Temporary Boilers: How long is temporary?

Boiler

What makes a temporary boiler ‘temporary’? How long are you legally allowed to use temporary boilers for?  Alex Hill of Ideal Boilers asks the questions. 

What makes a temporary boiler ‘temporary’? How long are you legally allowed to use temporary boilers for? The first answer is that temporary boilers are legally permitted to be in-situ for up to five years, any longer than that and it may be considered permanent. However, whilst in many cases five years is indeed the legally permitted time that’s enshrined in law, tread with care on areas which can be exempt including heritage sites.

Keep the heat on

Whether it is a planned commercial plant room replacement or if a boiler in a care home has failed, a temporary solution can be utilised to assure the consistent flow of heating and hot water to a premises. Temporary boilers ensure the heat is kept on in the most important of spaces such as hospitals. A hospital needs a stable, secure and reliable heating system to keep the patients, staff and visitors within it safe. The implications of an unreliable system go without saying.

Temporary boilers are essential to assuring heat and hot water supply remain uninterrupted. But how long can they be in use for? According to the Town and Country Planning Association the allotted time period is five years, any longer and it may be considered permanent. Five years may seem like quite the duration, however tread with caution – always be mindful of how long a boiler has been in place, and also bear in mind that individual planning authorities may stipulate alternate periods and/or permissions.

One thing to look out for is whether or not the temporary boiler is going to be connected to a heritage or listed building. Generally speaking, these buildings require slightly more in the way of consideration given their status. It is why it always pays to see if planning permission is required or not and possibly engage with a local planning office to get the answers that are needed.

What do the regulations say?

At present there is, unfortunately, little guidance from the standards or regulations around temporary boilers and their duration of use. Temporary boilers are classed as temporary structures, in a similar way to shipping containers. As they are ‘temporary’ and not permanent they should be exempt from any planning permission requirements. This is the same exemption as used by caravans and mobile homes too.

Whilst temporary boilers can be seen as temporary structures, some extra concessions must be made. Whenever you connect a normal boiler up to the gas network, it is considered permanent. Whilst it is designed to be used for longer than a ‘temporary’ boiler. It’s important to bear in mind that the oil boilers which we use, are considered self-contained. The moment they are connected to the gas network, we are responsible to comply with regulations. In that sense, it is difficult to identify a boiler such as this as temporary – if it is connected, it has to comply with flueing guidance, the Chimney Act and British Standards to name but a few. Can we, then, consider it as temporary?

At the moment there is a gap that needs to be filled. Whilst temporary boilers are seen as temporary structures which do not require any planning permission, the minute they are connect to the gas network, temporary boilers must comply with regulations. Even though planning permission and regulations are two separate entities, in the first example, temporary boilers are not perceived as permanent. Yet in the second, their compliance may say otherwise? It does raise the question of whether more clarity is needed to join-up the dots.

Greater clarity is indeed needed for other reasons too, as the gap can make it easier for many cowboys to come through. Not only do they risk harming temporary boilers’ reputation at large, these wanton figures put the health and wellbeing of people in jeopardy, which is hugely problematic.

It is why when selecting a temporary boiler company, it’s vital to partner with a trustworthy source who know what they are doing, and can use their expertise and professionalism to take matters into their own hands in the absence of regulations.

Options

As an option; Ideal Heat Solutions design equipment to be compliant as if they were permanent. All of our temporary boilers have numerous safety features incorporated in their design including flame sensors to protect people and equipment, which is all part of an IQ Vision monitoring platform. Even though we identify our boilers as temporary, we have a robust understanding of electric and gas regulations, Chimney Act and Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act represented a huge milestone in environmental protection when it was published in 1956. It continues to be a key area of focus at the moment, where the climate crisis is ongoing and air pollution in the UK’s cities is rising. 

On the subject of healthy air, equipment should be placed as per the regulations. Safety needs to be a priority. For instance, it isn’t suitable to put a boiler right next to a building. It is crucial to take into account the positioning so that it is relative to the flue pipe and proximity to windows. Doing so will keep the risk of carbon monoxide at bay.

If a client does need a boiler close to a building, it is key to get a flue supplier to put the flue up the building so that everyone is protected. This is just one of the many examples of how to treat temporary plant with care and attention, fully understanding and complying with permanent boiler statutory requirements in the process.

When it comes to temporary boilers there are gaps in the regulations as to what’s considered ‘temporary’. However, in the absence of these requirements, it is vital to select a temporary boiler expert that can fill the gaps, offering a professional trustworthy service that keeps all bases covered.

Alex Hill is Director at Ideal Solutions

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