Back Boilers – To Repair or Replace?
In this in depth article we aim to help you understand your Back Boiler and help you if you have a central heating leak.
A back boiler is a long age device used from around the 1960s to heat water and also to provide heat around the house. The device usually are fitted behind electric or gas fireplaces. The device has both a cold water feed area and a hot water output area.
Benefits of a Back Boiler;
- High Energy Efficiency
A boiler can save more energy than a furnace because water is somewhat more effective when it comes to heat transfer than air. Hence transference of heat when it comes to warming the home is much quicker than with using a furnace.
- Distributes heat evenly
Unlike a furnace that only heats areas that are directly receiving the heat, leaving others cold, boilers radiate the heat evenly and faster, leaving the whole environment warmed up quickly.
- It is proven to provide extended services without requiring regular servicing.
Due to the fact, there is minimum movement while on use, boilers can serve for long periods without requiring regular maintenance.
- Dust and air pollutants free
A boiler does not blow dust anyhow it’s a simple gadget easy to understand and use, and it’s appealing to its users.
Common Boiler problems
- Freezing of the condensate pipe.
Waste gas produces acidic water which is drained away by the condensate pipe. Due to its location, the pipe can get frozen, causing the back boiler to dysfunction. When this happens, the boiler signals an error code E133 or E28. To thaw, a frozen condensate pipe pours warm water on it.
- Low pressure on the boiler
The boiler needle should be between 1.0 and 2.0. Boilers automatically lose pressure gradually, but a sudden or repetitive loss of boiler pressure could be an indication of a leak.
- Leaking Water
Water leakage may be caused by different factors, take for example leak from a pressure valve may be caused by too high pressure or leakage from the pump seal may be caused by a worn-out pump that needs to be replaced. .
- Failed ignition
The most common reason for failed ignition is boiler lockout. This happens when it detects a fault that can lead to complete damage if it continues to operate. Some of the faults that may cause a boiler to lockout include overheating, flue overheating, gas supply or faulty gas valve. For such issues, a Gas Safe engineer stands a better chance to correct the fault to enable the boiler to ignite again.
- No supply of hot water
Problems of not getting hot water supply may be caused by a faulty or stuck diverter valve. This can be easily corrected, and if faulty, it can be replaced.
- Broken Burner
A broken burner displays an error code, and it’s also noisy. The only way to fix this problem is by replacing the broiler with a new one.
Simple tips for fixing your Boiler before consulting a Professional
- High Broiler pressure
Ensure the valve is always tightly closed
Reduce pressure from your central heating system by bleeding your radiators until gauge returns to safe levels.
- Low Broiler pressure
Water flowing in from the main water supply ensures the boiler pressure remains constant, therefore low pressure maybe as a result of leakage which can be easily assessed.
- Bleeding the Radiator
While the heating is on check for the radiators that are not warm when identified, remember to switch off the central heating. Using a cloth turn the key anti-clockwise and listen carefully if you hear a hissing sound. A hissing sound indicates there is gas leakage. Allow all the gas to escape, then quickly tighten the valve.
- How to change the thermostat batteries
Find the battery removal slots and remove the old batteries replacing them with new 2 X AA or 2 X AAA batteries. After fix it back then housing it back to the wall mount.
When to Hire a Professional for repairs of your Boiler
- When there is no heat or hot water
This could be caused by various things including broken airlocks and diaphragms, failing of the motorized valves or dysfunctioning of the thermostat.
- Dripping and leaking
Depending on the location of the leak, it could be an internal component that is broken.
- Gurgling, whistling or banging noises
Could be caused by too low water pressure or excessive air in the system.
- Luck of Pilot lights
May be caused by low gas supply caused by a broken thermostat.
Sludge or Limescale build up on the heat exchanger.
- Sudden switch off by boiler
Could be caused by low water pressure, closed valve causing slow water flow or a faulty thermostat.
Can a faulty Boiler explode?
Off course yes, a faulty boiler can explode and cause a lot of harm to its users. Below are the two types of possible boiler explosions, one caused by corrosion of some critical parts in the boiler, failure in the safety valve, or even low water levels.
The second is air/fuel explosion that can take place in the furnace, better known as firebox explosion, which is rare.
- Common causes of boiler explosions
Poor treatment of water that may cause scaling and plates overheating,
Having low water levels,
Safety valve being stuck,
Severe furnace explosion that may cause the boiler to explode.
The boiler being handled by a misguided user or minor leading to mishandling.
Weakened boilers due to simple rusting
- Signs of a possible boiler explosion
A leaking pressure on the relief valve
When pressure is extremely high in the tank, the relief valve opens to lower the inside pressure by letting out water if it’s worn out it fails to handle extreme water pressure in the tank causing the tank to have extreme pressure that can result to an explosion.
Smell like of a rotten egg
Smell like of a rotten egg or sulfur near the boiler could be caused by leaking gas that could cause an explosion, especially if the lights are on. On such an occasion, the gas should be turned off immediately, and a professional called to check for gas leakage.
Knocking or popping noise
This indicates the boiler could fail anytime due to water sediments at the bottom that force the burner to heat water longer increasing pressure in the boiler.
When to consider replacing your back Boiler
- Efficiency vs Reliability
The saying old is gold applies to this old-time back boilers making them reliable due to the fact of their long term services. However, most of these old devices are only about 60% efficient, meaning 40% of the heat is lost out of the flue. So the need to replace them is based on efficiency and not reliability.
- Spare Parts Availability
With time some spare parts may become unavailable or obsolete. This may impact the survival of your boiler when various essential parts ware out hence raising the need for a complete replacement to new and updated boilers.
- Home Improvements
A natural transition and upgrade may dictate replacement of an old back boiler considering the structural development. However, one can still hang on the functional old boiler and just have additional boilers to accommodate the current upgrades.
Is a Back Boiler replaceable?
Back boilers old model are no longer replaceable; this is because most of their spare parts have become obsolete. However, new emerging models are in the market, which is more efficient. Some of the available models include Ideal Logic, ViessmannVitodens 050 – W, ViessmannVitodens 100 – W and ViessmannVitodens 111 – W all having a ten-year warranty apart from Ideal Logic that has a five-year warranty.
In conclusion, maintaining Boilers by early detection for possible leaks is key
As the old saying ‘prevention is better that cure’ early detection of oxidization or leaks can be addressed by simple repairs however if not detected in good time it could lead to extensive damage that may require complete replacement.
If you think your boiler is not functioning as it should be then it could be because of a central heating leak, view our video to discover more about our video and how we can help you…
Contact ADI Leak Detection today on 0800 731 3843 for a complete range of leak detection services