How can I check whether my boiler has stopped working or not?

If you think your boiler has stopped working you should first check your...

  • Room thermostat to see if this is turned up, remember if your property is warm enough the heating may not come on
  • Timer/programmer to see if it’s been set correctly
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) if fitted, to see if all the valves have been turned to the * symbol, if this is the case it won’t allow the radiators to become hot (except the radiator without one - which should be hot)
  • Fused spur (found by the boiler) to see if it’s been switched off - if it has then the boiler won’t work

You may need to check you have enough credit in the gas and/or electricity meter. If you’ve run out of credit and have used the emergency credit in either meter then your heating won’t work.

You might also need to check if there’s been a power cut - when the power is off most central heating boilers won’t work. If the electricity supply is off, or has been off for a long period of time then your timer clock may need to be reset using the 24hr clock.

If your boiler isn’t working and you can’t find the reason why you should report it to us.

Should I leave my boiler on all the time or use my timer/programmer?

It’s usually more expensive to leave your hot water and heating on all the time, it often depends on how often heating/hot water is used in your household. Although boilers use more power initially to heat the home and water from cold, it costs more to keep the boiler running all day.

It's almost always cheaper to have your hot water on when you need it, as a full tank of hot water will always lose heat and need topping up by the boiler. Normally it takes around 30-45 minutes to heat a tank of hot water. Set your programmer to heat it up for a short time before you’re likely to need hot water in the morning, and to come on again before the time you usually need heating again. There’s often a button on your central heating timer/programmer that gives a boost of hot water during in between times.

Ideally the heating and hot water shouldn’t be on for more than nine hours a day, unless it’s extremely cold.

Should I leave my electric immersion heater on all the time?

No - if you have a gas central heating boiler use that to heat your hot water, ideally using your timer to time your heating and hot water at the same time. Only use your immersion heater as a top up.

You may decide to use your electric immersion heater to heat your hot water in the summer when you no longer need the boiler to heat the radiators. This could work out cheaper if you only use a small amount of hot water.

Should I use my portable heater/decorative fire or turn on my central heating system?

Any electric plug-in heater (including oil filled radiators), portable gas heaters or decorative gas fires are an expensive and inefficient way to heat your home. The heat costs around three times as much per unit compared to a gas central heating system.

A portable gas heater also produces a large amount of condensation which can make the house damp. The only time this is worth considering is if it's a choice between heating one room with a portable heater or all of a large house with central heating.

Portable heaters or fires shouldn’t be considered as an alternative to central heating and should only be used for occasional use, such as at the end of the day when the central heating has been turned off.

My radiators don't stay hot all the time even when I turn them right up - what's wrong?

This is normal, as the temperature of radiators will naturally fluctuate when controlled by TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves).

Why does the boiler keep firing on and off?

The boiler will only fire up when your heating and/or hot water is on. If you have a room thermostat, the 'firing up' will stop when your home is warm enough. The boiler will then 'die down' to the pilot light. When the temperature drops, the room thermostat will tell the boiler to 'fire up' again, reheating the water to pump round to the radiators.

If I turn the room thermostat to a high setting will it heat up the room quicker?

No, turning it up won’t heat the room up any quicker.

Is it best to turn off radiators in rooms I don’t use often?

No, because you could get condensation in unused rooms. Also, if you only one radiator it isn’t good for the heating system and it could break down.  We recommend you set the TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) in all the rooms to a 1 or a 2 setting, and to a higher setting in the rooms you use most often.

We also recommend you close the doors of any unused rooms to prevent them from draining heat from the rest of the house.

My heating is on but the radiator in the living room has gone cool, why?

When the TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) sense that the radiator is warm enough, it closes the pipe and stops hot water flowing into the radiator. When the room cools, the TRV opens the pipe and hot water flows back into the radiator and heats it up.

Why is my radiator with a TRV (thermostatic radiator valve) cold when my heating is on?

The thermostat shuts off the water to the radiator when it’s sensed the room is warm enough.