How the Combustibles Ban Impacts High-Rise Boiler Replacements
Amendments made to the Building Regulations in England mean that all high-rise gas boiler replacements are non-compliant, say Ideal Boilers.
In December 2018, the government published the Building Regulations (Amendment) 2018 which prohibits the use of combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise residential buildings above 18 metres in height.
These new regulations have an impact on boiler installations as the flue pipe, installed onto an external wall, is made up of combustible materials.
This has left the heating industry in a position of uncertainty as to how to undertake high-rise boiler replacements as there aren’t currently any flues on the market that meet the requirements.
Modern flues have a steel exterior that protects the inner polypropylene plastic flue duct, which helps to either impede or completely prevent fires from reaching an exterior wall. Despite this, under the amended regulations they’re still banned as they contain a combustible material.
A review by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), about how the amended regulations impacts flues is underway but could take 6-9 months to complete.
Gas Safe have advised installers to “check with the relevant appliance manufacturer for guidance” when it comes to new and replacement boiler installations in high-rise buildings. The regulations make no mention of existing installations.
Since making the amendments, the MHCLG have advised local councils to waive certain regulations on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. So it is possible in certain cases, but is dependent on approval from the council.
Alternatively, it’s recommended that installers hired to fit a new or replacement boiler into a high-rise building fit an electric boiler.
How has the heating industry responded?
The amendment to the Building Regulations means that all gas boiler replacements in high-rise buildings aren’t currently compliant.
Chief Technical Officer at Ideal Boilers, Dr Elaine Lancaster said: “Ideal Boilers, along with all other leader manufacturers, currently provide a flue that comprises a steel painted outer air duct and internal polypropylene plastic inner flue duct. As the inner flue material is classed as a combustible material according to the standard, this type of flue can no longer be fitted to achieve compliance with Building Regulations.”
“The development of a new flue is technically not required and adds unnecessary burden and cost to the industry. It is not a route we want to take as we believe MHCLG should review the evidence and make existing flues exempt. However, we recognise that we must provide solutions to our customers to meet regulation. We are continuing to seek a sensible outcome to the current situation.”
The only flue currently available on the market is part of the Intergas Rapid range of boilers, a metal flue that is made up of compounds of galvanised powder coated steel and high-grade aluminium.
Speaking of the regulations, Intergas Technical Product Manager, John Lawton said: “We may have to face a future where plastic flues must be replaced by metal in all high rise buildings.”
“To satisfy the demand for a boiler and flue system suitable for contract installations in buildings over 18m high, we have now made the Rapid High Rise boiler range available as a pack.”
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