Pretty much every homeowner worries about the day their boiler breaks. Not only is it essential for heat and hot water, it’s also really, really expensive.
My wife Nicky and I have recently moved into a fabulous new home. We’d been renting for years and couldn’t wait for the day to come when we could finally pick up the keys to our own place.
Well, that day came on the 1st August 2018 and ever since we’ve been blowing our budget on decorating and furnishing the place, completely unaware that there was a horrible unexpected expense just around the corner.
As soon as the cool autumn days arrived in late September, we started using the central heating more and more and that’s when it became clear that there was something seriously wrong with the boiler.
First off, we were noticing a drop-in pressure, and then no hot water and the heat failed to come on time and time again. There was the series of strange noises – tapping and banging – that if I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn could only be attributed to some sort of paranormal entity!
Learning the hard way
As homeowners you should always have some money put aside for problems like this, we quickly realised that we were going to have to dip in to our wedding fund to find the money for repairs.
We’d called out a plumber in hope of an affordable fix, but when he shook his head and said: “You need a new boiler mate,” I realised there was big expense ahead. And, I remembered the advice my dad had told us when we got the mortgage: “Make sure you save some cash in case there are any big problems, your homeowners now.”
So, I started doing some research to try to understand more about boilers and what should be considered before making a choice. Here’s what I found out:
It’s important to make sure that your boiler is suitable for the needs of your home because there’s no point running a system that’s designed to meet the demands of many inhabitants when there are only two of you.
So, perhaps the first thing to do is consider the types of boiler on offer and who they’re most suited to.
Combination boilers suit the average home best as they are compact, easy to fit and supply heat and hot water as required. As the combi system can only meet one heating need at a time though, it isn’t ideal for properties with many occupants because the boiler will be unable to fulfil the demands of more than one outlet. Combi boilers don’t require a cold water or feed and expansion tank to be fitted in the loft and you get as much hot water as you want.
System boilers meet the needs of many people because they work by storing a large quantity of hot water that can feed multiple outlets at the same time. Obviously, if you use all of the hot water that’s been pre-heated, you’ll run out. With a system boiler there’s no cold-water tank required meaning you don’t need to make space in your loft but you will still need room for a hot water cylinder.
Open-vented heat-only gas boiler systems (with a water tank) require external components as well as feed and expansion tanks to be fitted in the loft. Hot water is stored in a hot water cylinder and an on/off switch means that you can decide whether to heat the water or not.
They can cope with the demands of larger families – when there’s a request for hot water from various sources – but don’t provide hot water on demand, just like system boilers.
When it comes to buying a boiler reliability really is key, so always try to stretch the budget as far as possible to ensure that you buy a quality product that’ll offer years of problem-free use. After all, the average cost of a single boiler repair is £210 in the UK, so investing your money wisely to begin with will definitely add up in the long run. Good brands to consider are: Grant, Ideal, Valliant, Viessmann and Worcester Bosch.
Finally, a good heating control system is important too because it will serve to save you money and help you to manage your heating costs by enabling you to dictate which areas are heated in your home and when.
Thanks to a little – actually, a lot – of help from the bank of mum and dad, Nicky and I were able to purchase a quality combination boiler that has been keeping our home toasty for the last month and hopefully, for a very long time to come!