A boiler breakdown is every property owners worst nightmare. As an expensive inconvenience that you can never quite predict, there is never a ‘good time’ for a boiler-related issue.
While we can all agree that a broken boiler is the last thing that we want to encounter, it doesn’t mean that you have to switch to a sudden panic mode. Ensuring that you are prepared for the worst means that you can handle the situation calmly and most importantly, quickly. Our comprehensive guide on what to do if your boiler breaks covers every topic that you should familiarise yourself with to ensure that you’re not dealing with an inactive system for any longer than a few hours.
A Guide On What To Do If Your Boiler Breaks
Before delving into our guide to managing a boiler breakdown, it’s important to highlight that while a broken system is inconvenient, it can also be incredibly dangerous. If you suspect any issues with your boiler, then the signs should never be ignored. Registered gas engineers are always happy to visit your property to assess the problem in question and advise you on whether it poses any dangers – it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Common Signs Of A Boiler Breakdown
A boiler breakdown rarely goes unnoticed. There is a number of key telltale signs that you must make yourself aware of in order to detect an issue before it has the opportunity to grow. While some signs can be resolved independently through DIY methods, others require the assistance of a qualified engineer.
Many homeowners opt for a condensing boiler. While they are a fantastic addition to any property due to their increase in heat generated, they do tend to face issues during the Winter. All condensing boilers are fitted with a condensate pipe which often leads to an outdoor drain. Due to the location of the pipes, when temperatures begin to drop, they regularly freeze. This not only blocks the pipes from being able to transport the acidic gas away from the boiler but can also cause burst pipes due to the expansion of water.
No Hot Water
One of the primary purposes of a boiler is to heat your property, so if notice that you no longer have a supply of hot water, it’s a pretty good indication that you have an issue with your system. When it comes to a lack of hot water, there are many different potential causes such as broken diaphragms, motorised valve failure or a thermostat problem.
As the most straightforward sign to spot, unfamiliar noises coming from your boiler indicates an issue. Sounds can vary from banging, whistling to gurgling and may not always be consistent – these are commonly caused due to air in the system or low water pressure.
In some cases, you may experience a problem called kettling. Kettling causes a rumbling noise from your boiler, similar to when you boil a kettle; this happens when there is a build up of limescale or grime in the heat exchanger.
Radiators Do Not Heat Up
Similar to no hot water, a radiator that fails to heat up is one of the first signs that people spot. On average, a problem-free radiator should take no longer than an hour and a half to heat up, so keep an eye on whether your system takes any longer.
The most common reason as to why a radiator fails to heat up is a build up of air or sludge. In this case, the radiator needs to be bled. You can find a full guide on how to bleed a radiator on the SSE website.
Alternatively, you may need to balance the radiator, which involves readjusting the values. Boiler Guide has put together a great guide on how to balance radiators, so is worth taking a look if you think that this may be the culprit of your problems.
No Pilot Light
On every boiler, you will see a small blue flame; this is called the pilot light and is used to keep the large burner alight. If you notice that the pilot light keeps going out, then it could be as easy as a draught that keeps blowing it out. On the other hand, it could be something a little more complex such as a broken thermocouple.
Managing A Boiler Breakdown
Now that you are aware of the signs of a boiler breakdown, it is time to move onto how to manage the scenario. Before calling a professional to take a closer look at your system, there are a few components that you should check.
Check Your Gas, Water and Power Supply
In some cases, while you may think that your boiler has broken, it is actually a problem with the gas, water or power supply. With this in mind, it is imperative to check these before going ahead with contacting a gas engineer.
- Gas – Check if household gas appliances are working; if not, you may also want to find out whether your neighbour’s supply has also come to a halt as it may be an issue that your gas supplier needs to resolve.
- Power – Check if your boiler is still plugged into your power supply, along with other electrical household items. If everything is plugged in, yet does not work, you must contact your electricity supplier. Keep in mind that if you have recently experienced a power cut, this may be the cause of your boiler not working. Boilers sometimes reset their clock after a power cut, which means that all of your preferences have been wiped.
- Water – If there is a problem with your water supply, but the central heating system still works perfectly well, contact your water provider. You can find your local water supplier on the Water UK website.
Check The Boiler Pressure
The pressure of your boiler is crucial in ensuring that it can operate effectively, and hot water can circulate your property. As an average, every boiler should have a pressure which lies between the 1 and 2 bar on the gauge – full information on the ideal pressure for your specific model can be found in the boiler manual.
If your boiler pressure is below 1, then the system will need to be topped up. Alternatively, pressure over 2 will require some of the pressure to be released. You can find a full guide on how to do each of these tasks on Central Heating Quotes.
Check The Programmer
The reasoning behind your boiler no longer working could be as easy as your programmer. Before calling an engineer, take a look at your central heating programmer and double check that it is in the ‘on’ position – a simple, but common mistake.
Many modern systems work based on a timer, which automates central heating. Check whether the scheduled times are still relevant, particularly if the clocks have recently changed.
Contact A Gas Safe Engineer
If you have inspected your boiler and still cannot pinpoint the issue, then its time to call a Gas Safe engineer. Having many years of experience providing heating services in Winslow, we always recommend to customers that if in doubt, give us a call. Do not try to resolve any issues independantly if you are not confident or feel as if the problem could become dangerous.
Keeping Your Home Warm
A boiler breakdown is unpredictable, which means that it can occur at any time throughout the day. While you’re waiting for your engineer to arrive, it is important to ensure that your home remains warm – particularly during the Winter months or if you live with small children or elderly family members.
Hot Food and Drink
If you’re starting to feel a little chilly, hot food or drink is an excellent way to warm your body up quickly from the inside, out. From a hearty stew to a tasty soup, you cannot go wrong with ‘warming’ foods. You would be surprised how much even a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate can ease the cold while you’re waiting for your engineer to arrive. We love the article featured on Health on the best superfoods to warm you up!
An obvious, but always effective method to keep warm during a boiler breakdown. Whether you opt for a cosy jumper or dig out duvets and blankets, every additional layer provides extra insulation against the cold air around you, helping to retain your body heat.
Close Curtains and Doors
One of the biggest culprits for lost heat, even without a broken boiler, are your windows and doors. Similarly to when layering up, you can retain heat within your home through closing doors and shutting your curtains. If you notice that you can feel cold air seeping through windows or doors, we suggest instaling a draught excluder.
If all else fails and you have tried all methods of retaining heat, consider investing in an electric heater. While they may be a little more costly, electric heaters are guaranteed to keep you toasty warm. Expert Reviews have an excellent guide to the best electric heating spanning from both ends of the price scale.
To make the most out of your electric heater, ensure that all doors and windows are closed and if possible, covered. In doing this, you can warm the room up quicker and make sure that no heat is lost through draughts.
When using an electric heater, remember to always turn off all appliances before going to bed and leaving the house to avoid fire hazards.
Fix A Boiler Breakdown Quickly!
While a broken boiler can prove to be a major inconvenience, it doesn’t have to be a cause for panic. Ensuring that you can not only spot the signs of a growing issue quickly but also know the process to manage a broken boiler will work towards your advantage.
If you are having any boiler issues and in need of engineers or plumbers in Milton Keynes, then please feel free to contact Bishop Plumbing & Heating, our experienced team are always happy to help!