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16 Jun 2020
Adam Bate Confused.com

Boiler breakdown

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 A man dressed in blue, fixing a boiler

The boiler is at the heart of home heating, helping to keep houses warm and water hot.

It's often taken for granted, but when a boiler stops working and breaks down, you'll no doubt notice the loss.

By being prepared, an unexpected boiler breakdown won't throw you into a state of panic and you'll know how best to handle it.

READ MORE: How to claim on your home insurance policy

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What to do when a boiler breaks down

If your boiler suddenly stops working and you're left without heating or hot water, it's first worth checking to make sure there's not a simple solution.

For example, has the power supply or thermostat accidentally been turned off?

Try turning the boiler on and off again to see if it starts.

If it doesn't, and you can't see an obvious solution, it's time to call in an expert, in the form of a Gas Safe registered engineer.

While you're waiting for an engineer to visit, and especially if you have young children or elderly people in the house and it's cold, keep warm with extra layers of clothing and keep internal doors closed to retain heat in rooms.

READ MORE: Damp in the home

Is your boiler covered by your home insurance policy?

Sometimes boiler repairs are included in your home insurance policy.

This is one reason why it's useful to keep your policy documents in an easy to access place, so you can check your documents in the event of an unexpected boiler breakdown.

If you are covered, call your insurance provider and see if they'll arrange for an engineer to come and look at your boiler.

READ MORE: What is contents insurance?

Warning signs that a boiler might break down

On average, modern boilers tend to last for 10 to 15 years.

As wear and tear occurs with use, there are some signs you can look and listen out for that might indicate that a potential issue is brewing.

These include:

  • A boiler suddenly getting noisy or making unusual noises

  • Not getting hot water as reliably as usual

  • A boiler not turning on when it should

  • A boiler suddenly going on and off of its own accord

  • Not getting the usual level of heat from your boiler

Although it's fine to look out for potential warning signs, don't ever try and fix your boiler yourself

It can be dangerous if you're not a trained Gas Safe engineer, plus it will result in invalidating any insurance policy you have. 

If you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home - and it's highly recommended that every household does – and it starts going off, act immediately and get your boiler looked at. 

Carbon monoxide leaks are extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening. 

READ MORE: Monthly maintenance checks for your home

Boiler warranties

If you've not had your boiler that long, it may still be covered by its original warranty.

The length of a warranty can vary depending on the manufacturer and product concerned, as well as if you took out an extended warranty.

The standard warranty is one or two years, but extended warranties can last for five to 10 years.

If you think you could still be covered by your warranty, get in touch with the manufacturer to see if they can help with any boiler issues you encounter.

What's important to note with warranties is that they're governed by strict terms and conditions and, if these aren't met, your warranty may be invalid.

Most importantly, after the boiler is first installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer, you need to ensure that either your installer or you register it with the manufacturer within 30 days of installation.

It's also important that the installer fully completes the Benchmark checklist documentation when installing or servicing a boiler.

This helps guarantee that the boiler has been fitted and serviced to the manufacturer's instructions and helps maintain your warranty.

Finally, an annual service needs to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you're unsure what the terms and conditions of your warranty entail, get in touch with the manufacturer of your boiler. 

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How often should I have my boiler serviced?

Boiler repairs can be expensive, especially if you need new parts or an entire new boiler.

In order to keep your boiler in good condition and reduce the risk of it breaking down, it's recommended that you have your boiler serviced annually.

As well as ensuring it's working properly, regular boiler services can help maximise the efficiency of the boiler and might even save you money in the long run.

Whenever you have your boiler serviced, it's recommended that you use the services of a Gas Safe registered engineer.

READ MORE: Accidental damage explained

How is boilercare different from a home emergency insurance policy?

Although boiler breakdowns are often covered in home emergency insurance policies, another option is to have a specific boilercare policy.

The idea is that you pay a monthly fee that will help cover you in case your boiler breaks down.

Policies differ in terms of the amount covered and you'll need to check that your boiler make is accepted.

It's a useful extra to have, especially for boilers not covered by warranties, and could help save you considerable costs.

Plus, you've got the peace of mind knowing that, if a problem does occur, an engineer should come out to you quickly.

READ MORE: No claims discount for home insurance

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