Gone are the days when a back boiler was installed in UK homes as a heating advancement. Now, homeowners are actively considering back boiler replacements for many reasons. Whether it’s to save money in the long run, ensure that the boiler they've installed is legal and safe, or simply bid farewell to this yesteryear technology.
Whatever the reasons for replacing a back boiler, first you need to sift through local back boiler removal regulations or find registered back boiler engineers. They can remove your boiler meeting all legal and safety requirements as well as come up with the best new heating solution for your home.
This might seem like a daunting chore for your Sunday afternoon. Instead of enjoying some quality time with your family, you can end up spending hours in front of your computer reading installer reviews and reaching out to them. However, such independent searches can't boast high chances to find an experienced professional.
Fortunately, this is something we can help with. At Boiler Guide we have a network of more than 5000 Gas Safe registered engineers across the UK. If you complete our short form, we can provide you with up to 3 free quotes from heating engineers in your area. You can pick the quote that’s best suited to you with no obligation to place any orders.
All you need to do to get started is click the button below.
A back boiler is an old, outdated and inefficient technology that was used to provide central heating to homes, primarily in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It sits in a recess behind a fireplace or gas fire and uses the heat they generate to produce hot water for central heating and domestic use throughout the home. The boiler itself is hidden behind the fireplace but must be connected to a separate feed tank and a hot water cylinder.
As of 2005, Building Regulations made it illegal to install back boiler heating systems in English homes. Moreover, the efficiency of a newly installed back boiler should not be less than 86%.
Back boiler diagram
A back boiler heating system is typically installed in a residential heating stove or open fireplace. It serves a dual purpose by providing both room heat and hot water for domestic use or central heating. Picture it as a water-filled heat exchanger tucked away at the back of the burning chamber. Our back boiler diagram provided below illustrates the functioning of a back boiler fire, showcasing how the system operates as a whole.
How does a back boiler work?
It works like this: the hot gases from the flue pass through the heat exchanger, heating up the cold water inside. An electrical pump then delivers the heated water to the desired output. Picture the way the back boiler heating system works by looking at the back boiler diagram above.
If you want to expand the warmth to a series of radiators for central heating, the back boiler can be connected to them. However, this usually requires an electrical pump to circulate the hot water. Some systems even utilise a gravity circuit to include radiators, which is pretty clever.
Back boilers need a way to disperse all the heat they capture from the fire. If they can’t do that properly, you might end up with boiling or overheating water, which is definitely not ideal.
To ensure safety, back boilers are strictly regulated in Ireland and the UK. There were concerns about their operation, which led to the introduction of specific guidelines.
In terms of boiler efficiency, it’s worth noting that back boilers are considered outdated technology. They aren’t the most efficient method for heating water, so keep that in mind when you’re exploring your options for a more efficient heating system.
5 reasons you should replace your back boiler
There are 5 core reasons you should replace your back boiler. We’ve listed the biggest ones below:
Modern boilers can be as much as 30% more energy efficient than back boilers and will lower your energy bills.
Gas back boilers are no longer installed, due to the 2005 government building safety regulations.
Back boilers are hard to repair, due to the lack of spare parts.
The constant expansion and contracting of a back boiler can cause structural problems to your home that are more financially costly than a new boiler.
If you still have an old back boiler, it’s most likely G-rated. That means it operates at less than 70% energy efficiency. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for your wallet.
Essentially 30% of the money you pay for heating is going down the drain. The only way to stop this is by replacing your back boiler with a more efficient, modern boiler, like a system or a combi boiler.
Now that we've given solid reasons for replacing a back boiler, you might be wondering "Right, how do I find a back boiler service near me?" If you're reading this, you're well on your way to saving a good few hours on stressful searches for boiler installers that no one is up for after work or at the weekend.
Boiler Guide has got you covered. With the help of trusted and vetted Gas Safe registered heating engineers in our installer network, you can find the best deals for new boilers. We only need some details about your boiler situation which you can submit by completing our short form.
We can find you up to 3 boiler quotes from our installers to eliminate the risk of overpaying. Simply choose which quote you want, and you could save hundreds of pounds. You can get these quotes for free and at no obligation. Just click the button below, and we’ll do the hard work for you.
There are several safer alternatives to relying on a back boiler to heat your home. The most simple and effective alternatives are the 3 different modern-day boiler types.
