Boiler checks to make before calling an engineer

You should never attempt to repair your boiler under any circumstances. However, before you notify a professional boiler repair and maintenance service of an issue, there are some basic checks you can make.

Doing a little investigation yourself may allow you to diagnose, and in some cases fix, a problem. Making boiler checks can save you time, as well as the cost of calling out technicians, so it is worth a try.

In this article, we will run through some ways to look into boiler issues before you call an engineer.

Check gas and power supplies

Confirm that the two main utilities needed for your boiler – gas and power – are being supplied as they should be.

If your gas supply has been interrupted for any reason – such as pipework disruptions in your area – your gas boiler may turn off automatically; the boiler does this as a safety mechanism. Your first port of call is other gas appliances. Checking these to see if they are working will give you a good idea if your gas is on. If they aren’t working, ask your energy provider to see if there are gas supply issues in your locality.

As far as power goes, if the boiler looks ‘dead’, with no display lights showing, this can be a giveaway. In these cases, check that the boiler is both plugged in and switched on. Also, make sure that there are no blown fuses. A temporary power cut – such as when there’s been a storm – can cause boilers to turn off and require resetting manually to restart. You can do this by turning the boiler off and then on at the mains. If after making these checks, your boiler shows no signs of life (such as lights), you may have a power issue.

Check boiler pressure

Another simple inspection is to check the pressure gauge reading on your boiler. The needle should be comfortably in the green section, which indicates a system pressure between around 1.0 to 2.0 bar. This demonstrates that there is enough pressure to move water around the entirety of your central heating system.

A pressure gauge reading that is close to, or at zero, means that there is likely to be a water leak that is the cause of the low pressure. You can pass this problem on to a professional technician.

Bleed the radiators

When air becomes trapped in a central heating system, this can prevent hot water from circulating properly and your home from heating up as it should. When you have this issue, it might seem like you have a faulty boiler.

You might be able to solve this problem by opening the radiator bleed valves (this is also known as bleeding your radiators). The bleed valves are usually located at the top of the radiator, to either end. They are round at the top, with a square section at the centre. There are two notches for you to insert a screwdriver or radiator (bleed) key.

Ensure that your central heating is on and let the system heat up. Place a bucket and cloth under where you are loosening the valve, and twist the inserted screwdriver or radiator key in a clockwise direction to loosen the valve. When you hear a hissing noise, it’s time to stop. This means that the air is escaping. Water may drip out into the bucket below. When you can’t hear the hissing anymore, the job is done. All the air has escaped. Now simply tighten the valve and wipe off any moisture. Go from radiator to radiator, repeating the process.

When you are done, be sure to check that the boiler pressure is as it should be (in between 1.0 and 2.0 bar).

Check the radiator valves are open

Following on from the section above, you will also want to check that the main radiator valves are open. This is essential to allowing the flow of hot water from your boiler through your central heating system, warming up your home. If for some reason the valves are closed, your boiler might shut down automatically, because it detects a lack of circulation.

The radiator valves are controls that are usually situated at the side or bottom of the radiator – they can be a knob or a screw. Inspect all of the radiator valves in your home to ensure that they are switched on, permitting the flow of hot water. A valve is on when it is aligned with the pipe, and not at an angle to the pipe. If you can’t twist the valve manually, you could use a wrench or radiator key.

When you open a valve that was previously closed, you should begin to feel the radiator heat up. Give it some time, and then place your hand on the radiator, or near the pipes, to check. If, after opening the valve, your boiler has been running for a while but there is no heat, you could be looking at a build-up of sludge that is blocking the system, or a faulty valve. At this point, you should pass on the issue to the professionals.

Closed radiator valves, rather than a faulty boiler, might be the reason why your central heating system isn’t working. Not only that, but by ensuring all the valves are open, you can also improve your efficiency and lower your energy bills.

Check programmer settings

If you have a modern boiler, it seems likely that you will have an electronic programmer. This allows you to control and time your heating schedule. When faced with a boiler that is not working as it should, it is also worth checking the programmer settings.

First, locate the programmer unit, which is typically found fixed to the wall in the same area as the boiler. You’ll see an interface which displays the various settings and modes. Check that it is on, and that you can see the information on the screen. If not, there might not be power going to your boiler (see previous section).

Look at the current time and day and check that this information is accurate. If this information is incorrect, reset the time and day.

Now check that your boiler is set to the right mode. Auto mode means that the boiler is following the schedule it has been set on. There are also other modes you might see – such as ‘Off’ or ‘All Day’ – which allow you to override heating times that have already been set.

Aside from discounting your programmer as a cause of a boiler issue, checking it is working properly can also improve efficiency and ensure that your home is being heated as you wish.

Inspect your room thermostat

There is a chance that the issue lies with your room thermostat. Room thermostats must be engaging the boiler and request heat – if they aren’t, your boiler might not activate.

If there is a screen interface, it should be illuminated to indicate that the power is on. If you see “Low Battery”, this means it is time to replace the batteries. Look at the temperature setting of the room thermostat – this will be in Celsius (°C) or Fahrenheit (°F). You can adjust this setting using a dial or buttons. Your room thermostat should be set at the temperature you want for the room.

After choosing the desired setting, give your central heating system some time to reach the desired temperature. Also, go around your radiators and check your boiler to ensure that they are working properly.

If your room thermostat won’t turn on, there could be a wiring issue, or this might be a sign that you are due a thermostat upgrade.

Is there a blockage in the condensate pipe?

If your boiler has shut down, it may be due to a blockage in the condensate pipe. In condensing boilers, the condensate pipe carries wastewater that is produced by the condensing process. It goes from the boiler to the drainage system in your home.

Have a look along the pipe for any kinks that suggest the water flow is being obstructed. Connections at both the boiler and drain should be completely intact with no leaks. Moisture or drips from the surface of the pipe can be tell-tale signs that there is a backup or leak. You can also check if some parts of the pipe feel warmer than others, or if there is a gurgling noise, as these can be other blockage indicators.

If you spot any of the signs we’ve outlined above, call a professional boiler repair service for help. Other inspections and checks – which may involve removing a pipe, observing the water flow, cleaning the pipe, and dislodging objects or debris that may be causing a blockage – can be carried out by a technician.

Powerflush Chester service

There are many checks and procedures that an accredited boiler service can carry out which can get to the bottom of your boiler issue. After making the initial inspections suggested above, if you haven’t solved the problem, pass any observations you have made over to a professional.

As we’ve explained in this article, in many cases, what is perceived as a boiler problem may in fact be another issue in your central heating system. One of the best methods for maintaining your central heating system is a powerflush.

A powerflush cleans out debris and sludge that builds up in the central heating system. Removing this debris from the pipework not only helps to avoid blockages, but can significantly extend the life of your central heating system, improving its efficiency and ability to heat your home. This process can include the descaling of boiler components, getting your boiler back to optimum performance.

Any questions on powerflushing? Call Xgas today on 01978 357 573.