boiler problems can happen
a Vaillant gas boiler

Boiler problems. Picture the scene… it is a lovely late autumn afternoon, and the temperature is just starting to drop enough that the heating needs to come on – but it isn’t.

Your radiators aren’t heating up, you don’t appear to have any hot water, and of course it’s the weekend so you know that getting an engineer out to look isn’t going to be the easiest option.

Now, before you get into panic mode, there are a few problems that your boiler might present you with that you can deal with yourself – but if you are in any doubt or unsure, then you can always call the experts at GMS for help and advice.

In this article, we will give you an idea of what could be causing the most common boiler problem. In almost all cases, the boiler will not work because it cannot fire up and create the combustion needed to heat the system. If your boiler is not firing, here are several problems that might be causing it, and an idea of what you can do for yourself to get it going again.

My Boiler is Not Firing Up! Boiler Problems!

Let’s establish some of the main reasons that your boiler might not be starting properly. These are simple boiler problems that are regularly reported/

1.     Frozen Condensate Pipe

If the temperature outside has been particularly low, and you notice gurgling sounds from the boiler when you try to use it, the condensate pipe outside might have frozen. Obviously, this is a boiler problem that will only occur in the wintertime, but you can fix it yourself relatively simply.

All you need to do is identify where the pipe is, and gently thaw it. It’s best to use hot (not boiling water) applied directly to the pipe, followed by some sort of hot compress – a hot water bottle works really well.

2.     Thermostat Issues

If your boiler problems are that it seems to come on erratically or doesn’t come on when you are expecting it to, you might have an issue with the thermostat. This might be obvious if there is an error message or even a blank screen on your thermostat panel.

The first thing you should check is if the thermostat batteries need to be replaced. If this doesn’t solve the problem, then check to ensure that the timer settings don’t need adjusting – they can often go awry if there has been a power cut, for example.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the temperature setting. If the thermostat is assessing that the room is too warm, then the heating might not come on. For most people, a room temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees is perfect.

3.     Boiler Lock Out

If the boiler wont fire and you notice the lock-out light (usually red) on your boiler keeps coming on, or there is an error code on your boiler control panel, then you might need to perform a reset.

Your boiler may just need a simple reset. There is usually a button for this on the panel, but you should refer to the handbook if you are unsure. Failing this, you can always switch it off and back on again.

Remember, as with many other boiler issues, if this is something that keeps happening it might be a symptom of other (larger) problems so contact a professional (like GMS) if it reoccurs often.

4.     Low Pressure

If it feels like the radiators furthest from the boiler seem to be taking a long time to warm up, or the system seems to be making unusual banging noises, then you might have a low pressure problem.

There should be some sort of dial or meter that shows you the current pressure, and if that is reading below 1.0 bar then you need to top it up. Refer to your handbook to find out where your filling loop is, and fill until the pressure reaches 1.0 to 1.5 bar (this is usually the sweet spot for most boiler systems).

Once you have repressurized the system, you might need to reset the boiler for it to start working again.

5.     Pilot Light has Gone Out

If you have an older boiler, you might be able to see the pilot light through a little window in the boiler itself – and if this goes out, the combustion process cannot happen.

The boiler will have instructions on how to relight the pilot light, but before you follow them check to make sure that there are no sooty marks on or around the boiler. If you notice any, don’t try to reignite the pilot light – instead, call the emergency gas line on 0800 111 999.

When to Call the Experts

One-off problems like the ones listed above are relatively simple to sort out and can usually be avoided if you keep up with annual boiler services. However, if any of the above issues become more frequent you should call on a professional for help.

Below are some other signs that your boiler needs a little more TLC from a Gas Safe engineer:

  • Unusual Noises: boiler systems should be relatively quiet – if you hear new noises like whistling, banging, or gurgling, this might be a sign that something is not right.
  • Poor performance: if radiators are not heating fully, or some radiators are not heating at all.
  • Leaking or dripping: water pressure is important, and drips can cause long term damage to your home – not to mention the danger from carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Increased energy bills
  • Age: older boilers will need more help to remain efficient

The best way to prevent boiler problems is to ensure that you keep up with a regular service schedule; we recommend at least annually for gas boilers. You can contact us today to arrange an annual service or speak to us about any problems that you might have with your boiler and central heating system.