With snow storms, high winds and plunging temperatures likely to hit the UK over the next few weeks, keeping our heating systems in tip top condition is more important than ever. New research by EDF Energy reveals that over 1 in 4 boilers have broken down without being insured, with the average cost of repair racking up an eye watering £314 bill. As a result, as many as two fifths of Brits would have to borrow money to cover the cost or have no choice but to go without heating if their boiler broke down. For the elderly, those with small children or the severely unwell in particular, this could even prove fatal so it's definitely best to be prepared.
To help avoid unnecessary costs and discomfort this winter, EDF Energy have pulled together some top tips to prevent boiler breakdown.
Service your system:
Having an annual boiler service is the best way to avoid an unexpected breakdown. Don’t wait until winter to do this though – sort it during the summer months so your heating is in tip-top condition for when you need it the most. While your engineer is there you should also consider getting a cleaning device fitted, which will help keep your system clean and protect your boiler. Make sure they check the inhibitor in your system too, as the chemical additive helps to protect your system, which is very important.
Insulate your pipes:
If you have a gas condensing boiler you’ll also have a waste pipe that takes away small amounts water called condensate from your boiler to the drains. Depending on where your boiler is located, the pipe (usually white or grey in colour) is run outside of your home and discharges to the drains. In very cold weather there is a risk for this to freeze if the pipe is in an exposed location, causing a blockage and your boiler will stop working. Insulating the pipe, could go a long way towards preventing them from freezing. You can pick insulation up from most DIY stores and it’s far less expensive than a breakdown.
Thaw your pipes:
If your pipes do freeze over, you will need to thaw them out to get the system back up and running. Covering your pipes with a hot water bottle or pouring warm water over them are the most effective ways of doing this. Once thawed, reset your boiler and you should be all set.
If you find your radiators have cold spots, it’s time to bleed them, as its probably trapped air. If they are still cold after that, it’s likely that your system may need to be cleaned, so call out an expert. More advice on radiator bleeding can be found at CentralHeating.co.uk.
Check your pressure:
If your boiler pressure gauge is reading low it won't run effectively, so it’s important to check the dial. Check the operating instructions for your boiler to find out the correct settings according to your system, it will also show you how to re-pressurise your system. If you cannot find operating instructions then contact your boiler manufacturer or visit their web site as many are available to download online.
Keep your heating in check:
Giving your system a bit of exercise during the summer months will help keep it in check and ensure your pipes don’t get clogged up. Simply switch on your heating for about 15 -20 minutes every month and if your radiators are warming up efficiently you have nothing to worry about. Likewise, if you’re going on holiday during the winter, programme your system to turn itself on and off every day.
Seek expert advice:
Call out an expert straight away if you suspect your boiler is broken, as you could potentially put you or your family at risk if you try to fix the problem yourself. Make sure you always used a Gas Safe Engineer when calling someone out and ask to check their registration card.
8 million households across the UK don’t have home insurance, leaving them at risk of a hefty repair cost if their boiler was to break. To help give you peace or mind you should consider taking out boiler and heating cover. Find out more at EDFEnergy.com.
The research also found that 31% of respondents don’t know a registered plumber who could help them if their boiler broke down and 63% of people aged 18-34 don’t know how to check the pressure on their boiler. With these statistics it may be worth investing in a HeatSmart; designed by renowned French Designer Philippe Starck and in partnership with Netatmo to give you complete control of your heating wherever you may be. It has a frost guard setting which with the colder weather on the way will be more than useful!
Is your boiler insured?