Replacing back boiler for condensing boiler

9 May 2004
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

My gas fire has packed up after 31 years and I can't get the spare parts required so I'm resigned to replacing it. It's in a 3-bed end of terrace house which I am currently renting out whilst I'm overseas.

I've got an estate agent managing it for me who informs me that " the fire is combined with a back boiler this would mean replacing the fire and the boiler. An added complication is that back boilers cannot be fitted any longer as all boilers must now be condensing boilers (Combi boilers)."

Have I misunderstood something? I thought a condensing boiler and a combi-boiler are not necessarily the same thing. I.e. a combi heats water as required instead of storing it; a condensing boiler is more efficient because it uses the heat from the exhaust gases to preheat the incoming water.

I realise that I need to fit a condensing boiler but I don't really want a combi. The annoying thing is that there's nowt wrong with the current back boiler, but I can't replace the fire without also replacing the boiler.

So I guess the question is: is there such a thing as a condensing, non-combi-boiler? If so, what questions should I be asking before I decide which one is most appropriate?

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So I guess the question is: is there such a thing as a condensing, non-combi-boiler? If so, what questions should I be asking before I decide which one is most appropriate?

yes it's called a "heat only" or "system" boiler

plenty about ;)
Robotmannick said:
can't get the spare parts

Out of interest what fire is it?

One possible solution, if the back boiler unit (BBU) is operating safely;
Put a radiator in the room that has the BBU,
leave the fire in situ,
get the gas supply to the fire turned off.
Its difficult to immagine what parts he cannot get! Maybe he just means that British Gas says they cannot get them?

Certainly the radiants are still available for the C2 and the C5 firefronts from main spares merchants!

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Don't go through the estate agents gas fitter, the estate agent will add his cut. Arrange for an independent opinion estate agent can't charge you for just signing the keys out to your gas fitter.

The fire may be repairable, or there may be a replacement fire front available.

Otherwise the job is going to cost you >=£3,000 and involve a huge amount of disruption. You don't want your estate agent adding his usual percentage to £3 or 4 gs now do you?
Thanks chaps.

I'll have a look for system boilers, just so I know a bit more about it, should I need to get one.

I can't remember what make of fire it is, but I'm sure I could find out. Is there anywhere in particular that stocks spares of this type of thing? I'm told that a local firm came to look at it and said that they couldn't get them.

BBU is operating fine, so the tenant has hot water and central heating, no problem. He has, so the estate agent tells me, complained that the house is cold without the fire. However, in the whole time that I lived there, I think I used the fire perhaps once per year on average. There is already a large double radiator in the room. I also got the estate agent to buy an electric fire to keep the tenant happy in the short term whilst we got quotes together for a new system.

I'm also not convinced by the estate agent's response to my questions. I asked him to give me some details from the quotes and he was sketchy to say the least. He hasn't even been able to tell me the make/model of boiler or fire. The only real information he has given me is the cost which came to about £4,200. This may or may not be reasonable, depending on what I'm getting for it.

I think you're right - I'll get an independent opinion and see how that turns out. But that leaves me wondering...what am I paying the estate agent for?

Advice much appreciated.

You are paying the estate agent because he has to keep up the payments on his Porsche eat and keep a roof over his own head. The more you rely on him the more jobs he can get a cut out of for doing nothing. Not only that but a lot of the jobs done for estate agents by tradesmen are not done to as high a standard as a job done by your personal tradesman who you have built up a relationship with.

I'll be quite honest with you your job is a nightmare for us. Tenanted property makes it double bad.

My advice is find a local gas fitter, approach yourself and explain you are out of the country but you see this property as your home. You have it temporarily let. What you would like him to do in the first instance is see if the fire can be fixed replaced or capped off and made safe.

Tell the tenant the fire is capped off for safety reasons and you have no intention of spending £4,000 on an unnecessary heating renovation just so that they can have a gas fire. Also ask the engineer to size the room for the correct radiator, and if a larger output one is required get it fitted.

If all else fails, new tenant required. There's plenty more where that one came from.

I have a few tenants, I like an trouble free life, so I don't use a managing agent because they just spend your money to get fatter, and I don't tolerate a demanding tenant. I tell them to get out, and back it up as required. Bad tenants only get worse they never get better, first hint of a problem, bye bye.
Agile said:
Its difficult to immagine what parts he cannot get! Maybe he just means that British Gas says they cannot get them?

Certainly the radiants are still available for the C2 and the C5 firefronts from main spares merchants!

Did he mention anything to do with BG or the make and model or is it your turn for the Crystal ball. :confused:
Yes it's crystal balls all round at the moment. I did get this hint of information though:

"...all boilers must now be condensing boilers and this puts water under pressure. All of the companies said that the existing radiators are old and would not take the added pressure so therefore would have to be replaced."

When he says "All of the companies" I think he means "The one company that I bothered to ask (and am probably taking backhanders from)".

Granted, the existing radiators are old - I'm guessing that they were installed at the same time as the fire. But they've not given any problems to me. Is there any truth in condensing boilers running at a higher pressure? Would this require replacement of the radiators?

So as a result of a broken fire, I'm now looking at a new boiler, new fire, replacement of all radiators and piping in the house. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to pay a good price to a good tradesman for a job that needs to be done. I'm just not convinced that most of this work needs to be done at all.
You say you are overseas but are still located in the United Kingdom.

That I think only leaves some Channel Islands!

Why dont you pay just a little for an independent found on the web from Yellow Pages or similar to go and see whats wrong with fire and make and model and then ask us about it?

Replacement boilers would normally be pressurised and that can be a strain on older existing rads. Most will take it but sometimes some need to be replaced. If they are very old or in poor condition then it might be better replacing all of them.

Thanks Tony,

Yeah, I'm actually in China, but I've left my location as UK because I want to be associated with this place as little as possible! I should post some pics of the deathtraps that I've seen (electrical installations being the worst in my experience). It makes me cringe. But I digress...

My parents live close enough to the property that they can help out so I'm going to ask them to get an independent guy to take a look.

I'll report back when as and when I get more info.

Thanks to everyone for their input.

there seems to be some confusion over condensing/combi boilers.

there are basicly 2 types of boiler, combination boilers (combi's) and system boilers (standard boiler) these 2 types of boiler can be high efficiency boilers as well (condensing) and as of the 1st april 2005 (i think) all new boilers fitted have to be condensing boilers either standard or combi unless you are exempt, not many people are though and unless you live in a terraced house you prob wont be.

AND they have to be fitted in accordance with building regulations part L as well.
is there a market in 'good' second hand boilers, CF types that go on and on , but some idiot gets persuaded to change to save the planet(ho. ho).
if so where is it please?
second hand boiler would probably not meet new efficiency regulations. If it was new enough to meet these regs then why is it being sold second hand so soon :eek:
Op, u can have condensing regular boiler open vent system, but will require new location, drastic pipework alterations, system upgrade to approved document L of building regs.

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