Why Does My Boiler Not Work? These Are the Main Reasons Why


Ignatius Uirab

Money Savings Advice Why does my boiler not work

Some small boiler problems, like low water pressure, are easy to identify and fix without professional help. Most boiler problems should be checked out by a qualified Gas Safe engineer.

You might notice that your boiler isn’t working as it should because you’re left without hot water or heating. Your boiler keeps your house warm, as well as sending water to your taps in the kitchen and bathroom. It may be a smaller problem – if you aren’t getting as much hot water as you feel you should – or a larger problem where the heating and hot water is completely dead.

If your boiler isn’t working, you may be dealing with something that’s easy to fix. Many boiler issues can’t be easily resolved and are best dealt with by the professionals.

Read on to find the answer to all your questions about why your boiler doesn’t work.

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Common Boiler Problems

A boiler should last somewhere between 10-15 years in most cases. In that time you might have a few small issues, though most can be easily repaired. After 15 years your boiler is old and, you might need a replacement.

Before worrying too much, you can check these common problems and see which might apply to your boiler:

Not Firing Up

If your boiler isn’t firing up, this could be a water pressure problem. If the water pressure’s too low, the boiler won’t kick in and start heating the water as it should. Fortunately, this problem is one that’s very easily fixed. Look for the valve that’s close to your boiler and adjusts the water pressure when you open it. Allow water to slowly flow through, then close the valve once your boiler starts up.

Water pressure problems can be indicative of a bigger issue like a leak. If they happen very rarely, just top up your system and don’t worry too much about your boiler. Water pressure issues are more likely in cold weather, but not something to be very concerned about.

If you’re noticing a more frequent loss of water pressure, there may be something bigger that needs fixing.

No Pilot Light

Your boiler’s pilot light is a small blue flame that lights the rest of the boiler. If the pilot light goes out, there’s no way your boiler’s going to start up on its own. The pilot light should stay lit at all times.

If the pilot light’s gone out, something may be blocked or the gas supply might not be getting through. Don’t just light the pilot light again before you’ve looked into the issue. If you’re in any doubt, get an engineer’s help as blockages can cause safety issues.

Strange Noises

During normal operation, a boiler can make a lot of noise. If you’re noticing sounds that you haven’t heard before, these may be a sign of a problem. Limescale building up can restrict the flow of water and cause problems with overheating.

This can lead to gurgling sounds as the water literally boils, as part of a process called ‘kettling’. Other warning signs, beyond a bubbling and gurgling, include clanging and whistling noises.


If your boiler is leaking, always call a Gas Safe engineer. Leaks are not something that you should attempt to fix alone. Common causes of leaks include broken seals and valves that may be quite cheap to replace, though messing around with these delicate components can do more harm than good.

More expensive boiler leaks may be caused by corroded or damaged pipes.

Hot Water but No Heating

If you’re getting hot water without your home being heated, it’s a good idea to first check your thermostat. You’re in control of when your boiler heats your house, and you’ll set a temperature to have your home maintained at automatically. Sometimes, your thermostat can be accidentally adjusted.

Check what temperature your thermostat is set to – your boiler will only start heating your house if the temperature within drops too low. Hot water is a sign that your boiler is working, so it’s possible that your home is only cold because you’ve set the thermostat too low.

Getting Professional Help With Repairs

If you need professional boiler repair, make sure you use a Gas Safe engineer. Don’t just ask if someone’s Gas Safe registered, but check the online register yourself. The Gas Safe Register will clearly show who you can trust with your boiler. Rogue engineers can tempt customers with cheap repairs, but they may be unsafe. Even if they know what they’re doing, they can’t issue a valid gas certificate which could cause you issues if the boiler has problems again in the future.

Even some of the easiest and cheapest repairs are best done by professionals. Fortunately, this means that you might find that this service is cheaper than expected.

Most manufacturers offer boiler warranties of up to 10 years for their products. Before you seek help from a boiler engineer, check if your boiler’s still covered. This could mean that you get repairs or a boiler replacement free of charge.

If you’re not covered by a boiler warranty, you might be covered by insurance. If you have boiler insurance, be aware that you may have an excess charge for making a claim. Once you’ve paid your excess, you can claim on the insurance for the costs of repairs or a replacement.

If you’re not covered by insurance or a warranty, you’ll need to pay for everything yourself. You might have to pay a callout charge, plus labour and the costs of any parts.

