listed on the

    http://www.suttonhousingpartnership.org.uk/HowDoI/ContactSomeone.aspx

    web page as the contact for Gas Enquiries.

    It is not impossible that there is a financial reason for contractors to replace boilers with a standard fit all combi solution. Government grants etc which might be stipulating exactly what type of boilers are to be installed under the grant scheme without any regard to the individual circumstances at each property. ( as was happening in a northern England housing association )
     
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