When it comes to boilers, what’s safe and what’s not?
Perhaps you’ve just moved into your first home and you’re not sure what to look out for in terms of boiler safety. Or maybe you’ve always had a functioning boiler in your home, so aren’t sure what to do when it suddenly stops working or does something it hasn’t done before.
Most of the time we don’t even think about our boiler – But we sure notice it’s absence when it’s not working as it should. It’s important to know what issues are easy to solve yourself, and which ones are potentially dangerous and require urgent assistance from a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Here are some possible problems you might encounter with your boiler, from low safety implications, to high when it requires urgent expert attention.
So let’s have a look at some common boiler problems, and whether they’re a safety issue or not.
My water’s gone cold and my heating isn’t working
If your heating has stopped working, or your water isn’t getting hot (or maybe both), then there could be a pressure issue or a problem with the thermostat. These are often straight forward to fix. It could also be due to a broken part (e.g. a diaphragm or a valve) or an airlock in your system. This shouldn’t cause any danger, but if you’ve think you’ve looked at any pressure or thermostat problems and still have no heating or hot water then you probably need to call a Gas Safe engineer to come and diagnose what the problem is and get it sorted out for you. All of our engineers here at Aura Gas are Gas Safe registered. Give us a call and we’ll get a local engineer out to have a look.
Safety Level: Less danger, more annoyance. If you cannot fix the issue yourself, call a Gas Safe engineer.
I’ve lost the pressure on my boiler
If you have a ‘sealed system’ and look at the gauge on your boiler, your pressure should be sitting at 1.5 bar. Having low pressure is often the cause of having dificulties getting heat from the system. If it has indeed lost pressure, you should be able to fix this yourself. If it’s still not working or you can’t increase the pressure, call in a Gas Safe engineer.
Safety Level: Again, this is more annoying than dangerous. If you’re unable to fix the issue, then call in a Gas Safe engineer to take a look.
My thermostat isn’t working
A very irritating problem but thankfully not a dangerous one. First thing to do is double check that none of the timings have been changed by accident. Also check that no one has altered your temperature settings. A good test to see if your thermostat is working as it should is to increase the temperature and see if it results in the boiler and heating coming on. If it doesn’t, or you think the thermostat doesn’t seem to be as accurate as it once was, you might need to consider getting a new one.
Safety Level: More irritating than dangerous. If it’s not the settings then call a Gas Safe engineer to come and take a look and possibly replace the thermostat.
My condensate pipe has frozen!
Hopefully this is something you’ll see less of as we approach Springtime and regular double-digit temperatures. But in the Winter, frozen pipes can be a common cause of a boiler shutting down. Thankfully, more often than not, the issues resolves itself once the temperature increases and the ice melts. If you want to try to unfreeze them yourself, you could try pouring hot (not boiling) water on the end of the pipe. You could also try a hot water bottle. When you’ve given it enough time to thaw, turn the boiler off and on again and hopefully you’ll be back up and running. If not, you guessed it, it’s time to call a Gas Safe engineer to take a look.
Safety Level: Not dangerous, but a bit of a nuisance. Call a Gas Safe engineer if you can’t resolve the issue yourself, or if it is a recurring problem.
My boiler is really noisy
Is your boiler banging, whistling or gurgling? It’s more than likely some air in the system, or a material build-up in the heating somewhere. It’s always a good idea to get a Gas Safe engineer to come and have a look if your boiler is making strange noises. It’s not necessarily dangerous but there is likely something that needs looking at, and could help you avoid a compeltel boiler breakdown or large repair bill later down the line.
Safety Level: Probably not dangerous, but you should think about booking a Gas Safe engineer to come and take a look.
There’s water leaking out of my boiler
There should never be water leaking from your boiler. It may not be dangerous in itself, however it could indicate that an internal part has failed. Whilst it may not cause a life threatening situation, nobody wants water damage in their home. The best thing to do is to switch the boiler off. This will stop further water from leaking out that could potentially cause damage, as well as helping to stop your electrics short-circuiting. Never try to fix a leaky boiler yourself – Always call a Gas Safe engineer.
Safety Level: Not necessarily dangerous, but it’s advisable to make ringing a Gas Safe engineer a priorty to avoid damage to your home and a larger repair bill later on.
My boiler keeps turning itself off
There are several issues that can cause your boiler to just switch off – A lack of water in the system, a thermostat issue or low pressure to name a few. If you’re not sure what the problem is, then it’s always the best idea to call in the experts and get a Gas Safe engineer to find the fault and get it fixed. It’s much better to get these things sorted out quickly so it doesn’t cause further problems. Let’s be honest – no one wants a boiler that just switches itself off!
Safety Level: Probably not a danger, but best to ring a Gas Safe engineer to come and take a look.
The pilot light on my boiler keeps going out
If this is a frequent occurrence, then you need to get a Gas Safe engineer to come and have a look at the boiler straight away. Read on to the next one and follow the steps if any of it applies.
Safety Level: Potentially dangerous and requires a Gas Safe engineer to come and take a look without delay.
The flame on my boiler pilot light has changed colour
We’ve now entered the red zone. If your pilot light is turning orange or yellow, it could be an indication of poor combustion. This is a very serious issue and requires a Gas Safe engineer to look at it straight away. Always turn your boiler off immediately in this scenario. Other signs to look out for are smelling gas when the boiler is working, brown or black scorch marks on the boiler, soot or a musty smell, noticing more condensation on your windows than usual.
In an emergency where you suspect a gas or carbon monoxide leak you must:
- Try to remain calm
- Switch off your gas supply
- Open all your doors and windows
- Do not use electrical switches or naked flames
- Leave the house
- Call the National Gas Emergency line (0800 111 999 – It might be a good idea to save that number in your phone now while you’re thinking of it)
- Stay outside until an expert has said it’s okay to go back in
Safety Level: This could be a serious danger. Always follow the steps outlined above if your pilot light has changed colour or you suspect a gas leak.
Call in the experts if you’re not sure
Whilst there are certain issues that you may be able to identify and solve yourself, you should always consult a professional if you’re not sure what you’re doing, or you can’t resolve the problem yourself.
Here at Aura Gas, all of our engineers are Gas Safe registered. We have local engineers working across the South of England ready to solve your boiler problems and keep you safe. If you’re ever in doubt, call the experts.
If you have one of our Boiler Care plans, you’ll enjoy an annual service to try and keep problems at bay, plus 24/7 emergency call outs if unfortunate circumstances should arise. For more information, head to our website where you can get set up in under 30 seconds.