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Back Boiler Removal Cost

The cost of removal for a back boiler will vary from home to home. If you already have central heating installed and just want the old back boiler removed, the cost is likely to be somewhere between £600 and £800. This includes removal of the boiler, disposal and capping of the old pipework. The back boiler and the attached pipework will then need to be decommissioned. This price won’t include making good and any redecoration work – it is a messy job.

Costs will rise significantly if you are replacing a working back boiler with a new combi boiler. If you are doing a straight swap so a combi boiler for a back boiler then this will be in the region of £3,000 – the average cost of a standard combi boiler is about £1,300 with the balance of the price taken up with the labour of removing the old back boiler and then connecting the new boiler to the current system.

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Backboilers - what are they?

Back boilers are a type of boiler that many people have not come across or have not seen for a long time. But there are still a lot of them around in older properties. For people of a certain age, the name Parkray and Rayburn will be very familiar to them.

It is not possible now to replace a back boiler with a similar type as back boilers are no longer manufactured. Upgrade has to be to a modern combi boiler and even if you have a combi in your home already, the old disused back boiler should still be removed if it remains in situ behind the fireplace.

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A new combi boiler is not going to sit in the same location as the old back boiler.  All boilers need a flue to vent gases and new boilers use a horizontal flue to go through the side of a wall or a vertical flue and extensions to go through the roof.  You can site a combi boiler in a small cupboard in the kitchen and the relocation is going to raise a charge in the region of £300-£600.

Back boiler removal cost and full central heating installation

If you buy or acquire a property that has a back boiler in situ and no proper central heating then the cost of a full upgrade and installation will be in the region of £5,000.  This cost will include:-

  • Removal of the old back boiler
  • Replacement pipework
  • 8-10 radiators which are the typical amount for a 3-4 bedroom property
  • A-rated combination boiler

Other factors that can affect the cost will include the size of the radiators, the difficulty of installing pipework and the size and type of boiler.  The disruption to a property can be quite significant which is why it is better to do this work ahead of other refurbishments.  A system boiler will need a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard and a cold water storage tank in the loft plus further pipework.

Replacing a back boiler is a big cost so here are some tips to make sure the quote doesn’t go up with any hidden charges:-.

  • Decide where the boiler and flue are to be located before the quote is given – the location of the boiler can affect the cost either up or down
  • Choose the boiler and understand it’s the warranty.  A combi boiler will also save you from the added cost of having a cold water storage tank in the loft as well as a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard
  • Establish with the contractor that this is a fixed price quote
  • The quote also includes boiler filter installation
  • Find out if VAT is charged and at what level

Always check the Gas Safe credentials of your chosen contractor or heating engineer before agreeing to any work.

Making good

Removing a back boiler may well cause some damage to the existing hearth and fireplace surround.  This could be a good opportunity to upgrade the fireplace and either use it for a real fire, wood-burning stove or gas or electric heater.  Some people take the fireplace out of usage and use it for storage or turn it into a feature in the room.

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A disused back boiler is dangerous

A disused back boiler can pose a real danger to your home if you don’t remove it, due to its location.  Some people think that if they are redundant, they can remain undisturbed but this is not the case.

If the boiler is empty it will collect residual moisture and if the fuel burner in front of it is still in use, then this will heat up the boiler and create steam.  If the boiler is not in a vented position so it is effectively sealed up within the wall then this can create internal pressure which will eventually result in an explosion as the pressure has nowhere to disperse to. This is not an idle threat from your heating engineer.  There are examples of back boilers exploding and causing injury and in one case, even a fatality.  There are other risks too.

A disused back boiler can experience corrosion and fracturing of old pipework which can leach harmful gases into the home or they can build to a temperature which creates a fire hazard.  The old boiler will expand and contract with the changes in temperature within the room and this can cause structural damage due to its location within the wall.

Back boilers were often left because of the added expense and disruption involved in their removal.

What is a back boiler?

The term, back boiler, refers to a specific type of old conventional style of boiler which was used for the central heating and hot water for the whole of the house and was usually installed just beside a fireplace or behind a gas fire or stove tucked away in the wall.  The water tank and hot water cylinder were located elsewhere in the home.  Nowadays, boilers are much smaller and tend to be located in kitchen cupboards or utility rooms.

Back boilers were popular in the 1960s and 1970s right through to the ‘80s when combi boilers started to come on stream; combi boilers are much more energy-efficient.

Back boilers were popular as they replaced large floor-standing boilers which were roughly the size of a washing machine and took up a lot of room in the kitchen.  They were also the best and cheapest option for heating available at the time. 

Back boilers are no longer manufactured and have been replaced by smaller more energy-efficient units.  In 2005, in a move to improve boiler safety and also the UK’s energy efficiency, the government introduced new regulations that stipulated that all replacement boilers and new builds had to be condensing models.  When back boilers were first introduced, they had little competition but now modern boilers are so small and efficient and with their enhanced safety, they are by far the better option when it comes to boiler replacement.

However, there is still a surprising amount of back boilers around particularly in older properties which have not undergone any recent renovation or refurbishment.

The construction of a back boiler is a very simple system compared to 21st-century boilers and this is one of the reasons why there are still so many in existence.  They have a reputation for reliability and longevity but you cannot replace an old back boiler with a similar model.  If a back boiler is still operating safely then it can be maintained with regular servicing and this does avoid the cost of upgrading to a modern combi system.  However, spare parts are very hard to source and compared with the energy costs of running a combi boiler, the back boiler does not perform nearly as well.  Your energy bills will be higher if you stick with this type of heating.

Finding the right tradespeople

Any gas boiler can only be handled, modified or removed by a Gas Safe Engineer.  It is easy to check credentials online or over the phone with the Gas Safe Register who can also provide other useful information if you are dealing with an outdated back boiler.  Sometimes gas engineers are referred to as Corgi approved – this used to be the old registration system which was replaced by the Gas Safe Register in 2009, they both mean the same thing and are just used interchangeably.

You may want a heating engineer to work in conjunction with a builder to access the boiler or alternatively your Gas Safe contractor may be happy to dismantle the wall or chimney to access the old boiler. 

If you are having a new boiler or heating system installed then this will form part of the works for whichever heating company you choose to use, but if you are just having a redundant boiler removed, then you will need a builder to make good the mess and repair the site afterwards.

See more information from the Health and Safety Executive on boilers in the home, along with further guidance from Which? on boiler grants and eligibility conditions.

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