Heating checks for buying a new house…
Moving house can be stressful. And the last thing you want when you’ve moved in; is to find that you have a central heating system that’s on its last legs.
Nobody wants to move into their new dream home, to have the boiler break down just days later; or get a nasty shock when they get their first energy bill.
Buying a property with a dodgy heating system will cost you down the line. So it’s well worth giving the central heating system some thought before taking the plunge.
In this handy guide; we’ll give you some things to think about when looking at the heating in your prospective new house.
What information will I be given about the heating in my new house?
Lets start with what information you can expect to be given about the heating system in your new home…
Heating checks for buying a new house: The TA6 Form
When buying a new house, you’ll be given an important document called a ‘TA6 form’.
This form is basically a long questionnaire about the property, which is filled in by the seller.
The idea is that it gives you detailed information about the house you’re buying; so you can make an informed decision about whether to proceed or not.
In terms of heating, the TA6 form asks questions about the type of heating system; whether it is in working order; and the type of fuel that the system uses.
It also requires the seller to provide evidence that the system was installed properly; and the date it was last serviced.
Of course, this won’t tell you whether the heating is effective or efficient.
Heating checks for buying a new house: The Energy Performance Certificate
An Energy Performance Certificate or an ‘EPC is needed whenever a building is bought, sold or rented out.
It contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs; and gives recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient); and is valid for 10 years.
The EPC will therefore give you some idea of the efficiency and level of insulation at the property.
Heating checks for buying a new house: What type of fuel does the boiler use?
Most boilers in the UK are fuelled by natural gas, followed by heating oil, and occasionally liquid petroleum gas (LPG).
Although rare, some boilers burn coal or biomass. It’s also possible to have an electric central heating boiler, as well as eco-friendly heat pumps.
It’s worth considering what type of fuel your new heating system runs on; because the cost of different fuels varies and fluctuates.
You should ask the seller about their annual heating bills.
Heating checks for buying a new house: What type of boiler system is installed in the property?
The next thing to consider is the type of boiler system that’s installed in the property. And whether this will suit your lifestyle and needs, or whether you’ll have to factor in a replacement.
Although there are many different makes and models of boiler, they all fall into three basic types. In a nutshell:
Heat-only or ‘conventional’ boilers
Heat-only boilers are often thought of as the traditional way of heating a home.
They’re designed to provide both heating and hot-water with the use of an additional cold-water tank and hot-water cylinder.
Heat-only boilers work well in large households with multiple bathrooms. Because they can supply large amounts of hot water to multiple outlets at the same time.
Combination or ‘combi’ boilers
‘Combi’ is short for ‘combination’ boiler because it provides both your heating and hot water from one all-in-one (combined) unit. They don’t need any external tanks or cylinders.
Combis never run out of hot water because they produce it instantaneously, on demand.
However, they struggle to supply multiple outlets at the same time, so they are generally unsuitable for larger homes.
You can see our favourite combi boilers here.
System boilers feature aspects of both a heat-only boiler and a combi.
Like a heat-only boiler; a system boiler needs a hot water storage cylinder to heat and store hot water for your taps.
But it doesn’t need a tank in the attic. Because, like a combi, it takes its water supply directly from the mains.
System boilers work well in large households with multiple bathrooms; because they can supply large amounts of hot water to multiple outlets at the same time.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what type of boiler would best suit your needs. The Heating People are experts at finding the perfect boiler for you and your family.
You might also like our related blog: 6 Top tips for buying a new boiler.
Heating checks for buying a new house: How old is the boiler?
In addition to looking at the type of boiler in the house; you should also look at how old the boiler is.
A new boiler is unlikely to need to be replaced; but an old boiler is much more likely to break-down and cost you over the odds on your energy bills.
So, what’s considered an ‘old’ boiler? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question.
There’s a common misconception that when a boiler reaches a certain age, it needs to be replaced. But this isn’t true.
With regular servicing, some reliable old boilers will keep ticking over, without ever giving much of a grumble. However, others will start to deteriorate, and may start breaking down, and needing more frequent repairs.
Older, less efficient boilers also cost more to run because they use more energy to heat your home. An A rated boiler has an energy efficiency of 90% or more.
The Boiler Plus regulations mean that new combi boilers are at least 92% efficient.
