Having your boiler break down at any time of the year is a nuisance. But it can be a real nightmare if it happens in the middle of winter, when you need your boiler the most.
As British Gas explains, there's a misconception boilers last a certain number of years and then simply give up. As long as you take care of your boiler with regular servicing, it should last well into old age before it needs replacing.
Yet, while regular maintenance will help to prevent boiler mishaps, unfortunately it won't stop them from happening altogether. What's important is to know when a simple fix is all that's needed, or if your boiler's reaching the end of its days.
Here are some signs to look out for, courtesy of British Gas and Which?:
If you're calling out a boiler service a few times each year, you need to work out whether the cost of repairs and call-outs is higher than a boiler replacement. If your boiler's still breaking down shortly after being serviced, it's likely it's reached the point of no return.
Your boiler's ErP energy label will tell you how efficient it is. To give you an idea, an A rating is 90% efficient, while a G rating is 70% efficient.
British Gas says upgrading to an A-rated boiler from a G-rated one could save you £200 a year. But of course, you need to offset this saving with the cost of the new boiler.
An efficient boiler reaches its maximum temperature quickly and gives out heat almost straight away. If your radiators take a long time to warm up, or they only let out a little heat, your boiler could very well be on its way out. However, it could just mean sludge is in your heating system, which leads to blockages and causes cold spots on radiators. Your best bet is to have a qualified, Gas Safe engineer come and take a look.
Most noises that come from boilers and radiators are completely harmless. But if you've noticed a change in the noises or they're getting louder, there could be an issue. Tapping sounds could mean there's sludge in the system, but humming, vibrating or banging could be a sign of something more serious, so get an engineer to come and take a look.
Boiler flames should be bright blue. If it's a yellow or orange colour, you need to call out an engineer as soon as possible. They'll tell you how severe the issue is, and what it'll take to put it right.
If there's an eggy, sulphurous smell when the boiler's on, this is a sign of a gas leak. Turn off your boiler immediately and phone the emergency gas line on 0800 111 999. Only when you've reported it should you get in touch with a Gas Safe engineer.
A boiler shouldn't be producing a smell, so switch it off whether the odour is sulphurous or not and seek help.
A leaking boiler may be a sign a valve or seal has broken, and not treating it could cause an electrical short-circuit and could even damage the structure of your home. So turn off your boiler and call a professional – hopefully the problem can be resolved easily.
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