Freezing Brits steamed over new green boilers

Phil Boehmke
Five years ago the global warming crowd and their comrades in the Labour Party mandated the use of new green technology boilers in Great Britain. Government and environmental experts said that the ‘condensing boilers’ would not only greatly reduce the consumer’s carbon footprint, but would also lower their heating bills. Saving money and saving the planet, what could be better?
 
The UK Daily Mail reports that during the recent record cold spell in Great Britain, tens of thousands of people were without heat due to a serious flaw in the new boiler’s design.
 
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.
 
The condensing boilers were designed to recycle the CO2 emissions and steam that would normally be vented outside and then feed it back into the system through the waste water pipe. The new system was touted to increase efficiency by as much as 93%.
 
In 2005 Labour deputy PM John Prescott made the condensing boiler mandate a key part of his plan to meet the CO2 reduction targets called for in the Kyoto Protocol. Three years later in an effort to sell the green technology boondoggle to the people, the government initiated a program which paid homeowners £ 400 towards the purchase and installation of the new boilers. 
 
Sales people quickly jumped on the new market and produced glowing savings estimates for their customers. Boiler manufacturers and installers enjoyed a boom as they removed perfectly good boilers and replaced then with the new eco-friendly units. Everything was going smoothly until frustrated consumers discovered that their new boilers didn’t work in really cold weather.
 
To make matters worse, the new boilers typically last only 3-6 years and the costs of parts to repair the units are outrageously high. One of the bi-products of the condensation process is the creation of acidic water vapor from the dissolved nitrogen and sulfur oxides which corrode the delicate system components. Gee, the old boilers were very reliable and lasted 20 years on average.
 
December 30, 2010
 
paboehmke@yahoo.com
 
 
Five years ago the global warming crowd and their comrades in the Labour Party mandated the use of new green technology boilers in Great Britain. Government and environmental experts said that the ‘condensing boilers’ would not only greatly reduce the consumer’s carbon footprint, but would also lower their heating bills. Saving money and saving the planet, what could be better?
 
The UK Daily Mail reports that during the recent record cold spell in Great Britain, tens of thousands of people were without heat due to a serious flaw in the new boiler’s design.
 
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.
 
The condensing boilers were designed to recycle the CO2 emissions and steam that would normally be vented outside and then feed it back into the system through the waste water pipe. The new system was touted to increase efficiency by as much as 93%.
 
In 2005 Labour deputy PM John Prescott made the condensing boiler mandate a key part of his plan to meet the CO2 reduction targets called for in the Kyoto Protocol. Three years later in an effort to sell the green technology boondoggle to the people, the government initiated a program which paid homeowners £ 400 towards the purchase and installation of the new boilers. 
 
Sales people quickly jumped on the new market and produced glowing savings estimates for their customers. Boiler manufacturers and installers enjoyed a boom as they removed perfectly good boilers and replaced then with the new eco-friendly units. Everything was going smoothly until frustrated consumers discovered that their new boilers didn’t work in really cold weather.
 
To make matters worse, the new boilers typically last only 3-6 years and the costs of parts to repair the units are outrageously high. One of the bi-products of the condensation process is the creation of acidic water vapor from the dissolved nitrogen and sulfur oxides which corrode the delicate system components. Gee, the old boilers were very reliable and lasted 20 years on average.
 
December 30, 2010
 
paboehmke@yahoo.com