Biomass Boiler Servicing Calls on the Rise

Open door of a Hack 200 showing ash build-up

Open door of a Hack 200 showing ash build-up

This grubby Hack 200 has worked hard all year on a broiler farm and is now getting the TLC that will keep it in good working order for the year ahead.



With lots of biomass companies having gone out of business in the past year, many due to difficult trading conditions brought on by the double whammy of lower government subsidies on biomass and low oil prices, our phone has been ringing off the hook with the owners of orphaned ETA boilers trying to find somebody to service their pride and joy.

Our engineers have been seeing some boilers in a pretty poor state, with flues blocked with ash, blown expansion vessels, sensors chewed through by mice, all sorts of things. One boiler we looked at hadn’t been serviced properly in four years, but it kept chugging along, which I think bears testament to the robustness of the ETA boiler. It’s no way to care for the cash cow in your outbuilding, though, is it? Biomass boilers have lots of moving parts, so they need to be lubricated once a year with the correct oil or grease for the operating temperature of the moving part. The turbulators work better when they are clean, and you can’t just bung a hoover in the hole thinking it’ll get it clean. It won’t. What about the water quality — check the PH? Check the quantity of inhibitor in the system?

We recently visited a farm in south Wales with four ETA Hack 200 boilers heating poultry houses. The grower approached us around eighteen months ago to ask what our servicing rates were and decided to go with a local, cheaper company, for his servicing. This cheap company ‘serviced’ all four boilers in a day. When two of the boilers subsequently broke down and the customer couldn’t get anybody from the cheap company to come out, during a time when they had tiny day-old chicks in the houses that needed high temperatures to survive, they called us, and we got there immediately, saved the day, got the boilers going. Our engineer stayed on site and audited all four boilers. All the cheap company had done was vacuum out the ash in the combustion chamber, and they called that a service. These four boilers were registered for RHI in the early days when the tariff was high, so between them they bring in over £100,000.00 per year, every year, for 20 years, index linked — that’s two million pounds — why would you not look after them properly? Why would you employ the cheapest company who will send you a mouth breather with an hour’s training on how to change a hoover bag? Please, somebody explain the logic to me, because I just don’t get it.

And guess what — the guy hasn’t paid his bill. Amazing.