We've got a baxi bermuda 552 back boiler. We had a gas engineer visit
today to give it a service and he's issued us with an "At Risk"
notification on it. He's said the boiler needs replacing - he doesn't
supply / install boilers himself so there's no gain in him recommending
replacement (and he didn't even charge us for the abandoned service).
A new boiler is expensive - even replacing the baxi with a similar model
is 600 excluding installation - so I'd like to see if repairing it is
The diagnosis is the burner assembly is rotten caused by combustion
chamber leaking. I've removed the boiler covers and confirmed this. In
reality the boiler seems to be very simple - Is it feasible to just
replace the chamber and the burner, or am being over simplistic? When
cold there's no water leaking - what normally causes a chamber to leak.
Advice please - It's damned cold!
The boiler is probablyt repairable if you can get the spares (at least
The question is that given the realtive inefficiency of the old lump and
the cost or repair would it be economic.
New back boilers are expensive and still relatively inefficient - so the
new boiler should be a modern type unless the arrangement is such that
this is nearly impossible.
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
I've owned 2 Baxi Bermudas in the past - both 1960's vintage - so I don't
whether yours is the same.
Mine had cast iron heat exchangers which looked a bit like 2 chunky slabs of
chocolate - with the chunks facing each other. Each of these had 4 holes in
the corners, and were joined together by 4 manifolds - each of which had an
external connection - i.e. 2 flow + 2 return in all.
I think there were gaskets of some sort where the manifolds joined these
"chocolate blocks". If yours are leaking, it is probably at these joints,
rather than as a result of any holes right through the cast iron.
If you can get them apart, you may be able to replace the gaskets. However,
the bolts holding it all together are probably well and truly rusted in - so
it may be difficult. You can probably still get a replacement burner
assembly from a Baxi spares stockist.
Sounds reasonable. I can't see the cast iron itself failing unless it's
split or somehow become porous.
I've checked and the replacement parts are available. Looking like ~120
quid for the various bits.
The reason I want to try and repair it is :-
A) I can't really afford 1400+ on a replacement
B) We're probably moving house within the next 12 months
What's the efficiency of a back boiler compared to a modern unit? I
really can't complain at our heating bills up to now (and they're
v.cheap at the moment!) - unless it halved the bill I can't see
replacing it is a great benefit for us.
Are grants available for replacing back boilers with a more efficient model?
To answer my own question:-
Non-condensing boiler/combi with automatic ignition 73%
Condensing do. 83%
Non-condensing do. with permanent pilot light 69%
Condensing do. 79%
Room heater with back boiler 65%
The claimed efficiency (at max output) of the Bermuda which I installed in
1969 was 77% (i.e. 40,000 Btu/h output for 52,000 input).
Interestingly, my 10-year-old Baxi Solo 70/4 PF has an almost identical
quoted efficiency - but that almost certainly doesn't qualify as "modern".
Hopefully others will quote figures for current production boilers.
I suppose back boilers do suffer from the additional problem that the waste
heat which is not transferred to the water goes straight up the chimney with
no benefit. At least the waste heat from the wall-mounted Solo helps to heat
an otherwise unheated utility room.
I mean for new installations. You don't have to get rid of existing ones.
At the moment, back boilers need a special exemption from the current lower
efficiency requirements to be allowed. Soon the efficiency requirement will
be made more stringent.
However, it seems this might be from April 2005, rather than April 2004.
Also, there might also be some sort of exemption for back boilers, but this
still isn't clear. In any case, I wouldn't bank on a Baxi Bermuda being
legal for new installations beyond 2005, although they might be.
Thanks for that. Our boiler is about 25 years old but has been extremely
reliable. We were thinking about replacing it soon with a more up to date
model - apparently spares for ours are becoming more difficult to obtain.
May look at other options now though, just in case.
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