Shiny new boiler

Last week, we replaced our old, 1970s Baxi back boiler with a brand-new shiny Worcester-Bosch condensing combi boiler. And thanks to the willingness of Sean Lidden, the boiler man who scaled our roof to install the vertical vent, the new boiler fits neatly into our roof-space storeroom.

When we first looked into it last year, we thought it would have to be mounted on an external wall. As we live in a narrow mid-terrace cottage, we don’t have a huge expanse of convenient external wall on which to unobstrusively mount a boiler. At best, we’d figured it would have to go in the computer cupboard (aka the server rack), which wasn’t really that ideal.

I guess it depends on the make/model of boiler but this is the make that Sean has used before because it’s easy to maintain and get parts, I think, and, for us, being able to vent it through the roof is definitely the best option. And being able to control the heating using a wireless thermostat/control means that we don’t have to make the trip upstairs just to override the timer settings.

So I worked at home for three days while it was all being installed. On the first day I had no heating or water (hot or cold) but a neighbour kindly lent me a key to use her facilities; after that, we had cold mains water but no heating or hot water. It was bliss on Friday evening being able to run the hot tap, and on Saturday morning have a hot shower.

The upshot is that we no longer have a hot water tank (and hence no airing cupboard), we have no cold water tank or header tank in the storeroom, and we have no ugly 1970s outset gas fire stuck to the chimneybreast. We have yet to decide what to put in the hole that the fire and boiler left behind but in the meantime, we can admire the pretty 1970s lime-green wallpaper that we discovered behind some formerly boxed-in pipes in the living-room.

11 thoughts on “Shiny new boiler

  1. Hi – at last evidence of a real person putting their boiler in the roof space. Have been websearching and getting all the plumbworld, Worcester-Bosch, Screwfix etc etc sites, all the building regs etc etc but just a real example is good to hear of; I’m just about to have WB30CDi fitted in roof space (to save space in a small kitchen and to save my small larder). My installer doesn’t want to mess with the roof itself (which is quite new) and wants to put the boiler on the outside end gable wall (flue out through the wall high up). My only concern is that the hot pipes then have to run across width of house before going down shared wall (and I don’t want to wait for the lovely hot water), he reckons it will be OK.

    Sounds like you were happy with your install in the roof. Am convinced about the auto antifrost start up things the boiler has (roof installation has to be treated as external apparently), and remote control sounds good. Just wondered what your experience is with time before HW gets to taps (although yours is probably directly about where the taps?) The other thing I have all my fingers and toes crossed on is that it will supply hot water consistently without cycling hot-cold-strangled supply-scolding-cold-hot etc. Which is what a couple of friends’ combis do (suuuurely something wrong but they just live with it). I even have one friend I asked about this and she said “no, it’s fine, reall” – then next time I wash up at hers (yes, it does happen) the HW goes hot-strangled-cold-scolding!! Presumably the glorious modern German WB engineering and a proper install mean that won’t happen. Like I say, everything crossed.

    Sorry for extensive boiler ramble. Fraid I don’t have much to say on eye-movement patterns for web pages (although I think I know a vision computer scientist / musician who is interested in eye mvmt on reading music – it isn’t quite the same as reading off the page, people jump about, learn bits ahead, especially when they are executing/reading easier bits).

    Nice blog presentation, clear!

  2. So far everything’s been fine. It was installed last Easter so we’ve yet to see through Winter with it. We’ll see how it copes with hot water vs central heating requirements but I can’t see any problems.

    Most of our existing plumbing was left much the same, though we had a lot of copper pipe pulled out that was no longer needed (tip: keep and sell copper pipe and hot water tank at your local recycling place – it’s worth the hassle).

    Our bathroom and kitchen are both on the ground floor and the boiler is, in effect, two floors above. So the pressure is amazing. 🙂 The speed of hot water coming through is fine. If you’re washing up, it’s acceptable to put the plug in straight away and fill the sink by just running the hot tap – the initial cold water is easily balanced. Doing that is much more efficient than wasting loads of cold water waiting for it to run hot, then having to cool it down with loads of water from the cold tap. Doesn’t take a lot of water to get to the right temperature either.

    I’ve never noticed it going hot-cold-hot during use, except if someone runs the kitchen hot tap while I’m having a (mixer-tap) shower – but then running another cold tap while having a shower has the same effect.

    The roof bit wasn’t a problem for the installer, once he’d worked out how to get up there. When we had someone else quote last Summer, he hadn’t even considered the roof and vertical venting but Sean (who installed ours) suggested it himself. It probably depends on how much the installer likes heights as much as anything. 🙂 We now just have a mini (maybe 2 feet?) black chimney on the roof at the front (not really noticeable anyway – my boyfriend didn’t notice when he came home the day it was installed!).

    Here’s a picture I took near the end of installation (before the shiny white cover was put on): You can see our roof coming down across the top-right of the picture. The boiler itself is mounted on an internal stud-wall.

    Feel free to ask if you have any more questions.

