Boilers: are they deliberately designed to fail?

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  • Boilers: are they deliberately designed to fail?
  • Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Yep, another one with boiler issues. Can’t beat waking up freezing cold because the boiler has packed up overnight and the heating is off.

    Got me thinking: are they badly designed or deliberately designed to fail?

    Example:

    Ours has a “automatic air removal vent”. Simple enough thing: little floating ball valve to let the air out but not the water. But if you live somewhere with limescale then these inevitably get stuck and leak water. 🙁

    Then there’s the pump: “Oooh you need to get your system powerflushed otherwise gunk and little bits of metal from the rads will cause the pump to seize”. Really? If that is such a common problem why isn’t there a nice user-servicable filter somewhere FFS? 🙁

    Then there’s the basic layout: “Hmm.. a bunch of pipes carrying water which will inevitably leak if something goes wrong? Let’s put all the electrics and control electronics directly under those.” Why would you do that?? 🙁

    trail_rat
    Member

    “Then there’s the pump: “Oooh you need to get your system powerflushed otherwise gunk and little bits of metal from the rads will cause the pump to seize”. Really? If that is such a common problem why isn’t there a nice user-servicable filter somewhere FFS? “

    There is – you just dont have one fitted – mines going in this weekend i think.

    a boiler is only one part in a system.

    My PCBS and electrics are all above the boiler and water bits 😀

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Most modern stuff is designed to just meet the warranty life, building it any tougher eats into profit margins etc…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Of course they aren’t.

    That would require a criminal cartel involving all boiler manufacturers. Because if someone designed one to fail, you’d only have to design one that didn’t fail and you’d corner the market. Therefore all manufacturers would have to collude.

    Limescale – incredibly difficult thing to deal with. You’d have to install a water softener, or use inhibitor in your system. Or maybe descale it.

    Putting the electrics under the pipes – if you put them over the pipes, perhaps they’d get too hot with all the heat going upwards?

    trail_rat
    Member

    like cars – its emissions and efficency that are driving down reliablity.

    stuff being made from thinner more conductive materials – more electrics to control cycling.

    cast iron just took longer to fail 😀

    hora
    Member

    GrahamS how old is your boiler and what make?

    29erKeith
    Member

    our place has currently got a huge old cast iron boiler which has been serviced by one of my neighbours (fully qualified obviously)

    He said my boiler (30 years old) will easily outlast any gas boiler he can fit tomorrow. We will update it when we can but it’s going to sting when it breaks down x years later, when I know damn well the old one would be ticking away if we left it, although using more gas than any new one by a long way.

    but what trail_rat said

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    GrahamS how old is your boiler and what make?

    Worcester Bosch 24i RSF.

    No idea of the age as it was there when we moved in, but they were in production 1997-2004. So old but not ancient.

    trail_rat
    Member

    “We will update it when we can but it’s going to sting when it breaks down x years later, when I know damn well the old one would be ticking away if we left it, although using more gas than any new one by a long way.”

    Why would you change then ? yes monthly bills will go down but you could offset that sticking the new boiler cost into a savings account instead 😉

    think of the extra gas 2.5-3k would buy over time vs the raw materials wasted in producing current white good grade crap.

    when was it last serviced graham ?

    hora
    Member

    I think modern boilers have a life span probably 10yrs (15 max).

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    when was it last serviced graham ?

    About a year ago.

    Though I wasn’t very impressed: from what I saw he just checked the pressures, checked flue gases and gave the combustion chamber a quick clean.

    trail_rat
    Member

    people do remember the good old days though – old boilers failed too and needed parts just like new ones.

    its just that modern parts are more expensive so folks baulk.

    bit like the cars of today.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    If it’s anything like the one we had in Holland, then not so much designed to fail, but designed to keep the plumber / gas engineer with a regular income.
    Rental company has a contract with a local company for gas/plumbing, so you’re expected to call them (no cost to you).
    Was impossible to have a shower without the water going thermo nuclear and the gas going out. Top up system maybe once per week.
    There’s only so many times you can call them out, watch them demonstrate it working, then sign to say it’s fixed. One day we said, NO come back in a week’s time, and I’ll sign to say I’m happy if it’s still working!
    Eventually they got the hint, and installed brand new everything.

    trail_rat
    Member

    “but designed to keep the plumber / gas engineer with a regular income.”

    says more aboutthe plumber than the boiler tbh.

    sharkbait
    Member

    He said my boiler (30 years old) will easily outlast any gas boiler he can fit tomorrow.

