Repairing a boiler at home

Boiler Types

There are different types of boilers and they all have their individual needs. This depends on the types of boilers installed in your house or office. There are gas boilers and electric boilers. It’s generally considered that if you have access to a gas network, then gas is a good option. Electric boilers can be more expensive to run, especially for larger properties. Between the gas boilers and electric boilers, there are different types too. The three main types of gas boilers are system, regular and combi.

In the UK, since 2005, all gas boilers installed should be condensing boilers. They are great energy savers. There are oil-fired boilers and solid fuel boilers too. So many boiler types! Yet there are common boiler problems which bedevil all of them sometimes.

Boiler Maintenance

Regular maintenance is a must when you have any kind of system, gas or electrical, installed. Get your boiler system regularly checked by a qualified engineer. This should be carried out at least annually, if not twice-yearly. Never stress about maintenance costs. You may spend more if you have a boiler emergency, which can be expensive.

Regular maintenance will catch the problems before they become emergencies. Typically, problems tend to occur after a boiler has been idle for a while, such as during the summer months when the need for heating and hot water is less. An engineer can guide you regarding the prevention of possible emergencies that may occur in the near future. Remember, there’s never a ‘right’ time to experience boiler problems. They will invariably occur when you can’t bear them, such as during the coldest months. The best time to catch problems is before they occur.

Common Boiler Problems

No Heat or Hot Water
No hot water or heat can leave you stranded. There could be a number of reasons. A defective thermostat, airlocks, low water levels or even valve failure. Check your gas boiler’s pilot light to see if it’s blue. Check your thermostat settings if you have an electric system. Is your boiler not turning on? Is your gas or electricity switched on properly? Or does your system need to be reset after a recent power cut? No matter what, call the engineer as soon as you can. At least you’ll have something to explain to him on the phone once you’ve checked your system.
Leaking and Dripping
This could be caused by a defective part, a loose connection or high water pressure. In a worst case scenario, your boiler could be corroding inside. Think of the dangers of leaking in an electrical system. There’s a strong danger of short-circuiting. Get professional help at the earliest. There’s no other remedy.
This occurs when limescale builds up on the heat exchanger. This can be a cause of whistling noises coming from the boiler. Speak to your boiler repair engineer for help.
Pilot Light Goes Out
There could be a number of reasons for this occurring in a gas boiler. The light could be blown out by a draft from the flue. There could be a damaged or defective component in the boiler.
Low Boiler Pressure
This could be owing to a leak in the system. That or a damaged pressure relief valve. You may like to check your pressure gauge, as it may be gone below 1. Get this matter resolved at the earliest as it will render your system inefficient and waste your money.
Frozen Condensate Pipe
If your boiler is displaying a fault code after a cold spell, it’s possible that there’s a frozen condensate pipe. If you can locate the pipe, you may try pouring some cold (not boiling) water over it. If that fails, get professional help.
Thermostat Issues
Defective or damaged thermostats should be replaced by a professional as soon as the problem is noticeable.
Strange Banging, Whistling or Gurgling Noises
As mentioned, this can be owing to ‘kettling’. It may also be pump failure or low water pressure. Call the engineer.
Radiators Not Heating Up
Air could be trapped in your radiators. ‘Radiator bleeding’ can help. Otherwise, it could be pipe blockage or a broken pump. Call the professionals.
Boiler Keeps Switching Itself Off
Boiler not firing up is a problem. Boiler switching itself off is something else. It could be low water pressure, thermostat issues, power supply issues or a broken pump. Call the engineer.

A Word of Warning

We’ve endeavoured to give you the most comprehensive guide to handling any possible emergency which may arise with the boiler in your home. 

However, while emergency guides can be helpful when the need arises, there’s something we must stress: in the long term, it’s better to try to do without the need for such guides because regular maintenance of your boiler equipment will help towards keeping your system emergency-free. 

And remember, all comprehensive work to a boiler should always be done by a trained gas safe engineer, and if you smell gas always call the National Gas Emergencies number immediately on 0800 111 999.

There is no substitute for qualified assistance in a sensitive situation like the health of your boiler. 

Read more about buying the right boiler for your home in our boiler buying guide.

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