Combi-Boiler … that’s all

205373-main_FullIt was perfectly obvious to everyone that the old combi-boiler was knackered.  The first time we managed to get a workman, he cleaned the fan.  It worked.

The second time, I had the engineer’s number and rang him direct, which he did not like but he came and cleaned the fan.  He also took out the timer because it was catching, making a 24/7 racket but the landlord said nah, it works fine.  I made the engineer take it out, which meant it needed to be manually switched.

Not to worry. he cleaned the fan.

The third time, the engineer was getting sick of me.  I was asking questions like, “How much is a new fan?” and, “How much is a new timer?”

He cleaned the fan.

The neighbours told me a rumour that the old boilers were all being replaced.  Great.  When?  By winter.  Meaning by New Year.

Uh huh.

On Saturday just passed, the combi-boiler broke down again for precisely the same reason.  I rang the engineer and he said he needed the landlord’s permission.  I rang the landlord and he was redirecting all calls to the answer machine.

I’m in a flat which is known for its coldness – it has copious amounts of glass which is a wonderful thing during the day but not so good with frost settling outside at night.  Last night, I blogged to you with woollies, jacket, thick socks and shoes on, plus cap, plus the oven in the kitchen turned on at intervals.

This morning I phoned the engineer.  Eureka – his phone was engaged, which meant he was at least online.  When I’d redialled the umpteenth time, my call was redirected through to answer machine.

I rang my landlord and said I was going to a swimming pool for a shower.  He conceded the point.  When I got back, he said that he’d got the engineer [miraculous] who’d told him the boiler was knackered.

Five days to get the new one and he’ll come in on Saturday to install it.  Yeah, sure – I’ll believe that when I see it.  However, it is better than nothing.  I can shower at the training place and go to the pool.  Clothes washing can be done in cold water.  The cold is still running so there’ll be cups of tea.

This is not unlike Russia all over again where you usually had three variants – the lift working, the hot water on and the cold water on but not all at the one time.  I think I counted a total of maybe fifteen weeks in 12 years when all were working.  Sometimes only one of those was working.

I seriously don’t recall once where none were working – there may have been a few days once.

So I’m in good training for this peculiarly British situation and could cope with it, if it were not for last Friday’s meeting which I neglected to report to you on and it was dire.  My personal circumstances are about to change for the worse but let that not concern you.

The Combi-Boiler – an essay by Jimmy Higham

The C-B is a monstrosity which illustrates everything which is wrong with an ideological government working in partnership with science and the corporate world.

Climate change is upon us or it is not.

Either way, the government has leapt onto environmental concerns and thrown in some elfansafetee as well.  So, separate home heating and hot water supply is a thing of the past and now we have the cutting edge of technology – the Combi-Boiler.  This has things which go buzz and whir and is what the white heat of this industrial revolution loves to see – an idea, however well tested, rushed into practice.

They don’t work.  They break down.  There are design mechanisms which must break down in a short time and this is borne out in practice up and down the country, whereas the old, simple boiler did you ten years and then packed it in.

Using Ronnie Barker Britporridge parlance, which the North Americans might not get – it’s a naff concept, the Combi-Boiler.  If they try to get you to buy one over there, don’t do it.

It is mid to late October and we are on the cusp of the cold season.  I thank the Lord that it is all happening now and not a month later.  I can buy a little blow-heater at ASDA, hopefully [unless elfansafetee have regulated it away] and so the bases are covered.

At this moment, it is a delightful day and this flat’s true quality comes through – the light is streaming in and warming the cockles of the heart.  I wish you all the most superb and productive Monday.

“Nuff for now.

15 comments for “Combi-Boiler … that’s all

  1. October 19, 2009 at 12:39


    Its the new ones that last ten years. The old ones are still working in places up and down the country after 40 or 50 years. That is until we have legislation saying you have to have it serviced every year. Then your guy will say ‘Mmmm. Never seen one of these before. I can’t certify it’

    Also combi boilers have been around long before the climate change religion was created. It’s the usual problem they are so complicated that the slightest thing causes them to just stop due to safety switches. They also need lots of circuit boards as well. It’s the manufacturers response to legislation on safety and in reality they love it for the income stream.

