There are estimated four million homes not connected to the UK’s national gas grid, instead they rely on heating their homes by either oil, LPG (liquid petroleum gas), electricity or renewable sources. Oil-powered central heating systems with oil boilers are a key alternate way of heating your home.
An oil central heating system works in a similar way to gas powered central heating, instead you are using an oil-fired boiler to heat water, which provides the central heating via radiators and hot water through the taps in your home. The main difference between the two is that you will have your oil supply delivered to your home and stored in an Oil tank.
Why are new boilers more efficient?
Modern boilers are more efficient for a number of reasons, but their main advantage is that they are all condensing boilers. All well-maintained boilers burn their fuel very efficiently, but inevitably they lose some heat in the hot gases that escape up the flue. A condensing boiler has a larger heat exchanger so it recovers more heat and sends cooler gases up the flue making it more efficient.
What type of oil boiler?
Since April 2007 is has been mandatory to install condensing oil boilers to comply with Building Regulations. The modern oil-fired boilers can be highly efficient.
Oil-fired combi boilers are also available, providing hot water on demand without the requirement for a hot water tank. However, it is fair to say that they are a bit slower to provide hot water than some gas combi boilers, and are not always recommended for larger families who use a lot of hot water. An oil central heating system will have the same controls as a modern gas central heating system.
- A Room thermostat which ideally should be located in a living room, not the hallway.
- Thermostat Radiator Valves (TRV) on all but one of the radiators.
- A 7-day timer which can separately program hot water and room heating.
- A Cylinder thermostat on the hot water tank.
You should always choose a professional heating engineer who is registered with the Oftec (Oil Firing Technical Association) to install an oil boiler and heating system. At Prestige Plumbing & Heating Services we have such qualified oil heating engineers.
What type of oil should I have?
Almost all UK domestic central heating systems use 28sec oil, which is also known as kerosene. This fuel burns more cleanly than heavier oil products such as gasoil, which is also known as 35sec heating oil. 28sec oil can also be used in kitchen ranges such as AGA cookers.
As the sulphur content of oil has fallen, some domestic oil suppliers have added additional lubricants to kerosene to enable fuel to be pumped to the boiler more easily. This is not usually necessary for most systems, as modern pumps have been engineered to operate effectively with low-sulphur fuels, but if you are unsure if you would benefit from using such fuels, speak to your equipment supplier.
How often will I need my boiler serviced?
For safety and to minimise fuel costs you should arrange for a Prestige registered oil engineer to service your boiler once a year.
- An oil-fired range cooker will need to be serviced every six months.
What is a service?
Our Prestige registered oil engineers when servicing Oil appliances carry out the following:
- Fully inspect each appliance.
- Clean the parts as required by the manufacturer’s instructions of each appliance.
- Replace components parts if required.
If regular servicing is not undertaken long term damage can occur. During the combustion process, deposits will build up on the internal surfaces of the heat exchanger and the baffles which can decrease boiler efficiency. If left for a number of years, these deposits harden and with some designs of heat exchanger render it impossible to remove the baffles without destroying them. A replacement baffle will come at a significant cost on top of the routine service charge.
Oil Tank Checks
There are also some simple checks and precautions you can take yourself to ensure your tank is in a good condition:
- Check for signs of damage such as bulges or dents, deep scratches, cracks, discolouration or rust.
- Look out for any oil that is leaking or has leaked out externally, particularly around valves, pipes or seams.
- Make sure that any external protection isn’t filled with large amounts of water, oil, rubbish or plants.
- Keep access to and around the tank completely clear and ensure plants are not grown near it.
- Make sure vents, gauges and access points are closed and protected so that rainwater, insects or dirt cannot get into them.
- Check gauges and alarms are working correctly, and in particular the batteries. Consult the manufacturer for advice on how to do this.
- Make sure your tank is only filled to around 80-90% of its capacity to avoid overfilling and ensure your tank has an overfill protection device or alarm.
The OFTEC website is http://www.oftec.co.uk/
If you have any questions or require any help with any aspect of your oil appliance please do give Leisa a call on 0800 228 9574 alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to help you.