Wednesday, 31 August 2011

What would you do....?

Last winter, remember the sub zero temperatures, I trundled up and down the A38 keeping the boat fire in to protect the plumbing. We have a back boiler on our boat with a pipe thermostat fitted that controls the pump.

I topped up the header tank with a pre mix of antifreeze when I started the boat heating process but became alarmed when I discovered the header tank level dropping on subsequent visits.

I suspected a leak but could not find one anywhere. I have the pressure release valve and outflow piped into the engine bay which drips into a bucket that has a pump in it to empty it. Basic but it works. After the bad weather I noticed that the water in the bucket has a pink tinge to it which is the colour of the Halfords antifreeze I had been using. I therefore deduced that the heating coil for the central heating was leaking into the cylinder itself.

I checked on Sunday and whilst there is a valve that can be opened and closed to direct the central heating water via the water tank there is no valve on the return. This explains why turning off the feed to the cylinder did not stop the drop in the header tank.

I think I have two options

1. Replace the tank, £430 plus a days plumbing and the hassle of swapping out a system that works and has no air locks etc.

2. Put a simple shut off valve £5 into the return feed off the calorifier

If I do the latter I will not be able to heat my hot water via the stove, or get the central heating warmed up from the engine whilst cruising.

However I will be about £450 quid better off and not have to have all the hassle of the swap out.

If I go for option 1 I will hopefully get water that stays hot for longer than 12 hours.

We can get how water after an hour of engine running reliably and do have to run the engine to charge the batteries

If I go for a new tank I will have an emersion element so could have hot water via a land line or genny hook up.

If I go for the new tank I will know it will last me the length of time we will keep the boat (a long time now based on what I think it is worth in today's market)

So over to you, what would you do, please help as I'm in a dither?


PS. I do have the money, (but would rather spend it on solar panel or an electric fridge)


Captain Ahab said...

I would go for the £5 option and see how inconvient it is. If its a pain you can always revert to the new cylinder.

nb piston broke said...

Hi Nev have a question, the calorifier should have a pressure relief valve on the fresh water side, and your central heating may have a pressure relief valve, albeit you have a header tank, are you sure with the presence of anti freeze in your bucket this is coming from the fresh water side and not the central heating. If it coming from the fresh water side obviously it is as you say option 1 fit new tank, (vertical if poss) option2 isolate the secondary circuit which will give you no heating form the fire. Be warned that if antu freeze has entered your fresh water system this will have to be completely cleaned out as the smallest amount of antifreeze will make you ill. The ball is your court but option1 seems the sensible way as you have got to have it all out anyway. Go on you can afford it!!!!!!!!! and a panel.
Regards Paul

NB.BELLE said...

I can't picture you living next to the fire throughout the forthcoming winter with near freezing conditions towards the back of the boat and having to run the engine in order to get enough hot water. So dither thee no longer and get the central heating system fixed properly. In any case, as has already been pointed out, you need to be sure that the safety valve arrangement you have on board is adequate, so check this out too. Furthermore, DO NOT isolate any of these safety valves without taking other suitable precautions! Otherwise, I fear that you might have to deal with something more substantial by way of an inconvenience than a bit of pink stuff in a bucket when next lighting the fire. I would be asking myself why this central heating circuit failed in the first place. Could it have been 'over-pressurised' for example? In which case a replacement / repaired calorifier might go the same way if the root cause of the failure is still in the system. Regarding the calorifier - have you shopped around to see if you can get yours repaired for significantly less than £450?

Hope this helps - give me a shout when next on the mooring and I shall take a look if you want me to.

Cheers, Chris

Nev Wells said...


Thanks for the sound advice. As we are in for the long game with Waterlily I have ordered up a new cylinder today and an expansion tank to go onto the circuit. I like the idea of keeping the water hotter longer and ensuring the central heating works as well as possible.

I ordered it direct from Surecal saving over £100 quid from Midland Chandlers price.

When on the boat last time I had a good look at the fitting of it and I cannot see any real issues .....famous last words!