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Back Boiler Replacement Guide: Costs & Options

Back boilers have been very popular in the UK over the years due to a reputation of reliability and longevity, however, by now they are very out of date and not very efficient.  In addition, heating engineers can often struggle to find replacement parts for back boilers as the older models are now obsolete.

In this post, we will discuss the upgrading options for homes with a back boiler still in place.

What is a Back Boiler?

Back Boilers were very common in the 1960s and are heating devices that were traditionally installed behind a fireplace in residential properties to provide both hot water and central heating.  This type of boiler was a very cost-effective option in its time, which also added to the popularity of the boilers.

Back boilers are an open-flued type of boiler and therefore have associated safety concerns due to the higher risks that open-flue boilers have of producing deadly carbon monoxide.

As such, back boilers are required to have regular servicing along with a strong suggestion of a carbon monoxide alarm fitted within the property to minimise the risks of the emissions of dangerous fumes.

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What Replacement Options are Available for Back Boilers?

Should it finally have come the time to replace your back boiler, you may already be aware that back boilers are no longer manufactured and therefore a like for like replacement will not be possible, however, there is a wide range of other options available including a conventional boiler or combi-boiler.

Now let’s go through the options in more detail:

Option 1 – Remove the back boiler system and replace it with either a regular boiler or combi-boiler

As previously discussed, often back boilers are hidden behind the fireplace within a living room for example, and therefore often the removal of the boiler will also require some redecorations.

That includes the removal of the old system and making good the area, often including the floor underneath the obsolete unit, plus the installation of the new boiler, perhaps in a more discrete location.

Unfortunately, the removal process for the old system is likely to cost more than the new boiler, and the entire cost for both elements could be in the region of £3,500- £4,500.

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Option 2 – Decommission the old boiler and leave it in position whilst installing a new boiler elsewhere

This option would result in less upheaval and redecoration costs however it is important to check whether or not the back boiler can be disconnected from the gas and left in place before making a decision.

A qualified Gas Safe engineer can provide expert advice on this option as well as providing a range of quotes for a new boiler to be installed somewhere else within the property. If this option is viable it is likely to save the homeowner around £1,000 compared with option 1.

There will be big advantages to replacing an old-fashioned back boiler, no matter which option is selected, especially within the energy efficiency remit as back boilers are notoriously inefficient.

Therefore, even though there will be an initial outlay for the cost of the new model, savings will be made on the household energy bills over time.  In addition, a new boiler will also come with a warranty that will provide peace of mind that all parts are covered should any breakdowns occur.

New boiler installation will vary depending on a range of factors including:

  • The type of boiler chosen and any necessary changes to the system required such as the movement or new installation of pipework or water cylinders.
  • The fuel type of the boiler
  • The power output of the boiler needed
  • If any other services are selected such as chemical flushes, extended warranties or boiler servicing packages.

Most suppliers and installers also offer finance options these days, should the homeowner require a payment plan rather than paying the full costs upfront.

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How Can I Get a Great Deal When Replacing a Back Boiler?

As we have discussed, the prices of boiler installations will vary depending on a range of factors listed above, however, they will also fluctuate depending on where in the country the property is located, and the supplier quoting for the new system.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that any homeowner looking to replace a boiler obtains a minimum of three quotes in order to compare the prices offered.

In addition to the traditional methods of calling around and arranging for heating engineers to visit to quote for the job, quotes can also be easily requested online either directly from manufacturers, via large heating companies such as British Gas or via online boiler suppliers such as Heatable, Boiler Central or BOXT.

The online suppliers often offer the most competitive pricing as they do not have large company overheads to cover like the national heating companies, however by ordering online the consumer does not lose out on customer service, boiler product range or after-sales care.

Back Boiler Replacement Summary

Replacing a back boiler may seem like a big step, especially if one has been in place for a long time as change can be daunting. However, there are so many modern and energy-efficient boilers on the market that a homeowner won’t even miss their dated back boiler once a replacement has been installed!

It is highly recommended that research is undertaken into which type of boiler will be the most suitable replacement for a back boiler.  Qualified heating engineers can provide expert advice on the best installation option for the property and household requirements.

However, there is also plenty of information available online comparing the differences between boiler types, best brands to buy and reviews of various boiler models, to be able to commence some research.

In addition, should a homeowner feel that sufficient research has been completed, they may feel ready to proceed to answer a handful of questions on the websites of online boiler retailers that whittle down the boiler selection in order to meet their requirements.

Should this process be completed satisfactorily, the consumer can proceed to order a new boiler online, book an installation on a convenient date and even spread the cost of a new system on finance.

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