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10 Common boiler problems and how to fix them

Posted on 10/22/2019

With winter approaching, having your boiler working smoothly is essential. Cosy rooms to come home to, hot water in the morning and evening – you expect it every day. But what happens if your boiler’s on the blink? We’ve listed the 10 most common causes for your boiler to break down, and what you can do to fix it.

  1. No hot water

    The most usual reasons for this are:

    • Fuses
      Open your fuse box to see if any of them have tripped (when the switch moves from an ‘on’ position to ‘off’). If so, flip them back on. If it happens again, then we would recommend having a heating engineer checking it out for safety.

    • Credit
      If you’ve got a pre-paid meter, you may need to top it up. Check your display to see what’s needed.

    • Power cuts
      Some boilers use a timer that resets when power is lost, so if you suffer a power cut, check your timer’s settings are working. If not, reset them.

    • Your boiler’s pump doesn’t work
      There can be many reasons why your pump doesn’t work, ranging from becoming loose over time to poor installation and damaged or leaking seals. This can be quite fiddly to repair, so we recommend using one of our expert engineers.

    Extra tip: make sure your boiler hasn’t been turned off accidentally!

  2. Leaking and dripping

    Boilers can occasionally be messy, and leaks and drips are two common examples. As with any leak, you’ll need to know where it’s coming from. Pressure valves, damaged pump seals or internal components are usually the cause.

    If you don’t know how to fix the leak, call a Local Heroes heating engineer. They’ll be able to see what the problem is, how to fix it and what to do next.

  3. Kettling

    No, it’s not a new form of yoga. Whistling (like a kettle boiling) and unusual noises coming from your boiler are called kettling. This could be an indication that sludge and limescale have built up inside your boiler’s system. When this happens, the flow of water inside the heat exchanger is restricted, causing it to overheat and create kettling.

    Whistling or other unusual noises coming from your boiler could be an indication that sludge and limescale have built up inside

    If you don’t deal with it quickly, it can be expensive and damage your boiler significantly. We recommend you contact a Local Heroes heating engineer.

  4. Your boiler fails to ignite

    This could be caused by a few issues. Try resetting the boiler or, on very old models, try to manually relight the pilot following the manual’s instructions. Gas faults often have multiple safety issues, so we suggest you use a Gas Safe registered engineer to look at your boiler’s problem.

  5. Low pressure

    Occasionally, your boiler can lose water and become depressurised. The ideal figure for it in bar (the metric unit for pressure) is about 1 to 1.5, when cold. If your boiler’s gauge (the dial that shows the pressure) is less than 0.5 bar, you should re-pressurise the system.

    If you want to safely re-pressurise your boiler, refer to its manual. If you don’t have one, search online for your boiler’s model number. Or, you can call a Local Heroes heating engineer.

  6. Frozen condensate pipe

    Boilers breaking down during winter can often be down to frozen condensate pipes (pipes used for waste water). An easy way you can prevent this is to cover the pipes with waterproof insulation.

    Properly insulating pipes can prevent freezing during the colder months and can be done easily and cheaply.

    And with insulation starting at around £2, this is something you can easily do yourself. If the pipe itself needs any changes, you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer for help.

  7. Thermostat issues

    Are some of the rooms in your home too hot or cold? This may be down to a faulty thermostat. To test it, switch the heating on by the timer, then turn your boiler’s thermostat to the minimum setting and see if the boiler goes off. If it doesn’t, you should turn off your boiler’s time clock.

    If your boiler is healthy, it should always respond to your thermostat.

  8. No heat from your radiators

    Have you recently bled your radiators? If so, you might need to repressurise your boiler (see topic 5). This could also be related to a faulty valve, thermostat or clock / programmer. A Gas Safe registered engineer can help with that.

  9. Strange noises

    Fortunately, most boilers are fairly reliable. When something does go wrong though, an odd or unexpected noise may be the first sign that your boiler needs some attention. These are some of the common ones.

    • Whining or buzzing
      Vibrating fans, a defective burner or worn pump bearings may be the cause. A Local Hero will know exactly what to fix

    • Gurgling
      If loud and sustained, you might have a blockage in your condensed pipework. A Gas Safe registered engineer can help you

  10. Your boiler switches itself off

    This could be because of air in the system, a faulty pump, broken heat exchanger or a broken thermostat. We have some articles that may help you with this, but if you need your boiler repaired in person, call a Gas Safe registered engineer.

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