We were called to an interesting refurbishment in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, Kent.   The house was in a very rural location at the end of a terrace of four victorian cottages.

We couldn’t take any decent photos of the house at the time of the job because it was covered in scaffolding!

The property was being updated and renovated;  as space was tight the customer wanted to remove water tanks and the hot water cylinder from the house and at the same time replace the old oil boiler in a shed on the other side of the entrance pathway.

The solution seemed to be to replace the oil boiler with a modern comnination boiler, thus delivering hot water on demand and removing all the storage equipment from the house, handing over much needed space for new bathrooms etc.

When we surveyed the job we realised that the water supply wasn’t very impressive, the flow rate was below 16 litres a minute.  Further investigation revealed that the water supply was a shared one, and entered the first cottage in the terrace, and then was connected across two more properties before it eventually reached our customers house.

That meant that in peak times, the other terraced houses had priority over the water usage, resulting in almost nil flow at the end cottage, which would be a serious problem if a combi boiler was installed.

We considered the option replacing the water supply with a dedicated pipe to the main;  however this would need to traverse land owned by other properties and quite apart from the disruption, there are always legalities to tie up when crossing the freehold of others – and this is usually at least as expensive as the mechanical work.

It was a congested site, to say the least. This is the outside building we’re installing the new boiler into. The new Worcester bOsch flue is visible on the roof; the old one (too near the neighbour’s one) is to the left of the picture.

Instead, we proposed fitting a water accumulator in tandem with the new boiler, which was a tight fit in the external building.  In certain circumstances, the provision of an accumulator will massively lift the water flow rate to showers baths and taps during peak times.  We have been fitting them all over the South East for some years, including my own property in 2004.

Inside the external cupboard, now fully insulated. New Worcester oil combination boiler and 450 litre accumulator at the rear

Furthermore we found that the old oil boiler had a chimney termination that was too close to a neighbour’s boiler outlet, meaning we had to make a new roof penetration and move the position of all the plant within the small room.

The site was extremely congested and the builder found himself with nowhere to store materials or waste, meaning there had to be transfers daily from his yard.  As a result, everybody was working in each others way and the job took twice as long as expected.

However, what really matters is the end result.

New oil fire valve and tiger loop arrangements (missing on original installation)

In our case this meant a new 450 litre accumulator, feeding into the latest generation Worcester Bosch Heatslave MkII 18/25 combination boiler.  As we are gold tier accredited installers, and our customer elected to use the excellent Worcester-Bosch System Filter (this cleans out magnetic and non magnetic materials from the central heating radiators and pipework), we supplied the new oil boiler with a 7yr parts & labour warranty.

The new Worcester Heatslave oil combi has a control panel from the latest CDi Compact gas boiler range. This unit was commissioned by us with a hot water preheat timer; this allows the boiler to preheat hot water during peak times and lie dormant at times when the customer does not need this facility, saving oil.

Oil fired boilers are having a resurgence at the moment.  There are ongoing concerns about the resilience of Britain’s gas supply, in the event of a disturbance to the gas supplies coming from Russia via Europe.  Also, at the time of writing this post (April 2014) the reduction in the price of heating oil and a number of prices rises of natural gas means that off grid oil users are only now paying around 12% more for their heating than gas connected householders.