I saw this article today and thought some of you might find it interesting. Good luck to those of you across the pond.http://www.thegwpf.org/uk-news/2124-gre ... -over.html
Green Shambles: Britain's Eco-Boilers Freeze Over
Thursday, 30 December 2010 19:46 Michael Hanlon, Daily Mail
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The recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with [green boilers]. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning. In cold weather, the pipe that takes waste water from the back of the condensing boiler freezes solid, shutting down the system and in many cases causing permanent damage.
Five years ago, New Labour heralded them as the modern, clean and green way to heat your house. As a result, today there are already eight million ‘condensing boilers’ in homes across Britain. In fact, since 2005 it is illegal to fit any other kind.
At the time, John Prescott claimed they would massively reduce your carbon footprint and slash your fuel bills. As a result, every year some 1.2 million old-style ‘dirty’ boilers are scrapped in Britain and replaced by this wondrous new variety.
However, the recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with them. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning.
British Gas is understood to have had 60,000 call-outs in Yorkshire alone. And the cost to call out a plumber? It can be between £200 to £300 on a bank holiday. And don’t forget about VAT.
‘We’ve had double the number of call-outs as in the same period last year,’ says Charlie Mullins, MD of Pimlico Plumbers in London, the country’s largest independent plumbing company.
‘It is a massive problem. Some customers were ready to move out because their condensing boilers broke. If I had a choice, I’d put in a non-condensing boiler every time.’
It’s all the more infuriating because the problem causing these breakdowns is so simple. In cold weather, the pipe that takes waste water from the back of the condensing boiler - which isn’t there in a normal boiler - freezes solid, shutting down the system and in many cases causing permanent damage.
But this problem is just one of many that have plagued this boiler design since they became popular in the Nineties. Many plumbers consider them to be little more than a multi-billion-pound con-trick.
In a regular boiler, the hot gases produced when the methane fuel is burned heat water for your radiators, dishwasher, taps and so on. But about 25 per cent of the heat vents out of the exhaust pipe in the form of hot steam and CO2.
In a condensing boiler, a condenser claws back much of the lost heat because as steam condenses into water, it feeds heat back into the system.
This can increase overall efficiency from 75 per cent to as much as 93 per cent, and reduce CO2 emissions - and your bills - by a commensurate amount. That, anyway, is the theory boiler-makers and politicians want you to believe.
In 2005, the then-deputy PM John Prescott drew up a masterplan to help Britain meet its CO2 emissions targets, as dictated by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This involved a new law ordering that all new and replacement boilers fitted to British homes - some 1.4m annually - must from that date be of the condensing type.