Which new boiler?

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People often tell me on the phone they need a new boiler and ask me which one I recommend. It's a tricky one, that. I have to say, it all depends...

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Depends on where in the house your new boiler needs to be fitted, whether it is to be wall-hung or floor-standing, how the flue is to be routed to outside, how much heat your house needs, how old your existing pipework and radiators are, and quite a few other things. 

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However, before all going any further, when I'm asked for a new boiler I like to enquire more deeply about WHY a new boiler is needed. Sometimes the person has been advised that their boiler is old and therefore dangerous, or that spares will be hard to get in the event of a breakdown, or it may even have been 'condemned' and labelled 'DO NOT USE' by another gas engineer. Elderly boilers are not necessarily dangerous, spares are often freely available for surprisingly old appliances, and advice to replace is often for the commercial benefit of the adviser rather than in the best interests of the customer, so a brief investigation can sometimes result in me  contradicting previous advice and suggesting all the boiler needs is a safety check and annual service to give years more of reliable use. (This problem crops up especially with warm-air heaters, as many gas engineers are not qualified to work on them and will inappropriately advise replacement whenever they encounter one.) Other times I'll agree that replacement is the best option particularly if the house is being altered and the boiler needs to be moved and/or enlarged, or if the existing boiler has a reputation for unreliability or spares really ARE hard to get. 

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Anyway, once it has been decided that replace is a good idea, the next thing to consider is whether to have a 'regular' boiler or a combi boiler. A regular boiler needs a separate hot water cylinder (usually in an airing cupboard). A combi boiler heats your hot water when you actually turn a hot tap on, heating the water as it passes through the boiler.

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If you can possibly find space for a hot water cylinder I recommend a regular boiler. Combi boilers are a nice idea but prone to a number of drawbacks in practice. They are more complicated and less reliable, and when they break down getting them fixed becomes urgent as you'll have no separate hot water tank and immersion heater as a backup. More on combis here: Combi boilers

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How much should a new boiler cost?

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Another tricky one. A question worth a page of it's own! See here.

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Page first created 16th January 2004

Last updated 5th November 2007

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