What you should know about boiler repairs
Boiler repairs can be expensive. But you can save a lot of money by understanding what's going on with your particular boiler and making an informed decision about repair work.
When a boiler breaks down, the result is often a cold house or a hot water supply that doesn't last long. For these reasons, many homeowners opt to fix their boiler as soon as possible.
But that's not always the best thing to do. Some repairs can be avoided by making simple adjustments or just being aware of a problem before it becomes a crisis.
For example: If you hear a clicking sound coming from your boiler, call a repairman immediately. Although a click is often a minor problem, it could also be the first step in a serious malfunction.
What are some of the common boiler problems?
The most common problem with boilers is the lack of proper maintenance. If your boiler hasn't had an inspection in the past five years, then it could malfunction at any point.
Another problem is that older boilers need more frequent repairs than newer models. And if you just bought a new boiler, you might need to be prepared for future repairs.
Older boilers are more likely to have particular trouble with their internal parts, including the circulator pump, draft inducer motor or superheater.
Older boilers are also more likely to have internal cast-iron parts that overheat and crack after years of high temperatures. If you don't know how old your boiler is, check your records for the purchase date.
Things you should look out for:
One of the first warning signs is a significant decrease in water pressure from one day to the next. A boiler might have a slow leak or a faulty pressure relief valve. If you find that your boiler has low water pressure or none at all call a boiler expert or gas safety engineer.
Another warning sign of a failing boiler is the noise it makes. If you hear banging, clanging or hissing sounds coming from your boiler you should contact a gas safety engineer to come and inspect your system. You could have debris in the pump or burner assembly that's creating the noise.
Boiler rusting is a sign that there may be a problem with your boiler. If your boiler is exposed to the elements it can rust quickly, especially if you have hard water. Even though the outside of the boiler might look fine, corrosion inside could be leading to problems.
If you notice your pilot light going out continuously another warning sign something is wrong with your system. You may have debris obstructing the burner which is stopping it from staying lit. You should have a gas safe engineer remove any debris and inspect your boiler for other problems.
Another sign that there's a problem is if there's a foul smell coming out of your chimney or flue. This could indicate a problem with the soot traps within the boiler. If there is too much soot in the trap, it can cause pressure to build up inside the boiler which might lead to corrosion.
If you live in an area with very hard water it's also worth having your system checked regularly to protect against damage. Boilers are designed to work alongside well water but extremely hard water can reduce the life of your boiler.
A gas safe engineer will be able to tell you whether your boiler is running at the correct pressure which will be around 1 bar for mains and 0.5 bars for combi systems. If there's a problem with your boiler, it could lead to poor heating and hot water as well as increased fuel bills and even more serious damage.
Who should I call for boiler problems?
If you have a gas boiler, which is the most common type of boiler in the UK, the first port of call should be your gas safe engineer. You can find one on directories for gas safety engineers or through a search on the internet.
These days many plumbers are trained and are gas safety certified so they can assist you will boiler repairs.
Water cylinder and high-pressure systems such as unvented hot water cylinders are often serviced by a heating engineer who may be either gas safe or NICEIC certified.
Before you call anyone, make sure you have the make and model number of your boiler - printed on stickers attached to your boiler system. If you're in any doubt about what type of boiler you have, ask an electrician or gas safe engineer to check for you. This is important because there are many types of boilers, and it may be cheaper than you'd think to replace your boiler instead of getting it repaired.
The cheapest way to find a reputable local engineer is always through recommendations from friends and family members. Check the company online.
If you're looking for an engineer, make sure they are qualified and registered with one of the following industry bodies:
The government-backed Gas Safe Register is generally considered to be the most important register. Make sure your chosen contractor is Gas Safe registered.
Is it worth repairing a boiler or replacing it?
If your boiler is on the way out and needs lots of repairs, it could actually cost you more to repair it than to buy a new one.
Replacing an older gas boiler with a newer condensing model will save you around £100-140 a year on your energy bills. Replacing an old electric boiler generally saves around £120 a year on bills.
What happens if you repair a boiler rather than replace it?
If your boiler is in poor condition and you do decide to repair it, it will be less energy-efficient and therefore more expensive, costing the average household around £115-125 extra per year to run. You can still save money on heating bills by repairing your boiler, but you may need to allow for the cost of repairs when planning your household budget.
Boiler breakdowns can be expensive and inconvenient - if your boiler is in poor condition or breaks down, it's important that you get it repaired promptly. But before you have yours repaired, are there are any other alternatives available?
Can a plumber fix a boiler?
Yes, if they have trained as heating or gas safety engineers. As well as repairing boilers, heating engineers can also replace them. It's worth knowing that the cost of replacing a boiler will be similar to or more than repairing it. You should also be aware that if you choose to replace your boiler, any costs associated with dismantling and disposing of the old unit are not included in this price.
How can I find a good boiler engineer?
Start by using a registered engineer and ensure that they hold all of the relevant qualifications. These include Gas Safe, the CORGI Trustmark and CHAS (Construction Health and Safety Scheme).
What should I do if my boiler is beyond repair?
If your boiler is no longer repairable, you should contact an accredited installer as soon as possible to arrange the installation of a new boiler.
Why is it important to act quickly?
Leaving your boiler beyond repair will cost you more in the long run because once an engineer declares that your boiler cannot be repaired, they will likely recommend that you get a replacement fitted. Replacing the boiler involves dismantling and disposing of the old unit which can be time-consuming and costly. If you want to avoid the expense of having to find a new plumber, you must get your boiler repaired as soon as possible.
How much does boiler repair cost?
The costs for repairs can vary depending on several factors including the amount of gasfitting needed, the number of replacement parts required etc. The average boiler repair cost in the UK is between £200 - £600.