Regular readers may recall that in 2016 we had an issue with our boiler that I posted about.

When a boiler breaks down, it really impacts family life. I wrote about the experience in an article titled Family Life When Your Boiler Breaks. We were lucky in a way that we managed to book a plumber in quite quickly, but that did not stop the sleeping bags and electric heaters emerging from the loft.

Not everybody is quite as lucky though, with boiler breakdowns often causing misery and expense when they are least expected. Many people turn to their heating in September onwards, and discover a problem. You can minimise that impact by having some sort of boiler cover. HomeServe explains how boiler coverage can offer homeowners peace of mind. Knowing if there is a problem, and knowing there will not be a major financial hit, is at least one comfort you can draw on. Protecting the entire system from boiler to radiators is a way of extending that peace of mind.

Whilst a boiler is a key part of your everyday life, not many people know about the different types and how they work, so I have put together a handy guide to your common household boilers. You are likely to have one of these three in your home and, if something does go wrong, it helps if you know what type you have when phoning for help.

Combi Boilers

Which outlines how combi boilers work as they do not require a hot water cylinder or cold water feed tank, which makes them great for homes where space is a concern. Indeed, the combi boiler is the most popular in the UK and widely considered to be the most efficient too. It is a type of condensing boiler, which draws 90% of the energy from your fuel, which makes it efficient for today’s energy-conscious market.

Because a combi boiler heats water on demand, it may not be the best type for a family home with more than one bathroom, or houses of multiple occupancy where rooms have ensuite facilities, and water demand may be increased to two, or three showers at a time.

System Boiler

A system boiler will provide heat for your home, but it will also heat water in your storage tank for use throughout the day. This is another common type of boiler, especially for a family home where the demand on water usage might increase.

A system boiler does not need a cold water feed and they can run from solar energy, which makes them suitable for today’s energy-aware market. The Energy Saving Trust states that when paired with a good solar collector, your hot water could be mostly-free, especially during the summer months, making a system boiler a popular choice.

Regular Boiler

Do not let the title fool you, regular boilers are becoming far less common due to their shortcomings, but if you have an older installation it is likely to be regular. They require several different components, including the boiler, heating controls, a hot water cylinder, a cold water storage cistern plus a feed and expansion cistern. You can run them from solar energy, requiring even more serviceable parts.

They are less common these days due to being complicated to install, hot water being lost in the storage over time and the space the equipment takes up.

How Do I Tell Which I Have?

Identifying which you have is relatively straightforward. A combi boiler will be compact and usually have five copper pipes coming out of the bottom. There will be no external pump either, and will most likely be found in smaller homes or flats.

If you have a system boiler, you are likely to find fewer pipes coming out of the bottom – three in total. You will also have a hot water tank somewhere in the home, most likely in an airing cupboard or roof space. If there are only two copper pipes coming out of your boiler, it is likely to be a regular boiler; you will also have a cold water tank somewhere in the house, although it may not be easily located.