Boiler maintenance is a major issue for homeowners, particularly as so many UK properties contain older models that require regular servicing. After all, there’s nothing worse, particularly in the winter months, than having a boiler on the blink.
Here we take a look at the HomeCare line of cover from British Gas.
British Gas’s HomeCare range provides gas central heating and boilers with ongoing maintenance, servicing and cover for breakdown or repairs. With over 6,000 Gas Safe registered engineers and a 24/7 customer helpline, you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands when it comes to repairs. With an annual boiler service included as standard across the entire HomeCare range, British Gas also offers packages that cover electrics, drains and plumbing.
The level of care and extent of coverage, and price, will vary according to your needs.
There are four products providing differing levels of cover: HomeCare Basic, HomeCare Essential, HomeCare Classic and HomeCare Complete.
HomeCare Basic (formerly HomeCare One) is the entry-level HomeCare product, providing cover for your gas boiler and controls. This includes all repairs and, subject to certain terms (such as boiler age and type of damage), replacement of the boiler if necessary. Also included is protection against accidental damage and up to £1,000 to cover the costs of any damage caused in gaining access to your system to repair it.
HomeCare Basic covers most of the things you’d expect, but there are some exceptions: removing sludge or scale, showers or taps, design faults, and faults caused by someone else used for repairs.
Also included is an annual boiler service to ensure your boiler is safe and in good working order.
HomeCare Essential (previously HomeCare Two) includes everything offered by HomeCare Basic but extends protection to cover repairs to your central heating including radiators, pipework and hot water cylinder.
Again, you’re protected against accidental damage, there’s an annual boiler service, and up to £1,000 is provided to gain access and make good for each repair. The same exceptions apply.
British Gas HomeCare Classic (previously HomeCare Three) includes cover for your plumbing and drains in addition to your gas boiler, heating controls and central heating. It includes repairs to leaking hot and cold water pipes in your home and outbuildings as well as the water supply pipe within the boundary of your property. Also included is the unblocking and repairing of drains and waste pipes to restore flow.
There are some additional exclusions within the HomeCare Classic plan; these include showers and their parts, shared drains, plus sludge and scale, design faults and repairs carried out by others.
HomeCare Complete (formerly HomeCare Four) offers all the benefits of HomeCare Classic plus adds home electrics. This covers repairs to your home and outbuildings’ mains electrical system and wiring. Subject to some terms and conditions, it also covers the replacement and repair of your home’s electric vehicle charger unit should it break down, suffer accidental damage or be subject to vandalism or theft.
HomeCare Complete’s exclusions are the same as HomeClare Classic, but also include electrical appliances, cooker hoods or extractor fans over 15cm diameter.
There are two ways to report a problem to the HomeCare team and book an engineer to look at the problem. If you’re online, you can access British Gas HomeCare and book an engineer by visiting this link and either signing into an existing account or providing the email address associated with your HomeCare account.
If you’re not online, you can contact British HomeCare by calling one of two numbers: 0333 200 889 for breakdowns and enquiries (lines are open 24-7), or 0333 202 9799 for one-off repairs (available Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, or Saturday 8am-6pm).
British Gas offers plenty of steps you can follow to try and fix minor problems yourself. Work your way through the following before making a claim:
Check your gas, water and electric supplies are switched on
Verify your heating controls are switched on and the clock is set correctly – particularly after a recent power outage, which may have reset it
Try switching your controls to ‘override’ or ‘24 hour’ to see if this brings the heating back on. If it does, focus your troubleshooting on the heating controls. Try resetting the clock or consulting the instructions for further troubleshooting tips
Try turning up the thermostat for a while to see if this generates heat
Check your boiler’s pressure gauge to verify it’s around 1 bar. If not, there may be a leak or it may simply need repressurising – check your boiler manual for instructions
Make sure any pilot light hasn’t been extinguished
Try turning the boiler off and on again
Check your condensate pipes aren’t frozen
If your boiler has a cold water tank in the loft, check the float ball valve hasn’t got stuck; if it has, the water level will be low or zero, in which case gently try to free its arm without using force
Check to see if your radiators need bleeding.
British Gas HomeCare offers comprehensive protection as well as an annual boiler service, but if you’re looking only to cover breakdowns, you can save money by shopping around for other boiler cover deals. British Gas offers packages from as little as £2.50 a month, but there are many boiler cover options from a wide range of providers to choose from.
Rather than wade through all the options manually, a price comparison service like the Uswitch boiler comparison tool can do all the hard work for you, and help you find the best cover to protect your boiler (and central heating) at the lowest price.
The most dangerous time for most boilers, particularly the most common condensing boilers, is winter, which is unfortunately when you’re likely to need it most.
Luckily, it's easy to do something about it, so there's no reason you should be left with no heating and being forced to make expensive calls to your local plumber.
There are some basic things you can do to prevent breakdowns from happening:
If you leave your heating on constantly in winter it can help prevent the pipes from freezing. However, this isn’t very energy efficient, so if you do leave heating on more, make sure you set your thermostat to a lower temperature.
Keep you boiler manual handy in case you need it in an emergency. If you can’t find it, don’t worry; you should be able to get a replacement from your boiler manufacturer.
If you have a new boiler, look for the ‘automatic pump anti-seize function’ in the manual. This will spin the pump if your boiler hasn’t been used in a while, such as in late autumn, to help prevent problems.
If your boiler’s condensate pipe has frozen you may be able to fix the problem yourself. You can use hot (but not boiling) water to temporarily unfreeze the pipe, then lag it with insulation material. This may help get your boiler started again, but you may still need the experts.
HomeCare prices are fixed for the first year. All Parts and labour and unlimited call outs are included but take note: your breakdown history will be taken into account when determining your renewal price for the following year.
British Gas Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.