Amusing TalesBuy to Let & Letting

To Repair OR Replace: What To Do When The Boiler Goes Wrong?

plumber landlord callIt’s the phone call from the plumber that every landlord dreads.  It starts with the line:

“I’m really sorry to say…”

But I am going to have to royally fleece you for a wad of cash…although you may feel better about this situation if I were to tap you up for a bit more dosh and rather than the expensive repair I could do (which may in the end prove to be uneconomical – who knows how long it will last for…how long is a piece of string?), you can instead be the kind purchaser (although not user) of a brand-new spanking boiler.

Or words to that effect.

So that’s the phone call I’ve just had.

And this would be fine, however I have had a number of these calls in recent months and I’m starting to feel less kindly about my purchases.  While I’m sure the rest of Britain appreciates my efforts to single-handedly get us out of recession with such prolific boiler purchases, I’m not sure my bank manager would agree.

So today I’ve taken an even bigger step back than usual – and asked myself the question: Am I really sure this replacement boiler route is saving me time and money in the long run?

It’s a difficult call to make.

Alas, my crystal ball which specialises in all future boiler issues is broken – but maybe that will teach me to buy a new one rather than try and patch it up!

So the factors I have considered in drawing my conclusions are:

a) age of current boiler (5-6 years old)

b) brand (Vizo – not a very good make)

c) Previous issues (none)

d) cost of repair (£330)

e) cost of replacement (£1150 for a Baxi)

Now looking at it like this, I reckon it’s pretty simple – I should just repair it.  However, the plumber has also informed me that having replaced the PCB and repaired the leak on the return connector, I may potentially need a new gas valve.  That means I will be potentially spunking another £250 on this boiler.  But, it’s only potentially – it’s not a definite.

That makes my decision-making rather akin to the trademen’s stock favourite phrase: “How long is a piece of string?”

how long is a piece of string

So I sat and assessed the new boiler option.  Going with the Baxi would mean I get a new boiler plus a 7 year manufacturers warranty – so that should give some piece of mind.  I say some, because actually I have very little trust in these companies in honouring these warranties – and anyway what I am to do if they go bust?  There won’t be anybody around to honour it then, so I’ll be up the flue without a flame, so to speak.

Then I called a friend of mine who is a landlord and a gas engineer.  He told me: “Baxi aren’t as good as they used to be, they are having more quality control issues in the past two years than what I have ever seen before.  You should look at a Vaillant”.

So I called the plumber again and got a quote for a new Vaillant boiler: £1385 with a two year warranty.

Given this is over £1000 more than the original repair – I can’t help but feel this is now uneconomical and unjustifiable!

So I mused some more on how long a piece of string was…

landlord boiler issuesI then remembered in the last year, I have had to call Baxi maintenance under their warranty scheme, for two different boilers.  One boiler was just 5 months old, the other was 14 months old.  Now, while Baxi did attend and did fix the problems free of charge, that didn’t stop the boiler problem happening in the first place.

And actually, in that split second of string musing, I had the “Aha!” moment.

The fact is, I had started this “boiler replacement drive” to give the tenants and me hassle-free living.  Tenants don’t want their boilers to pack up, as much as I don’t want to take their telephone call about the broken boiler or have to deal with the requisite calls to fix it.  Installing new boilers rather than fixing the old ones, was meant to eliminate this issue.  But on reflection, I realised it hadn’t.

Boilers, whether new or old, still pack up, break, have issues and everything else.

So I picked up the phone and called the plumber:  I decided I knew the answer to: ‘How long is a piece string?’.

“Can you repair the boiler, please.  I don’t think I’ll bother with the hassle of a new one!” 

  1. Ridley Fitzgerald

    I can see how boiler repair and replacement could both be good. Like you said, if the boiler is too old, or poorly made, it might be best to get a new one. However, if it’s a nice boiler that you’ve only had for a year or two, repairing it is the best.

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