A Guide to Choosing the Right Combi Boiler

A Guide to Choosing the Right Combi Boiler

Combi is an abbreviation of combination boiler. Essentially, it is a combination of a central heating boiler and a water heat within one compact unit.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to Combi boilers and everything you need to know about them. From prices and free installation to manufacturers and types, we will help you find the best Combi boiler at the best price without the headache, and reducing the need for any future boiler repair.

What is a Combi Boiler and How Do They Work?

There are three different types of Combi boilers: Combi, System, and Regular. While conventional regular boilers are supplied with cold water from a large expansion tank found in the attic, a Combi boiler is fed a direct water supply from the central water system in your home.

This delivers a stronger water pressure, a feature that is found in a System boiler as well. While both Regular and System boilers need a hot water cylinder, a Combi boiler can heat water on its own.

In the UK, the vast majority of new boiler installations are Combi boilers. This is due to their convenience, high energy efficiency, and space-saving size.

What is a Condensing Combi Boiler?

Most of the new Regular, System and Combi boilers manufactured now are condensing boilers. The difference between a condensing boiler and a non-condensing boiler is the Flue Gas Heat Recovery System. All boilers produce waste flue gases, and in older models, this gas is wasted without this feature.

A Flue Gas Recovery System takes the heat and recycles it, preheating new, cold water as it is fed into the boiler from the mains. This means that the boiler isn’t working as hard to heat up the water and uses less energy overall. Condensing boilers use a condensing pipe that allows vapor to drain while the boiler is on.

Different Types of Combi Boilers

Gas Combi Boilers

Gas Combi boilers are the most popular type of Combi boiler to be installed in the UK. If your house is already connected to a gas network, then this is the best option in terms of economy.

Oil Combi Boilers

If your home isn’t connected to a gas network, your second choice is an oil Combi boiler. These models need a tanker of oil to be kept in the home which will need to be refilled by the supplier.

LPG Combi Boilers

LPG is short for Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and it is a combination of natural gas and oil. This is a similar set-up to an oil boiler, which means it will need to be refilled by the supplier.

Electric Combi Boilers

An electric boiler is different from other models because it doesn’t burn fuel to keep the water heated. Instead, the water is heated by an electric element. This is a viable alternative if your home isn’t connected to a gas network.

They can only heat a limited amount of water, and because the electricity used to heat the water can be expensive, they aren’t recommended for larger homes.

Combi Boilers: Advantages

Energy Efficient

Any Combi boilers installed in the UK after 2018 are required to be 92% energy efficient. This is the highest level of energy efficiency available, and it could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your home. It could also reduce your heating bills.

Reduced Energy Bills

Because Combi boilers are energy efficient, you can save on your heating bill. In fact, you could save up to 300 pounds a year just by replacing your old Combi boiler with a newer model.

Space Saving

Imagine being able to replace that bulky storage cylinder that takes up precious attic space. Because Combi boilers are a single combined unit, they don’t need a separate water tank or cylinder. They can often fit into a kitchen cupboard, which is great if you live in a flat or smaller home.

Easy Installation

Because of their compact size, the boiler installation is easy as they don’t come with any accessories. Easy installation means less installation time, which means a cheaper installation overall. Remember, because a Combi boiler doesn’t need to be fitted to a hot water cylinder, it can be stored anywhere in the home.

Combi Boilers: Disadvantages

Not Recommended for Bigger Homes

If you’ve got a larger home, you may want to consider a conventional boiler. This is because a Combi boiler takes its water supply directly from the mains. If you have a larger home that requires more hot water, it won’t be able to split the water it heats efficiently.

Not Recommended for a Weak Mains Pressure

It’s important to have a good supply of water that comes from the mains. If you don’t, the pressure will be weak, and you run the risk of needing to call an engineer for boiler repair.

Doesn’t Work Well with Old Pipework

If your old heating system was compatible with weaker water pressure, then your existing pipes may not cope with the upgraded water pressure. If the installation of a Combi boiler means your pipes also need to be replaced, this is going to add to the overall cost. It’s also important to consider the ease and cost of boiler servicing in the future.

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What To Do If Your Boiler Pressure Is Too Low

What To Do If Your Boiler Pressure Is Too Low

New gas boilers are environmentally friendly, economical, and can be relied on for consistency. However, like any appliance or piece of equipment in your home, every now and then they’re going to need some servicing or attention to keep them running at their best.

