If you’ve still got an old back boiler, removing it is an important part of modernising your home. Back boilers are an old-fashioned style of boiler used for radiator and hot water heat supply. However, these units have been illegal to install since 2005. Most have now been replaced with modern central heating and a combi boiler, meaning you’ll see better energy efficiency and improved hot water supply.
However, it’s often the case that you might have had a new combi boiler installed without removing the old one. That can be dangerous. In addition, you likely won’t be able to use your fireplace. If you’re still using your old back boiler, swapping it out for a condensing boiler could save you considerably on your heat and energy bill.
On the other hand, removing a back boiler can be a big job. It’s important to know what costs to expect and what you’re likely to pay for the job, so you can have that set aside.
In fact, the average cost of back boiler removal is £700- £1,000. This includes the cost of labour and the disposal of old parts and pipes. On the other hand, if you want to install a new condensing boiler at the same time, you can expect to pay £3,000- £4,500 for the same job.
Back Boiler Removal Prices*
Removing a back boiler is almost always about the cost of labour. In this guide, we’ll assume you’ve already replaced your boiler with a new one and that what you’re dealing with is an old, decommissioned boiler that was left in place. However, if you want to install a condensing boiler you can simply add the costs of that installation to the cost of removal.
For example, if you’re paying a plumber a standard rate of £40 per hour, you can expect the following costs:
|Accessing the Boiler||2-6 hours||£80-£240|
|Removing Old Pipes||3-8 hours||£120-£320|
|Removing Boiler||1-2 hours||£40-£80|
|Disposing of Pipes and Boiler||N/A||£100+|
|Sealing Up||1-2 hours||£40-£80|
*Please note these costs are based on quotes at the time of writing in April 2023. Rates are subject to change and may be different at the time of reading.
It’s also important to note that costs will greatly increase if you end up installing a new boiler and central heating system. For example, a combi boiler with 8 radiators, new pipes, and flus, will likely cost over £8,000 total.
Factors That Affect Back Boiler Removal Cost
The largest factor affecting the cost of removing a back boiler is the cost of labour. That’s important, because most of the work is “just” labour. However, if you’re replacing an old back boiler, materials costs will become a major factor.
Size and Complexity of the System
If you’re removing an old boiler system, you’ll have to deconstruct and remove the full system from your home. That includes removing old pipework and ducts. In addition the size of the boiler system will impact a lot of factors of removal. For example:
- How much of the fireplace or flu wall has to be torn down to access the boiler
- How much pipework has to be removed
- If pipework extends between floors or is primarily fitted to exterior walls
- Whether you want to use your chimney after – e.g., removing the old boiler flue
- If it’s necessary to remove old pipework or if some of it can be left in place. This may reduce the value of your home and can be unsightly
The size and complexity of the system will be an even larger factor if you’re replacing the old system. For example, you can expect to pay about £450-£800 per new radiator if you’re installing a new system. So, the larger your home and the more floors in your home, the more you can expect to pay.
Accessibility of the Back Boiler
Most back boilers are installed against the back of the fireplace or behind the fireplace. The flue normally sits in the chimney. This means that accessing the back boiler is usually a process of either removing the fireplace mantle or removing the fireplace.
If possible, your technician may choose to access the fireplace from the back, preventing you from having to rebuild the fireplace itself.
However, accessing a back boiler can involve a significant amount of labour. In addition, you’ll have to repair the mess after, and that may not be included in your quote.
Location of the Property
The cost of removing an old boiler is often heavily influenced by your location. For example, the same job in London will cost much more than a boiler removal in Leeds.
However, you can expect that you’ll have an hourly average rate of about £40 for a good plumber. In most cases, a boiler removal job will require at least two people. In addition, it won’t take less than 4 hours.
However, some areas also offer grants to help you have the work done. For example, your council may have a grant to subsidise removing the old boiler. They might also have a grant to subsidise putting in a new combi boiler. If you check with your council first, it could greatly reduce the total cost of the job.
Labour is always going to be the most expensive aspect of replacing a boiler. Here, you can expect the total job to take 7-20 hours. If you’re replacing the old system, it’s likely to take even longer. However, on average, a boiler removal takes about 2 days. This means paying the day rate for 2 people for 2 days. Often, that will work out to up to £1,280 in labour alone.
However, best-case scenario, you could pay as little as half of that. In addition, you might choose to do a lot of the prep work for removing the boiler on your own.
For example, if your back boiler is still pressurised, you can’t safely remove it yourself. However, you can remove the panelling and floorboards to allow access to the boiler.
In addition, you can handle other parts of the job, like removing the old pipes yourself. You won’t be able to install the new boiler yourself as that has to be completed by a plumber registered with the Competent Person’s Scheme.
However, you can do a lot of the work around the boiler removal to reduce the total time needed for the job.
And, of course, if you intend to do this, you should discuss it with your prospective plumber to ensure they’ll still do the job.
