What Happens If My Boiler Breaks
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- Preventing Your Boiler From Breaking Down, Who To Contact When A Boiler Breaks Down, How To Stay Safe With A Broken Boiler, Boiler or thermostat not responding, Common Boiler Problems
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You've got a broken boiler - time to panic! When it comes to our gas appliances, we take them for granted, getting them serviced annually and forgetting about them for most of the year. If you have recently experienced a boiler breakdown or want to prevent future breakdowns, keep reading this article as we give you our advice and tips.
What to do when your boiler breaks
When your central heating system or boiler breaks, you can be without hot water and heating for extended periods. While this may not seem dangerous, for elderly relatives and family members, the cold can lead to chronic conditions if you fail to stay warm. Confusion, dizziness, nausea and other illnesses are the tip of the iceberg when your boiler has broken and you are left in the cold for too long. Furthermore, boiler replacements can be expensive, and you can prevent costly repairs by caring for your boiler the best you can, regularly checking and performing maintenance.
If you have your boiler serviced regularly (along with other gas appliances in your home), you are putting yourself in the best position to spot problems before they spiral into full breakdowns. A Gas Safe registered engineer can identify weak areas and internal components likely to break in time.
Common Boiler Problems
Thankfully, there are many common boiler problems that gas heating engineers will be accustomed to fixing and repairing. There are very few issues that your gas boilers or electric heaters can be facing that haven't been seen before.
The next time you experience heating problems, stop and check for one of the following problems:
Nearly all boilers suffer from low pressure at some point. This is one of the more simplistic boiler repairs, as long as you spot it early on. If your central heating system makes banging sounds or the boiler switches itself off, this signifies your boiler needs repressurising. Adjusting and tweaking the pressure relief valves and filling loop on your boiler can typically fix this problem. However, if you notice the radiators furthest from the boiler failing to heat up, this may require a different solution. For these components, check your boiler manual for further instruction. If the boiler pressure gauge reads less than 1 bar, you should carefully repressurise the boiler to anywhere between 1 and 1.5. If the reading is higher, your gauge needle should be in the red zone, signifying high pressure. This is a different problem and requires urgent care.
Frozen condensate pipe
Frozen pipes are never ideal and cause many broken boilers across the UK. Your frozen condensate pipe is responsible for transporting acidic water away from your boiler to your outside drain or pipe. When this freezes over in colder seasons, your new boiler can quickly break down, and the water supply can become compromised. If your boiler doesn't start up or is making unusual gurgling sounds, this is a sign of frozen pipes, and you should work to thaw them immediately. Apply hot water (but not boiling) to the pipe, using a warm compress to help slowly defrost the ice.
Boiler or thermostat not responding
When your thermostat isn't responding to the programmed settings you've established, this can be irritating. If you have set up your thermostat settings yourself, yet the boiler doesn't come on when programmed, there are some relatively innocent faults potentially behind this. Firstly, check the batteries on the thermostat and ensure the settings are as you want on the digital display, as something may have changed (clocks moving forward or backwards, for example). If you have had a power cut recently, there is every chance the boiler's settings have been reset. If there is a genuine fault, an error number and code should be displayed on the screen, alerting the problem. The central heating programmer on the thermostat should also be set correctly, so check that this hasn't been accidentally moved or nudged.
The pilot light has gone out.
Many older boilers work via pilot lights, a visible gas light signifying the boiler is active. If your boiler is not switching on or the pilot light regularly goes out, you can occasionally reignite the light yourself. If it continues to go out, you can contact an engineer on the gas safe register, and they can fix the problem for you. If you smell gas, notice sooty marks or a change in flame colour of your pilot light, switch the boiler off immediately and don't try to reignite the flame.
Boiler locks out
If your boiler continues to display an error code on the control panel or the red lock-out light is shown, a few fixes are available. Firstly, try a simple boiler reset - this can occasionally solve the boiler problem. The reset button should be clearly on the front panel, or you can find further information in your boiler's manual. Only complete the fixes you are comfortable with, and regular check-ups will help keep your boiler in good health moving forward.
How To Stay Safe With A Broken Boiler
While broken boilers cause inconvenience, they can also cause severe illness and death. Fires can start due to gas leaks when you do not catch the issue in time. Boilers are typically fitted with pressure relief valves, overheat stats and oxygen depletion sensors, among other safety precautions. When your boiler is not working, and you believe there to be a gas issue, go around your home and test other gas appliances, like ovens and hobs.
Staying safe with a broken boiler is beyond important. Here are some things to consider when your boiler is playing up to keep you and your family safe:
- If you smell gas, turn the boiler off.
- Any soot marks or scorching should be treated the same.
- Notice the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Stay warm best you can, and use hot water bottles and portable heaters until the boiler can be repaired. Relocate to a friend's home if you feel unsafe and want to be with warmth.
While boilers do come equipped with safety components, there are rare occasions where death and serious economic damage can be caused by them malfunctioning. This is more common in children and elderly people, so you must protect them at all costs.
Who To Contact When A Boiler Breaks Down
When your boiler breaks down, you should not attempt to fix this yourself. Your boiler cover or warranty can be compromised when you try DIY work, and your gas supplier can make the manufacturer's warranty void.
Emergency engineer callouts can be arranged but always use a gas safe registered engineer. The online register outlines all approved engineers, and an emergency helpline can be found when you are without heating or hot water. When in a gas emergency, a service engineer can help fix the problem without breaking the insurance policy.
If you have access to hot water but not heating via an immersion heater and hot water cylinder, you are not considered an emergency customer. Those without access to either hot water or heating are considered a priority, so you should not contact an emergency engineer.
Is Your Boiler Under Warranty?
Many boilers have a one-year guarantee warranty or insurance policy period, meaning you can get any genuine fault fixed for free. You can pay for an extended warranty, increasing this to two to ten years. Depending on the nature of your warranty, you must use an engineer recognised and approved by them. When you are outside of this time period, you may have to pay the full price yourself.
Do You Have Boiler Cover?
Boiler cover can help pay for the repair and even the replacement of your broken boiler. If you do not have one in place yet, these generally protect you for different lengths of time depending on how much you pay.
Your home emergency cover can sometimes cover boiler breakdowns, insuring you for when they suddenly fail. If you do not have this, it's worth looking into, as you can include your boiler cover into your monthly home contents policy. When they break down without reason, cover can cover the repair and even replacement of the unit.
Specialist boiler cover is designed to cover the full cost of a replacement boiler, offering more comprehensive policies. When your boiler is beyond economical repair, and below seven years of age, you can typically get your next boiler free or free repair when you get them serviced annually.
Preventing Your Boiler From Breaking Down
The best thing you can do to stop your boiler from breaking down in the future is to get it serviced annually by a gas safe engineer. Ideally, all the gas appliances you own should be serviced and checked to ensure they are running optimally and safely. This can be done every time you bring a new appliance into your property, but getting appliances home safety checked is a good practice to get into. Keep a steady pressure on your boiler. Perhaps get a smart meter to ensure you are not overwhelming the central heating system and listen for unusual noises.
You don't want to be caught out during cold weather without hot water or heating, so take care of your central heating system. For more information on how to care for your heating, please contact our team.
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