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fitting my own central heating


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After some astranomical quotes for oil fired central heating I have decided to install my own system, I am an engineer and so is my brother who will help me, is there anything we should know , for instance do we have to get any form of certification on the completed installation and if so how do we go about it,(bit concerned about house insurance being affected etc) I will buy the boiler and the bits in the UK because they are cheaper through our trade account, anyone out there on the forum know anything about it ???

Billy 10  

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same rules apply as in the uk regarding installation, gas or oil. probably worth getting a registered plumber to fit the boiler and make the connection to oil. nothing stopping you fitting the rest of the system which is as you will know the majority of the work. not probably i meant definately requiring registered installer. i dont personally know of the penalty for doing it yourself but has got to be the same as in the uk. quite severe when caught
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Thus far, these are he realities I have found: I am not saying that the following is 100% accurate, however, I believe it to be reasonably correct.

1.    Boiler: If you use gas, then this must be installed, set-up and commissioned by an approved French artisan. All the gas feed pipes, for example. If you buy in the UK, then you have certain problems! The first is that it would not necessarily be type-approved for France. Whilst pipe connections for rads and the circulating pump will normally be BSP, all other fittings, pipe etc will be different, excepting French 22 m.m. which is 22 m.m external diameter, but thicker wall thus the internal diameter is smaller.

If you use an oil-fired boiler, then you can install this yourself, however, if you contact your chosen bulk oil supplier, they should arrange for an engineer to set-up and commission the boiler, set the inlet pressures and flow rate and adjust the combustion. They will then supply a certificate of compliance, as they should be asked to, every year. French technicians will invariably refuse to touch a non-French approved appliance. They would have no detailed specifications (in French) to work from and, as has already been stated, the specific gravity, calorific value and characteristics of Mazout or Red Diesel are quite different to burning oil. Will a French insurer (notorious sticklers for the right bits of paper!) accept a claim for non-type approved equipment if it is the causer of a disaster?

2.    Storage Tank: There are fairly new regulations coverning this: they are quite onerous. Make sure yours complies.

3.    Pipework and rads. Are these much cheaper?  Where have you checked prices? The cheapest I have found in France is Brico Depot. You may well spend far more time and more cash than you think, sorting out adapters to convert fittings and terminations!

4.    Warranty: What happens if your sparkling new UK boiler fails? Will the manufacturers send an engineer over from the UK? Will you have to de-install the unit and return it to the UK? How much will this cost you? What about the inconvenience?

Quite a number of Brits, with exposure to various aspects of the building trades, come over to France and try and utilise UK approaches, which is fundamentally flawed thinking. Most of us have seen "Re-wires" using ring mains and 13 amp UK sockets, for example!

If you read the copious thread above concerning French Heating and Plumbing started by Opal Fruit, you will find that this is an absolute mine of cogent, well written and valuable advice. I would suggest that this ought properly to be your own starting poinmt.

Good luck!


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Forget UK sourced equipment for installation work in france.You won't save all that much and it won't conform. Find out how french plumbing systems work, make yourself a Big List of Bits, find yourself a Brico Depot and install it according to French standards.



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Oh, I can be very succinct, too, bj!

However, this question (and many like it!) are like old pennies: they keep re-appearing like weeds on the lawn. Being charitable, perhaps it's because members either don't do the research, can't find the "Search" feature, or they are seeking some kind of reassurance?

Perhaps I should have written:



Brico Depot!!


Tried this before: and then been accused of being terse! [8-)]


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Panel radiators from Castorama are cheaper than even Screwfix.

TRVs from Screwfix are MUCH cheaper than Castorama and there is a much wider choice. They fit straight into the French rads, probably because the French rads and Screwfix rads are the same brand!!!

Lockshield valves ditto.

Cant comment on Brico Depot, never seen one.

Some boilers available in UK are same brand as in France and are (I believe) available with the relevant jets ( cant confirm that).


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So my heating engineer client and chum assures me, a large number of the new boilers he fits in the UK are made in France.

However, they are not apparently UK type-approved.

Additionally, I did some pretty exhaustive research into UK oil-fired boilers and they were quite different from the French equivalent, heating oils apart. For example, I could not find the UK equivalent of an oil-fired Ventouse system.

Agree about sundry bits and pieces: had to buy a UK pipe bender, as it took 22 m.m. pipe. The one I bought from Brico Depot only went up to 16 m.m.

At the end of the day, however, if you are in the middle of fitting the system, have mates on site to help, return ferry booked, all systems go: and you find problems with some UK sourced components, it's a long ways back for the sake of saving a few quid!