Disposal of Waste and Debris
In most cases, disposing of an old boiler is included as part of the rate offered by the technician. However, you can also opt to recycle the boiler and the pipes yourself.
In most cases, that will net you about £15 in profit. However, the rate for recycling varies per location and you may actually have to pay to take your old boiler in. In other cases, you can use a council programme to simply drop your old boiler off for free.
Either way, if you hire a technician, you should discuss disposal of waste and debris, as the plumber will have more access to waste disposal than you. Even if it doesn’t save you money directly, having the plumber dispose of waste will save you time.
DIY vs Professional Back Boiler Removal
Back boiler removal is a bit expensive. But, if you’ve opted to simply decommission your back boiler in the past and now want to use the space – or want to improve the safety of your home – removing it is the right call. Here, DIY removal can save you a great deal – but it may not be the right call for safety reasons.
Pros and Cons of DIY Removal
Opting to remove a back boiler on your own can potentially save you a lot of money. However, there are very valid reasons not to do the work yourself.
- Convenient, the work will be done on your schedule
- As long as you have a plumber decommission the boiler by removing the gas and water lines, it’s safe to do it yourself
- Time-consuming, as you’ll likely spend 20+ hours doing the work yourself
- You’ll have to dispose of the old boiler and pipes yourself
- You’ll still have to pay a plumber to remove disconnect the gas and depressurize the boiler if you want to remove it safely
- Removing a boiler is a messy job
- Back boilers can weigh more than 160 kilograms – which means they’re extremely difficult to remove yourself
- If you’re changing the gas or electric yourself, you’ll need a safety inspection after, which can cost up to £600. If you hire a Competent Person, they can self-inspect and save you that money. In addition, you won’t be able to sell your home till you have that inspection.
- Boilers are highly pressurised and removing them without properly depressurizing them can result in an explosion and injury
- You may not have the equipment or the know-how to remove the flue
In many cases, if you’re handy, a hybrid approach is best. For example, you rip out the fireplace and everything covering the pipes. Then, have a plumber come in to decommission the old boiler and remove it. Then, you remove the pipes and fittings and put everything back together.
Pros and Cons of Professional Removal
Professional removal normally means that you have a team come in to locate your boiler, decommission it, remove it, and put everything back together – although the latter may involve a third-party service.
- The professional knows what they are doing and why and can complete the job efficiently and safely
- They will have the tools and equipment to do the job safely and well
- A Certified Competent Person can handle notifications and Safety inspections
- Liability insurance means that if anything goes wrong, you are covered
- Labour costs average £700-£1,000
- The boiler removal team likely won’t repair your walls or fireplace
- You’ll spend up to two days with contractors in your home
Having a job done safely and quickly is usually a great perk. For that reason, it’s usually recommended that you opt for professional boiler removal.
Cost Comparison of DIY vs Professional Removal
If you’re just removing a boiler, doing the work yourself is likely close to free. However, if you’re decommissioning and removing an oil boiler, that won’t likely be the case.
|Accessing Boiler||Cost of Tools||£350-£800|
|Removing Pipes||Cost of Tools||£150+|
|Disposing of Debris||Cost of Landfill/Recycling Agency||Included|
|Cost of Safety Inspections||£100+||Included|
|Cost of Notifications||£170-£690||£170-£690|
*Keep in mind that notifications won’t be required if the system is not in current use and you’re currently using a combi boiler instead.
Choosing A Back Boiler Removal Professional
Choosing a back boiler removal professional means looking for a certified professional who can safely perform the work on your home. Normally it’s a good idea to compare several options and to get quotes from several professionals before you move forward. In addition, if you live in a listed home, you’ll have to request planning permission.
Credentials to Look For in a Removal Professional
Reviews and References
- Check online reviews on Social Media and Search Engines like Google
- Ask for references when comparing quotes
Questions to Ask Before Hiring
- Are you Gas Safe Certified?
- Are you registered with the Competent Persons Scheme?
- Does this job require notification? If so, will you handle notifications?
- Do you cover disposal of the old boiler unit?
- How much of the clean-up do you do?
- Do I have to hire a separate company to repair my walls?
- How many hours should this take? Are there any complications that could arise? What?
- Do you have liability insurance?
- What about worker’s compensation insurance?
- When can you complete the job?
Back boilers were the standard for decades. Today, they’re outdated, inefficient, and unsafe. If you want to remove an old back boiler, you can expect costs to average around £700-£1,000. However, if you want to replace an old back boiler with a new combi boiler and central heat system, costs will range upwards of £4,000.
In most cases, you can also do some of the work yourself to reduce costs. However, you shouldn’t attempt to work with a boiler that hasn’t been depressurized. You’ll also need a Gas Safe Certified technician to remove the gas lines.
If you’re ready to find a professional to remove your back boiler, use the form at the top of the page to request quotes in your area.