One of the biggest issues with boilers is low pressure, however, this is usually a quick and easy fix, and sometimes you don’t even need a professional to help you. In this article, we talk about the correct pressure of a boiler, and what to do if your boiler pressure is too high or too low.

What Is Boiler Water Pressure?

Boiler pressure is the hot water pressure that travels through the central heating system in your home, whereas the water pressure is what they call the pressure of the water that runs through your kitchen and bathroom. Boiler pressure is incredibly important because it helps to keep the water in your home warm.
If the pressure on your boiler is too low, then your central heating may not work, and if it’s too high, then it will be under too much strain and could also be prevented from working.

What is the Right Pressure for a Boiler?

To find the boiler pressure and to work out whether it’s at the correct setting, locate the in-built pressure gauge that you can find on the exterior of your boiler. It should be sitting at the one bar mark, especially if you’re not currently using the hot water in the house. This is the standard pressure setting for home boilers, and this is a good indication that things are working as they should.

Why is The Boiler Pressure Too Low or High?

Once you’ve installed your boiler, it starts to warm up your water, the water is going to expand and cause the pressure gauge to go up. With the in-built relief valve, boilers are prepared to deal with these fast leaps in pressure so if don’t need to be concerned if the boiler is showing a higher pressure than you had anticipated when you are using both the hot water and the central heating at the same time.

Once you have finished using the hot water and the central heating, however, the pressure should decrease back to a safe level straight away. If you find that the pressure of your boiler is too low, then the gauge is going to be sitting below the one bar mark. If this is the case, then the next thing you need to do is try to get it above the one bar mark.

What Do I Do If It’s Too Low or High?

To lower the pressure of your boiler, you can try a couple of things:

Check the Pressure Relief Valve:

It’s vital that the pressure relief valve is closed tightly, so if your boiler pressure is too high this is one of the first things that you need to check. When you re-pressurize your boiler, you’ll need to turn the valve so that it can pump water back into the boiler, and it can be easy to forget to close this again.

However, if you haven’t done this recently, there’s also the possibility that you accidentally knocked it or the valve may have become loosened over time.

Bleed the Radiators:

It’s advised that you bleed your radiators in order to reduce the pressure in your boiler as well as your heating system overall. It’s important to keep draining the radiator until you have been able to reduce the boiler pressure back to safe levels as can be seen by the gauge.

If neither of these work, then there may be something else going on. You may need to re-pressurize the expansion vessel, or you could even have an issue with the filling loop. However, with these types of issues, you’re not going to be able to fix them yourself, so at this point, it’s advised that you call in a professional.

While your water pressure may still be a little bit sporadic, the relief valve itself should be able to help prevent the boiler from building too much pressure, so you will still be safe even while you’re waiting for help to arrive. Just make sure that you can’t hear any loud or unusual noises coming from your boiler.

If you’re wanting to lift the pressure of your boiler above the one bar mark, then you need to make sure you’ve turned off the boiler entirely and that it’s hard enough time to get cool before you try to fix it. You will need to find where the filling loop is located in order to fix the pressure – this is going to look a bit like a hose and will have a small valve attached to each end. It should be on the bottom of the boiler. You need to make sure that each end of the hose is connect to its respective valves.

Use a screwdriver to open the valves, which will allow cold water to fill up the system from the mains. The pressure is going to begin increasing at this point, so it’s vital that you keep a close eye on what the pressure gauge is doing until it goes above the one bar mark.

Once it’s above this, you can close the valves back off one at a time. You can now switch your boiler back on again and reset it to standard settings.

The Risks of Low Boiler Pressure

Thankfully, low boiler pressure is nothing to get too worried about and is not likely to cause any significant damage to your boiler. In saying this, however, it can potentially have a significant impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of your central heating system overall, making it challenging to keep your house consistently warm and ultimately costing you more in heating bills. As a result of this it’s certainly a possibility of needing to get your boiler repaired.

If you are committed to keeping warm and keeping your bills within budget, then it’s definitely a good idea to do something about low boiler pressure. As always, it’s recommended that you consult a professional if you’re not sure what the issue is. They will be able to correctly diagnose the problem and hopefully fix it as well.

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10 Most Common Boiler Problems

10 MOST COMMON BOILER PROBLEMS

As Murphy’s law would have it, the majority of issues with water boilers occur during winter. This is actually due to the water boiler having been inactive for so long: when it’s forced back to life, considerable pressure is put on it to perform, which can result in issues and the need to repair the boiler.

