• Gas safe approved
  • Trusted since 1982
  • East Anglia’s largest heating company
  • One fixed price

What type of boiler do I have?

Quickly identify which boiler you have.

How to identify which boiler you have cover

Finding out what type of boiler you have can seem challenging. Looking in your cupboard it can seem like your boiler is a metal cylinder surrounded by a stream of wires and pipes, with no discernable pattern.

Even worse if you try and consult your boilers manual, which is likely to confuse you even further.

In this guide, we are going to help you quickly and easily identify which type of boiler you have, so if you are looking for a new installation, repair or advice read on to find out more.

Identifying which system you have

Before you are able to identify which boiler system you have, you'll need to know exactly what to look for.

There are three main types of modern boiler; Combi, System & Regular.

Each of these systems have different characteristics and very different specifications making them easy to identify once you know what you are looking for.

Combination Boilers

Combination boilers or Combi boilers. These systems combine the central heating column and water heating column into one unit.

Due to this combination of systems combi heating systems take up far less space than regular heaters. They are ideal for smaller properties or properties that use a lot of internal hard wall structures.

Combi systems additionally do not constantly heat the water source, only heating it when set to. This makes them quite efficient and good for saving money.

What does a combi boiler look like?

Typically a combi boiler is one unit with five or more copper pipes coming out of the bottom of it. There will be no external unit or additional systems plugged into it as the one cylinder is designed to cover all functions.

As discussed typically they will be installed in smaller homes with lower hot water or heating requirements.

Combi Boiler Identification

Regular Boilers

regular boiler identification

Regular, traditional or conventional boilers as they are known, have a separate water storage tank one for hot and one for cold.

This allows them to provide a large amount of stored water, however, once it runs out it will need to refill the empty tank and get that water to temperature.

What does a regular boiler look like?

Your boiler unit should have two copper pipes coming into the top and one coming out of the bottom.

Additionally, as discussed regular boilers have separate water storage tanks which will typically be found in the loft. There will also be a water pump alongside this. You will typically find regular boilers in large homes with high hot water demands.

System Boilers

system boiler identification

System boilers directly take water from the mains and heat it, they then feed this hot water into one water storage cylinder.

This tank is a lot smaller than the one found in regular boilers making them an excellent space-saving measure.

However, they still take up a fair amount of space so while they are great in many homes they are not usually installed in flats or bungalows.

What does a system boiler look like?

Typically a system boiler will have three pipes coming out of the bottom, you will be able to see a nearby hot water cylinder. However, unlike regular boilers, it will not have a pump or an additional cold water tank.

You'll find system boilers in most modern bigger homes with high hot water and heating demands.

Other Boiler Types

There are a few other boiler types that you may encounter such as a back boiler or a biomass boiler. In the future, you may even encounter a hydrogen gas boiler.

Back Boiler:

A back boiler is typically installed behind a fireplace, typically you will only find them in very old homes that have not been updated in a while. This is because they are considered ineffective and out of date. As such many suppliers will not even be willing to repair or replace them. 

They were discontinued in 2005 due to government legislation so if you do have one in your home, it's likely time to consider an upgrade.

Biomass Boiler:

Biomass boilers are essentially super-powered fireplaces. They are designed to burn biomass pellets which are made out of recycled biological waste.

They are supported by the government's boiler upgrade scheme so if you were considering the installation of a more carbon-neutral boiler you can get money for it.

Hydrogen Boilers:

Currently, experimental technology, the distribution centre is now pumping more hydrogen into the system with the eventual goal after much redevelopment to go to 100% hydrogen gas.

The current pipeline system is not able to sustain 100% hydrogen but in the future, all boilers will be hydrogen-based as it's a more sustainable solution to heating.

Upgrading your boiler

Once you know what type of boiler you have it can be very easy to see what the advantages and disadvantages of each boiler type are. From this, it can be very easy to find an upgrade or replacement that suits the needs of your household.

You can even find the perfect boiler for you by using our boiler quote tool.

For more information about boiler care and other hints and tips you can read our articles on

why should I get my boiler serviced

Futher Advice

If you are looking for further help and advice we have a whole heap of articles on all aspects of heating. How long it takes for a boiler service, What happens during a boiler Installation, Energy Saving Tips and Our latest article on Hydrogen Boilers is very interesting and covers a boiler type we have not talked about so far.

If you've got any other burning questions you can contact us here, or start a live chat.