Because boilers make such a difference to the comfort of a home by providing residents with central heating and hot water whenever they want it, it is no surprise that the appliance is now found in almost every home in the UK.
But boilers only became commonplace relatively recently – many people alive nowadays would have bathed in tin baths, warmed using hot water from a kettle heated over the fire in their childhood.
So who invented central heating? Well, the invention of water heating is credited to the Romans, who used natural heating sources to warm up their famous baths. However, they never appeared to have created individual domestic water heaters, although we owe them a lot of thanks for many modern plumbing techniques.
Modern domestic gas boilers can trace their history back to 1868, when Benjamin Waddy Maughan, a painter by trade, developed an instantaneous water heater that was intended for domestic use and that did not use solid fuel.
His invention – the Geyser – was quite popular, although it was also incredibly dangerous, and was liable to exploding as it did not have a flue or vent. In the event of a boiler breakdown, covers and shells could rupture and blow apart, leading to injury or even death.
Regardless of the safety risks, the joy of domestic central heating was too much for some people to avoid, and the success of the Geyser was further buoyed by the invention of the automatic water storage and heating tank, credited to Edwin Rudd in 1889.
The safety issues of early boilers were somewhat mitigated in 1919 with the invention of the Hartford Loop. If the return pipes began to leak, the Hartford Loop pipework system would prevent water from leaking out of the boiler.
While modern boilers contain a huge range of technologies that effectively eliminate the risk of explosion, such as automatic water heaters and low pressure cut-off points, the Hartford Loop is still widely used as an additional safety measure.
The Plate Heat Exchanger was developed in 1923 by Dr Richard Seligman. This innovation uses two different metal plates to transfer heat from a hot fluid to a cold fluid, improving the speed of temperature changes and the efficiency of boilers. His simple but brilliant invention is still seen in millions of combi gas boilers across the world.
In 1956, boiler technology underwent another transformation. Previously, boilers were made from cast iron, which was strong enough and durable enough to cope with the pressures boilers face and the gases they may be exposed to.
However, as Brits turned towards mains gas and away from solid fuel in the wake of the Clean Air Act, and as they began to use boilers in increasing numbers, steel became a more commonplace material.
This innovation further improved the safety of boilers – it is easier to develop seamless steel boilers than seamless cast iron boilers, and cast iron boiler covers and pipework were liable to having weak spots that could rupture over time.
Modern manufacturing techniques have eradicated the additional safety dangers cast iron boilers pose and this material is making a comeback, particularly in commercial central heating systems.
Although there have been dozens of innovations and developments in boiler technology since the 1960s, the most significant development was the creation of the condenser boiler, which only reached widespread use in the last two decades.
Condenser boilers expel cold water and trap heat from their emissions, making them substantially more efficient than older models. Despite the fact that these are a relatively new invention, all new boilers installed in the UK after April 1st 2005 must be condensing models, underlining the incredible energy-saving standards of these new gas boilers.
While boilers might still use the same heating technologies as they did one-and-a-half centuries ago, the massive range of new functions available on the latest models turn what could be a dangerous and wasteful appliance into something that can reach 100% efficiency and that will never blow up.
Don’t attempt to touch any part of your boiler or central heating system if you’re unsure. Did you know? It’s illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they think it’s unsafe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry as you could make things worse.
Instead, call us on 01254 35 55 35 and we can help. Our technical team will run through some simple troubleshooting to see if your problem can be resolved on the phone or they can book one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gas Safe registered engineers to get you back up and running as soon as possible.
We all know that managing your work and home lives can be tasking. Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions were to spend more time with the family? Work can be manic, and often out of your control. So here are a few ideas that 24|7 Home Rescue have put together that’ll make your life easier when you get home:
There’s a considerable lack of scientific evidence to suggest that today is in fact, the dullest of the year. ‘Blue Monday’ is a concept created by a British travel company way back in 2005 based on factors such as weather, debts and post-Christmas gloominess. If, much like myself, you’re already feeling defeated by Blue Monday, here are some things you can do to combat it head-on!
Landlords in Wales are campaigning for their government to remove new taxes on buy-to-let properties.
The tax change for landlords, known as Welsh Land Transaction Tax (LTT) is set to replace stamp duty in Wales in 2018.
New Year, new you? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or go sober, don’t let the drab of January stop you from achieving your goals. One thing we all promise ourselves is that we will be more sensible with our money and save up some £££s for that new car or summer holiday. So we’ve put together a simple guide on how really easy, small changes around your home can save you and your family money, without any drastic lifestyle changes.
Our capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan is turning up the heat with a £1million fund towards combatting London’s cold homes this winter.
The initiative called ‘Better Boilers’ starts in January and is aimed at replacing or repairing broken boilers, helping fuel-poor Londoner’s that will struggle to heat their homes this winter.