  3. Really nice of you to supply such a full reply. Just had the quote for the work at £3350, and that doesn’t include engagement of an electrician which will come in on top!! Seems a bit much to me (and it isn’t itemised). However there is reasonably complicated pipework re-routing, I’ve been recommended a 30CDi (perhaps bigger than some properties have) and this plumber didn’t want to use the shared wall and a vertical flue, instead suggesting opposite end of roof, flue straight out of the gable end. This saves messing about with the roof, which true enough is new and a very good (dry) finish (maybe he doesn’t want the risk of disturbing roof seal), but it does mean more complicated and longer pipe work. Four days work apparently. I’ve a velux window that means you wouldn’t have to actually get out onto the roof to fit a flue, but he still didn’t want to go through the roof.

    Must give up the day job and train as a heating installation engineer. How does the story go? They turn up for the work in a clapped out van, and then they collect the cheque in a big Merc!

  4. Ours was about £2400 for installation of a Worcester Bosch Greenstar i Junior Condensing Boiler.

    It sounds like biggasBill has more pipework to do than we had. The cost of the copper pipe will up the quote if you have lots of pipework, I think. It was pretty expensive when we had our work done 6 months ago.

    BTW, our work took 3 days (IIRC). The first day we didn’t have any water until the evening. The other days we had cold mains water but no hot water until the job was finished.

    Something else that might be useful: our boiler condensate is run into the guttering at the back of the house…which also runs into a water butt. Apparently, the condensate is slightly alkaline so, if you’re in this situation, you need a filter attaching to the condensate pipe (ours is fitted just below the boiler itself). It was about £25 and lasts a couple of years.

  5. Hi I am looking for a reliable heating and plumbing firm. I like the sound of your Sean Lidden, could you give me his number please? I think he is in my area because I have seen his van but didn’t get the number in time. Thanks Judith

  6. Hi I was actually looking for something totally different when I stumbled upon your boiler article. I have been considering a boiler replacement but have a similar problem to you. My current boiler which is 20 yrs old is in the kitchen adjacent to the chimney breast. I have no outside wall access either that would be suiytable for a condensing boiler. Having just had a horrendous recent fuel bill and yet another raise in my standing order, I am now encouraged to get on and do something about it.

  7. I am a boiler technician and all I will say is there are disadvantages to having a heating system without a hot water cylinder. What happens in the dead of winter 2 days before Christmas when you cannot get parts for your combi boiler, and you have no immersion heater, because you got rid of your hot water cylinder! Only use a combi if you have a small house and no room for a hot water cylinder. Remember most combination boilers will only allow one hot water tap to be used at one time, not good is your teenager is running a bath and you want to wash up! Most plumbers will try to get you to have a combi because it cuts out a lot of the work with cylinder pipework and external controls and valves. Dont get confused between condensating boilers and condensating combi boilers.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I agree with all your points. Thanks for making them as they’re definitely something to consider.

      I spent a lot of time doing research into all of that and more before we decided but figured we’d take the risk. We do have a small house and every inch is sacred (we gained the space of an airing cupboard, cold water tank, and header tank). Also, as it’s just the two of us, there’s no competition for the hot water. And, in case of emergency, while annoying, it’s not such a big deal to find friends/family to take us in for a short time.

      Also, I had to explain repeatedly the difference between condensating and combi to people when we first got this installed and were describing it.

      I’m still happy with our decision to go with the condensating combi boiler though. We’ve had a couple of minor problems worth noting:

      We had a filter put on the vertical condensate pipe as it left the boiler so that the condensate (which is quite alkaline) would be filtered before going into our water butt. The filter kept blocking up and the water backed up into the boiler, which triggered the boiler shutting down (noticeable by not only the cold water but the loud gurgling and straining noises the boiler keeps making!). After returning one filter and trying another, it turned out lots of people had had the problem and the recommendation was to have it installed horizontally. Which wasn’t possible in our case so we now do without. As there’s very little condensate it gets very diluted in the butt.
      Our other problem was a weird one. During the very cold winter this year (Jan09), when temperatures dropped (unusually for Hampshire) to below freezing, the condensate was freezing as it reached the end of the waste pipe. Eventually (after about 2 days of this), the pipe got blocked and the boiler would cut out (same symptoms as previous point). We solved it each time by pouring boiling water onto the end of the pipe to melt it. I know other people who had the same thing. And when I described it to our boiler engineer recently, he had spent all week going fixing people’s boilers. Apparently, this was the first Winter that it’d been so cold since condensating boilers really started being installed. He’s tried various solutions but I think as it rarely gets that cold here, we’ll just live with it and deal with it as it happens.

  8. Hi Laura,

    Sorry to ressurect the dead (post) but i have a quick Q? What did you eventually do with the hole in your chimney breast where the gasfire/back boiler was?

    We are in the same situation just now, literally mid installation of a condensing combi and have been googling around for a decent solution both temporary and long term.

  9. Hi John,

    I’ve just added an update with a photo of what we did with the fireplace. It’s a Peldon gas stove. I cleaned the brickwork in the cavity but it was too damaged mostly to look nice so I painted all but the lintel, which I re-pointed as best I could. A plasterer fixed the plasterwork on the chimney breast and we tiled the hearth. Very happy with it and it heats the room easily on just the lowest setting.

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