Our Guide to What to Do if You Are Having Central Heating Problems


Team Money Savings Advice

Money Savings Advice

Central heating problems aren’t much of a concern through the summer months. In winter, they’re an emergency. Often, your boiler is to blame. You can fix some central heating problems on your own.

People rarely use their central heating through the warmer summer months. As a result, central heating problems seem to happen a lot more in the winter. In most cases, the boiler is to blame for any problems that you have with central heating.

Occasionally, something else might be causing your central heating problems. Some issues can be easily fixed without professional help, though in many cases you’ll want to get in touch with a registered boiler engineer.

Read on to learn more about central heating problems and what issues your boiler might be causing.

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Common Central Heating Problems

Incorrect Thermostat Settings

Many people think they’re having central heating problems when, actually, their thermostat’s just set wrong. Your thermostat is the device that controls your home’s central heating. With a thermostat, you set your home’s desired temperature, so the boiler can work automatically.

If the house drops below the required temperature, the central heating starts to work. Once the desired temperature’s achieved, the central heating shuts off once more.

Accidentally, you may have adjusted the thermostat. If the desired temperature is set too low, the heating might not ever come on. Before looking for bigger problems, check your current thermostat settings.

Central Heating Radiators Colder at Top

Your boiler may not be to blame for your central heating problems. If your central heating radiators are cold all over then the boiler is likely the issue, but if they’re warm at the bottom and colder at the top then your central heating radiators probably need bleeding.

Central heating radiators might need bleeding if there’s too much air inside them. They’re cold at the top, because the hot water’s at the bottom and the top is just filled up with air. Switch off your central heating and use a radiator key to remove excess air from the system.

Keep going until you’re seeing dirty water, rather than just releasing air. Bleeding your central heating radiator is an easy fix that you can do at home on your own.

Central Heating Radiator Colder at the Bottom

A radiator that’s colder at the bottom might have some foreign objects inside it. These foreign objects will take the place of water, so the heat can’t get all the way down. Usually, hot water rises above objects and fills the available space, so you’re likely to discover that the central heating radiator’s hotter on top than it is at the bottom.

If your radiator’s filled with dirt, rust or sludge then the system will need to be flushed out. This will require central heating radiator removal and is a job best left to the professionals.

Noisy Boiler

Boilers aren’t known for being especially quiet, but if yours is really loud when the central heating’s on, then there could be a problem that needs fixing. Kettling might be the cause of your problem when limescale build-up has restricted boiler function and is causing some overheating issues.

If the water overheats, it will bubble and gurgle, sounding very loud within your boiler. You might also hear a lot of whistling and clanging sounds. You can’t fix kettling on your own, so it’s time to call a boiler engineer.

Boiler Not Starting

If your boiler isn’t starting and you’ve checked the thermostat, you’re likely dealing with one of two issues. Either the pilot light’s gone out and will need lighting again, or the water pressure’s dropped far too low.

Low water pressure can be easily fixed by adding more water to the system. This can be done using a small valve that’s located close to the boiler. Just make sure that you close the valve again once you’ve allowed enough water through. You’ll know when the water pressure’s back where it should be as you’ll hear the boiler fire up automatically.

This valve can sometimes leak after prolonged use. If you find that, when you’ve added more water into the system, the valve isn’t fully closing or is dripping water, you’ll get fluctuations in pressure which can cause the system to fail over time. A leaking valve is a quick replacement for a gas safe engineer, and shouldn’t cost too much.

Relighting the pilot light can be done without help, but it a slightly more dangerous job. You’ll need to be sure that nothing is blocked and that there are no gas leaks involved. If you’re unsure, professional help can put your mind at ease.

Other problems might include damaged pumps or problems with the mains power in your home. If the boiler isn’t switching on, check that you don’t have an electrical fault that could be affecting other appliances in your home as the first port of call.

