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  • Central heating

    Central heating only became mainstream in the late 1960s. The choice was between a hot air system or a wet system with radiators. Hot air systems were installed mainly in new build houses whereas wet systems were installed in both new build and existing houses. Conventional gas boilers were floor mounted and almost the size of a washing machine so could be difficult to install. An alternative was a back boiler fitted into a hole in the wall behind a gas fire.

    Baxi launched the Bermuda back boiler in 1966 which revolutionised central heating, and millions were installed between the late 1960s and the late 1980s. They were very popular for the following reasons:

    1. They were small and unobtrusive as they were hidden in a hole in the wall behind a gas fire.

    2. There were a large number of houses with redundant coal fires that already provided an ideal hole to contain a back boiler.

    3. They were found to be very reliable.

    The success of the Baxi Bermuda resulted in other manufacturers also producing back boilers but Baxi held an estimated 80% of the market.

    Sales of back boilers fell into decline in the late 1980s because conventional boilers had shrunk in size and the market for them had decreased due to an increase in the number of houses with redundant coal fires having central heating. Conventional boilers were almost always chosen for new builds after 1980.

    Back boilers always require a hot water cylinder so demand for them fell even further when combi boilers became mainstream around 1990. Another problem with back boilers is very poor energy efficiency due to their design. Conventional boilers of 1990 were significantly more efficient than those from 1970 but the energy efficiency of back boilers had barely improved over the same 20 year period. In 2005 the Building Regulations changed and all new and replacement boiler installations had to use high efficiency condensing boilers. This ultimately resulted in the end of back boilers although thousands are still in use today as a testimony to their reliability and the cost and expense of replacing them with modern boilers.

  • #2
    Re: Central heating

    A Baxi Bermuda 551 back boiler removed from a house in the West Midlands earlier this year.

    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Re: Central heating

      We had under-floor heating in the 70s - not very efficient!
      Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas - go figure!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Central heating

        We didn't have any form of central heating until early 1992. It was a wet system consisting of a combi boiler and 7 radiators. I can't remember exactly, but is there a make called Vallance or similar? We had that boiler until 2008 when we took advantage of a government scheme where old boilers were replaced gratis, so that is the one we have now, but same radiators as we had in 1992.

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        • #5
          Re: Central heating

          I have to admit that central heating feels a lot safer to me than a gas fire - the radiators are safe enough to dry clothes on, but I would not recommend doing that in front of a gas fire. At my old place we had one in every room except the living room where we had the gas fire.

          In my flat I have a radiator in every room, and a big boiler in the cupboard so I get a nice hot running bath when I need one, and almost warm radiators - I say almost because when I have it off all summer due to the hot weather, I have to contact Maintenance at the local Housing Association when it gets colder in October or November each year to get someone to put the heating back on because it seems to stop working at some point during the summer. Last year we had that cold spell and the man couldn't get to my flat - I was so cold and worried about getting hypothermia that I went out to Argos and got myself a portable heather, and they are obviously not very friendly on your electricity bill for obvious reasons!

          At my old place we had our annual gas safety check (spring clean the gas fire elements etc), and the man had found evidence of a gas leak, so someone else had to come out a couple of days later, although there was nothing really to worry about.
          Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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          • #6
            Re: Central heating

            The room with the gas fire and back boiler did not have a radiator. This was quite common in houses with back boilers as it was assumed that the gas fire would heat the room. A radiator has now been installed in the room as a decision was made not to have a gas fire after the boiler was replaced as it's something else that needs servicing or can go wrong.

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            • #7
              Re: Central heating

              By the way, I am not too fond of those bare floorboards in Arran's first picture - they certainly need a bit of varnish on them, or even better, a bit of laminate flooring!
              Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Central heating

                Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                I was so cold and worried about getting hypothermia that I went out to Argos and got myself a portable heather
                Or indeed, a portable heater even. I should have hoped it was a lucky heather for all my troubles.
                Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Central heating

                  My Aunt & Uncle had a hot air system until they found the annual servicing costs were too much & had it replaced by central heating. Also my cousin's allergies were made worse by it blowing so much dust into the air.
                  The Trickster On The Roof

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                  • #10
                    Re: Central heating

                    Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                    By the way, I am not too fond of those bare floorboards in Arran's first picture - they certainly need a bit of varnish on them, or even better, a bit of laminate flooring!
                    The room had a carpet but it was too disgusting and dirty to photograph.

                    The pump was installed in the most inconvenient and inaccessible location possible underneath the floorboards. It was located using a stethoscope and part of the brickwork had to be demolished in order to access it.



                    That pump looks original 1970s and it still works. It would have been very difficult and time consuming to replace if it had failed.
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      Re: Central heating

                      Originally posted by Arran View Post
                      The room had a carpet but it was too disgusting and dirty to photograph.
                      The floorboards look just as disgusting as well - no way would I want to live there.
                      Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Central heating

                        Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                        The floorboards look just as disgusting as well - no way would I want to live there.
                        The floorboards were installed in the 1930s. They look much better than what was in the cavity underneath them. About half of the fragments of the old fireplace was cleared out along with a large quantity of dust. Several intact tiles were found which have been saved for future use.

                        When the house was new the floorboards were most likely covered with lino. Original 1930s lino with 'jazz' patterns was found underneath the carpets upstairs but it had deteriorated so much that it couldn't be saved.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Central heating

                          I understood central heating is similar in operation to ducted air conditioning is it?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Central heating

                            Originally posted by Arran View Post
                            The floorboards were installed in the 1930s. They look much better than what was in the cavity underneath them. About half of the fragments of the old fireplace was cleared out along with a large quantity of dust. Several intact tiles were found which have been saved for future use.

                            When the house was new the floorboards were most likely covered with lino. Original 1930s lino with 'jazz' patterns was found underneath the carpets upstairs but it had deteriorated so much that it couldn't be saved.
                            The house I used to live in was built in the 1920s and reminded me of that, and it was modernised in 1974 as well - times have changed when people used to put newspaper down as underlay (making it a bit of a time capsule). Thank goodness that Carpetright had put some official underlay when they kitted out the living room at the house where I used to live.
                            Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Central heating

                              Originally posted by Donald the Great View Post
                              I understood central heating is similar in operation to ducted air conditioning is it?
                              Doesn't the air conditioning travel above while the central heating goes below? - I think that is the main difference.
                              Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

                              Comment

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