Thinking outside the box

With the constant pressure on public sector budgets, Encasement’s Managing Director, Martin Taylor, believes local authorities should investigate modern and more cost effective methods of concealing boiler pipe work.

As heating system upgrade programmes in social housing aim to reduce emissions and energy consumption while improving efficiency, there is also a need to ensure that the updated system is not only safe, but also looks good.

However, just by deciding on which method to use when boxing in heating system and boiler pipework, LAs and HAs can save thousands of pounds on their annual repair, maintenance and improvement budget.

Removing cost and saving budget
By saving time or removing cost from key stages in the pipe casing process, then this will have a positive effect on reducing the overall budget required to achieve the end result.

Essentially, savings can be made in each of the following four sections:

  • Manufacture – How is the boxing made?
  • Materials – What materials are used in their manufacture?
  • Methods – How is the boxing installed and secured?
  • Maintenance – How easily can the boxing be removed & replaced?

The traditional and still widely used approach for concealing pipework, is for boxing to be fabricated on site using wood or MDF with nails, screws or adhesive, followed with painting. Inevitably, this is a time intensive and costly solution.

The Encasement solution is much simpler, quicker and cost effective. Manufactured from pre-formed plywood to exact boiler dimensions and pre-finished with durable melamine or laminate, there’s no fabrication or painting required, which provides a consistent finish and saves even more time.

As a result, typical cost savings of around £20 can be made on every casing installed, which equates to a budget reduction of £10,000 on every 500 properties.

Often the materials used to manufacture pipe boxing and boiler casings aren’t a major consideration, yet they should be, as there is a need to comply with the sustainable procurement policies that many local authorities now have in place.

Encasement has already addressed the issue. Only FSC® certified timber is used in the manufacture of our boxing and boiler casings. Also we are the UK’s only manufacturer and supplier of pre-formed plywood boxing and casings that holds a Forest Stewardship Council FSC® ‘Chain of Custody’ certification.

Typically, where site made casings are used, the heating engineer will move on to the next flat once the boiler installation is done, leaving the fabrication and fitting of site made pipe casings to a joiner. As two trades and different skills are required, this inevitably adds time and cost.

By using a pre-formed boiler casing, which has already been supplied to the correct dimensions, there’s no need for fabrication and the freestanding casing just slides into place underneath the boiler, which can be done by a heating engineer.

The ‘whole life’ cost for site made casings escalates significantly, when routine maintenance visits are factored in to the equation, as they’re usually damaged or destroyed during their removal. This necessitates their replacement or re-manufacture, as well as re-fitting, all of which, increases budget.

In contrast, pre-formed casings are self-supporting, allowing them to be easily removed and replaced in seconds, dramatically reducing the time maintenance engineers need to be on site, and the corresponding cost.

Case closed!
When evaluating pre-formed boiler pipe casings against site made alternatives, the comparative fitting costs alone should ensure that the decision to use pre-formed casings is an easy one to make. Yet, when the FSC® compliance and maintenance aspects are also factored in, it becomes, to quote one of our customers,

“…a no-brainer.”