As the source of central heating and hot water, a functional boiler is essential to any British home – particularly during the colder months. If you are experiencing an issue with your boiler, this guide to common boiler problems may help you diagnose the issue before reaching for the Yellow Pages and calling in outside help for an expensive emergency service.
My Boiler is Not Working
If your boiler has boiler stopped working completely, it goes without saying that this is not a good sign. If your appliance will not switch on, will not display anything on its digital screen, or will not fire up when you attempt to heat water or turn on your central heating, it is practically useless.
Let’s assume that you are not operating your boiler on a pre-payment basis, or if you are that you are certain that the meter is in credit. The first thing you should do is make sure that the problem does in fact originate with the boiler, as it could be something as simple as a tripped electrical switch – check the status of other appliances. Likewise, if your boiler is powered entirely by gas, also check similar applications to ensure that the problem does not stem from your gas supply.
If the problem definitely stems from the boiler itself, take a look at the pressure gauge. This should never drop to 1 or below, and if that is the case, it will need to be topped up – check the instruction manual for how to do this, as each model is different. Don’t panic if you have lost your copy, as many boiler manuals are available free of charge online.
If this still does not help, your last course of action before calling for external support is to attempt a reset – which is especially advisable if your home has experienced a recent power outage. Check the instruction manual for more information on this. If this does not help, contact your energy supplier or an external plumber for further assistance – you’re going to need professional help.
My Boiler is Cutting Out
If your boiler powers up perfectly well continually trips or switches itself off, this may be as simple as the low pressure we discussed in the previous paragraph. Check your pressure gauge, and if it is below 1, take the same action as we profiled there.
There are, however, a number of potential alternative reasons. Just one of these is trapped air, which can be resolved by bleeding the radiators in your home – check these heating sources for any cold areas to diagnose this as the issue. You should also check your thermostat, as a broken device may be sending an erroneous message to the boiler, or a frozen pipe (a very distinctive noise will also accompany this problem – we’ll discuss sounds in more detail shortly). This is unlikely if your pipes are insulated, however.
The worst-case scenario for a boiler that cuts out is a faulty pump. A safety feature designed to prevent boilers from overheating will force the appliance to shut itself down in these instances, as the pump’s job is to move a steady supply of hot water throughout your home – if it is failing to do this, the hot water will stay put in the boiler. If this is the case, you’ll need the help of a professional.
My Boiler Will Not Heat Water
Sometimes a boiler will switch in and supply central heating to a home, but will refuse to heat water. There could be a number of reasons for this, and some of them can be rectified without calling for help from a plumber or energy supplier.
Conduct all the usual checks before you do anything else, including your thermostat – if the temperature here is set too low, your boiler may only be capable of releasing cold water. Upping the temperature will allow your boiler to heat water again in no time, especially if you turn your heating and hot water settings to full. Also ensure that you do not have any frozen water pipes in your home, which can be identified by touch. If your boiler is attached to a timer, also ensure that this has not changed – especially if the clocks have recently changed.
If you have an older boiler that is powered by gas and contains a pilot light, check this. This should be burning a bright blue; if this is not the case it will need to be re-lit (we recommend asking a professional to do this, but instructions can be found online if you wish to attempt it yourself). If your boiler is a more modern, combination model, attempt a full reset. If this does not help, it points to a faulty mechanism within the boiler – most probably the motorised diverter valve. These can be purchased online, but the repair itself should only be attempted by a professional tradesperson.
My Boiler Will Not Apply Central Heating
If your boiler is still heating water but not switching on the central heating, check your thermostat. Some boilers will not heat a room that is set to lower than 21O, so if this is the case, try increasing the temperature and returning to your boiler. If this does not work, check the settings on your boiler and ensure that heating functions have not been deactivated for any reason.
If none of this helps, unfortunately you are looking at a faulty motorised diverter valve, and you will need the assistance of a professional to get this replaced.
My Boiler is Noisy
No boiler should necessarily be silent, but it’s also a bad sign if your appliance is making noises any louder than a low hum. There are two particularly concerning sounds from a boiler than should be investigated sooner rather than later.
- Boiler Whistling, also known as Boiler Kettling, is usually a result of trapped air, either in the boiler itself or somewhere in the flow of your home’s pipes. Bleed your radiators to see if this resolves the issue.
- Boiler Gurgling usually suggests that there is a frozen pipe somewhere in your home, and thus the regular flow of water around the house is being interrupted. This pipe should be located and dealt with before it causes further problems.
As you will see, a number of common boiler issues may be rectified at home. A faulty boiler is a worrying time for anybody, and it’s always tempting to immediately seek outside help to prevent a problem from escalating, but you may be able to save yourself a great deal of money by taking these steps first.