Are boiler warranties really worth anything?

Are warranties really worth anything

as published on PHAM News

Andrew Hounsfield, MD of British oil boiler manufacturer, Hounsfield Boilers, looks at the heating industries’ warranties and asks -could we not do better?

Warranties should be a simple matter; if a component fails within a set period it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to replace it. However, all too often there are pitfalls, get out clauses, and a mountain of paperwork to fill with small print to be bamboozled by. Something that should be simple and straightforward suddenly becomes complex, but there is an easy solution. Let’s produce boilers that are designed to last way beyond their warranty period.

At the moment homeowners are being forced into expensive service contracts, which requires them to purchase annual service packs for components, just to comply with a two or five-year warranty. These components such as hoses, are only warranted for two to three years, not a time period I would call ‘long-life’, unless it was for a butterfly!

I believe that these warranty add-ons are just a way for manufacturers to gain a secondary income stream for their products, and that is the fundamental problem with the boiler industry – boilers (and other components) are being designed to last for just the warranty period before they give up the ghost. Is the homeowner supposed to be in wonder after spending a lot of money on a product which is only designed to last two, three or maybe five years? It hardly inspires trust in our industry.

Carbon Footprint

After spending 30 years working in the boiler industry, I believe that we can do so much more for our customers and the environment. With the industry rightly focussed on improving the efficiency of boilers, so that we can maximise heat output in the most cost effective and environmentally responsible way.

But I can’t help thinking we have lost sight of the real issue, and that is reducing our carbon footprint. How on earth is it good for the environment to be on an almost endless cycle of producing parts which do not last very long? The raw materials for these components are not infinite and we must use these resources responsibly.

When I set-up Hounsfield Boilers I had many goals. I wanted to design an oil boiler which was highly efficient to maximise the energy source, have high quality construction and parts that would mean the boiler was ‘life-long’ rather than ‘long-life’, and would not cost the earth – both financially and environmentally. My boilers have aircraft grade flexible hoses that will out-live industry standard hoses many times over, and a five year ‘no quibble’ warranty, so why doesn’t the industry meet this challenge?

Just recently I had a visitor to my factory looking for a replacement part for a 50-year-old. (insert make) oil boiler, which was remarkable. But just imagine if we, as an industry could really rise to the challenge of reducing our carbon footprint by producing boilers that could serve for an equally long lifetime. With Hounsfield Boilers I’m doing my bit, the components I use are the best, that’s why I have a ‘no quibble’ warranty. If the boiler industry and all of the heating professional bodies could lead the way on this, then it would only be a matter of time before Government would legislate other industries to follow in our footprints, that way our impact on the environment would be a little bit lighter.

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