How to deal with boiler breakdowns
It’s never any fun when your boiler breaks down, especially when you’re relying on it to heat your home and hot water during the cold winter months. The best way to plan for a potential boiler breakdown is by taking out emergency boiler cover. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll simply be able to phone up your insurance provider and they’ll send out a qualified boiler engineer to fix your boiler in a matter of hours. There are plenty of different boiler cover packages to choose from to meet your needs and budget, as well as central heating boiler packs that provide insurance for your entire system.
But what if you don’t have any sort of boiler cover and something goes wrong? Lucky for you, we’ve got some great tips on how to keep your home habitable if your plumbing and heating fails.
Boiler Breakdown: Heat your home with alternative methods
If your boiler or central heating has broken, you’ll need to find another way to keep your house warm. Make use of an open fire or gas fire if you’ve got one. They’ll prove an effective alternative to gas boiler heating for warming up your home.
For properties without alternative heating sources, electric heating will be the way to go. Space heaters, which you can simply plug in and use will quickly raise the temperature of your home. However, they are far more expensive to run than central heating, so you’ll only want to use them to tide you over until your central heating is fixed.
Boiler broke? How to keep warm
Want to minimise the cost of heating your home if your boiler has failed? Here are a few other ways you can keep warm…
Draught proof your home
Make sure your home isn’t draughty by patching up any holes in the walls, hanging thicker curtains and laying draught excluders in front of your doors. Draught proofing products are fairly inexpensive but could save you a lot of money by preventing heat from escaping from your home.
Wrap up warm
Don’t be ashamed to wear a coat, hat and gloves inside your home if it’s what you need to do to keep warm when your boiler breaks. There’s no judgement here, in fact, it’s the most sensible thing you can do!
Use hot water bottles
Hot water bottles are great for keeping warm when you haven’t got central heating and they’re much cheaper than running an electric space heater. If your home is particularly cold, carry one around with you and pop one in your bed at night to warm it up before you go to sleep.
Boiler breakdown: How to get hot water
If your boiler is responsible for heating your water, as well as your radiators, you could be in a spot of bother if it malfunctions. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to create hot water until a gas engineer is available to take a look at your system.
Use your electric water heater
Do you have an immersion heater tank installed in your property? If so, you can use this to create hot water instead. This type of hot water system is basically like a big kettle that works by passing an electric current through a metal element, which heats the water around it.
Using an electric water heater will be a bit more expensive than heating hot water with your boiler, so only use it when necessary.
If you haven’t already got an immersion heater installed, it’s worth considering the investment, as it can prove very beneficial if something goes wrong with your boiler.
Heat water with your kettle
Do you have an electric shower? If so, this will still produce hot water, as it does not run off your boiler.
No immersion heater or electric shower? You’ll need to use the good old-fashioned method of boiling water with your kettle! It’ll mean you can still wash, do the dishes and with a lot of patience, enjoy a bubble bath.
Boiler breakdown: What to do next
Although it’s advisable to seek help from a gas engineer if your boiler breaks down, some minor issues can be easily fixed without their expertise.
Low pressure – Does your boiler keeps switching off? Are the radiators furthest from it struggling to warm up? The pressure on your boiler may be too low. Check the pressure gauge on the control panel. If it reads less than 1, you’ll need to use the valve to increase it to between 1 and 1.5. Check your boiler manufacturer’s guide for further instruction.
Frozen condensate pipe – If your boiler is making a gurgling sound or struggling to fire up and it’s very cold outside, you may have a frozen condensate pipe. This is easy to fix by pouring hot (but not boiling) water over the pipe or applying a warm compress, like a hot water bottle. Basically, you need to melt the ice inside the pipe so it clears the blockage and allows your boiler to continue working.
Incorrect thermostat settings – Is your boiler failing to come on when it should or appears to turn on at random times? Is there an error on your thermostat? These problems are likely to mean there’s something wrong with the thermostat, rather than your boiler. It could be as simple as someone accidentally knocking it and changing the settings or it re-setting incorrectly after a power cut. The batteries may also need replacing. Try adjusting the settings and increasing the temperature to see if it kick-starts your heating.
Boiler breakdown: When to get expert help
Although you can fix some minor plumbing and heating issues (as shown above) yourself, more serious problems should always be looked at and fixed by a qualified gas engineer, who is registered with Gas Safe. Never interfere with the internals of your boiler or gas appliances yourself, as you could be putting yourself and those living in your home at risk.
Once your boiler is back in good health, we’d recommend having regular services to keep everything ticking over nicely. We offer boiler and central heating care packages that include annual boiler servicing, as well as cover for breakdown and repairs. For more information about boiler care, get in touch with the Hometree team today on 0800 368 9881.