How you could fix a boiler before calling an engineer

Boiler failure probably sits quite high on the householder stress scale. Nothing causes panic quite like it and the timing is usually terrible: But before you skip to the worst possible case, or call an engineer, here are some simple DIY checks or fixes that you can do check your boiler safely.

Check the power

This one may be a little too obvious, yet it’s too easily overlooked as well, so check the RCD consumer unit, also known as the fuse box, to see if any of the switches have tripped, meaning there’s no power to run or control the boiler. Try a reset and, if it trips again, then check other items on that circuit that might be responsible for the problem. If you can’t solve the issue, then the electrician is your first port of call.

Check the gas appliances

Possibly another obvious tip is to check your gas appliances to see if they’re all working. If all of them aren’t in working order, this will indicate an issue with the boiler rather than the appliance itself. However, if your gas isn’t working but your heating is for example, maybe your appliance is broken rather than your boiler.

Check the gas supply

Check that the emergency control valve is open and, if necessary, the gas stopcock too. But if it’s clear no gas is flowing, you must contact a Gas Safe engineer.

Check the pilot light

The pilot is the little flame that is ignited inside your boiler. This is usually placed adjacent to the gas control knob. You may have to remove the access panel in order to see it. Some boilers don’t have a pilot light so make sure you know if your boiler has one. If it has gone out, then check the manual or go online to see if you can re-light it. Newer models without a pilot light have a ‘deblocking’ button that can be pressed to reignite the burner unless the pressure is low – which may have caused the issue in the first place. If either of the above fails, then it’s time to call an expert – contact us to book one of our Gas Safe registered engineers here.

Check the central heating controls

Another obvious one, but it is always worth checking, is that the controls are set properly, and they haven’t been inadvertently changed. If not, investigate the power source which is the boiler. Check the thermostat is set high enough to fire up the boiler or that some other heat source, such as natural sunlight, has not fooled it into shutting the boiler down. But if all else appears normal, then the control units may need checking.

Press the boiler reset button

Check the boiler manual or online sources for information on using this button, but it’s usually easily accessed and identified after opening the boiler door or front panel. If it fails to re-start the boiler, then it means a     fail-safe device is overriding the command to protect the boiler and you will need to call a Gas Safe engineer.

Repressurise the boiler

Probably not the answer you expected, but there is a DIY fix for gas boilers when the water supply pressure has dropped. If there are no leakages elsewhere, such as in your radiator joints, this could be a sign that there’s a problem with your boiler. IMPORTANT: before attempting to fix your boiler’s low water pressure, you must read the manual beforehand to ensure that this is possible without a professional.

How to repressurise your boiler:

1. Find the filling-loop and pressure gauge. The filling loop handles should sit at a 90-degree angle to the flow of the pipe.
2. Check the pressure gauge. Most systems will operate at around 1.0-1.5 Bar – check the exact pressure in your boiler manual.
3. Turn off the boiler.
4. Turn both filling loop handles to match the pipe’s direction.
5. Keep watching the pressure gauge to ensure you don’t over-pressurise the boiler.
6. Turn the boiler back on.

The condensate pipe

All new gas boilers are condensing types, which are far more energy efficient, but they do need to expel wastewater. The exit pipe is prone to freezing in extreme weather, especially if unlagged and incorrectly installed, and can cause a blockage. This will trigger an automatic safety shutdown and consequent error codes that can be checked in the manual or online, though gurgling noises from both pipe and/or boiler may be a giveaway. Some hot, but not boiling, water poured onto the pipe can solve the problem. It may be worth calling an engineer to have the boiler and pipe checked if you have any doubts – contact Swale Heating on this by clicking here.

Check the radiator valves

This might sound unlikely, but the radiator valves may have been turned down or off, are old and tired or, in the case of TRVs (thermostat radiator valves), they may have clogged sensors or be prevented from getting accurate readings due to nearby curtains and furnishings. This may lead to the boiler not firing up. It’s also possible that the system’s main thermostat, or ‘room stat,’ might be over-ruled if a TRV is fitted to the radiator in the same room or space. So, check this TRV is set to its highest setting.If you have any doubts regarding the above, and especially if the radiator valves are old, then seek advice and take note that TRVs are now a Building Regulation requirement on all new, and updated, central heating controls and installations. Swale Heating can help here with the latest advice on ‘smart TRVs’ and associated control system – please contact us by clicking here.

Fix a leaking boiler

If your boiler is leaking, then it is time to call an engineer, but take these quick actions first:
1) Switch off the heating.
2) Limit the flood and any damage by turning off the water supply to the boiler.
3) Mop up the water and keep mopping until the boiler has emptied.
While you wait for the heating engineer, check your insurance to see if you can claim for any damage – assuming it’s likely to be higher than the policy excess – and then re-examine your boiler service contract or take one out, as problems like this are unlikely to arise if the boiler is regularly checked and maintained.
To inquire about a Swale Heating service contract, please click here – this peace of mind costs just a small amount each month.

Why choose Swale Heating?

We were founded in 1972 to focus on top quality installation with follow-up maintenance to the same standard. 

Swale Heating is now one of Kent's largest installers of boilers and heating systems, completing thousands of installations each year, and keeping homes safe and warm, via our maintenance and repair services.

We understand that the failure of your heating system can leave you feeling anxious, which is why we're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can find out more about our boiler cover plans and use our online portal to book your repair or annual service. If you would like a quote for a new boiler, click here.