It’s getting hot in here

Except it’s not.

As the tenants only left last summer so I figured the heating would probably work.  That might have been a bit optimistic given… erm, this:

Old Old Boiler

So, one of the first things I did once the electricity was on was to try to fire the boiler.  I’ve never actually had to fire a boiler before (they’ve always just already been on) so I clicked what I assumed was the ignition a few times – it did nothing.  Then I turned that green handle about half way up the right hand side.  It made a whooshing sound – I clicked the ignition a few more times – still nothing.  I stood back and pondered.  Then something seemed to burst and heating oil started spurting up the wall, hitting the roof and raining down on my head.  I jumped forward and turned the green handle again and it stopped.  I shut the door and asked my friends to wrap up warm and bring around some electric heaters.  After a couple of weeks of doing my best to ignore it, I gave me old primary school chum Ste (who’s now a plumber) a text and he came round and gave me some sage advice.  

So firstly, Ste points out that you’re not meant to turn that handle and, had known where to look, I’d probably have seen the pressure gauge steadily rising before it “blew” (which was actually just the overflow kicking in).  Then he asked me where the controller was to switch the boiler on  – “erm, you mean this thermostat thing on the wall in the kitchen?” – he flicked some switches and the pump started up.  Unfortunately it didn’t fire so it’s probably “a part”, he volunteered to send his service guy around but I don’t think it’s worth it – I’m going to have to get a new boiler anyway but that leads us on to the next problem – where to put it?

The boiler is currently in one of the outbuildings which will be demolished for the new extension – so the boiler has to go in the new extension, in part of the existing house or outside (it has to be a special outside boiler in that case).

I gave Ste a decent grilling about what’s the best approach with regard to boilers and heating systems in general and my house specifically – this is what I learned (well, some of this I knew before but is included for completeness):

  • Regular boilers have a separate hot water cylinder (this is the system the house currently has)
  • Combi boilers don’t have a separate hot water cylinder (they heat the water on demand)
  • The current hot water cylinder will need to be replaced and the cupboard it is contained within is too small for a modern cylinder
  • There is quite a bit of space under the floorboards on the ground floor (enough to get down and run pipes)
  • A boiler has to have a flue to an outside wall (it couldn’t go in the coat closet)
  • The cylinder doesn’t have to be against an outside wall although it will need to be vented to the outside, this could be under the floor (it could go in the coat closet)
  • An outside boiler is no less efficient than an inside one.
  • A combi or a cylinder should be as close as possible to the taps which use hot water.
  • It doesn’t matter how far away a regular boiler is from the taps.
  • You can’t chase pipes into brick walls so they will need to be boxed in, somewhere they can all be grouped together will mean a neater job can be made.
  • The cost to supply a combi vs a regular boiler plus a cylinder is about the same.
  • It is about an additional day’s labour to install a cylinder
  • For a my sized house with one bathroom, a combi would be fine
  • For a my sized house with one bathroom and an additional shower room (which is unlikely to be used at the same time) a combi should be ok
  • For a my sized house with two bathrooms (or the prospect of later putting in another bathroom) a regular boiler plus a cylinder would be best, a combi wouldn’t cut it.
  • The hot water cylinder could go in the loft but the floor would need extra support.
  • The cold water storage tank in the loft would be removed
  • The soil pipe is cast iron so another toilet couldn’t be added to the stack
  • There is a manhole outside the front door so it might be possible to run a new soil pipe
  • New radiators are more efficient than the old ones and for the cost, it’s probably a worthwhile upgrade
  • The radiator in the living room (which annoyingly takes up the only wall without a door or a fireplace) could be switched for a vertical one next to the French doors)
  • The radiator in the hall could be changed for a smaller one
  • The radiator in the bathroom has a dodgy bit of pipe (“could go at any time”)
  • He likes my plan to reconfigure the bathroom and add a shower
  • I don’t have to redo all the piping (particularly the bedrooms) but it might be a good idea to do it all at once.
  • My pressure is too high – it needs reducing (high pressure is hard on taps etc)
  • He showed me where the oil level was in the oil tank
  • It’s a single skin oil tank
  • I’ve a lead supply pipe
  • Oh, he showed me how to take the radiators off the walls

I also got him to give me a load of finger in the air prices but until I decide exactly what system I’m going to get and where it is all going to go, we can’t really make an progress.

N.B. all of the above relates to oil boilers – I’ve no idea about gas as oil is cheaper on the Isle of Man.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *