leaking heat exchanger in combi boiler (was:Vokera Linea 24 - heat exchanger )

Apologies for the repeated post but, after sending the original post, I decided that the title of the thread wasn't particularly informative.
original post attached below:
======================================================================= If you recall, I posted a while back about loss of pressure on my combi system which required topping up every few weeks or so.
At the time, it was suggested that I shouldn't be too worried as the likely rate of loss was such that it would probably evaporate on or soon after escape.
N-E-way.....I've had my boiler serviced today and the engineer showed me where the water was being lost - there is a leak in the heat exchanger !!! (evidenced by a water droplet in one corner and what looks to be watermarks down one side of the chamber) This leads me to ask a few further questions
(1) Apart from the fact that this part of the boiler is expensive to replace (150+), is this a particularly serious problem? i.e. would the boiler be adversely affected if we were to continue using the boiler without replacing this part for now? - probably a silly question, I know - but worth asking nonetheless.
(2) Does anyone here find it surprising that the heat exchanger needs to be replaced on a 2 year old combi system? - I'm not so much suspicious of the engineer's prognosis as the original installer's incompetence or the manufacturer's dodgy product.
(3) Would it be reasonable for me to suggest to the manufacturer that the product is not really fit for purpose, namely years of trouble free operation? i.e. although the warranty was only for 1 year, would it be reasonable to expect trouble-free operation for a longer period?
cheers, RM
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On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 13:25:34 +0000, Reestit Mutton wrote:

It depends how bad the leak is. By the book any pro is not going to let you carry on using it. Essentially if you get water in the electrics then you'll have a boiler then is then beyond economic repair.

Manufacturers who offer 2 or more years guarantee don't tend to make heat exchangers which are so short lived.

I doubt you'll make much progress but you never know.
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Ed Sirett wrote:

That's what I thought. I'm waiting for a a ote for parts and labour from the guy who serviced it. I'm expecting a bill in excess of 200.

So I take it that this isn't necessarily surprising then?

Yep - If I decide to confront the manufacturer I don't expect it will be easy.
thanks, RM
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wrote:

It's probably going to get worse quite quickly due to the constant expansion and contraction of the heat exchanger...
The water will corrode the case and wreck anything electrical.

That does seem a bit unreasonable.

That would depend on the quality and price point of the product. My gut feel would be that if it's a 300-400 job then you probably would not realistically get recompense. If it's a 700+ job then yes.
When I have taken legal advice in the past regarding consumer capital products like this, then the comment has been that reasonableness principles would be applied by the court. An unwritten principle is, I am told, that if, looking across the field, the product is in the lowest quartile of price then expectations should be limited and in the highest quartile one can expect a lot.

.andy
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Andy Hall wrote:

Yep - understood.

That was my suspicion.

Understood.
However, I haven't a clue what this one cost as it was pre-installed in a renovated property that we bought 2 years ago (although we do have evidence that it was new at the time we moved in).
Does anyone know if a Vokera Linea 24 is expensive or not in its class?
thanks, RM
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I've sent my first salvo in the form of a (polite, but firm) email complaint and I'll let you know how it progresses.
cheers, RM
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wrote:

Well.... Discounted Heating (which is generally trade price plus a bit) has these at 620 inc.
Pricewise this is mid range, so I would normally pursue it.
However, a couple of things.
Looking at the SEDBUK database, there have been two versions of the Linea 24. One from 1998 to 2001, and then the 24e from 2001 to date. I suspect that the latter is just to get it withing the minimum 78% efficiency requirement. So.... unless you know otherwise, the boiler could be five years old. There might be a manufacturing date on the plate.......although you say you have evidence of newness.
Normallyy, in consumer legislation, you would have a contract with whoever supplied it. Had you bought it from a fitter, then your redress would be there, if from a merchant then there. However, you seem to have bought it with the property. If you have or can get details of whoever supplied or fitted it from the vendor of your house then you could pursue that.
The manufacturer does not legally have to do anything because he never had a contractual relationship with you or the vendor of your property.
So... it probably comes down to how much time you want to spend trying to pursue this. You could try the manufacturer, but I am not sure that they will roll over - worth a phone call, though. Otherwise it's track back the other way.....
.andy
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Andy Hall wrote:
<SNIP>

Cheers, Andy - very informative.
It seems odd that the manufacturer can wash its hands of the affair just because there was a middleman involved. Surely the manufacturer is still ultimately responsible?
RM
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wrote:

It's a long saga and you need to look through things like the various Sale of Goods Acts, trading standards etc.
Ultimately the manufacturer may have to resolve the problem but the contract is between buyer and seller. The seller then makes redress to the manufacturer or perhaps the next organisation up the chain. Things like manufacturer warranties don't supercede the law, they are simply a commercial convenience. It may be that the manufacturer is better equipped to resolve the issue, and is providing the warranty to make it easier for the seller. This pleases the seller, because although the responsibility is with him, the manufacturer saves him hassle. However, none of this goes instead of the seller's responsibility. Depending on the circumstances, redress *can* be (not is) up to 6 years.
There is a logic in this, because it can easily be that the manufacturer is off shore and has only the seller representing him. If the responsibility was the manufacturer's then the consumer would have to pursue the manufacturer if the arrangement were that way. Clearly that's not reasonable and so the hierarchical approach.
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On Thu, 06 Nov 2003 23:12:39 +0000, Andy Hall wrote:

It is possible that they changed from a permanent pilot to an electronic one hence the 'e' and the small hike in efficiency.
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Heat exchanger is 60 or 65 plus VAT and delivery from http://www.mjtcontrols.co.uk I have a different Vokera model which appears to have a much more expensive part, however from the installation instructions I reckon even I with 10 thumbs could replace it within 30-60 minutes. If yours is a combi it may be slightly trickier but then again maybe not. As boilers go, they are neither cheap nor particularly dear, but a failure of a critical component so early on ought to be unacceptable. You could maybe push for a full replacement foc, but be prepared to be haggled down to 50:50 or them paying parts and you labour (this sort of compromise seems quite common in the car industry).
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John Laird wrote:

Interesting - Vokera quoted me approx 140 + VAT. Can anyone recommend mjtcontrols as a source of boiler parts?...just in case I get nowhere with the manufacturer.

Again, the engineer has just quoted me approx 220 all-in to fix it - I guess that allows for 1 hour of work at 30/hour in addition to the exchanger and an insulation pad (to replace the one that has water marks all over it).
If I get nowhere with the manufacturer, I'll probably suggest to the engineer that I source the parts and just pay him for labour.

Yep - it is a combi.

Yep - my plan is to send them the engineer's quote and I'd probably settle for replacement parts in the end and call the engineer back to fit them.
RM
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Highly - they supplied me with a new control unit when mine conked out in the coldest spell last New Year. Placed an internet order Sunday evening, box arrived first thing Tuesday. When I got a new fan from them a bit later, the guy who answered the phone was able to get one down "off the shelf" and tell me whether it came with a new gasket or not. That's the kind of service I appreciate. Both genuine parts - can't imagine there being enough of a market to justify pattern replacements. In your case, the fact that they offer two heat exchangers suggests you'd need to talk to someone and be able to describe the part or understand how they might describe the differences.

I'm sure that'll go down like a lead balloon, unless he's a really genuine guy and that is the price he thinks he has to pay. Otoh, that labour charge seems quite reasonable.

It occurred to me that they may be slightly more complicated plumbing-wise, but then maybe not. On my boiler, all I would have to do would be remove the cover and the front panel (both easy), turn the inline taps off to isolate the boiler from the plumbing, release the safety valve to empty the boiler and then disconnect the heat exchanger from the internal pipework (4 screws). Apart from not spilling the contents over the electrical bits underneath, it does not look too tricky.

If you can quote the boiler serial number (assuming there is one), they may be able to ascertain when/if it was registered for guarantee purposes.
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John Laird wrote:

Thanks John - useful to know.

He's of the "genuine guy" kind - I got him through a number of personal recommendations.
Agreed - At 140 plus VAT for the part plus whatever an insulation pad costs (no doubt at least 30+ from the manufacturer), I'm sure he's just costed the labour based on an hour's work at 30.

I'd love to try it myself but I'd be surprised if my partner would let me anywhere near the boiler.

Yep - I've already given them that information and my address so that they can look up its service history and details of any engineer callouts that we've had within the warranty period.
I'm now trying to find the development company that commissioned the boiler so that I can pass the details of their installer on to the manufacturer to help support the claim.
Vokera have already passed my comments on to their "technical compliance & quality assurance manager" which is certainly better than a flat refusal.
cheers, RM
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Reestit Mutton wrote:
Snip

My experience with a Vokera boiler (which had been installed in a flat conversion I had a while ago) is that the leak in the heat exchanger will get worse relatively quickly.

In general, yes. As it's a Vokera, well, no.

Absolutely. I shouted about mine and the manufacturer replaced it.
Mind you, after several *other* leaks over about 8 years I did the decent thing and bought a Vaillant.
jd
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John Daragon wrote:

Hi John,
Do you have any advice as to how I can go about this?
I'm usually rather good at complaining but I've never dealt with a situation where, on paper, I haven't got a leg to stand on.
Are there any source of info that would back up my argument that 2 years is a pitiful length of time for a failure of this sort to occur within?
cheers, RM
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I know an installer who does work for a housing association and only installs Vokeras. He rates them highly. He also repairs them too, so he is not long gone when problems arise.
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Well since having may vokera i've had to fix it every year around about now! I've had the loss of system pressure for a year or so now, its just broke again this time the flow micro switch has failed! My plan is to get through this winter hopefully ( fingers crossed) and then spend sometime next year finding a decent boiler (condensing ) My savour with the vokera boiler is that the fitter left me with the manuals which are very good! found most problems within half an hour. Your post has just confirmed what i already knew.
Mark

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Hi,
It seems I got a result of sorts with the manufacturer - As a gesture of goodwill, they've agreed to offer us a 40% discount on parts and labour for this repair. Seems foolish for me not to accept this and move on.
I would like to thank everyone who has advised me on this issue.
cheers, RM
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wrote:

Great. I think that that is a fair outcome.......
.andy
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