Backboiler newbie

Hi,

If all goes to plan we're buying a house with a backboiler in an open fire (Dunsley solid fuel central heating boiler) vendor tells us it heats water and radiators too. There's also oil fired central heating for when the fire isn't in use.

I know zero about backboilers, so would be interested to hear what people think of them in general,!how to maintain, can I get it serviced? Do you rate or would you rip it all out and replace? 

Many thanks

Comments

  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,560 Forumite
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    timehastoldme said: I know zero about backboilers, so would be interested to hear what people think of them in general,!how to maintain, can I get it serviced? Do you rate or would you rip it all out and replace?
    Extremely inefficient. An open fire is 15-20% efficient, with most of the heat disappearing up the chimney. Not much of the available heat will be transferred to the back boiler. If you disconnect the back boiler, a hole must be drilled in to it to allow air to escape when the fire is lit. Failure to drill that hole could see the back boiler exploding on you.
    If you want a back boiler and a real fire, invest in a proper stove - 75-80% efficient, and better heat transfer to the water in the boiler.
    That said, depending on the size of the property, I'd go for Stovax Riva which has a pair of connections on the top of the casing for air ducts. Use these ducts to circulate warm air to other rooms, and save on the heat lost in a wet system.

    Her courage will change the world.

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  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,822 Forumite
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    If all goes to plan we're buying a house with a backboiler in an open fire (Dunsley solid fuel central heating boiler)
    Is it really an open fire?
    Dunsley seem to make solid fuel stoves?

    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
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  • It is open fire, the backboiler will be old, vendor has lived there 40 yesrs.

    We can't really afford to rip it out right away. Moving is expensive. We've got log burning stoves now which I'll miss, but had hoped to use the fire and boiler in the interim. 
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,822 Forumite
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    edited 7 September 2023 at 5:57PM
    It is open fire, the backboiler will be old, vendor has lived there 40 yesrs.

    We can't really afford to rip it out right away. Moving is expensive. We've got log burning stoves now which I'll miss, but had hoped to use the fire and boiler in the interim. 
    Ah, OK.
    IIRC back boilers on open fires were only really intended to provide domestic hot water, not wet central heating. We had a back boiler in a late-60s new-build when I was an infant, but space heating was storage heaters.
    They were a big step forward from the previous practice (when my father was a child, 70 years ago) of hanging a kettle over the coals.
    I'd plan to use the oil boiler pretty much all the time, with the open fire as a backup.
    Presumably the oil boiler is in use now? I can't imagine running an open fire during a heat wave?
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Taking a break, hope to be back eventually.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • Yes, we're not moved in yet but the lady who lives there said she doesn't run the fire very often since she hurt her back. It'll be winter before we move by the looks of it so I'm planning in advance. 
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,560 Forumite
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    If you do use the open fire, make sure you have a fireguard in place - Have memories of an open fire here and hot embers spitting across the room. The carpet had numerous burns in it too.
    Oh, and a Carbon Monoxide alarm (that is CO, not CO2).
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
  • Absolutely yes to both, my mum had an open fire and was sleeping when her CO alarms were going off, fortunately we were visiting and I'm a bad sleeper at the best of times so I heard and aired the house and dragged her off to get checked over.

    And my dog is cute but dumb, she'd 100% sit on coals if given half a chance so a fire guard is top of the list for new house purchases. 
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