Do you get the feeling that condensing boilers are basically bad technology? Many people complain bitterly on online forums about their experience with these boilers. Newspaper reports that support these views add to the resentment. In truth, though, most of the problems to do with condensing boilers can be traced to either a bad purchase decision or an under-trained installing plumber. To help grasp how the problems experienced with condensing boilers have nothing to do with the technology, here are descriptions of two basic problems that people have with these appliances.
You Get Complaints from the Neighbors about Your Condensing Boilers Exhaust
Condensing boilers have a side effect that can annoy your neighbors a plume of steam exhaust that smells like soap.
The exhaust emanating from condensing boilers contains carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapor and some mild acid. This exhaust would be dangerous to release indoors. British homes are built airtight and well-insulated to keep indoor heating efficient. If a boiler were allowed to release its exhaust indoors, the home would quickly become unlivable. Boiler exhaust is required by law to be routed outside. Unfortunately, when this exhaust appears outside it often blows directly at a neighbors front door, car or garden. The acidic nature of this exhaust can damage car finishes, wilt plants and be annoying to people.
If you experience complaints from your neighbors, you should quickly take action. It isnt just neighborly to be attentive to such complaints; it is a requirement by law. British Standard BS5440-1 governs the way condensing boiler exhaust should be installed. Its supposed to be routed in a way that causes no nuisance to neighbors. The law specifically mentions that condensing boiler exhaust installations should be a minimum of 2.5 m away from a neighbors property boundary. If your exhaust flue is installed in a way that annoys your neighbors, your plumber or installer is guilty of violating the code. If you dont take quick action and reroute the boilers exhaust, you could get a visit from the local Environmental Health Officer.
You Have a Reasonably New Condensing Boiler but You Find Yourself Stuck With Expensive Repair Bills
Condensing boiler systems have a terrible reputation when it comes to reliability. Internet forums and newspaper articles are full of reviews of boilers failing within days of the expiration of the guarantee period and costing homeowners hundreds in repair bills. Many complaints question the very technology that condensing boilers employ.
Condensing boilers use relatively recent technology and can be troubled by a few rare complications to do with the computerized control circuitry used. The basic technology used in these boilers is reliable, though, as proven by a major study released by Britains Energy Savings Trust. The study proves that condensing boilers can be just as reliable and easy to service as conventional boilers. The problems that people face often come down to two things:
People tend to buy unreliable condensing boiler brands and use poorly trained plumbers to install them.
Condensing boilers require periodic maintenance. Since many homeowners dont read the instructions in the manual and many plumbers are so poorly trained that they are unaware of any maintenance requirements, these boilers fail for want of maintenance.
Many expert reviews in publications like The Guardian and expert plumber recommendations favor one of the German condensing boiler brands Worcester Bosch and Vaillant, among others. These tend to be very reliable. When it comes to installing these boilers, its important for homeowners to read the instruction booklet and to look for a well-trained plumber. They need to question the plumber they hire about any specific training that he has received in condensing boiler installation. Most plumbers simply have nothing more than a 5-hour City & Guilds course under their belts.
An example of the kind of mistake that untrained plumbers make can help. Many use regular steel screws to secure the flue that routes exhaust outside. Since the exhaust is acidic in nature, these screws disintegrate in a matter of days.
Owner maintenance is an important part of condensing boiler reliability. Many models use sensitive and delicate heat exchange units (devices that look like finned radiators) to help efficiently collect heat and transfer it to the water. The aluminum that they are made of can be easily corroded by acidic vapor from burning gas. To stay intact, these heat exchangers are coated with acid-resistant oil. Unfortunately, this oil coating is easily lost over a few months of use. Its important to call in maintenance once every six months or so and have the coating looked at. Since many owners are unaware of this requirement, their heat exchangers simply corrode away.
There can be no argument about the expense related to replacing condensing boiler parts. For example, the fan that drives boiler exhaust outdoors costs Â£200 to replace. The heat exchanger is Â£400; the circuit board is Â£200 pounds and the gas valve is Â£190. If you buy a quality appliance, though, these parts should only need replacing if badly done installation or poor maintenance causes corrosion.
This article is copyright protected.