Five common boiler problems – and how to fix them and save £100s

WITH temperatures plummeting, it's the worst time for your boiler to break – but if it does, here's five fixes to the most common problems.

Households are set to be blasted by nine days of ice, frost, snow and wind from Tuesday this week which will no doubt see families reaching for the thermostat.

But there are some boiler issues you're more likely to run up against – you'll want to get clued up on how to fix them to avoid being left in the cold.

However, it's important that you should get a registered engineer to sort your boiler out in many of these cases and not attempt to do it yourself.

Otherwise, you could end up making the problem worse or hurting yourself in the process.

These boiler fixes could help you save hundreds as a result.

For example, bleeding your waters and putting proper insulation in can shave money off your bill as households are being pummelled with price hikes.

Some problems you can even fix yourself – helping you avoid any costs you might be slapped with getting an engineer out.

Here's five common boiler problems to know about.

Boiler switches off

If your boiler keeps switching off by itself, it could mean your boiler has low pressure.

When this happens, systems can often shut down for safety reasons.

Fix – tweak filling loop

You can try fixing the problem by yourself by tweaking the filling loop on your boiler, British Gas service and repair engineer Joanna Flowers said.

A filling loop is the pipe that connects your central heating system to the water supply and is usually found under the sink or in a cupboard under or near the boiler.

To do this, switch off your boiler and allow it to cool – and check both ends of the filling loop or securely attached.

Open both valves to allow cold water into the system and wait for the pressure gauge to read 1.5 bar.

Then close the valves and switch the boiler on again – you might need to press the reset button in order to do this.

"If your boiler keeps losing pressure it might indicate a pipe leak in the system," Ms Flowers said. "An engineer will need to check this for you."

Noisy boiler

Is your boiler making a bit of a racket? It could mean that there's too much air in the system.

If your boiler is vibrating, banging, gurgling or whistling, you'll want to check whether the water pressure is low or there's a pump failure problem.

You shouldn't ignore it as it could be a fault.

Fix – adjust settings and bleed radiators

Adjust the settings on your boiler to see if the problem can be fixed.

Your boiler settings will vary depending on what kind and make you have – make sure to check out your instructions manual to see if your problem is listed and which setting you should adjust it to in order to try fix it.

However, you might find the "pilot light" – which is used to ignite the gas inside your boiler – has lit up a different colour, and you might find your boiler is making unusual noises.

You'll need to call out an engineer when you see this, Ms Flowers said.

If, however, you smell gas or notice any other signs, such as a change in the flame colour or sooty marks on – or around – the boiler, don’t try to reignite the pilot light youself.

"Turn the boiler off and call the emergency gas line on 0800 111 999. And if your pilot light persistently blows out, have a Gas Safe engineer take a look at it," she said.

Strange noises from your boiler could be fixed by bleeding the radiators too.

Air could be trapped inside them, meaning they won't work as well.

You can follow our step-by-step guide on how to bleed your radiators here.

You should do this once a year to make sure you're not wasting money – not bleeding your radiators could increase your energy bills.

"Broken" thermostat

You might think that your thermostat has gone bust if it's not telling your boiler what to do.

It means that if you're trying to switch the heating on or up, it might not work.

Fix – check the settings

Your thermostat might not be broken – it could be down to human error, EDF director of heat Dan Hopcroft said.

"Check your thermostat – sometimes, an accidental knock can switch off or change thermostat's settings."

But if that doesn't fix the problem, you might have to call an engineer in.

"If your thermostat settings seem okay, but the temperature is not, it could be time to replace your thermostat," Mr Hopcroft added.

Leaky boiler

Finding a leak in any of your appliances is usually a sign that something is wrong.

If you find one from your boiler, it can indicate a number of things – including low pressure, or it might be old and worn away.

It could also be because there's a broken part in the boiler, such as a seal or a valve.

Fix – call an engineer

For this problem, you'll need an engineer to fully inspect your boiler.

They'll more than likely have to open up the boiler to check there's nothing wrong inside that's causing the leak.

Which? home products and services editor Lisa Barber said: "You should never attempt any repairs that involve removing the boiler casing, involves electrics or the gas supply and meter itself.

"This is dangerous and also invalidates any warranty you may have remaining on the boiler.”

Frozen pipes

You'll want to check your pipes in cold spells to avoid seeing your boiler pack in.

When temperatures drop, the condensate pipe – which drains excess water from your boiler – can freeze over.

This can lead to your boiler shutting down – and leaving you without heating or hot water.

Fix – thaw it and cover it

To avoid it freezing in the first place, Which? recommends to place foam around the condensate pipe.

The insulation will help protect it from plummeting temperatures, reducing the risk of your heating system shutting down.

However, if it's too late and your pipe has already frozen over, Mr Hopcroft says you can thaw it yourself.

"There are tutorials online that show you how to thaw a condensate pipe safely," he said.

"If you're not fully confident doing this yourself, you should call a registered engineer to thaw your condensate pipe."

We explain why energy prices are going up – and what it means for you.

Failed energy suppliers could add £85 onto your bills according to regulator Ofcom.

And bills could go up even more – here's why.

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