    Same here with our 30 year old oil boiler. A chap I shoot with has been a heating engineer for many decades and he said that, although it’s not very efficient’ we should keep it as long as possible as new ones simply don’t last.

    Though I wasn’t very impressed: from what I saw he just checked the pressures, checked flue gases and gave the combustion chamber a quick clean.

    if you wanted, I’ll get qualified and do your boiler service – I could stand around for literally hours pretending to adjust things

    But if you live somewhere with limescale then these inevitably get stuck and leak water

    your system should have some inhibitor in it to protect against scale/corrosion?

    otherwise gunk and little bits of metal from the rads will cause the pump to seize” If that is such a common problem why isn’t there a nice user-servicable filter somewhere FFS

    as mentioned, various filters are available

    also, with inhibitor in the system, and the system being correctly commissioned (fluxes and whatnot flushed out), it shouldn’t rust and produce gunk

    but inevitably, after a number of years, stuff can go wrong, and need fixing – them’s the breaks.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    if you wanted, I’ll get qualified and do your boiler service – I could stand around for literally hours pretending to adjust things

    😀 What I meant was it didn’t seem to be much of a “service”, more of a “quick numbers check and a quick brush down for show”.

    I expected more of an “MOT and service”

    your system should have some inhibitor in it to protect against scale/corrosion?

    i.e. something that you might expect to be done in a service? 🙂

    (I did treat the system myself with Fernox when we first moved in 6 years ago)

    as mentioned, various filters are available

    So something that might be checked in a service? And possibly recommended if the system doesn’t have one?

    with inhibitor in the system, and the system being correctly commissioned (fluxes and whatnot flushed out), it shouldn’t rust and produce gunk

    To be honest I’m not entirely convinced it has.

    I wasn’t there for our recent breakdown but according to the missus the bloke manually turned the motor a bit, did the tooth-sucking thing and made noises about it might need a powerflush and we might be better off getting a new boiler etc

    But the same bloke also couldn’t diagnose why it wouldn’t restart (until missus pointed out the overheat button had tripped), said the air pressure switch was broken (it isn’t), and claimed he couldn’t possibly get the parts for a boiler that old (which I found readily available on http://www.gasboilerparts.co.uk and http://www.worcesterheatingspares.co.uk after about 20 seconds of googling).

    trail_rat
    Member

    get a new engineer – sounds like a chancing clown.

    Quick question – is there any point getting combis serviced every year? I tend to be a ‘run it ’till it breaks’ kinda guy, but the GF is neurotic and believes it will blow up unless taken apart by qualified personelle every time we try to use it.

    Premier Icon teethgrinder
    Subscriber

    Graham…You’ll have to let me know who he is so I can avoid him when my boiler breaks…

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    get a new engineer – sounds like a chancing clown.

    Yeah he was the only one available for a same-day callout.

    To be fair he did get it going again in the end, but I don’t think we’ll be using him again.

    teethgrinder: YGM!

    Quick question – is there any point getting combis serviced every year?

    Why would they be any different to a non-combi boiler? Still got hot burning gas things that need checking, heat exchanger still needs cleaning, pressure relief valve working? Expansion vessel? blah blah…

    But the same bloke also couldn’t diagnose why it wouldn’t restart (until missus pointed out the overheat button had tripped), said the air pressure switch was broken (it isn’t), and claimed he couldn’t possibly get the parts for a boiler that old

    He sounds trustworthy.

    trail_rat
    Member

    beyond that its not just a breakages thing – if your boiler is in your house you have a risk of a carbon monoxide leakages

    dooosuk
    Member

    But would a new boiler and repairs really cost over £5k over a 12yr period?

    Doesn’t sound that great to me.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    I had one of those exact boilers fixed yesterday, similar sounding problem too. Not firing up, despite getting most of the way through the startup sequence. Fan runs, but then fails to open gas valve and run ignitor. Water/muck dripping down from the weeping air valve to the right of the combustion chamber blocks the end of the short breather/pressure balance tube that runs up from the pressure switch on the right hand side (not the one that goes into a copper pipe to the top, the other one). Clean out the little pipe and ferrule, and hey presto, the air pressure switch senses the fan is running, so the PCB is then happy to complete the startup sequence. (You have to big replace the screw on cover before you try so the pressure switch can work). Or it could be something else. 🙂

    dragon
    Member

    One good trick the manufacturers pull is putting the PCB on the fan FFS. A minor electrical failure results in an excessive parts and cost replacement, rubbish.

