Experts are recommending homeowners give their gas boilers an end of winter test, similar to a car’s MOT to ensure they are energy efficient and safe to use.
Energy experts at Quotezone.co.uk said the test is needed to ensure boilers are properly maintained, operating at full efficiency and not driving up bills.
The most serious concern posed by improperly maintained gas boilers is carbon monoxide poisoning that can cause headaches, weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath and in most extreme cases death.
Other issues, such as high maintenance costs and inefficiency, mean it is crucial to spot warning signs and take regular checks to catch any problem in its early stages.
Greg Wilson, Founder at Quotezone.co.uk, said: “Britain has an ageing population when it comes to the nation’s boilers so it’s essential they are well maintained. The final weeks of winter are a perfect time to check on the health of a boiler as it’s been working hard for the past couple of months and deserves a bit of much needed TLC.
“We strongly recommend all boilers get tested, similar to an MOT, to ensure they are fit for purpose.
“Getting a boiler checked and serviced also helps protect the home insurance coverage as those who neglect to maintain their boilers may find themselves vulnerable. A standard home insurance policy normally covers accidental damage, covering repairs and replacements but if the fault lies with the homeowner, through lack of care and maintenance, then chances are they won’t be able to make a claim.
“Remember, it’s absolutely crucial that boiler repairs be done by a professional, as doing it yourself can be very dangerous – if you spot the warning signs then call in a gas engineer to service the boiler.”
Here are some of the most common gas boiler warning signs according to Quotezone.co.uk:
Pilot light keeps going off
Older boilers have a pilot light that must remain lit in order for the boiler to operate. If the pilot light keeps going off then it’s likely that the flue is blocked which is problematic because burnt gases won’t be able to get out, and they’ll end up extinguishing the burning flame. A damaged or malfunctioning thermocouple is another typical cause of the pilot light going out. Also make sure that there aren’t any drafts near the pilot light that may be blowing it out.
Headaches and nausea
Flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath are some of the most common indications of a carbon monoxide leak. Sometimes it’s also possible to smell the gas, as although carbon monoxide is odourless, it can be accompanied by exhaust gases you can smell. If there’s a suspicion of a carbon monoxide leak, then emergency professionals must be called immediately.
Boiler turning off constantly
If a combi boiler turns off occasionally then there’s no reason for concern, as it’s likely due to its pre-heat function. However, if a regular boiler keeps turning off then it’s probably a sign of a more serious issue and can lead to inefficiency and higher energy bills. There are many reasons why this could be happening, such as a valve issue, short cycling, wrong water pressure or a thermostat error.
Although it’s normal for the boiler to make noises from time to time, if it starts making strange noises like whistling, banging, gurgling or humming then it’s a sign for concern. It typically means that the boiler is ‘kettling’. The water inside the boiler has overheated and reached boiling point.
Leaking or blocked condensate pipe
The condensate pipe is used to remove all the extra water that the boiler produces during the condensing process. In winter the condensate pipe can freeze and cause blockage which prevents the boiler from functioning. If the condensate pipe is leaking then it could be due to a cracked heat exchanger.
Radiator faults are commonly caused by trapped air or built-up sludge. Releasing trapped air can be easily done by bleeding the radiator. If there is sludge caused by rust and corroded metal then that can be quite difficult to fix on your own so it’s better to get professional help.
Soot builds up as a result of burning fossil fuels, so it’s normal for it to occur in a gas boiler. However, excessive amounts of soot can hinder heat transfer, making the boiler work harder and increasing energy costs. Signs of fuel not burning properly are dark soot marks around the boiler. In more serious cases, soot marks and scorching can be indicators of carbon monoxide spillage, so it’s important to get the boiler checked out as soon as possible.
Most boiler manufacturers offer a standard two-year warranty on new boilers, once the boiler is older than two, home emergency insurance can be added to a home insurance policy if it doesn’t already come as standard. Ensuring that the boiler is serviced regularly can also reduce the cost of home emergency or boiler breakdown cover in the long-term.