Boilers - repair or replace?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Applespider, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
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    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #1
    I have an expensive decision to make and some additional viewpoints would be handy.

    I have a combination boiler (Ariston EuroCombi) which is about 4 1/2 years old. It started to leak from the valve at the base over Christmas and I had a plumbing company (not the guy who fitted it) come out and fix it. My neighbour repainted his kitchen and all was good.... until last night when they called to say there was water drippling down their wall again. The leak is in exactly the same place. The boiler itself still heats radiators and water without any problem - it just leaks from this valve at the bottom.

    I called the plumbers back who had a note on the account to say that if it happened again it was likely a problem with the expansion valve inside the boiler and that because of the model (they described it as the Lada of boilers), they wouldn't do an internal fix to it since from past experience, it tended to lead to more problems and it wouldn't be worth their guarantee to fix it. They suggested, unsurprisingly, a new Worcester Bosch or Valliant condensing boiler which with installation will cost £1900 + VAT

    They did say that I probably would be able to find someone to fix the old one but that I should be prepared to pay around £350+VAT but that I should be aware that since the boiler wasn't a great one to start with, that it might be the start of paying out a lot of cash over the next few years - particularly if I keep having to pay for my neighbour's kitchen to be replastered/painted.

    So, your thoughts on whether to bit the bullet and pay £1900 for a shiny new boiler (with a 5 yr free parts/labour guarantee) or try to find someone to fix the old one and take the risk that it might not fix the issue.

    There's a cynical part of me saying that any boiler should last longer than 5 years (I paid about £800 including installation then) and can't believe it's going to be uneconomical to repair already so is the other company spinning me a line?
     
  2. shu82 macrumors 6502a

    shu82

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Rocket City, AL
    #2
    I would upgrade your boiler. They have new tankless ones now that are much more efficient. You never run out of hot water either. I am very frugal with my energy. I would install one right now except that mine was replaced by the previous owner very recently.

    Its good (and cheap) to go greener nowadays. I already replaced all my lights with the new ones, and use my fireplace for heat.
     
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #3
    What about getting a second opinion? If it was me, I'd rather pay someone else to turn up and take a look at it just for 30 mins or an hour of their time to strictly give an estimate of replacing the valve.

    When the landlords (Guinness Trust) put new boilers in here a couple of years ago, they stressed they were using high-quality components... a Valiant boiler is what I ended up with, so they're probably right in that regard.
     
  4. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #4
    I've already told my neighbour that I've got a big bowl under the drip since the plumbers have said that it's not going to make it any worse to keep using the boiler for the next week or so as long as I'm catching the water! He's OK with that for the short-term so that I don't have to make a rash decision.

    I'm going to give the original plumber a call (if I can find his number) and see what he says/recommends and then try to find a third quote for completeness.

    I suspect if they all say £350 with no guarantees of work, then I'll go for the new boiler option.
     
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
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    Location:
    London
    #5
    I'd go for a new one. Once they start going wrong it's normally a fairly rapid downhill slope towards total failure. Cold showers in the morning are not nice. The ones they have recommended are brands I have heard are very good and should last...
     
  6. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #6
    It does seem a particularly short lifespan for a boiler. I suspect that most of the £350 would be labour as boilers aren't easy to fix and usually require a fair amount of disassembly to get to troublesome parts.

    My new boiler was about £700, just for the unit. I'm not sure about fitting as I had new pipework and radiators. I agree with BV, get more opinions/quotes.
    My friend had a replacement boiler fitted (a back boiler replaced with a combi) recently. She got 4 quotes:
    British Gas - £3600 - £4000 (good quote, plenty of scope:rolleyes:)
    Local Plumbing co. - £2500
    Local 1 man business - £1800
    2nd Local 1 man business - £1700
     
  7. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #7
    Precisely. The guy on the phone told me that the particular valve is right at the back of the boiler so pretty much needs to be entirely taken apart and put back together which in the past has led to them having to return on numerous occasions to fix things that went wrong subsequently - hence why they won't touch it with a bargepole. They did advise that there were some plumbers who would but suggested that I be very sure of what guarantees I'm being offered if it reoccurs - particularly if I keep having to fork out to get the guy below's kitchen redone!

