Coping with an Old Heating System


There are many wonderful things about having an older country house or period property but one element that often isn’t on the list is the heating system. Whether the system is old, inefficient to run or restricted due to the nature of the house, coping with it can be more complicated than in a newer house. And then there comes the big decision – repair or replace?

Quirks of age

For some country homes, the heating system isn’t an issue because they don’t have one! Others may use the warm air heating systems that were popular to add to houses in the 1960s and 1970s. The houses may also use outdated electrical systems that add another layer of complexity to the project. For most people when you want a plumber or another tradesman, you simply call up a website such as Checkatrade and find a good local tradesman. However, when you have a period home or a country house, you need to ensure you choose a plumbing specialist that can deal with these types of properties, which can offer very different challenges to the kind of homes you’d find in London suburbs like Clapham and Fulham..

The other major consideration when looking at the system in your home may be if it is listed or has a preservation order on it. This may mean that replacing the heating system may only be possible within the scope of what is already in the property.

Repair or replace?

There is no right and wrong answer to the question of whether to repair or replace your heating system. Other factors are obviously a part of the decision, such as the cost and the disruption caused to your daily life. With older houses, there can be additional considerations that can have an impact on the cost of the project – for example, access to the gas mains, whether there is oil readily available for this type of system or if planning permission is needed for the work.

In any home, the general rule is that if the boiler is over seven years old, it is liable to be an older style of system. Manufacturers normally keep spare parts for boilers and systems for around a decade but the older the system, the trickier it can be to get parts when something goes wrong. Therefore, once they are seven to ten years old, it may be worth considering a replacement.

The other big element to consider is the energy efficiency of your system. In older properties, this can be even more important because the property may not be able to have double glazed windows or other features to help keep it warm and insulated. Therefore, a system that is as efficient as possible is crucial.

Bottom line

Ultimately, the decision about whether to repair or replace a system is down to the homeowner. Even paying money on an older system can be worthwhile if it is working well and is energy efficient as well as if your plumber tells you parts can still be obtained. It may also be worth repairing the system if the work involved with replacing it is so disruptive that you simply can’t face it at this time. The choice is always the homeowners.