Do I need to remove the back boiler before installing a wood-burning stove?

Removing back boiler stove

The question

When removing old open fireplaces in order to install a wood-burning stove, it is fairly common to encounter on old back boiler. This is a boiler system design to take heat generated by the fire and transport it to heat radiators or water in other parts of the property.

It usually takes the form of a shoebox-sized boiler behind your fireplace and will be connected to a cylinder

The question is, does this back boiler need to be removed during the stove fitting process or is it simply enough to dismantle and disconnect the boiler from the system and seal the pipes?

The answer

Regardless of what measures have been taken to decommission the old boiler, it is very important to remove it before fitting your woodburner. The reason for this is that leaving the boiler in situ can cause an explosion.

With the pipes and boiler sealed, the heat from the woodburner coupled with any residual moisture in the boiler will lead to pressure building inside. The outcome can be a potentially fatal explosion.

NOTE: This applies even to back boilers that are no longer live and disconnected from the plumbing system. A Healthy and Safety Executive warning updated previous industry advice to recommend a total removal of the boiler.

The solution

As alluded to above, the first thing to do is to get a plumber to disconnect and remove the back boiler.

Some people want to keep the back boiler for reasons of convenience and not having to remove it. As we have established, that is not a safe or sensible option.

If the reason you were keen to keep the back boiler is because you wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to heat your radiators and generate hot water using your wood-burning stove, the solution is to install a specialist boiler stove.

This is a wood-burning stove that comes with its own back boiler, which can be plumbed into your heating system and achieve those results.

Take a look at some recommended boiler stoves.

16 thoughts on “Do I need to remove the back boiler before installing a wood-burning stove?

  1. Can u use a woodburner that has a back boiler on it ? Don’t have back boiler but wood burner has been used with one before

  2. I have a woodburner with a back boiler built in. We would like the back boiler taken out is that possible?! It’s a large villager with a hood.

    • Hi Kate

      It should be possible, but it will be complicated. Probably best to get a HETAS registered installer out to advise on either the best way of removing it or overcoming the problem that has made you want to remove it in the first place.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  3. we are renewing our gas heating system to a combo. from an old gas boiler and woodburning stove .The wood burning stove used to heat the water tank along with the old condemned gas boiler.
    can we simply remove the tank and pipes to the stove and still use it safely or do we need to get a new stove too

    • It would be more common to have the wood burner plumbed into a system that includes another form of heating, such as gas, electric or oil, so that you can heat water or radiators in the usual way when the stove is out of use.

  4. Back boiler can you tell me how if you take the old back boiler out and you don’t want to fit a boiler type multi fuel burner In situ but do want to fit a wrap around boiler not connected to the main body as recoup heat for wet heating as boiler stoves are prone too aneiling and cracking as I have been told unless you a have a rolled steal one fitted please correct me if I am wrong and point me in the right direction thank you. also if you have a 125m stove with 125m flue pipe opening can you get a collar to fit to get it in regulation standard of 150 as HETAS recommendation and I think building regs

    • Hi Graham

      The two solutions we have are either fit a stove that will not heat your water system or secondly fit a boiler stove that will. We don’t have an option where a boiler stove body and the boiler remain separated. Your boiler stove will not crack if fitted correctly by qualified installer with experience.

      With regard to the collar, yes we have 5 to 6 inch increasers: https://www.gr8fires.co.uk/5-inch-to-6-inch-black-flue-increaser

      I hope this answers the questions and if not please call our sales office on the number at the top of this page.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  5. My back boiler n fire have been disconnected From the gas it’s just to be taken out Hiw can I do it As there is no gas or electric Us it straight forward

    • Hi Yvonne

      Probably best left to an installer from a competent person scheme to ensure it’s all done safely.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  6. My wife and I are moving into a property that has a back boiler. We intend to remove the back boiler in favour of a combi boiler. Would there be a flue in situ where the back boiler is removed for us to then install a log burner?

    • Hi Tracy

      It’s very unlikely that the existing back boiler infrastructure would be suitable for a woodburner. You would probably need to add a new flue liner, but it will depend on what you find once it’s opened up and the back boiler removed.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

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