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The many who have said it above are right. You should not import from the UK, either materials, regulations or techniques.

A further problem to consider is insurance. All oil fired central heating systems must have a certificate each year to show they have been inspected and serviced correctly. I think it will be very difficult to find an Authorised French plumber who will do this service and certification for a system you have installed yourself. Not to mention the problems if you ever come to sell the property, with a system that hasn't been inspected and certified each year.

So make sure you know who is going to do these things before you start - perhaps you could find an English plumber registered properly in France who is qualified to do it, if you can't find a French one - their SIRET / registration will need to state that they are eligible to do it, I don't think all plumbers are quaified to service boilers (I could be wrong on that though).

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Don't wish to argue (particularly with a mad monk, reputed to have magical powers![:D]), however logic surely must come into play here.................

Scenario: you have a system installed by a registered, certified and proper heating engineer in France. OK so far. He (might even be a she, in these days of growing equality! [:D]) carries out the annual servicing and certification (as I stated, above). He then retires or dies? Does this mean that you must have the whole system re-installed? Obviously not. You simply call in another heating engineer able to certify for insurance purposes. However, he didn't install it. However, provided it conforms to regulations, he then services and certifies as per usual.

Change scenario: You buy a house and as is so often the way, you discover that the chimney has not been swept, lately, the oil-fired boiler has no current certificate (and even if it does, in theory, the seller can't find it), same outcome.

As I discovered in my own research, whilst any gas appliance must be installed by a certified engineer, where the gas pipework is fixed, oil-fired appliances do not need any certification, other than the annual safety, combustion and pressure set-up and tests and, of course, a relevant certificate for insurance purposes.

As a matter of interest, touring and static caravans must only have their gas appliances installed and tested by an approved engineer, in possession of all the right test kit. Only reason I know this, is since a client buys, sells, sites, repairs and recovers caravans of all types all over France, Spain, Italy and Portugal and they had to go through the examination and certification process (for France at least) to be able to continue siting and installing 'vans. Was not a cheap process, obtaining the approval and purchasing all the test kit!


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[quote user="Rasputin"]The many who have said it above are right. You should not import from the UK, either materials, regulations or techniques.



I disagree completely with your statement above. As I stated in an earlier post on this thread, TRVs are much cheaper from screwfix and they are totally compatible with panel rads bought in France. On that basis exactly why should they not be imported from outside France? They do not conflict with any French codes or normes and (probably) carry the appropriate CE markings ( I confess I did not check that point). There are, no doubt, other materials which are equally suitable for sourcing outside France, the TRVs are just one example.

Techniques are usually a matter of personal preference for who ever is doing the work. For example, I may install equiptment in an order that is different to someone else but the resulting finished job will be the same, that is just my 'technique' arrived at over time and with experience.

I do agree that UK regulations are irrelevent in France, the only regulations (codes and normes) that should be adhered to are the official French ones.


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I will very happily agree with you if anyone here can tell me they have installed a system themselves and subsequently found a French authorised plumber to maintain it and sign the certificate of maintenance each year - that is not quite the same as a French plumber taking over from another French plumber on retirement. My experience has been that it would be very difficult in our region, but I accept that that may not be the case everywhere.


If someone is in a position, as you clearly are, to compare specific products between two countries, know that they are identical but differently priced, and make a judgement on that particular part then clearly you are right, of course I agree that is the best approach (paint is another common example). I was referring more to the wholesale importing of a system in the back of a van from the UK, with a couple of UK plumbers, and installing a system UK style - a practice which is reasonably common with electrics, heating sytems, kitchens etc.

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Tell me Rasputin what is wrong with importing a van load of heating gear from uk.if you can buy it all far cheaper with your trade discounts,a y plan s plan or c plan, pressurised or combi boiler is the same anywhere.The only thing i would not bring from the uk is gas fired boilers.With oil fired boilers you can just change the jets set it up and commision,regs are just about the same.If the boiler/flue/oil line with fire valve etc is put in correctly a heating eng will maintain it no matter his creed .What is the great difference of a uk and continental pressurised system.A bar is a bar And BSPT rules every where.Michael.
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To summarise briefly (not all will apply to everyone)

No-one has yet answered Billy10 queries, and these are fundamentally the same queries that I have. I wait to see the post from someone who has had a system installed in this way that has subsequently had it approved. I assume it exists and I will be pleased to be corrected...

