FIRST CHOICE HOMES Oldham District Heating Scheme Complete

Having worked with First Choice Homes for 13 years, we have helped reduce the maintenance and operational costs of the 50 year old district heating network.


Project Overview

The district heating network in Oldham is connected to approximately 1,400 homes which are managed by the Housing Association, First Choice Homes (FCHO). Vital Energi have worked with FCHO over the past 13 years providing replacement pipework installations on the St Mary’s Estate, Eldon Street, Keb Lane Estate, Burnley Street, Henshaw Street, Wallshaw Street and Horsedge Street.  

The Benefits:

  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • A solution with increased life expectancy
  • Increased reliability and security
  • Reduced down time due to the state-of-the art fault monitoring system

The Challenge

The original Oldham district heating scheme installed was over 50 years ago and due to its age the pipework was slowly becoming inefficient. The council needed a partner to provide a high quality installation that would last for another 50 years. Vital Energi has worked with First Choice Homes for over 13 years and one of the first projects was the Eldon Street Estate scheme.

Vital Energi's Solution

Eldon Street - 2002

The heating mains on the Council’s Eldon Street Estate had significantly exceeded its expected working life. Due to a growing number of bursts, local residents were suffering regular disruption and inconvenience, whilst the Council itself was incurring increasing maintenance costs. After extensive design, consultation and specification work, Vital Energi subsequently won the contract to replace this ageing infrastructure in the face of fierce competition.

Following a detailed assessment of the project parameters in conjunction with the Council, we proposed an efficient and cost effective solution. Valued at £215,640, it would entail the installation of a new heating distribution main.

This scheme undertaking, which affected 225 homes, utilised our civil engineering, project management and pipe laying expertise. Furthermore, as the existing boiler house was located in the centre of the estate, it was decided the project would be broken down into two distinct sections to keep disruption to a minimum.

Phase 1 involved the installation of 100mm diameter pipes, connecting the on-site boiler house to several of the blocks on the estate. Further blocks of flats were then connected with 80mm pipes in Phase 2. For both phases, pre-insulated pipes were used complete with Band Muff fusion welded joints – an exclusive jointing process capable of extending the pipes’ lifespan from 30 to 50 years.

All isolation and interfaces between individual properties and the pipe network were housed in purpose-built, hard wearing, anti-vandal enclosures, located on the external wall of communal areas. In addition, the process of fitting this new equipment to each property and its commissioning was affected with text book shutdowns lasting only 6 hours instead of the planned 8 - keeping disruption to the residents down to a minimum.

We also installed a computerised surveillance system to continually monitor the performance of the new underground mains system. This state-of-the-art technology enables the early detection of faults, helping to ensure optimum efficiency and minimum downtime.


We have built a long standing relationship with FCHO through the installation of good quality district heating scheme which will last for the next 50 years with our operation and maintenance systems.

The next development of this relationship will involve Vital Energi replacing further pipework on the St Marys Estate with Series 1 pre-insulated pipe. The new pipework will reduce maintenance costs and provide good quality heating and hot water to the residents of the Estate.