Boilers: Types and Regulations

Types of Boiler

When we think of buying houses or building one, we usually think about how it will look like on the outside.  Do we prefer picture windows?  Do we like lots of natural light?  What colour should it be painted?  What type of bricks should we use?  These are just examples of the questions we may ask ourselves in the process. 

On the subject of what appliances to get a new house, we usually think of the type of television sets we would like, along with the types of cooker, oven, washing machines, etc. 

We sometimes take for granted one of the most important things we should get for our new house - the lowly boiler.  That thing we store away in an obscure cupboard that enables us to take hot baths and heats our home. 

Obviously the subject of boilers is not a very exciting one, unlike picking out what kind of LED television set you would want to put in your lounge.  Many homeowners are not too thrilled at the prospect of getting a new one, as they believe it to be an expensive addition to the household expenses. 

Still, let this article guide you around the aspects of boilers, as well as the UK regulations surrounding them.

What sort of fuel to use?

One of the first things you need to decide upon before getting a boiler fitted is to choose what type of fuel you would like to use - whether it will be Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), town gas or oil.  Gas would be the more convenient choice, as gas can be fed to the boiler from the main supply.

Types of boilers

The following are the common types of boilers:


When to replace an old boiler

Like mentioned before, most homeowners do not look forward to the prospect of buying a new boiler.  Unfortunately, if your boiler is more than 15 years old, then the Energy Saving Trust recommends that you replace it.  This is because boilers will lose their efficiency and effectiveness through the years.  New "A" rated condensing boilers normally have 90% efficiency levels, compared to the 65% results of boilers that are over 15 years old.  Although they can still function, they will waste too much energy and will prove to be more expensive in the long run.  Not to mention, that it might take a lot longer to heat your house up.

Gas boiler regulations in the UK

If you plan to buy a new gas boiler or replace an old one, then Part L1 of UK Building Regulations require you to get a condensing boiler.  It will not matter if the boiler is gas-fired or oil-fired, as long as it is a condensing boiler.

However, if it is too difficult to install a condensing boiler in your house, it will be acceptable to install a non-condensing one.  Your installer should be able to tell you if an installation of a condensing boiler in your home will be possible or not.

The reason that condensing boilers are preferred is because they are more efficient than other boilers.  They also produce less carbon dioxide and the amount of heat lost is reduced.  Furthermore, 86% of the fuel used by condensing boilers is converted to useful heat, while other types only convert as little as 60%.

Gas Safe Register

Your gas boiler should be installed by someone under Gas Safe Register, as this is a legal and safety requirement.  The aim of the Gas Safe Register is to protect homes and its residents from dangerous gas work.  Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI gas registration scheme in April 2009.  UK residents should be informed that CORGI is no longer recognised as the official gas safety register.

Carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks and explosions are usually caused by poorly maintained, badly repaired or incorrectly fitted gas appliances.  It is, therefore, very important that your gas appliances are installed safely and legally by trades people included in Gas Safe Register.  It is encouraged that people report any good or bad gas work to Gas Safe Register. 


Oftec or Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry functions in a similar way with Gas Safety Register, except that they are for the oil industry.  Oftec's aim is to ensure safe and legal oil work for heating and cooking.

Much like Gas Safe, Oftec also has a register of approved engineers.  They are trained individually at Oftec Approved Training Centres, where their skills are assessed before an application for Oftec Registration can be made.  The engineers are inspected from time to time by an Oftec inspector and their work is re-assessed every five years to maintain their Registration.  An approved engineer will also give you a written statement to prove that they have worked on your appliance, together with recommendations for possible future work, to ensure that you get the best and safest service from them.