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Replacing an old oil boiler - quotes seem very high!

Discussion in 'Plumbing and Central Heating' started by lookseehear, 23 Sep 2021.

  1. lookseehear

    lookseehear

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    Hello all,

    Last December we moved into a 200+ year old detatched stone house in Somerset, with a 30+ year old oil boiler which we had several issues with before we got into the warmer months. It's an open vented system, but the hot water has never worked so we've been reliant on the immersion since we moved in.

    We were trying to work out for a good while whether it would be possible to replace it with an air-source/ground-source heat pump but it's just not going to be feasible given the costs involved and other works needed to insulate the house to make it warm enough, so we've decided it's time to get a modern, condensing oil boiler which we'll see out the next 5-7 years with and see what eco options are looking like at a later date.

    We've had two quotes so far - both were worcester bosch installers, one for a system boiler, retaining the hot water tank and one for an external combi. Both include powerflushing the system, fitting new TRVs (~12 radiators) and associated new filters etc.

    The system boiler install came in at £5.3k and the combi at £6.4k including all parts and labour. This seems probably £1.5k-2k more than I had hoped, but I've not got much experience in this area.

    Does this seem reasonable? The quotes weren't itemised, I assume it's fair to ask the installer to itemise it for us so we understand where the costs are coming from and see if there's anywhere we can economise.

    We had requested two other quotes and one visited but hasn't produced a quote after quite a few chases and the other just won't come and visit so we've given up on him!
     
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  3. muggles

    muggles

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    Doesn't sound too far out. A lot of installers will label you as a potentially awkward customer and run away if you start asking for itemised prices though, as it's inevitably a precursor to nitpicking. You don't go into a car dealership and ask for a breakdown of how they've arrived at the price for a car, you accept the whole package. If the price is too much for you then you go and buy a cheaper car elsewhere, and accept that the quality of the product or customer service might not be as good.

    Worcester aren't the only manufacturer of oil fired boilers though. If you're keeping your hot water cylinder then Hounsfield are worth a look, and if you're thinking of changing to a combi then reading Hounsfield's article on why that's a terrible idea is also well worth your time.
     
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  4. fixitflav

    fixitflav

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    There must be a reason for that. Do you have a hot water cylinder with primary coil fed from the boiler? What automatic valves and thermostats do you have? If the system is at fault changing the boiler won't cure the problem.
     
  5. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    As @fixitflav - given the age it's quite likely (assuming the cylinder is connected to the boiler which I'd be surprised if it wasn't) that there are motorised valves (possibly a 3 port) on the system. It's also likely that the vendors had Hive or some other fancy controller on it, took that with them and bodged a controller on. Esp with 3 port valves the wiring is not particularly intuitive...
    Pics of the controller and any valve gear would be useful.
    If you've got cylinder, stick with system or heat only, if you're determined to go combi then get water supply flow and pressure checked first (some rural supplies only just meet statutory requirements, which will give you a very poor hot water experience).
     
  6. Mike2007

    Mike2007

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    Cost of boilers and parts has gone mad. That coupled with fuel costs and general inflation, you would better belly ache to our lovely government about this.
    My answer is, prices are rising fast everywhere.
     
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  8. fixitflav

    fixitflav

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    Agreed
     
  9. lookseehear

    lookseehear

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I've just read that article on combi's and I'm inclined to agree. We love the idea of removing the hot water tank and the airing cupboard and freeing up space in the bathroom which was the big draw.

    The reason for asking for itemised was two-fold - the first is that my sister in law's father is a builder and has a trade account with city plumbing so sourcing a boiler at a discount could be an option, the second was that a family member shared a quote they received a couple of years ago and it was itemised and gave a huge amount of insight into what needed to be done. I had worried a little about asking for it itemised, but to take your car analogy, to me it's a bit more like wanting to know how much the metallic paint costs, or the bigger wheels, and if there are admin/service charges included.

    I feel like (at least in our area) Worcester Bosch seem to have a bit of a monopoly on the installers - they won't suggest anything else and only seem to want to install what they know which is frustrating.

    On the hot water subject - there's no three port valve and there's no thermostat. It's a really old controller that just does once, twice, on or off. The property was probate, and it was an old chap, so I know that there wasn't anything more sophisticated prior to us moving in. When we first moved in and switched it on (in mid december!) it fired up but did nothing, because the pump feeding the hot water to the radiators needed to be switched up to 3, after doing which around 2/3 of the radiators started getting hot. It needs overhauling, so in that respect the cost of £5k is maybe not that bad.
     
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  10. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Questions- was the system dry when you moved in (ie vendors had emptied the water out of the radiators, boiler, cylinder etc)?
    If yes then it's quite likely they took no great care in draining so all the crud in the bottom of the f & e tank will be in the pipework now.
    If the hot water cylinder is fed by gravity circulation then it doesn't take much of a blockage to disrupt the heat (if your controller is limited to off, HW, HW plus heating then most likely gravity)
    Final one- have you actually checked there is water in the f & e tank (if system wasn't drained)...might explain a few things :)
     
  11. denso13

    denso13

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    Just on that point. A business needs to make a certain amount of money each day/week to cover all of their costs and generate some profit. Some may work out the cost per job on a day/hourly rate basis plus a markup on materials. If you remove any part of that package then the job makes less money and, now that you have an itemised quote the installer is stuck.

    Also, on you supplying the boiler. If a boiler has issues the installer will normally attend and liaise with the manufacturer to find a resolution, at no cost to you. If you supply it then you are on your own with that side of things.

    As for your car analogy, by all means ask for individual cost for optional extras (larger wheels), nothing wrong with that.
     
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