Being stuck with frozen pipes or a broken boiler in the middle of winter is everyone's worst nightmare, and can be compounded by spending hours on the phone trying to find an engineer who has time to come out.
Boiler cover will, for a monthly or annual premium, cover the cost of servicing and repairing your boiler and heating system. But how do you know what to look out for when taking out boiler cover, and what things should you be aware of?
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your boiler or heating cover:
This is a common mistake that most of us make by just looking for the easiest option, but it could cost you dearly. There are lots of different options, so make sure you compare different plans and prices to get the best one for your needs and your budget.
Most heating cover has a no-claims period at the beginning of the policy - they do this specifically to stop people from taking out cover when their heating breaks down.
That means you should take precautions before problems develop with one eye towards the future. Alternatively make sure you read the fine-print carefully so you're aware of any no-claims period.
While it's clear that the main thing you're after with heating cover is the assurance that your boiler isn't going to go off when you need it most, it's important to consider safety when dealing with gas.
That's why it's vital to get a Gas Safe Registered engineer in, but it's also vital to get an annual service inspection. This can help to protect you and your family against the chance of a dangerous carbon monoxide leak.
Investing a little money will go a long way towards saving you money in the long run. Boilers that are not regularly serviced will use more gas to produce less heat, which will drive up your gas bill.
Not only that but a well-serviced boiler is likely to last you longer, saving you money when it comes to replacing it.
Boiler cover just covers your boiler and controls, while central heating cover includes your full central heating system. If your main concern is your old boiler, rather than newer pipes, then boiler cover will be sufficient and cheaper.
Some heating cover will have a limit on the amount you can claim, or the number of times you can call out an engineer. If this is the case you should do the maths and work out what level of claim you would be likely to make in comparison with the cost of a new boiler for instance.
The number of permitted call-outs is also a crucial factor. If you can only call for repairs a few times then there's a good chance you'll end up spending more in the long run anyway.
The heating is your landlord's responsibility. However, if you want heating cover you will also need to ask your landlord's permission as you won't be able to get heating cover if you're not the homeowner.
Often, the heating will break down without warning. Sometimes when one problem starts, others will follow in rapid succession. A few tell-tale signs to watch out for are:
The radiators don't get as hot as they should
It takes a long time to get hot water from the taps
Strange banging noises could mean trouble, so call for help straight away
You should also keep a careful eye on how much you pay for your heating. If your gas bill seems to be creeping up but your habits stay the same this is a tell-tale sign of boiler problems.
Other issues include changes in pressure and a discoloured pilot light. Your boiler flame should always burn clear blue, rather than yellow or orange.
One of the main reasons for calling out the repairman is frozen pipes, particularly with condensing boilers where the condensate drainage pipe often runs outside.
One of the best ways to ensure your pipes don't freeze up is to always keep your heating on during particularly cold spells. This may mean setting the thermostat quite carefully, but it could save you a fortune in repair costs.
If your pipes do freeze up you may also be able to solve the problem yourself. Pouring hot water from a kettle over the pipes will help to defrost them, but if the problem persists you could also look at wrapping your pipes in a thin layer of insulation.
Alternatively if the condensate pipe is freezing you could look at moving more of the pipe inside.