When spending thousands on a new central heating system, its also worth taking a little time to decide how the system will be serviced and maintained over the following ten to fifteen years and what to do if it breaks down in the depths of winter. With some manufacturers now offering a 10 year warranty on a boiler, subject to certain conditions, there’s a lot we can do to help ourselves. A gas boiler warranty will only cover the boiler itself; not the pipework, radiators, motorised valves, external pumps, hot water and room thermostats, the hot water cylinder or an external expansion vessel, or poor installation – all things that can leave us with a working boiler but a cold home! Also the manufacturers warranty can be void if the boiler is not serviced every year.
Make Sure Your Installer & Boiler Choice Are Compatible
To maximise your warranty use an installer that is registered with the manufacturer of the boiler. Whilst a heating engineer may be able to install any type of boiler, they often stick to one or two brands they trust. So even a good installer may not get you the longest warranty if its a brand they don’t usually fit.
Get the Whole System Installed & Working Properly From the Start
It’s fair to say that many of the problems found with central heating systems are there from the time of installation. A small leak from a bad pipe joint can cause additional problems later on – water dripping on a motorised valve can cause it to fail, leaving your system useless even if the boiler is working perfectly. So don’t let your installer off the hook – if there is anything you are not happy with then make sure that is fixed before you pay the final bill.
If installed to manufacturer’s instructions then a boiler should operate trouble free for many years. Boiler manufacturers know that. That’s why they are prepared to offer longer warranty periods on boilers installed by installers that are registered on their manufacturer’s installer scheme. If an installer’s work isn’t up to scratch, after a few unnecessary and costly call outs the boiler manufacturer will drop the installer from their scheme. Vaillant as an example offer a 7 or 10 year guarantee when you book a Vaillant Advance installer.
Most boiler manufacturers will insist a magnetic filter, such as the Adey Magnaclean are installed as part of the space heating circuit. A corrosion inhibitor should also be added to the system. Worcester Bosch offer that if you install a Greenstar System Filter to protect your heating system from contamination they will extend your guarantee up to 7 years
What are typical installation problems that can be encountered?
|Poor gas pressure to the boiler||Upgrading to a more powerful output boiler may require internal gas supply pipes to be upgraded.|
|Sludge in the heating circuit, from the reaction between the water in the system and the steel in the radiators||A Powerflush should be done when the system is upgraded. |
A filter such as an Adey Magnaclean or Vaillant boiler protection kit should be added to the heating water circuit. A corrosion inhibitor should also be added to the system.
|Dripping Joints||Make sure the whole system is tested for leaks at time of installation.|
|Frozen Condensate Pipe||In the early days of condensing boilers (2005) this used to be a common problem. Nowadays this is well know about by installers who should use a minimum of 22mm outside diameter pipe and drain it to an internal discharge point rather than outside. See the HHIC installer guide. Some boiler manufactureres also now discharge in bursts rather than as a trickle, to reduce the slow build up of ice.|
|Motorised Valve failed or stuck||This may mean the system works partially but not fully.Make sure that each valve can open and close.|
|Low water pressure in system||Make sure the expansion tank is properly pumped up and there is sufficient water in the system.|
At The End Of The Installation
When the installer has finished the installation, they should fill in the commissioning checklist and leave this with you. This is usually found at the back of the installation and maintenance instructions. View a copy of the Benchmark Commissioning Checklist produced by HHIC.
Make sure you register your warranty with the manufacturer as soon as possible; some brands require you to do this within 30 days to secure a better warranty.
Plan An Annual Boiler Service
Many manufacturers insist on seeing proof that the boiler has been serviced annually, usually by asking to see the boiler log book, before they will carry out a warranty repair. Also central heating systems are often upgraded in the summer so may not get rigorous use until many months later. Arranging for the installer who fitted your system to also do the annual service means that you will know how to contact them in 6 months time if there is an early problem with the system.
When doing the first service on a high pressure (unvented) system the installer should check the pressure of the system and the air in an external expansion tank.
Example Of Improved Warranty – Vaillant
|5 years||Standard conditions. Any installer.|
|7 years||Must be fitted by an installer registered with Vaillant Advance.|
|10 years||Must have a boiler protection kit fitted |
and be installed by an installer registered with Vaillant Advance.
- Check that the Gas Safe registered installer is also registered with specific boiler manufacturer and is able to offer the longest warranty available. Check out the ranges of different boiler manufacturers.
- Ensure the system is installed properly and to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually means a magnetic filtration system should be installed on the heating circuit.
- Make sure the boiler commissioning checklist is completed by the installer and left with you. It can usually be found at the back of the Installation and maintenance instructions booklet
- Register the installation with the boiler manufacturer.
- Get the boiler serviced annually.
- Enjoy trouble free heating and hot water.