Whether you’re embarking on a simple extension or a complex home renovation, it’s easy to focus on the more glamorous aspects of the design, layout and furnishing. One area that is of paramount importance in any property, however, is the boiler. Without an effective boiler, you’ll struggle to stay warm and also to provide sufficient hot water for showers, baths and washing up, especially if you have a large family with peak demands at certain times of the day.
But where do you start and, given the array of options available, how do you know which boiler is best?
Above all, it’s important to ensure that any gas boiler shortlist contains only condensing boilers as this is a legal requirement for most properties. Although it’s not always possible to install a condensing boiler in every property, this is stipulated in Part L1 of the Building Regulations in order to conserve fuel and power. A condensing boiler will take any heat that would usually be lost and recycle it back through the system, reheating water and reducing the amount of fuel you need to use to run your heating and/or hot water. It will also produce significantly less carbon dioxide than a conventional boiler.
In essence, there are three main types of boiler: combination (or combi) boilers, conventional boilers and system boilers.
A combi boiler will heat the water directly from the mains when you need it, which means that that you will only be paying for the water you’re going to use. You’ll also enjoy the hot water at mains pressure, so this type of boiler is ideal if you have a couple of bathrooms but no room for a water cylinder. Combi boilers can be attached to a wall so they can easily be hidden, and are often small enough to be sited in a kitchen cupboard.
A conventional boiler will use a separate cylinder to heat your water, and the size of the cylinder will depend on the number of bathrooms you need to service. Conventional boilers require an expansion cistern or tank in the loft, so they take up more space, and they are most suited to properties where the water pressure is low but the demand for hot water is high.
A system boiler provides hot water to several taps at the same time as it heats stored water for use and can be connected either to a tank-fed cylinder or a mains pressure hot water cylinder. Since most of its components will be built in, a system boiler will tend to be more energy and space efficient, and – in common with a conventional boiler – can work well with a solar hot water system.
Key factors that need to be taken into consideration when selecting your new boiler include:
The size of your home and the level of your household's requirements for heating and hot water will influence both the type and size of the boiler. It is recommended to take specialist advice on the most suitable solution for your specific requirements.
An inefficient boiler can be a huge drain on your resources. For example, it is estimated that a 15-year-old boiler might be wasting up to 40p of every pound spent on heating and hot water bills. Efficiency is therefore vital, and new ‘A-rated’ condensing boilers are targeted at an efficiency rate of 92%.
3) The environment
If you spend time running taps while the water heats up, a new boiler would make your whole house more environmentally friendly. As well as cutting your water usage, it would also reduce your energy consumption as a combi boiler holds the water it supplies back until it’s heated to the correct temperature.
The efficiency of any heating system can be adversely affected by the natural build-up of debris and sludge, and this can even result in the whole system eventually grinding to a halt. A regular powerflush can clear the system, while the installation of a magnetic filter can help to prevent the issue occurring at all.
Limescale can present a problem for any boiler, so installing a scale reducer can be a wise move to slow down its development. Indeed, some manufacturer warranties now stipulate that a scale-reducing device must be installed for the warranty to remain valid.
It is worth considering installing a solution to prevent the condensate waste pipe from freezing in extreme conditions in order to maintain optimum performance.
The space you have available is also likely to influence the type of boiler you select. A floor-mounted boiler will usually be situated in a utility room, kitchen cupboard or even a garage, while a wall-mounted boiler can be positioned in a kitchen, attic, cupboard or outbuilding.
It can sometimes be overlooked, but hygiene is a key consideration in the choice of system. An older gravity-fed system will have an open water tank in the loft which results in the water being unsafe for drinking from the taps that the tank supplies. This issue is alleviated with a more hygienic closed system.
As Kelley Malcher of Surrey builders Refresh Renovations observes, it’s worth speaking to a specialist about the most appropriate boiler for your property. ‘At Refresh we have extensive experience of designing and installing heating systems for our clients,’ says Kelley. ‘There is lots of information out there for anyone undertaking a renovation or extension, but it’s only really when you sit down with the plans that you can decide on the best heating and hot water solution.
‘Since newer boilers tend to be smaller and more efficient than their older counterparts, it’s normally simplest to replace new for old in the same location, but we do also find that with careful planning a more efficient location may be identified. For example, we take into account the nearest hot tap, the location of the bedrooms and bathrooms, and also the position of the internal waste pipes. In addition, the location of the flue can have a big impact both on you as a homeowner and on your immediate neighbours, so it is sensible to take this into consideration and to avoid locating it near any windows. We also recommend installing a water softener not only help to ensure that everyone can enjoy softer water, but also to improve the boiler’s performance by increasing the overall efficiency of the central heating and hot water system.
‘We’re always pleased to work with our renovation and extension clients to cover all the bases to ensure that they choose the correct boiler and also that they have it installed by one of our Gas-Safe engineers. Ultimately it’s about balancing efficiency, practicality, functionality and safety in order to guarantee client satisfaction, which is the main priority for the Refresh team.’
Refresh Renovations UK are Surrey builders offering design and build services. To discuss how we can help bring your home extension to reality, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
Want to know more? Get in touch with the renovation experts at Refresh now to find out what they can do for you and your home. Refresh Renovations Specialists offer a free initial one-hour consultation that will help you make the decision whether their team is the one for you. This consultation is no obligation and is a chance to understand what they can do for you.