    Interesting - so it sounds like the price these guys came up with is reasonable for London then. :eek: I'd obviously have to get full details of exactly what is covered but he did mention it included 3 years of free parts/labour if anything went wrong and the first 2 services.
     
  8. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #8

    Sounds like a repair to the boiler has the potential to do more harm than good. 3 year parts/labour + 2 services sounds like a good deal to me.
     
  9. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    Republic of Ukistan
    #9
    AS, you should go for replacement. The Ariston you have is a pretty crap boiler, and will in all probability continue to fall apart in different ways. Either a Potterton GloWorm, a Vaillant or a Worcester would be a good choice. I have just replaced one for £1,550 for a client, which would be a good price if you can get it. Best of all, check out the prices at http://www.mrcentralheating.com/ which will be a bit of an eye-opener: boilers cost an awful lot less than plumbers make out. See if you can get a CORGI contractor who will let you supply the boiler.
     
  10. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #10
    Interested in doing another? ;)

    I know - I seem to recall that from last time. Without having someone who knows what they're doing in place, it's just a slightly cheaper hulk of metal in a box though. :(

    Just seen your edit. Now there's a thought - will look into that option too.
     
  11. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #11
    We're pretty busy at the mo, but where are you? Still in Dulwich?
     
  12. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    Oct 24, 2004
    Location:
    Northants, UK
    #12
    Look into something called CHP.

    COMBINED HEAT and POWER.

    Very, very interesting, Powergen and British Gas are bringing CHP boilers to the market sometime in 2008.
     
  13. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #13
    Nice idea, but we're a long way off domestic-scale MicroCHP systems being viable, although anything which uses the Sterling Engine gets my approval.
     
  14. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #14
    Sooner than that, this year from both Powergen and British Gas.

    Premium over normal boilers, but not so much that there out of reach for most homeowners.

    My combi boiler dates from roughly August 1752, so i'e been following CHP closely for a while now.
     
  15. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #15
    Three years late already, I notice.
     
  16. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #16
    Yes - near the Horniman. Since my boiler does still work (so long as I have a bowl catching the drips), it's not a total emergency aside from letting the guy downstairs redecorate for his tenants and things have to dry out a bit anyhow before he can organise that.

    Let me know - if you're too busy then no worries.
     
  17. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #17
    I'll check with my heating engineer tomorrow.
     
  18. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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  19. shu82 macrumors 6502a

    shu82

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    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Rocket City, AL
    #19
    I'm sorry, when I was thinking "Boiler" I was picturing a hot water heater. (Silly American) I can't believe people are still heating their homes with those things. Wouldn't it be more efficient to use a heat pump? And not have those unsightly radiators all over the place? I only have to use heat 3 months a years, so maybe that is an option you all don't have across the pond.
     
  20. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #20
    We do have them, but take up is slow.

    UK Goverment not exactly doing as much as it could to assist people in buying Heat Pump, Solar Heating or CHP technology.
     
  21. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #21
    And where do you live again?

    A rather warmer part of the world than the UK, I bet...
     
  22. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    Republic of Ukistan
    #22
    You can get up to £1,500 per house for "alternative heating" installations, whether it is solar, wind-power, heat pump or "mini-hydro". I'm considering it for my new house.
     
  23. bartelby macrumors Core

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    Jun 16, 2004
    #23
    From looking around, £1,500 doesn't go very far though.
     
  24. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #24
    If all 4 boilers in the block needed replacing, it might be something to consider but since they don't and the cost would be prohibitive to do one not to mention that I'd need to use communal ground space, it's not going to happen this time round.
     
  25. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Northants, UK
    #25
    Common mistake.

    Solar Heating works on light, not heat, so will work fine in the UK.

    Ground source heat pumps pump cold water down a 25M hole or a trench, where the temperature is constant and warm, and then pump it back up, so will work fine in the UK.

    Of course, neither of the above options are that easy to install in a block of flats, however CHP would be indeal for flats.
     

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