6 Common Boiler Problems & What to Do About Them
Boiler breakdowns can be an absolute nightmare, especially as they tend to strike in the winter months after the boiler has been inactive for a prolonged period. When they first power up after being inactive, the components are under more stress than usual, and this is why they are most likely to fail.
Some common boil problems can be dealt with unassisted, but others will require help from a professional plumber. Below are some of the most commonly encountered boiler problems and how to respond to them.
A boiler not doing its job properly can indicate a number of problems; broken diaphragms and airlocks are one common culprit, as are issues with the thermostat and water levels. The first place to check should be the thermostat as this is the most accessible and easy to interpret component. If you suspect a broken part, you will need a professional plumber to come and assess the situation and determine which parts need replacing. Be sure to use a reputable service, have a look online to see which companies operate in your area, and what the reviews for them are like. For example, if you live in Bristol try searching for ‘Bristol boiler repair’ and look for well-reviewed companies such as Plumbing Care Services.
- Leaking and Dripping Pipes
Leaking water can also be indicative of a number of different issues. Dripping water can not only cause damage to the area around the boiler but will also waste water and cost you money. Fixing a leaking gas boiler isn’t something you should attempt to do yourself, instead call out a qualified engineer.
Usually leaking from a boiler is caused by the failure of an internal component; often the pump seal or the pressure valve. A failing pressure valve can indicate the pressure within the boiler is too high, but an engineer will be able to alleviate this. A failing pump seal meanwhile is usually due to the component simply wearing out from use.
If you notice unusual banging, whistling, or gurgling noises, these can all indicate problems. Often the cause of strange noises is the movement of air inside the boiler. Alternatively, a gurgling kind of sound can indicate that the water pressure is set too low. A loud banging noise can be indicative of imminent pump failure; this is truer for older systems and designs.
It is possible sometimes to identify the problem with a boiler from the sound alone; an experienced plumber may well be able to do this. It is always worth consulting with a professional, and there are also charts online describing the different sounds and what they indicate.
If the pilot light in your boiler goes out, it can indicate one of several things. First of all, it could be due to a broken thermocouple. This would interrupt the gas supply. It could also be something more minor, such as a gust of wind extinguishing the pilot light or due to dust building up.
Before attempting to reignite a pilot light, you should always make sure that the gas in your home is flowing correctly. If you can’t get the pilot light relit yourself, you’ll need to phone for a qualified engineer.
If your central heating system isn’t working correctly, it can indicate a loss of pressure in your boiler. Your boiler should have either a physical pressure gauge on the outside or a way of displaying the pressure on the digital display on newer boiler models. If the pressure is below the 1 on your gauge, this indicates a problem. It could be anything from a water leak to a failing pressure release valve.
Check the area around the boiler for any visible sources of leaks, if you don’t find one, it may be worth re-pressurising the system if you are comfortable doing so. If you find one, call an engineer to come out and fix it.
The thermostat is designed to monitor the temperature inside your boiler and to respond to any excessive build-up of temperature by shutting the boiler down. Issues with the thermostat which cause false readings can also trigger the boiler to automatically behave in particular ways when it isn’t supposed to. This mostly applies to newer boilers, which feature digital elements; older models which are purely mechanical won’t have the same safety features. If nothing else, you want to be able to read your boiler’s temperature correctly for safety reasons, and an incorrect thermostat can prevent you from doing so.
A boiler failing can cause a great deal of stress and inconvenience. It’s not just the discomfort that comes from not having access to heating or warm water, many worry about whether they will be able to resolve their issues and if not how much replacing the boiler will cost them. It is always worth knowing how to identify and respond to the most common issues.