What to Do When Your Boiler Doesn’t Work

If your boiler isn’t working, the first step is to check if you can easily fix it on your own. This could be as simple as topping up the water to increase the water pressure in your boiler. You may only need to adjust the thermostat or relight the pilot light safely.

If you’re in any doubt, contact a professionally registered Gas Safe engineer. Gas faults can be dangerous, so you should be prepared to pay for someone that knows what they’re doing.

Check if you’re covered by a boiler warranty, or if you have a boiler insurance. If not, you’ll need to dip into your savings for boiler repairs or a new boiler.

A typical boiler will have a lifespan of between 10 and 15 years.  If your boiler’s still quite new, you might decide that it’s worth paying for essential repairs. If your boiler’s getting on a bit, you might think it’s better to replace it with a much newer model.

Newer boilers can be more energy-efficient and might be cheaper to run. The average cost for a brand new boiler is £400 to £800.

Dealing With Future Boiler Breakdowns

If you haven’t already got boiler insurance, and your boiler isn’t covered by a warranty, the chances are that your boiler breakdown has had quite a big financial impact. Hopefully, you had some money set aside that you were able to use on this occasion. If not, you might have had to borrow some money to fix this domestic essential.

You can’t get by without a boiler, so it’s incredibly important to have funds available to fix yours if it ever breaks. Our online money guides can help you build up savings by managing your budget more successfully.

Is Boiler Insurance Worth the Money?

When you bear in mind the cost of calling out a boiler engineer let alone paying for the cost of repairs, boiler insurance does look attractive for many people. Let’s not forget, a boiler engineer will make a call out charge before they even look at you boiler systems to see what is wrong.

Then you will have a charge for their time as well as parts. A boiler system is integral to any home, and the peace of mind that an engineer is just 24-hours is important for many people.

Money Savings Advice Tip

Boilers go wrong and fail all the time and most of the time can be very expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance. Our top tip is to investigate boiler insurance in more detail, get a whole of the market quote and get an insurance package that works for you, you will be surprised how cheap boiler insurance can be and be protected when your boiler goes wrong.

Can I Take Out Boiler Insurance for an Old System?

If your boiler system is more than 15 years old, then you may well struggle to obtain boiler insurance. Many insurance companies will see the risk of constant repairs too much to take on.

There are some companies that would provide boiler insurance for an older system, but they would likely charge fairly high premiums. You may also find out if your boiler system is more than seven years old then an insurance company will send out an engineer to inspect it before offering an insurance policy.

What Does Boiler Insurance Actually Cover?

In simple terms, boiler insurance will cover the cost of repairs, parts and labour. There have been reports that some insurance policies will offer a maximum amount of labour hours as part of the insurance policy.

So for example, if they have a maximum of four hours and it took the engineer five hours, then you would be expected to pay for the additional hour. Be very careful with the small print!

Can I Take Out Boiler Insurance Specific to My Boiler Brand?

Yes. The boiler system in any home is very important as a consequence; the boiler insurance industry is very large and very competitive. Unless it was an obscure system, the chances are that you would be able to buy specific boiler insurance for your type of boiler.

If you are unsure, it is very important that you take advice because if you buy the wrong type of boiler insurance, then you may not be covered at all!

How Long Should I Wait for an Engineer to Visit?

It will depend upon the insurance company, but in theory, they would prefer to have an engineer on your premises within 24 hours. This could be a little longer if it was non-urgent, but you should not have an excessive wait. If you are having problems with delays, then it may well be worth looking towards another boiler insurance company – one which offers the type of service you need.

I Have Elderly Parents Living With Me Can I Request an Emergency Repair?

Insurance companies are legally obliged to send engineers as soon as possible for emergency repairs where there are elderly people or children in the home. When looking for a policy to suit your situation, it is worth reiterating this point before you take out the insurance.

Should I Take Advice on a Boiler Insurance Policy?

As we touched on above, it is imperative that you take out the right policy for your system and your scenario. If you have any doubts, then it is sensible to seek advice from an insurance broker.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Boiler Insurance?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Boiler Insurance brokers. They have already helped thousands of people get the best Boiler Insurance deals and they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent adviser means they won’t recommend a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. Their advice is also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these brokers who can provide you with a ‘whole market quote’ then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.


Ignatius Uirab

Ignatius is one of our leading financial specialists. With over eight years of financial experience, he has vast experience and knowledge of the financial sector. When he is not writing about how to make your money go further, he is a true family man.

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