Back boilers are a form of ‘heat only’ boiler found mostly in 1960s/1970s homes. They are located in the fireplace and use the brick chimney to flue their gases out of the property. Back boilers work on open vented systems often with a gravity fed hot water system. Most are accompanied by a gas fire. Under new condensing efficiency standards, back boilers no longer meet a minimum efficiency. At the moment it is not possible to install a new back boiler, although it is still possible to repair them if you can find someone specialist enough to do it. We help you with options for replacement, repair and servicing requirements. The most common replacements are a new wall hung regular boiler or combi boiler, find prices for both on our Guide to Heat Only Boiler Prices and Guide to Combi Boiler Prices.
Back Boiler Guide | Advice on Replacement, Repair and Servicing
Using this Guide to decide whether to repair or replace and your options for replacement
The original back boilers had a gas fire on the front. For a few years Baxi manufactured a replacement back boiler with an electric fire on the front. The newer models will be more readily repairable than the older models as most parts are still available.
For the older models, many of the main parts – thermocouples, gas valves, thermostat – are widely available and ‘universal’ parts. However the availability of the heat exchanger, which forms the main body of the back boiler, will be quite patchy.
A good way to find out if it’s worth persevering with your old back boiler is to see if you can get boiler cover for it. If you can then it might we worth going with an insurance policy for repairs and maintenance cover. A number of mainstream boiler insurance providers still cover old and new back boilers. Read our Boiler Cover Guide to see who offers back boiler insurance and prices.
For the old back boilers the attending engineer is servicing two appliances – the boiler and the gas fire. The work will involve stropping apart the individual components, removing the burner and dismantling, cleaning individual components and reassembling. The whole process takes a few hours if done right.
A back boiler is open flued and draws its air from the room. If it is not serviced regularly it will start to produce carbon monoxide. If there is a problem with the chimney this it could start ‘spilling’ into the room. A carbon monoxide alarm is a definite for a back boiler.
2. Install a combi boiler elsewhere in the house – a popular replacement is to install a combi boiler. This will involve removing the back boiler, hot water cylinder and water tanks in the loft. A new combi boiler is great for freeing up space and removing all future maintenance liabilities on the system compared with leaving the cylinder and tanks in place. You will also get a very long boiler warranty and reduce maintenance costs even further, However it is more expensive to install and if your pipework and radiators are very old there is a risk of leaks when the system is put under pressure. For more on combi boilers read our Combi Boiler Guide or Combi Boiler Prices guide. To find a local heating company visit our Installer Network and enter your postcode.