When the weather's cold and the cost of gas is rising, it's more important than ever to keep your boiler well-maintained.
Whether your boiler is acting strangely, it's time for planned maintenance or you think it's time to replace your older model, it's essential to know the signs that it is struggling to do its job. Before you call to make an appointment with a Gas Safe registered engineer, it helps to know if there are any existing issues.
We've listed the top five signs that your boiler is in need of a little TLC.
1. No heat
The first telltale sign is less of a clue and more of a great big red flag. If a boiler is unable to heat water, that's a serious clue that it needs a service and a registered engineer should be called as soon as possible.
Agents should ask tenants to inform them as soon as possible when the heat isn't working. Cold radiators and freezing showers may seem minor on the scale of potential issues, but they can indicate dangerous pressure issues that can cause bigger costs if left unattended. Excess cold during winter can also pose a risk to your health.
2. Lazy pilot light
A flickering light is never a good sign. You wouldn't ignore it in your car, so don't ignore your boiler lights either.
If your boiler pilot light isn't clear or keeps flickering, it could signal that there isn't enough oxygen in the system to power it. If it goes out completely, there might be a broken thermocouple stopping the gas supply or a built-up deposit behind the pilot light.
Either way, it's definitely a sign to call in the cavalry. Sometimes, the solution is just a new bulb or a thorough cleaning, but checks should always be undertaken by a qualified professional.
3. Strange noises
Things going bump in the night could just be excess air in the system, or it could mean something more serious. A boiler making clanging, banging, or vibrating noises can result from limescale build-up in the heat exchange, known as 'kettling'.
You might be able to resolve a noisy boiler on your own by simply bleeding the boiler. If this doesn't rectify the issue, you should call an engineer to take a look.
4. Cold radiators
Sometimes, it's not the boiler causing trouble but something else in the house.
Radiators that are hot at the bottom but not the top might need bleeding to allow trapped air to escape, but this could also indicate that your boiler's struggling.
If the problem persists after the radiator has been bled, an engineer should be your next port of call.
5. Frozen condensate pipe
Your boiler's condensate pipe is the pipe that carries the waste acidic water the boiler creates when it's functioning properly to the drain outside.
Icy weather can cause boiler condensate pipes to freeze, preventing the boiler from functioning. Signs that this might have occurred include strange gurgling sounds or the boiler switching itself off.
Most condensate pipes are insulated with lagging to prevent freezing, but they can still be the subject of ice buildup anyway. If you think your condensate pipe might be frozen, the quickest solution is to thaw the pipe by dousing it in hot water or using a hot water bottle. If these actions fail to resolve the issue, consult your engineer.
For more information on servicing your boiler in the winter months, why not download our Tenant's Guide: 6 Common Issues to Look for in a Broken Boiler?
Or are you looking for more ways to protect your properties from cold weather? Here are our top tips for protecting your property from snow and ice.