    Give me a boiler and an on off switch and it’ll last decades. I’m thinking of fitting one from an old house into mine so when the combi breaks again I’m covered.

  2. ivan
    October 19, 2009 at 14:23

    I have a feeling I wouldn’t last very long back in England with all the elfnsafetee rules. The last time my boiler stopped working I took it apart, replaced the pilot light sensor – a mechanical device – gave the heater unit a clean, put it all back together – its been working without problems for the last ten years, according to the name plate it’s nearly 30 years old and I expect it to keep going for another 30.

    As for heating the house, over half meter thick solid stone walls make excellent heat stores which keep the house cool in summer and, as the heat manages to get through, warm in winter. I’ve used a gas wheely heater so few times over the 19 years I’ve been here it still has the original gas bottle in it.

  3. October 19, 2009 at 15:34

    try oil fired central heating.

    if you have an oldish diesel car, the fuel will work in the car, all that’s needed is an electric pump to transfer from storage tank. Don’t tell oil supplier! NO DUTY.

    if yours is a new car, a little additive from any motorists store will keep the injectors clean. if they can’t help you, speak to any old, self employed mechanic. they all know, 😉

    product is NOT detectable by any min of trans. roadside test. – – no added colours, etc.

    Half price fuel, but don’t discuss it down the pub, THEY don’t want you to know!

  4. October 19, 2009 at 18:35

    Lord T – you’re probably right.

    Ivan – I’m jealous.

  5. October 19, 2009 at 18:41

    Yes Lord T is right about combi boilers lasting less than the old type. I was told my new combi wouldn’t break down and would last for 10 years.

  6. dearieme
    October 19, 2009 at 19:38

    Why do we call them “boilers” when they don’t boil the water?

  7. October 19, 2009 at 22:34

    Cherie – they’re useless.

    Dearieme – a point to test the philosophers.

  8. October 19, 2009 at 23:35

    Oh dear. I opted to have my old boiler replaced by a Combi 16 months ago. That’s 16 months of flawless energy-efficient comfort so far and no more water tank in the loft to keep running into overflow and drive me mad; but… you reckon it won’t last. Oh well, I’ll keep you posted. But at least I have a full service and repair contract, for quite a reasonable price too, and my gas consumption is about 30% lower. But I’m nervous now, and Winter approaches… At least it won’t be a Russian Winter. There is always a bright side.

  9. October 19, 2009 at 23:42

    I bought a heater today. That’s a post in itself.

  10. October 20, 2009 at 10:28

    Ah We must be one of the few households that eschews central heating!

  11. October 20, 2009 at 20:52

    I have to say both the old and new one in my current house worked much better than the one in my previous property which was a flat.

    The only difference is, that this house has a special sort of water heating system which works a bit differently to normal.

  12. Andrew Duffin
    October 22, 2009 at 14:23

    xxxl: you’re skating on thin ice. HMRC can certainly detect the difference, and if you’re caught, by God sir you will know it; those guys don’t mess about.

    Apart from that, you’re spot-on.

    Oil, oil, oil is your friend.

    No s***ing combi-boilers, no so***ng CORGI, no sod***g three-year-built-in obsolescence, and best of all, when did you last read this headline in a newspapaper: “House destroyed in explosion, local oil company investigating”


  13. Andrew Duffin
    October 22, 2009 at 14:26

    Oh, and forgot to mention that heating oil doesn’t have the lubricity required to keep a diesel engine injection pump working properly, so after a while it will seize up and fail. Seen the price of those? It would pay for a lot of proper road-fuel!

  14. October 22, 2009 at 16:49

    Well, I think that just about covers that. 🙂

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