While there are some boiler issues that can be quickly addressed, others require the help of a qualified professional. Remember, it’s always good to seek help from a professional gas engineer if you are having any doubts about the nature of the issue and make sure that from the start you’re boiler is installed correctly.

Dripping and Leaking

If your boiler is dripping or leaking, you could be looking at one of many issues with your boiler. This is mainly going to depend on where the leak is. The first and most common issue is going to be a broken part inside. This could be a broken pump seal or a broken pressure valve.

If your pressure valve is leaking, then the pressure may be sitting too high. If the water is coming from the seal, then it may need replacing. Your boiler could be leaking around the tank area as well, which could be the result of corrosion.

Low Pressure

It’s easy to check the pressure of your boiler – all you need to do is find the gauge that will be on the side and check it for the pressure. If it’s reading low pressure, then your boiler may be faulty. This could be anything from bled radiators to leaking water and even a fault in the pressure relief valve.

The first thing to do is to check for a leak anywhere, and if you find one, it’s crucial that you call a professional. You could try re-pressurizing your system if you don’t see a leak, but again it’s recommended that you get a professional to do this.

Gurgling and Whistling Noises

If you listen out for your boiler and it seems to be making strange noises, this could be trapped air it system. Another reason for this is low water pressure. You could even be dealing with a faulty pump, which is quite a common problem, particular in older models.

You may be able to work out the cause of the noise based on what the noise is. Remember, if it sounds like a kettle boiling, it’s going to be ‘kettling.’

Radiator is Faulty

There are two main reasons why your radiator isn’t heating up: unwanted air or buildup. If your radiator is warm at the bottom, then it may have built-up pressure, which you’ll need to drain out of it or bleed. Radiators typically need a good balance now and then, which includes adjusting the valves so that the other radiators in your house are getting enough water.

If you try balancing or bleeding your radiator and it’s not fixing the problem, then we recommend contacting a professional. They can help remove any buildup that’s causing the problem.

Boiler Turns Itself Off

If your boiler is turning itself off now and then, this could be the result of low water pressure, a lack of water flowing through or even a faulty thermostat. Refer to the above points for the solution to each of these issues, but if none of these work, it’s essential to contact a professional who can correctly diagnose the problem.

Frozen Pipes

Boilers need a condensate pipe so that they can get rid of any water that’s become acidic because of the gas. This pipe usually runs into a drain located outside, and in the winter when it’s cold enough it can freeze over.

If the pipe has frozen over, then you may receive a warning signal. You can thaw out a frozen pipe using a heat pack or a hot water bottle. You can even pour boiling water over it. You may need to reset your boiler once you’ve thawed it out.

Thermostat is Faulty

When a thermostat is faulty, it’s going to turn off and on randomly like the pilot light, which we’ll talk about later. This could be a sign that it needs to be replaced. Before you do anything rash, however, it’s important to get to the bottom of the problem so that you don’t end up replacing a pat like the thermostat for no reason. To do this, make sure that the thermostat is on and sitting on the correct settings.

Another thing to consider here is that your home may be warm, which means the thermostat won’t let the boiler heat your house higher than the temperature you’ve set it at. If this is what’s happening, you can try increasing the temperature gradually until you hit the right one for you and your family.

Kettling

Kettling is when buildup or substances like sludge or lime affect the flow of the water within your boiler. If this is the case, then your boiler is going to sound like a kettle boiling. If the water flow has been restricted by this issue, then it could cause the boiler to work overtime and overheat as a result.

If your boiler is kettling, this means that it’s working harder than it needs to be. This means a bigger bill for you – and it’s also going to wear the boiler out faster. At this point it’s best to get a professional in who can remove any buildup so that your boiler can last longer and not have issues like kettling.

Pilot Light

You may know what a pilot light looks like if you’ve had a heater that requires one to warm up. This is the flame that’s responsible for keeping the burner lit. If it’s always burning out, then you may have an issue with the thermocouple. In this scenario, the thermocouple could be stopping the gas from keeping the pilot light lit. There could also be some buildup around the pilot light as well.

Before you try to relight your pilot light, it’s essential that you make sure there aren’t any issues with the gas that’s supplying it.

