For homeowners all over, nothing is quite as stressful as when your boiler stops working or runs into a few problems – particularly in the depths of winter. Even in the height of summer, having no hot water can be a real issue and make day-to-day living difficult. Boilers always seem to break down at the most inconvenient times and having no hot water or heating can be very stressful.
When your boiler breaks down or you begin to experience problems, your first thought may be to call out a gas engineer. However, before you pick up the phone in a panic, there are a few checks that you can carry out yourself that could fix the issue. Carrying out some essential checks beforehand could save you time and money, and get your heating back up and running in no time.
What to check before calling a heating engineer
Check the power supply
If your heating suddenly stops working, it could be an issue with the power supply. The problem may simply be that there is no power going to the boiler. Check whether the power is on or off, and check the fuse or main circuit breaker as it may have just tripped. This can be easily fixed by simply resetting it. It could be that the reset button has popped out on the boiler or someone has accidentally flipped a switch that has tripped the fuse.
You can check whether the electricity is still connected by testing other electrical appliances in your house. If they don’t work, this is an indication that there is an issue with the electricity – in this case, you’ll have to contact your supplier.
Take a look at the pilot light
For households with older boiler models, it could be that the pilot light has gone out. The pilot light is a small burning gas flame that is used to ignite the main gas burner, and is visible through a small opening at the front of the boiler. This flame burns 24 hours a day and requires a small amount of gas to keep burning.
If the pilot light goes out, it could be an indication of a gas leak which can be very dangerous. Fortunately, old boilers with pilot lights feature a safety sensor that cuts the gas supply if the light gets extinguished. If your boiler is not working yet it is receiving electric power, check that the pilot light is alight. If it’s not, you can reignite it by following the instructions in the manufacturer’s handbook.
Inspect the radiator valves
Sometimes, it’s not actually the boiler that’s the problem and it could instead be your radiator valves that are causing the issue. If your radiators are not heating up, try adjusting the valves to see if you can get it to heat up. Depending on what type of radiator you have, there are a few different things that you can try.
For a standard lockshield valve, simply remove the plastic cover and, using the appropriate tool, adjust the setting to see if it heats up. A thermostatic valve can simply be turned to the desired setting. When you adjust the valves, you should notice a change in temperature – if you don’t, this is an indication that there is an issue with the radiator valves and they will likely need replacing. You should always get in touch with a professional to do this for you.
You may also want to try bleeding your radiators to see if this makes a difference. This is fairly easy, however, many people prefer to leave it to the professionals. Once you’ve worked out which radiators are not heating up correctly, use a radiator key and attach it to the valve. Using a cloth, slowly turn the key anti-clockwise. You should hear a hissing sound, which is the gas escaping. Once the gas has escaped, close the valve.
Check the pressure
For your boiler to function correctly, there needs to be constant water pressure to the system. Low pressure is fairly common in combi boilers and can cause your boiler to run at a lower capacity than usual. Have a look for the water pressure indicator on the front of your boiler. If the indicator is below one, your boiler pressure is too low and this will be the root of the problem. If the pressure is lower than one, most boilers will not start for safety reasons.
In the majority of new modern combination boiler models, the water pressure is maintained by the mains cold water supply through a filling loop. Water pressure can become too low for a number of different reasons, from bleeding your radiators to a leak in the system.
To fix this issue, you need to find the boiler’s filling loop (which is usually located at the bottom of the unit) and use the loop to top up the system with more water to correct the issue. However, if you do not have experience with this, we recommend contacting a professional to correct this issue for you.
Check the timer
If your boiler has a timer, check that it is set correctly and that it comes on at the correct time. There’s a chance that there could be a problem with the timer. Check that the thermostat is set correctly too – it could be that the batteries have run out or it has simply lost its accuracy over time. To assess whether or not the thermostat is working correctly, try adjusting the temperature setting on the thermostat. Remember, the boiler will only come on when the thermostat temperature is higher than that or the room.
Try replacing the batteries in your thermostat and, if that doesn’t make a difference, the entire thermostat may need to be replaced.
Reset the boiler
Finally, try the good old ‘turn it off and back on again’ trick. In some cases, the boiler simply needs to be reset, and this is easy; simply press the reset button which is located on the front of the boiler. If you are unsure of where the reset button is or you’ve had a look and can’t find it, check the manufacturer’s manual for instructions. It’s important to note that you should not have to remove an access panel to locate the reset button.
Once you have found the reset button, push it for 10 seconds to reset your boiler. After a few minutes, the boiler should start working again – if it doesn’t, try it a second time.
McRoberts Plumbing & Heating Engineers: gas safe engineers for your plumbing and heating needs
If you have tried all of the above and you still can’t get your boiler to work, then it’s time to call up a professional for assistance. Never attempt to carry out any repairs yourself as this can be very dangerous – instead, call up a gas safe engineer to sort it for you.
If you’re looking for heating and plumbing engineers in Kilmarnock, look no further than McRoberts Plumbing & Heating Engineers. Covering the Ayrshire and Glasgow regions, we are a boiler and plumbing business offering a range of different services at an affordable price. We understand that it can be stressful when your boiler breaks down, which is why we offer a 24 hour emergency call out service.
Our services include boiler installation, boiler replacement and repairs, oil, gas and LPG boilers, central heating services, bathroom installations and more. Our team of experienced and qualified gas safe engineers are on hand to deal with all of your heating and plumbing problems – from a leaky tap in your ensuite to a boiler breakdown in your office.