Steps to Take for Central Heating Problems

Many central heating problems can be fixed without any outside help. Repairs could be as simple as adjusting the thermostat, topping up the boiler or bleeding the radiators. Repairs can be cheap and easy, so you might not need to spend much at all.

If you can’t find the problem, or the easy in-home fixes haven’t helped, you will need to call a professional to diagnose and fix central heating problems.

Repairing Central Heating and Boilers

Your boiler should work to heat your home for at least 10-15 years. If yours needs repairing, always make sure you contact a Gas Safe engineer. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. You can check the Gas Safe Register to ensure that you’re working with the best. Don’t take the risk with your boiler, as any mistakes can make your boiler (and then, by default, your entire property) unsafe.

Before you seek help, check if your boiler has a manufacturer’s warranty. For boilers these can be up to 10 years, so you may still be covered long after your boiler’s installed. You might end up with repairs or a replacement at no extra cost with your warranty.

Without a warranty, you’ll need to pay on your own or claim on your boiler insurance. Boiler insurance usually comes with an excess fee you’ll pay in advance, though there shouldn’t be any further costs for getting central heating repaired. If you’re paying on your own, be prepared to pay a callout charge as well as the costs of parts and labour.

A new boiler typically costs between £400 and £800. Getting a repair quote can help you to decide if it’s better to buy a new boiler, or if you’d like to extend the life of the boiler you’ve already got.

Do I Need Central Heating Insurance?

If you have central heating and no insurance cover, then any repairs can be relatively expensive. Even though the vast majority of modern-day central heating systems are built to last, often self-fixing and capable of diagnosing problems, there are still some issues that are expensive to fix.

It is also worth noting that where you have a gas boiler and a gas central heating system, it may be sensible to take out a combined insurance policy.

What Would a Central Heating Insurance Policy Cover Me For?

A comprehensive insurance policy would cover repairs to the central heating system and the boiler, parts and labour. It is obviously important to match the type of central heating system you have with your central heating insurance cover. This sounds very simple but unless you are au fait with the different types of central heating is not as easy as some would have you believe!

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.

Does My Central Heating Insurance Policy Cover Regular Maintenance and Repair?

There are many different types of central heating insurance that you can take out which offer a variety of different services. Some may offer an annual inspection while others may not; some may cap the cost of any repairs while others may be unlimited.

Obviously, the premiums associated with the more comprehensive central heating insurance policies will be more expensive. It is simply a case of arranging a policy which you can afford and one which suits your needs.

Do I Have to Carry Out Any Type of Maintenance on My Central Heating System?

Not as such. However, if the insurance company was called out on a regular basis because you are not using the system correctly, then they may refuse to carry out further repairs. You need to stick to the guidelines for your central heating system as they are there for a reason.

Should I Take Advice About Central Heating Insurance?

When you consider that both central heating insurance and boiler insurance often go hand in hand, it may be sensible to take advice from an insurance broker. You need cover for your particular systems and also cover which is appropriate to your home life. If you have any doubts whatsoever about the policies you are looking to take out, you should take advice.

What if My Central Heating System Is Not Repairable?

There will be occasions where your central heating system is not repairable or where the cost of repair is just not economically viable. While it will vary from policy to policy, some central heating policies will contribute towards the cost of a new system (to varying levels).

This is one of the elements which can be confusing to those not in the industry and therefore again it may be useful to take advice.

Can I Take Out Central Heating Insurance for an Old System?

When it comes to boilers, some insurance companies will not provide insurance for systems that are over 15 years of age. There are similar restrictions when looking at central heating insurance, and this is one of the questions you should ask when you enquire. The reason why they don’t cover older systems is that they are more likely to break down.

Future Central Heating Problems

Central heating problems and boiler breakdowns can happen at any time. Though boilers have an expected lifespan, yours might not last that long before breaking. Always make sure that you’ve got savings set aside to cover any problems with your home.

A solid savings pot can cover boiler breakdowns and the cost of other household repairs, including domestic appliance repairs for essentials like your oven and freezer.

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.

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