A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about Bertha the Biomass Boiler.
I said it had been something of a ‘journey’ choosing and installing this expensive, labour intensive and untested technology (Bertha was the third model in as many months). I concluded that on balance we had no regrets, mainly because due to the RHI payments – introduced by the government to encourage use of sustainable energy sources – we basically had no fuel bills.
Well…boiler number 3 started to seriously malfunction within weeks of installation. It extinguished for seemingly no reason, it failed to ignite, parts melted and dropped off, sometimes it simply exploded and most of the time it belched acrid, black smoke from every orifice. To cut a very very very long story short we experienced failures practically every day and eventually were unable to leave the boiler unattended for more than a couple of hours.
The final straw was at Easter this year. It conked out at 5.00 pm on the Thursday before the bank holiday – it was cold, we were full and everywhere was shut – we spent hundreds of pounds and the best part of a day buying up every source of portable heat in the county to keep our guests warm (fortunately we had a backup emersion heater for hot water). Basically my worst ever weekend in this business (except for the bilious banker but that’s another story.)
The installer managed to revive it but then advised that he reached the end of the line and wouldn’t be coming again. I asked for a full refund or a replacement – none came – I threatened legal action – the installer declared himself bankrupt (I don’t think ours was the only dodgy boiler he had installed.)
We didn’t want to get rid of this environmentally friendly, economically sensible option (and couldn’t afford to replace it with a better model) but we just needed more reliability. The answer…GAS! A local heating and plumbing engineer has installed a lovely simple gas boiler. Clean, quiet, reliable, small but powerful – it kicks in when the other boiler is under pressure or when it breaks down.
The funny thing is – since the original installer stopped visiting almost 5 months ago – Bertha hasn’t let us down once! We have had University lecturers and distinguished consultants scratching their heads over this mysterious contraption. I think it’s obvious – after a testing 3 year relationship, Paul and Bertha have finally reached an understanding.