Copyright 2018, Michael Bryant
Older boilers - can they be fixed?
And are they worth fixing?
As you may have gathered from reading my other pages, the answer is usually yes they CAN be fixed. I like fixing older boilers. Especially those which other technicians or companies have declared in need of replacement as they are 'too old to fix'. In most cases this or the 'can't get the parts' story is piffle uttered by gas bods who don't really understand how boilers work inside and aren't very interested. Bods who would far rather sell you a new boiler for 'x' thousands of pounds than repair it for 'x' hundreds. (This rather annoys me. Can you tell?!)
I hate to see a boiler ripped out for the sake of a simply-to-fix (or even a harder-to-fix) fault purely because it's old. It seems such a waste to discard a whole boiler with potentially many years life still in it. This applies to anything. It seems more environmentally sound to repair the fridge, the alternator on my van or boat engine, the vacuum cleaner or anything else that has broken than immediately throw it away and buy a new one.
Most older boiler faults can be fixed with a bit of application by the visiting technician (often involving no more than reading the boiler manual). Claims that 'parts are not available' can often be found to be false too, so treat that one with a pinch of salt if/when you hear it! Most of the commonly failing parts for boilers up to 20 or even 30 years old are freely available from specialist boiler spares merchants. It suits manufacturers very nicely to keep on making parts when there is a healthy high profit margin market for them. When there are exceptions to this (e.g. the Potterton Netaheat gas valve) there is usually a thriving second-hand market in that particular part on eBay, which can often be used to save a boiler which would otherwise have to be scrapped.
Are they worth fixing?
Some of the boilers in which I specialise are older models which owners are regularly been told must be replaced because they are old, inefficient and parts are 'hard to get'. I disagree with this in most cases. There are many older boilers out there which are surprisingly fuel-efficient. Don't fall for the line that because it's old it must be wasting lots of gas - this isn't necessarily so. There are plenty of 30 year old boilers out there running in the 75% to 80% efficiency range. Not a lot better than a 90% efficient shiny new condensing boiler!
A further point is boilers nowadays are built very much more cheaply than 20 and 30 years ago and seem to have a much shorter life. The benchmark life anticipated for a new boiler nowadays is ten years. Boilers from the last century seem capable of going on for several decades. I see many 30-year-old Potterton Netaheat boilers for example in perfectly good structural condition, just needing an (often simple) repair.
So if you have an old boiler that you've been told can't be fixed, feel free to contact me for a second opinion. Tell me the make and model and I'll be able to tell you what's likely to be wrong and whether I think it's a model worth fixing. If it appears on my list of boilers in which I specialise, I definitely think it's worth fixing!
My contact details are here.