Some problems that occur to me at the moment, in varying degree of relevance and seriousness, are (not all apply here I realise):

Insurance and maintenance problems as above

Work will not be supported by French tradesmen, parts probably won't be

available, and the system won't be constructed with parts that the

French tradesmen recognises. After sale of the property maintenance will be very hard to get by the purchaser.

No 10 year guarantee, which you will get for work carried out by a registered French plumber

No VAT saving - you will be paying 17.5% against 5.5%

No Capital Gains Tax deduction for the heating will be available on sale of the property

Probable problems at resale time of the property, in not having an 'authorised' French heating system.

It is common that a system like this is being implemented 'on

the black' - not properly paying import duties, taxes, labour charges, social

charges etc

Deprives the local economy of employment

You get the picture - I can believe there are short term financial gains, but these are outweighed by the disadvantages.

Incidentally, if the problem is language, which I realise it is for some people (not the OP here), try the site http://artisan-anglais.com/ to find registered artisans in France who speak English.

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I work away for 6 months and the place goes to pot!

Simple rules - if the fitting is the same in the UK - use it if you must. That means radiators (miles cheaper in France), 22/28mm pipe and fittings (slightly cheaper in France) and that's about it.

Oil boilers are OK from anywhere in Europe, it's the burner that isn't - you CANNOT gaurantee that a jet change will suffice - the whole pump, air supply and gun are USUALLY set up for the fuel used in the country of sale..... Anyway, oil boilers and burners are 2/3 price of the UK in France. So why bother???

Somebody with a pressure gauge needs to set the burner to work, and adjust the air supply for CO2 and temperature at the flue. Or else. 

TRVs sold in France are 16mm not 15mm. Guess what size pipe they're for?????? Use 18/16mm pipe for rad piping (yes 16mm at the rad end).

Most of Screwfix's stuff is very Grade B.... unless branded. Lots of "Made in PRC" sh**e. Sorry, but if it ain't a make it's tat. Suck it and see.

Everything else is in my thread. I think..!


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Point made Opel,

However......I wanted to use pex/per pipe and, whilst I know it is available in France, I couldn't find where so I sourced John Guest stuff from UK, I therefore needed TRVs for 15mm hence Screwfix. Yes you most certainly have to be selective in the quality of the kit you buy. There may be some Chinese kit that is acceptable quality I just haven't found much of it. As a matter of interest our (work) specifications deliberately exclude equipt from China or India. Having said that, the laser level that I got in France is excellent and is Chinese made. There is a very wide quality range of Chinese kit but if its very cheap when sold in Europe its not going to be the best. At the end of the day you pays your money and makes your choice.

As someone said earlier,....do the research, the info is out there somewhere, it just needs time and effort to find it (and a high speed internet link preferably).


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Perhaps Opal Fruit could kindly set right the presently open matter of boiler set-up and safety certification, post installation? This appears now to be the only open question.


Agree with your sentiments. Some Asian manufactured components are fine, mainly I have found, when these are made to some Western specification and/or standard.

In reality, of course, many brandname products (of all types) sold in the UK, are manufactured in China, e.g.

That said, there is currently a large crop of inferior stuff, retailed by many leading sellers and much of it is to say the least, iffy.

Unless the price differential is enormous, I personally can't see the point of trying to save a few quid, only to face a raft of potential fit-up and warranty problems.

I am sure that most of us with any detailed UK project experience would provide almost identical advice to a Frenchman addressing a renovation project in the UK and thinking of importing French spec building materials!


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The Boiler/Burner HAS to be set to work by a competent Chauffagiste. For your sake, your wallet's sake and for your Assurance' sake. It also has to have written evidence of an annual service by the same. There is usually a "Mise en Service" card left near the boiler, and also a Facture for the work as evidence.

I gave some rough outlines of what this involved in my tome. But this is for "getting it going" or "WTF is wrong with it?". Oil burners are a bit temperamental, and the weather and oil grade and viscosity have a lot to do with reliable and stable firing, particularly if the burner is set up marginally, and of course safety and low emissions.

You can plumb your own oil supply, again using recognised French-sourced material. By all means have a Chauffagiste check it - he should do anyway as part of the commissioning since he should be measuring pump depression to ensure the supply is airtight and flowing correctly. 

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Many thanks, Opel Fruit. I am sure that this answer now finally closes this area.

As I earlier stated, I would urge anyone thinking of undertaking heating/plumbing work on French property, to make Opel Fruit's original thread, their first stopping point for research.

After all, he was kind enough to take considerable time to develop this thread: and add to it over time. It is a wonderful (free!) resource: use it!


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