Replace back boiler with a combi boiler
The most compact modern boiler which is extremely simple to install, is the combi boiler. This is the most popular type of boiler in the UK. Without needing an external hot water storage tank or a feed tank in the loft, these boilers are best suited to small and medium-sized properties with 1 bathroom.
Replace back boiler with a system boiler
After years of firsthand experience, we can conclude that a system boiler is the best bet for larger properties with 2 bathrooms or more. This boiler draws water from the mains supply but is paired with a separate hot water storage tank to allow for ample hot running water throughout the home.
Replace back boiler with a conventional boiler
Also known as regular or traditional boilers, conventional boilers use a similar system to back boilers. They require a feed tank and a hot water storage tank to provide central heating and hot running water throughout the home and are generally the most expensive to install.
Back boiler replacement costs
Replacing a back boiler with a new modern boiler is not cheap, but it will save you money in the long run and help to ensure that your home is much safer. We found out that a lot of the back boiler replacement costs come from the need to:
Remove the fireplace.
Remove the back boiler.
Reconstruct the fireplace/mantle area.
Install a modern boiler in a new location (including new pipework and flue system).
Replacing a back boiler isn't the kind of job that can be done on your own. To get your boiler replaced safely and adequately, you need certified professionals' help. Yet new boiler costs sometimes climb up to £3,000. To ensure you get the best deal on replacing your back boiler, you should get comparison quotes from Gas Safe registered heating engineers in your area.
Looking for quotes, however, is something you could do yourself. But how time-consuming and stressful could this be? Hours of tedious browsing might leave you with some quotes, yet we can't promise it's a bulletproof method.
Alternatively, through our extensive network of vetted engineers, you can quickly get up to 3 free quotes on efficient boilers that can save you up to £840 a year on energy bills. Complete a short form and compare the quotes you receive with no obligation to accept any offers. Just click the button below to get started.
The Energy Company Obligation 4 (ECO4) is currently a back boiler removal grant that can cover the back boiler removal costs partially or fully. After research, we can conclude that it is available to homeowners in the UK who meet the following requirements:
Applicants must be homeowners.
Have a back boiler fitted behind their gas fire.
Must be receiving a qualifying benefit (Housing Benefit, Income Support etc).
Get quotes for a back boiler removal and replacement
To ensure you get the best possible price when replacing your back boiler, you should get quotes from several local heating engineers in your area and compare them. We can help you with this.
Most homeowners will need to spend hours researching which installers service their area, tediously calling up several of these local installers and then individually requesting quotes so that they can compare them. Yet we know that no one wants to spend their time doing this.
The easy (and fast!) way to get multiple quotes that you can compare is by filling in a 30-second form once and then letting us take it from there.
In return, you get up to 3 free quotes from local installers in our trusted network that you can compare to find the best price. No hassle, no unnecessary phone calls, and no obligation to accept any quotes. Just click the button below to get started.
Are back boilers still legal?
Yes, newer back boilers that have been installed by a registered professional and are routinely checked are legal. However, there are old back boilers that are currently illegal and should be replaced with a modern boiler.
When were back boilers discontinued? Non-condensing back boilers were discontinued in 2005. This is when the government introduced building regulations that required all boiler installations to have condensing technology with higher energy efficiency.
What to do with your old back boiler in the UK?
If you have an old back boiler and are looking to get it replaced, the best thing you can do is ask for help and advice from a Gas Safe registered heating engineer. Not only will they be able to tell you which type of replacement boiler would be best suited to your home, but they will also be able to dispose of the redundant back boiler safely for you at the best price.
What does a back boiler do? Back boilers provide central heating and hot water to a property by using the heat from a gas fire or stove that the boiler is are installed behind.
How often should a back boiler be serviced?
It is recommended that all boilers be serviced every 12 months. If your back boiler is less efficient or broken, it is recommended that you replace your back boiler as older back boilers have the potential to become quite dangerous and may cause structural damage to your home.
What are the running costs of a back boiler?
The expenses associated with operating a back boiler will vary based on multiple factors, such as the boiler’s age and efficiency, local gas prices, and the frequency of boiler usage. However, you still waste around 30% of your budget as the fire-generated heat just goes up the chimney without being put to good use. Therefore, replacing it with a more efficient boiler might save you more in the long run.
What is the life expectancy of a back boiler?
The lifespan of a back boiler typically stretches between 20-30 years depending on its type, how well it has been installed and maintained, and how frequently used. However, their maintenance gets harder as they age due to spare parts scarcity which might serve as a key reason for replacing a back boiler.