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The more complicated they make the plumbing..

.. the easier it is to block up the drains. Scotty – Star Trek III

My boiler has broken again. It happens as regular as clockwork and it is usually the same thing, a faulty circuit board.

To me a boiler is simple. It is a big tea pot with a heater at the bottom, either gas or electric which heats up the water. There is a thermostat which control the heat by turning off the heater when it hits the required temperature range. The hot water flows out as needed. Simple, easy and very little to go wrong.

Then people find more efficient ways, cheaper ways or legislation changes and they have to change a very simple system to something complicated. Now you need several electronic circuit boards, worth between £50 and £200 each, to control the boiler. It is these bits that usually fail and when they fail nothing works. You cannot bypass them, you cannot make a quick fix, you have to buy replacement boards and get them fitted by a qualified engineer.

This sort of thing is not just plumbing, although plumbing is my issue at the moment, it is almost everything, cars, washing machines, radios, TVs, cameras, map reading, etc. Although with some there is still the option to buy the old style technology many you do not have any other options.

This is one reason that I like looking in car boot sales or second hand shops, I’m also looking at Freecycle etc., as you can find old style equipment, perfectly serviceable and ideal for our needs having no complicated components and being cheap.

It is still possible to find second hand washing machines and dishwashers with the simpler electrical connections at repair shops and at Freecycle etc. the issue is that as suppliers of new systems now collect old machines for disposal they are not being offered as much as they should. Plus, with the mickey mouse legislation in place here you are not allowed to connect up any old sytle boilers to your own home. Boiler engineers won’t do it either, as they will claim that it is unsafe and flat out refuse to do it.

However, I have simpler views. I’m happy to store them and wait until an event before installing them or if the situation arises where I have the space install them and utilise them where it is safe. Bearing in mind that after an event it will not be mains powered gas and may very well be methane or something similar so you should set that up as well and make sure it works.

So, take several things away from here.

  • Keep things simple
  • Don’t buy sophisticated systems
  • Buying things for later use is OK
    • Only at the right price
    • If you know you can make it work
  • Utilise what you can now
    • Use it now and make the most of your finances
    • Learn how to use it
    • Learn how to fix it
  • Don’t not use things now because it may be needed in the future. Use and replace
  • Fix what you have rather than replacing with new

In the meantime I’m going to be without heating for a bit. Lucky I have prepared and I have plenty of socks.

4 comments to The more complicated they make the plumbing..

  • Kenneth Eames

    SD, Yes KIS Keep it simple. Once again good old common sense. Thank you for this. Kenneth Eames.

  • iaaems

    We do not have a gas main where I live – so we have to either go for multifuel burners, oil fired heating or propane. When we moved in some 16+ years ago senior management said that the oil system would have to go – something about the smell and ‘that leaky old tank’. So we had a propane system put in with a combi boiler. All was fine until it went a bit screwy one day. Apart from the annual service agreement we had with the installer we had taken out an insurance policy as well in case of a breakdown whilst I was away working. In theory my lady would pick up the phone and call for help. And so it came to pass that we had to call the emergency service. The bloke who turned up did not fill me with much confidence. His fault finding technique was to hit the circuit boards with the handle of a screw driver to try to identify which one was not working properly. He then spent a very long time on my phone ordering parts. It appeared that we would have to wait some several days before the replacement board would be delivered. The reason was that it was of Italian manufacture and the parts were almost impossible to find(?). He disappeared.
    Somewhat irritated I phoned the installer company and told them what had happened – yes they had the requisite part and would be arriving in about an hour. Meanwhile I had a close look at the circuit board and detected a dry joint where the board connected to the wiring loom. Out came the soldering iron and a few minutes later we had a working boiler.
    The installer arrived with the necessary part. I told him what I had done and he checked it over and proclaimed that he could not have done better himself.
    The installer company arrived every year for 15 years to give the boiler its annual service. I was never charged for their ’emergency supply’ of a part I did not need. The official emergency insurance backed comapny threatened to sue me for wasting their time until I pointed out that their ‘service engineer’ would have been more at home in the local scrapyard breaking up motors as he did not have the necessary tools or expertise.
    We now have a new boiler as the original croaked beyond economic repair five years past its expected expiry date. Thanks to the updated regulations we had to have a condensing boiler which seems to have a somewhat limited life expectancy – or so I am told. It works well and uses less fuel and sits in the corner muttering away to itself in German.
    How I long for the days of my parents’ Rayburn, the open doors and the ability to make toast from the glowing embers plus the luxury of central heating without any pumps and circuit boards. Never had any problems with it at all.

  • Skean Dhude

    Iaams,

    If only my experience was as good. Three years ago at XMas mine failed, not for the first time and I went without heating for an entire week. If it wasn’t for my camping stuff and telling the kids we were camping inside it would have been a disaster. I had visitors as well but they were flexible, cold but we alllived.

  • Kenneth Eames

    I had a Rayburn once and it was a wonderful stove. I really wish I had one now. Every Sunday morning I baked bread and when the bread was warm after the bake, I had warm bread with a hot breakfast. It was delicious. I wish I had a Rayburn now. Kenneth Eames.

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