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What to do when you have a broken boiler

A broken boiler can be a real pain in the neck, and something you’ll want to get sorted sharpish. In this guide, we look at what to do if your boiler breaks down, how to notice if it’s broken, and common causes of why your boiler might not be working.

A broken boiler can be a real pain in the neck, and something you’ll want to get sorted sharpish. In this guide, we look at what to do if your boiler breaks down, how to notice if it’s broken, and common causes of why your boiler might not be working.

Boilers can be a little temperamental at times, especially if you have an older model, so it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with. Keep reading to find out more about what’s wrong with your broken boiler and what you need to do to fix it.

Signs of a broken boiler

There are a number of common signs that might indicate your boiler is on the blink. If you notice any of the following it might be time to call your local qualified boiler engineer:

  • No hot water or heating
  • Boiler not lighting or firing up
  • Unusual noises coming from the boiler or heating system, such as whistling or banging
  • A warning light or error message appearing on your boiler control panel
  • No pilot light, or the pilot light colour changes from blue to orange/yellow
  • You notice your gas usage is increasing
  • Leaking or dripping water from the boiler, radiators, or pipework
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Common boiler problems… and what to do

In most cases, broken boilers are the result of a few common boiler faults that need addressing. The top four common boiler problems are:

1. Leaking boiler

A leak is one of the most common causes of a broken boiler, and it can pop up anywhere in your heating system causing the boiler pressure to drop. And if the leak is located after the boiler pressure gauge then the readings won’t necessarily show signs of the problem.

If you suspect a leak, start by checking all the visible points in your heating system (radiators, boilers, exposed pipework) for any signs of leaking or dripping water. If you can’t see anything obvious, you might need to hire a plumber or engineer to come and inspect your heating system.

2. No pilot light

Leaking boiler being fixedThis is one of the easier boiler problems to spot for two reasons: a) you can visibly see when there’s no pilot light on older boiler models (less so on modern boilers), and b) you’ll have no hot water or heating.

To fix a boiler with no pilot light, try restarting the pilot light by following the boiler manufacturer’s instructions. If you get no joy from that, contact a plumber or boiler engineer who will be able to take a look and identify (and fix) the problem.

Top tip: If you’re on a prepaid meter, check you’ve got credit first before you go calling a plumber.

3. Controller or timer scheduled

For boilers that are set up on central heating systems with scheduled times, the timer can sometimes be the reason the boiler isn’t working. This tends to be an issue with electronic boilers with built-in time settings.

Often common faults are because the boiler clock is wrong or the timer options have been set wrong. Using the boiler manufacturer, check the clock and timer settings and try adjusting them to see if that helps fix the issue.

4. Fuel and/or electricity issues

Not surprisingly, if there’s an issue with the fuel that powers the boiler itself then the boiler isn’t going to work. A common boiler fault is there being a lack of electricity and/or gas – not actually a problem with the boiler itself.

The solution here is making sure that the electricity and/or gas supplies are connected properly, but this isn’t something we suggest you do yourself. If in doubt, hire a qualified boiler engineer to check that everything is working as it should – and fix any problems that need sorting to get your boiler up and running again.

How much does it cost to fix a broken boiler?

If you need to have your boiler repaired, you can expect to pay in the region of £100 – £500 for the majority of common boiler problems. And the average hourly rate of a registered Gas Safe engineer is around £50 – £60 per hour.

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Hire a professional boiler engineer

Boilers can be a little complicated to fix if you don’t know what you’re doing, and risky too – given that you’re dealing with electricity and/or gas. We always recommend hiring a qualified boiler engineer to carry out any work on your boiler.

As with all home improvement projects, we also recommend obtaining at least three quotes from different boiler engineers in your area to make sure you’re paying a fair and competitive price for the work. And, thankfully, we’ve got a tool that makes finding multiple quotes super easy.

Our request a quote feature is perfect for getting quotes: you post details about the work you need doing and we’ll send it out to local tradespeople in your area. Try it out – it’s quick and easy!

Tips for coping with a broken boiler

Broken boiler with a common problemWhen you find yourself with a broken boiler, you might end up without hot water or heating for a few days. In which case, here are a few of our top tips for coping with a broken boiler:

  • Wear extra layers of clothing to keep you warm, especially if your boiler breaks in the colder months of the year.
  • Use curtains or draught-excluders to block out any draughts of cold air, particularly around doors and windows.
  • Electric heaters can be a great source of temporary heating if your boiler is going to take a while to get fixed (e.g. if it needs a special part to be ordered).
  • Boil the kettle or pans or water for bathtime so you can at least enjoy a warm bath while you have a broken boiler.


What to do if your boiler breaks down?

In most cases, if you’re wondering what to do when your boiler breaks we would recommend contacting your local Gas Safe boiler engineers. Or, if you live in rented accommodation, report the problem to your landlord as soon as you can and ask for it to be fixed as an urgent priority.

How long does a landlord have to fix a broken boiler?

Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords in the UK are legally obliged to organise repair works within a “reasonable time”. In the case of a broken boiler that leaves you without hot water or heating, this should be dealt with within 24 hours.

Can you sell your house with a broken boiler?

The quick answer is yes, you can sell a house with a broken boiler. But, be prepared for buyers who want to negotiate down the price of your property if they need to fix a boiler or install a new central heating system. Some buyers may even walk away from buying a property if there are any signs of potential issues with the heating system.

What is wrong with my boiler if it is not firing up?

If the problem you’re facing is your boiler not firing up, it could be for a number of reasons. The most common boiler faults for a boiler not lighting are:

  • No or insufficient gas or electricity
  • Not enough pressure in the system
  • Broken boiler fan
  • Faulty or blocked gas valve
  • No credit (for a prepaid energy meter)
  • Tripped fuse box

If you can’t identify the cause of your boiler not igniting, it’s worth contacting a local qualified boiler engineer to come and inspect your boiler to get it fixed.

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