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What do I do When my Boiler Breaks Down?

Most homeowners or landlords don’t give a second thought to their boiler. Once it’s installed, it’s not like you need to do anything to you, so once it’s installed and set up, it’s completely forgotten about.

Until it breaks down..

A boiler breakdown can be an absolute nightmare, especially if it’s in the winter months where your boiler is used the most. It can disrupt your household massively, and you’ll want it fixed, and pronto. So what do you do when your boiler breaks down?

First thing…don’t panic. It’s the one thing people tend to do in these kinds of situations, which can make things worse and lead to excessive costs. You need to be sure your boiler has actually broken down first. So how will you know?

How do I know if I’ve had a Boiler Breakdown?

– Obvious first sign? Your boiler won’t even turn on. Pretty likely you need a replacement, but an engineer will need to attend to check it’s nothing else that’s caused it to short circuit.

– Your pilot light is flaming orange or yellow in colour. The normal colour of your pilot light should be blue, so if you see any other colour, you’ll need an engineer to visit.

– Leaking boiler – this one is pretty urgent as not only is it likely the boiler is broken down, it can cause damage to your home. If you see any kind of leak, big or small, call an engineer as soon as possible.

– Knocking or banging noises, or hissing or whistling are all signs that there is an issue with your boiler. Your boiler should be relatively silent, other than firing up.

There are however a few things you can do, to rule some of these out. Give these a check over before rushing to call for an engineer or assuming the worst (other than a leaking boiler).

Check your electricity feed 

– Has your fuse box tripped a switch? This can impact your boiler, maybe a recent power-cut has caused your boiler to reset? Check the clock on your boiler matches up with the current timing.  

– Maybe you have a pre-paid meter, has it run out of credit? Running out of credit means your supply will be cut off, which in turn will shut your boiler off.

– Has the internal fan stopped working? If it’s stopped, the boiler will lock and will not ignite. You can have a fan replaced by a Gas Safe engineer.

– If you can hear clicking noises when you try to ignite the boiler, it could be a faulty ignition lead.  The ignition lead is a vital part of your boiler, and is needed to ignite it.  Another sign it may be the ignition lead is if the boiler does ignite, but then goes out soon after.

Check your Gas Supply

– A common cause of a boiler failing to ignite is down to an issue with the flow of gas to your boiler. There could be damage which is impacting the flow, or a blockage. A good way to check this out, is to test another gas appliance if you have one, to see if they operate correctly.

– If your gas pressure is too high or too low, this can also cause issues with your boiler. It is likely that your boiler will display a fault code if this is the case. For both of these situations, you can call a Gas Safe registered engineer to come and investigate for you to be sure.

– Check your boiler pressure. A boiler will not be able to ignite if the pressure is too low, and this is very simple to check. Look at the pressure gauge on the boiler display, which should read between 1-2 bars. If the pressure has dropped lower than 1 bar, this could be the issue. You can follow the manufacturer’s instruction guide on how to repressurise your boiler, or take a look online. Many companies now provide a video tutorial.

– Check your pilot light. This one is more common on older boilers, and these can go out for many reasons. You can attempt to reignite the pilot light yourself by following the instruction manual. If you do not feel comfortable doing so, reach out to a gas safe engineer for peace of mind.

Who should I call if my Boiler Breaks down?

Your boiler is a gas appliance, which means that any work carried out on it needs to be done by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. This is a legal requirement, and anyone else carrying out these works is doing so illegally. You can check for a Gas Safe Registered Engineer here.

Make sure you check the credentials of the engineer that attends your home, making sure their ID is correct compared to who is visiting, and that the ID card is within the valid dates.  If you’re not sure, do not let them in your home.

How Can I cope if my Boiler Breaks Down?

If your boiler breaks down in the summer months, it’s not such a hassle as it is in the winter.  In the summer, it’s unlikely you’ll be using the heating. And a cool shower will probably be welcomed if the temperature has soared. But if it happens in the coldest months of winter, it can cause major issues.  

Some tips for coping while your boiler is awaiting repair:

  1. Use electric heaters or fans
  2. Boil Water in a pan or kettle for a bath
  3. Make sure there are no draughts letting any cold air in
  4. Wear extra layers: vests, T-shirts, jumpers, cardigans, gillets
  5. Drink warm fluids
  6. Light the fire if you have an electric or wood burning one

What will the costs be?

This is an open ended question. If your boiler breaks down it could be the simplest of repairs at very little expense. Or it could be that your boiler has actually given up and you need a completely new installation.

At FixLink, our call-out charges start at £70+VAT per hour weekdays, and £100+VAT per hour for weekends call-outs. Before any work is carried out, the needed works will be discussed with you in full, and costs will be given up front. 

To Conclude: What do I do When my Boiler Breaks Down?

Whilst you can’t predict when a boiler is going to breakdown, what you can do is everything in your power to keep it running at an optimal level. Make sure you have your annual servicing completed. Turn your boiler on regularly to keep it running efficiently. And make a habit of checking the pressure of your boiler regularly.

If you need an engineer urgently, FixLink can help. Mark offers a 24/7 callout service, you can find the charges here.