Mike the Boilerman -
Your Gas Safe Registered boiler
and central heating repair technician for
London, Thames Valley and south coast
As with most things heating, I have opinions about boilers installed in loft spaces, and in this case my opinions are mostly negative ;-)
It's worse than that actually. I hate loft installations with a passion, so this page is one big long moan. Even the installations where the regulations have been complied with, i.e. access ladder, flooring to the boiler area, and lighting installed.
So here we go, here are the reasons:
1) First reason is FROST. A loft insulated to current standards will be almost as cold as outside. This means the boiler and all the associated heating pipework in the loft is at risk of frost damage. In addition, if it's a condensing boiler, then the condensate drain is at particular risk of freezing (his leads to the boiler stopping working when you need it most). Frost protection systems for boilers in cold spaces tend to be unreliable and hard to control, and sometimes seem to cause nuisance firing of the boiler puzzling the user greatly.
2) The user control panel on the boiler is not accessible to the user unless they pull the ladder down and go up into the loft. In particular the user cannot see the pressure gauge on the front so will not know if the system is losing pressure. Also, to adjust the temperature controls, the user has to go into the loft. And to see if there are any error messages showing should the boiler stop working.
3) It is not good for boilers to be operated in extremes of temperature. A well insulated loft can fall below freezing in winter and rise as high as 40 degrees C on a hot summer's day. Boiler manuals do not generally specify a maximum ambient operating temperature but the temperature of a loft on a hot summer day seems intuitively too high to me.
So those are the technical reasons! Now the more personal ones ;-)
4) It's a HORRIBLE environment in which to work on a boiler. Everything in most lofts is dirty and dusty, including the boiler and the floor in front of it (if there is one at all) where I have to sit. Not conducive to good workmanship.
5) What floor there is, tends to be a tiny cramped area in front of the boiler surrounded by piles of junk and gloom. No space at all to unpack the toolbox and spread the contents out.
6) The workspace is surrounded by open joists and loft insulation ready to swallow up any little screws or tools dropped.
7) The fibreglass dust cannot be good for my lungs.
8) The boiler is usually a wall-mounted model designed for installation at about head height for ease of maintenance. but when installed in a loft they are usually at about knee height. A pig to work on when all the bits you need to get at are close to the (dirty) floor.
9) Lighting. Even if there IS any, it is usually a bare 60w bulb swinging with a baleful glow leaving the inside/underneath of the boiler where the work needs to be done still in semi-darkness.
10) Most lofts are the same temperature as outside. Freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. Not pleasant to work in.
11) Ever tried lugging a 25kG toolbox and a vacuum cleaner with extension lead up a ladder and through a 24" square hole? Then back down again?
So, these are all the reasons I can think of for now :-D You'll probably understand now why I generally decline to work on boilers in loft spaces...
And I'll probably think of some more reasons by tonight ;-)
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Copyright Michael Bryant 2019
Site first published 16th January 2004
Last updated 16th March 2019
Gas Safe Register 197499, CIPHE registration number 56207