Lack of Hot Water or Heat

Potential causes of this common problem could be broken airlocks or diaphragms, as well as issues with the water levels and/or the thermostat. The best place to begin with this kind of issue is figuring out whether the issue is with the thermostat or the pressure of the boiler.

If you think the diaphragm is broken, then you may need to replace it altogether. If it gets to this, then you’ll have to call out a professional who can correctly diagnose the problem and order the right part.

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How Often Should I Get My Boiler Serviced?

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MY BOILER SERVICED?

We’re willing to wager that checking your boiler for issues is probably the last thing on your mind – you’re more likely to check up on your car regularly, especially when you know that it’s time to get it serviced again. Afterall, it’s easy to forget about general upkeep around the home when you’ve got so many other things on your mind. 

However, checking up on your boiler and making sure it’s running as it should is vital to preventing issues from happening – and you can even prevent them from becoming much larger problems. In this article, we talk about some of the biggest reasons why it’s important that you regularly check your boiler for any inconsistencies.

Keeping You Safe

Not only will checking your boiler regularly ensure that it’s running as it should, but it’s also going to make sure that it’s not endangering you and your family but being faulty. In fact, having a boiler that’s faulty can end up being pretty dangerous, especially if it has something to do with the carbon monoxide. If there’s a leak and your boiler is letting carbon monoxide into your home, you and your family could become sick very quickly. 

When you get your boiler serviced by a professional, they will make sure that there aren’t any leaks anywhere, as well as check your boiler for general issues. This is going to be important in making sure your family has a safe place to live. 

Finding Issues Prematurely

As we mentioned earlier, you could end up saving yourself time and money if you check your boiler regularly, because you may be able to pick up on issues before they’ve become a real problem. By making sure that your boiler is doing what it needs to do, you can save both time and money getting it repaired further down the track. If you get a professional in to do the check, they can fix any issues that come up before they get bigger so you can avoid having to pay more down the line. 

It Could Save You Money

Of course, anything that you get serviced around the home, whether it’s another appliance or your car, is going to mean you have to spend money. However, if you get your boiler serviced at the right time and at the right frequency, you could end up saving money. If you get a professional in to do a check early and they make sure that your boiler is running as well as it could, this means it’s going to run a lot more efficiently, saving you money in the long run. Of course, the efficiency of your boiler is going to be determined by a number of different factors, including what model you have and how old it is.

It’s a Legal Requirement If You Own a Property

If you own your property or you’re renting one out, you’re legally required to get a professional in to check anything that’s run with gas in the house, including boilers. By law, this must be done at least once every year, so if you’re someone who is renting, you need to make sure that your landlord is aware of this.

It Won’t Take Long

While the sound of servicing a boiler may sound long and arduous, you’d be surprised at how little time it actually takes. If you call out a professional to get the job done, they will start by checking out the switches and controls of the boiler so that they can confirm it’s functioning properly. They’re also going to make sure that there aren’t any leaks anywhere, and they are also going to make sure there’s no corrosion occurring on the exterior. If there aren’t any leaks, then the pressure of the gas should be at a good level. They’re also going to need access to the flue so that they can guarantee your boiler isn’t giving off dangerous substances like carbon monoxide. When this is all complete, your professional will give you a checklist so that you know what to look out for should you wish to check the boiler at any time yourself. This is going to be necessary so that you know what to look out for and when to call in someone to check it again.

When Should I Service My Boiler and How Often?

If you’ve got your boiler covered by home insurance, they’re going to want you to check it regularly so that they know it’s functioning correctly and doesn’t come with any underlying issues. When it comes to insurance policies, checking your boiler once a year should be enough, however, it’s important to check with your insurance company so that you’re both on the same page.

When thinking about what time of year to service your boiler and to get a professional in to look at it, we recommend doing it during the summer months. This is because you’re not going to want to deal with boiler issues over winter, so making sure it’s good to go in the summer months will help you avoid issues when you don’t want them. Additionally, professionals that check boilers and service them tend to have more time spare in the warmer months.

Whenever you choose to get your boiler serviced by a professional, make sure to take note of the date so that you can get it done again around the same time the following year. This is going to ensure that the service is consistent and will give your boiler a good chance of functioning efficiently throughout the colder months. If you’re at all concerned about how your boiler is functioning, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get a professional to come out and check it. You don’t want to be stuck with a steep repair bill and a boiler that may even need to be replaced, so the more often you check it, the more likely it will continue to run smoothly. 

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