    Slight aside: Hotpoint washing machines used to have the control board under the drum, the only reason I could think of was so the failed regularly and got replaced. Funny the likes of Miele have a good growing business making quality kit. and Hotpoint stuff now has a poor rep.

    duffmiver
    Member

    how much is a new boiler though? and add on the boiler cover you would have to pay? i know nothing about boilers, just though it sounded interesting.

    plus, if you’re skint, and have a horrible old inefficient boiler, and were considering a service and cover contract, it might be worth paying the extra tenner a month to get a brand new efficient boiler.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    My boiler has cost me £250* over the 16 years I’ve been in the house, but then it is nearly 30 years old, so basically indestructible.

    * one service and then I’ve replaced the pressure switch and PCB myself.

    johndoh
    Member

    Funny the likes of Miele have a good growing business making quality kit.

    But you pay a massive premium on them over a Hotpoint…

    What is better? A £1000 machine that lasts for 10 years or five £200 machines that last for two years each?

    dooosuk
    Member

    how much is a new boiler though? and add on the boiler cover you would have to pay? i know nothing about boilers, just though it sounded interesting.

    At the moment, expensive but my plumber said he’d install one in summer for £1200 (fair enough, not a Valiant but bear with me). Add in £50-60/yr service cost and over 12 years you’re only looking at £2000 + any parts.

    So, he fits a lesser brand than Valiant but at worst case scenario I could totally replace it 6 years and still be better off and take advantage of the next advancement in technology.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    If it is what I said, then removing the pipe at (2) and blowing gently through it should be clear and free flowing. Don’t blow back at (1) or too much back pressure will jam or bork the pressure switch. If it isn’t clear, then the green ferrule at (1) is blocked, you might be lucky clearing it with a needle or something, but it’s easier done of you take it off, but unfortunately that means unscrewing the big cover and using a spanner on the other side.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I agree with the duff design and layout of boilers.

    *surely* it would make sense to have one box of electronics and stuff that is mounted slightly separately, away from heat and water leaks?
    *surely* having filters / sumps etc built in, easily accessible and changeable makes sense?
    *surely* making things with an eye on the fact that they *will* gunk up, rust or get calcium deposits on them over time is straightforward?

    I know it is all extra cost, but we are talking pence, no?

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    Worcester Bosch 24i RSF.

    28i of that here. New pcb cost me £250 just before Christmas.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    midlifecrashes: 😆 I have almost that exact photo, marked in the same way, stuck to the front cover of the boiler so my dad knows how to fix it when he is house-sitting 😀

    (and that’s how I knew the air pressure switch was fine 🙂 )

    Stupid design eh?

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Yes, daft. If it wasn’t making a modification inside the gas seal I’d have considered putting a little shield above the ferrule to divert crap from it. That and the fact that we’ve just had the “low income/free new boiler” chat with the tenant, and just needed a quick repair to keep her going while she goes through the claim process. If it all goes through ok I might have a whole spare boiler for you in a month or two.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    If it wasn’t making a modification inside the gas seal I’d have considered putting a little shield above the ferrule to divert crap from it.

    Thought about doing that myself. Maybe building a little dam around it with metal putty or something – but I figured if it doesn’t drip out of there then the water level will rise and eventually reach the wires for the ignitors. Which would be bad.

    What I did do though was put a small tin inside the case just under where the water drips down to catch it before it flows to the ferrule.

    That works as long as it doesn’t drip too much. (Tighten up the dust cap on the air removal valve and it’ll only weep a little).

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    If it all goes through ok I might have a whole spare boiler for you in a month or two.

    😀 PM me if it works out – I may be interested by then!

    There is also a common fault with the fan relay on WB 24i combi boilers.
    The relay shorts out and wont hold closed so the air pressure sensor switches boiler off . Usually accompanied by a stacatto clicking from the PCB as the relay makes and breaks the circuit.
    If it is the air press sensor that has some gunk in it then a syringe gently compressed will close the switch and the boiler should fire , maybe a pipe cleaner will clean and dry the bleed hole?
    If you are having furring up issue bleed some water from a rad into a jam jar . Drop some nails into the jam jar , if they go rusty over 48hrs you are low on inhibitor , so get some more into your system.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Not had that one (fan relay) yet but it’s probably only a matter of time 🙂

    Good tip about the nails/jar – will try that.

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