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Boiler problems

Boiler problems - when is it time to call the experts?

If your boiler's broken, or it's still working but you suspect that there might be something wrong, then it's time to call someone about boiler repair.

Finding your heating not working and realising that your boiler is broken is a horrible feeling, not least because it nearly always happens in the middle of winter.

However, not all boiler problems are as obvious as the heating going out, so how can you tell your boiler needs the care and attention of an engineer?

Here are our top tips for spotting the boiler problems that mean it's time to call in the professionals.

5 signs of boiler problems

  1. You're not getting any heat or hot water

    This type of boiler problem is hard to miss. If your boiler isn't working at all it doesn't necessarily mean there's a really big problem - in some cases it can be solved with a simple phone call.

  2. The flame in your boiler isn't blue

    If you have a gas boiler, have a look through the window at the pilot light or gas flame (if there is one). The flames should be burning blue. If they look yellow or orange, then it's time to get your boiler repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

  3. The boiler pressure keeps dropping (or rising)

    If you find that the pressure on your boiler drops regularly (or you have to 'top it up' a lot) or the pressure is often too high, then your boiler could be having problems and you need to get it checked out.

  4. You can hear strange boiler noises

    If your boiler is making any strange sounds - clunking, knocking, banging, ticking etc - then it could indicate a problem.

  5. Your boiler is using more gas than it should

    If your boiler is using more gas, but you haven't had the heating on more or used more hot water than usual, then it could be a sign that you are having boiler problems.

Stop problems before they happen

They say prevention is better than a cure, and this is certainly the case with boilers where a little maintenance along the way can save you a huge amount in boiler repair bills further down the road.

What's more, maintaining a boiler is easy. If you sign up to a boiler cover plan you can make sure your boiler is inspected at least once a year by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

The most common problems occur due to pipes freezing up, particularly on condenser boilers. If this is the case there are a few things you can do to fix the problem.

The easiest solution may not be the cheapest, but it certainly works. When the weather is hovering around, or even dipping below freezing, you can leave your boiler on all the time.

This need not mean having the heating on full blast, but rather instead of having your boiler come on and off you can set your programme to reduce the temperature to a minimal level.

A good timer system will allow you to set up different programme configurations, so you can set this up in advance and only activate it when the mercury drops.

Boiler problems

If you don't fancy this solution you can also just focus on the pipes themselves. Any pipes located outside, like the condensate pipe on a condensing boiler, can freeze up in cold weather.

If this is the case you can simply boil some water in a kettle and pour it over the pipes for a quick fix solution, although you may need to do this a few times.

A slightly better solution could be to insulate the pipes or, where possible, move more of the pipe indoors.

Heating cover – what to look for

There are many different levels of boiler cover ranging from cover for just your boiler to the whole central heating system. Crucially boiler cover is capped at different levels too, with cover typically ranging from £1,000 to £1,500.

You can only get boiler cover if you own the home so don't try and take it out if you're renting, although you could ask your landlord to take out cover if there are persistent problems.

You will also have limited options available if you try and get boiler cover on a boiler that's more than 15 years old as some insurers don't cover the older models.

Save energy on heating

While your priority will be keeping the heating on during the winter months the bill that greets you in the spring is a poor way to usher in the new year. Luckily there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you save a small fortune on your heating.

The easiest way to save is through insulation and draught-proofing. Insulation starts with the boiler unit itself, as well as any pipes. A well-insulated boiler tank will retain heat saving you a fortune on reheating costs, but you can also insulate your pipes to minimise any heat loss at the source.

Loft insulation is the next obvious step. Laying insulation in your loft is cheap to do as the materials can be picked up in most DIY shops, and you should be able to install it yourself.

While wall insulation is a more expensive proposition you can also save on heating by draught-proofing your property. Watch out for gaps or cracks around doors and windows, as well as letterboxes and chimney flues. These are similarly easy problems to solve and draught-proofing materials like putty and window strips are cheap to buy.

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