To put this in perspective; an older G rated boiler has an efficiency of 70% or less. Which means for every £1 you spend on your heating bill you are wasting 30p on lost energy.
As well as older boilers tending to be less efficient to start with; their efficiency can also deteriorate further with age.
If you buy a house with a boiler in its golden years; ask us what you stand to gain from a replacement.
Check out our related blog: How to choose an energy efficient boiler.
Heating checks for buying a new house: Does the boiler come with a guarantee?
Ask the vendor if the boiler is covered by any form of guarantee.
The length of a boiler guarantee varies greatly depending on the make and model of the boiler; as well as the installer.
The Heating People, we can offer guarantees of up to 14 years on our boilers.
This gives you peace of mind that should anything go wrong with the boiler, the cost of repairs is covered.
Remember that you’ll need to have your boiler serviced annually by a Gas Safe engineer to maintain your guarantee.
Heating checks for buying a new house: What are the radiators and pipes like?
As well as checking the boiler, you should look at the radiators.
The best boiler in the world won’t be able to heat your home effectively; if the radiators and pipes are falling apart!
Check for any obvious signs of leaks or rust; and ask the vendor to switch the heating on; so that you can check the radiators are emitting heat effectively.
Old radiators and pipes may benefit from a power flush to address any cold spots caused by corrosion and sludge.
A power flush is a cleansing process which cleans your entire central heating system; removing the sludge, which would otherwise cause damage and reduce efficiency.
Heating checks for buying a new house: Do the radiators have TRVs on them?
Check whether the radiators have TRVs.
A TRV fits on the side of a radiator and allows you to control how much heat your radiator emits. And therefore the temperature of your room.
TRVs not only allow you to maximise the comfort of your home by setting different temperatures in different rooms; but they also save energy.
BEIS found that TRVs can produce energy savings of 3% in dwellings, which will benefit your wallet, and the environment.
Heating checks for buying a new house: What is the insulation at the property like?
Although often overlooked; the amount of insulation in a property has a huge effect on how efficient the central heating system is.
According to the Energy Savings Trust, a badly insulated house can lose: 25% of its heat through the roof; 35% through outside walls; 25% through doors and windows; and 15% through ground floors.
So, it’s well worth looking at what level of insulation your house has. The thicker the insulation is, the more effective it will be at stopping heat from leaving your house.
According to the EST, topping up your loft insulation from 120mm to 270mm could cost around £240. But will save around £12 a year on energy bills.
Adding cavity wall insulation could save you up to £150 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical 3-bedroom semi-detached house)
Heating checks for buying a new house: Are the windows double glazed?
The EST recommends making sure all windows are double or triple glazed, to improve the efficiency of your heating system.
If the house has drafty old windows, you’ll be letting cold air in, and your warm air out.
So, you should factor in the cost of replacements into your purchase price.
Heating checks for buying a new house: Gas Safety when buying a new house
Heating issues aren’t the only thing you should be mindful of when burying a new home.
If there are any gas appliances in the house, you should get them checked.
Don’t assume that everything’s ok because you’ve had a homebuyer or structural survey.
Only Gas Safe registered engineers can legally undertake gas work at a property. So your surveys might not confirm that gas appliances are working as they should.
Unsafe gas appliances can pose three main risks to life:
- Gas leaks
A gas leak can cause fires or explosions. If you think you can smell gas, then you’ll need to call your emergency service provider immediately. During a gas safety check; a Gas Safe registered engineer will do a visual inspection of pipework and a tightness test to confirm there aren’t any gas leaks.
- Fires and explosions
Safe appliances burn gas in a controlled way; but a faulty appliance or pipework may leak gas which can then be ignited; causing a fire or explosion.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
If any of your gas appliances aren’t burning their fuel as they should; they can produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO).
Exposure to this gas can lead to death; and it is especially dangerous because you can’t see; taste; or smell it.
Therefore, it’s so important to get your gas boiler serviced each year.
To avoid these risks; ask the current owners for a gas safety record or certificate for all appliances in the property.
If they can’t provide a record; or it’s been over 12 months since the last check; get in touch with a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check before you move in.
So, what next?
An old and inefficient heating system doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker if you’ve fallen in love with the house.
But you should consider the cost of any necessary upgrades when making your offer.
Contact The Heating People to upgrade your heating system.