Direct Line magazine

Do I need a new boiler?

Updated on: 13 November 2020

A plumber installs a new boiler

If your boiler needs regular repairs, makes funny noises, struggles to heat your home or is generally temperamental and prone to breaking down, then you probably need a new one.

It’s funny to think that you only have to go back a generation to find a time when central heating and hot water on demand were not commonplace features in homes.

We’ve become so accustomed to being warm that when our boilers conk out it feels like a disaster. But they don’t last forever, so if you’re finding yours a little temperamental it could be time to ask yourself: do I need a new boiler?

Signs that your boiler’s on its way out

  • Odd noises. As boilers age, their parts can wear out and though these can be replaced it can be more cost-effective to get a new boiler. If your boiler is making knocking, popping or hissing sounds when it’s on then you need to get it investigated by an engineer and you may need to look into getting a new boiler.

  • It regularly needs repairs. You should have your boiler serviced annually by an approved plumber or gas safety technician. They may make recommendations if the boiler is nearing the end of its life - but if they have to keep replacing parts, or the boiler needs constant repairing, it’s time to think about replacing it.

  • It’s old. If your boiler is more than 10 years old it might be worth replacing it. Even if it functions fine, the older it gets the more likely it is to break down. Plus, it’s probably much less efficient than a new boiler. So although getting a new one might seem like an expensive option, it could save you money in the long run by heating your house more efficiently and bringing your gas bills down.

  • It leaks. Any leak should be investigated immediately, not only because the water can damage your home but also because it could develop into a carbon monoxide leak, which can be deadly.

  • The water temperature fluctuates. If your hot water takes a while to warm up, or runs hot and cold intermittently while running a sink or bath, then you probably need to replace your boiler if repairs don’t improve the situation.

How much does a new boiler cost?

The cost of a new boiler varies, but is only part of the expense. The cost of installing a new boiler can be as much or more than the boiler itself.

Sadly, boiler installation is not a DIY job as all boilers must be fitted by Gas Safe registered engineers. The cost of installation varies even more than the price of the boiler because of the amount of work required, how many extra parts are needed, and the complexity of the installation will all impact the final price.

Quite often other elements of the heating system also need upgrading or replacing such as radiators, pipework and valves.

What type of boiler do I need?

Although there are many different makes and models of boiler, they all fall into two basic types. The kind you need depends on your existing heating system and other elements.

Conventional boiler

A conventional boiler is connected to a storage tank, which stores hot water. The hot water tank is connected to a cold water tank, and these are both usually placed in the loft of your property. When the hot water tank is drained there is a delay as it is filled with water from the cold tank and heated.

Conventional boilers require more space, which may not be a problem if you don’t use your loft, but the installation is usually more difficult and therefore more costly than a combination boiler.

Combination boiler

Combi boilers don’t use a storage tank, but heat water direct from the mains water supply. They provide hot water on demand and are ideal for smaller properties. Typically they are fitted to the wall in the kitchen or an airing cupboard, though they can be installed in any suitable area.

Combi boilers typically require less pipework than conventional boilers so the installation is usually easier and cheaper.

Boiler installation

Before the boiler installation happens you need to find a Gas Safe registered installer, which you can do at

The installer will come and survey your home and advise you on the costs and other factors surrounding the installation. The engineer should check your entire heating system and assess whether you need to also replace pipes or other elements along with the boiler.

If the boiler installation is straightforward, and you’re having a combination boiler fitted, then the fitting will take about a day, though the installer will give you an accurate schedule, as it can take longer.

The engineer will then remove your existing boiler and fit the new one, as well as replace any other components of the heating system as outlined in the quote for the job. Typically they will also power flush the system to remove debris and then do a full check of the boiler and system and talk you through its operation.

Once this is done the engineer will then register the appliance on the Gas Safe Register. This has to be done within 30 days to be valid, and you should then receive a certificate from the register. This is a legal requirement so make sure it’s done promptly.

Boiler grants

ECO is a Government scheme that offers free or heavily subsidised boiler grants for low-income homes. To secure one of the boiler grants you need to meet certain eligibility criteria based around income benefits and also have a non-condensing boiler that is more than five years old.

Boiler grants are non-repayable, so you will receive a new boiler for free or far below its standard price (including installation). If you think you meet the criteria you can go to the Boiler Grants website and fill out a quick form to see if you’re eligible.

If you think you need a new boiler make sure you consult with a qualified and registered installer at every stage, so you can finally say goodbye to those surprise cold showers.

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