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Why Has My Boiler Stopped Working This Winter? Common Faults and DIY Fixes for UK Households

As the winter chill sets in, the last thing any UK household wants is a malfunctioning boiler. It's a scenario that can leave you shivering and frustrated. Before you reach for the phone to call a professional, let's explore some common boiler faults that may be behind the issue and, more importantly, how you can tackle them yourself.




  1. Frozen Condensing Pipe: One of the most common issues during winter is a frozen condensing pipe. The condensing pipe, responsible for transporting condensate away from your boiler, can freeze in extremely cold temperatures, causing a blockage. DIY Fix: Thawing a frozen condensing pipe is a relatively simple task. Gently pour warm (not boiling) water over the pipe or use a hot water bottle to defrost it. You can also wrap the pipe with towels or cloths soaked in warm water to speed up the process.

  2. Low Boiler Pressure: Low boiler pressure is another frequent culprit, leading to a loss of heating or hot water. The pressure gauge on your boiler should typically read between 1 and 1.5 bars. DIY Fix: To increase the pressure, locate the filling loop (usually a flexible hose connecting the boiler to the mains) and slowly turn the valve until the pressure gauge reaches the desired level. Be cautious not to over-pressurise, as this can cause other issues.

  3. Faulty Thermostat: A malfunctioning thermostat can misread the temperature, leading to your boiler not firing up when it's supposed to. DIY Fix: Check if the thermostat is set to the desired temperature. Replace the batteries if it's a wireless thermostat, and ensure there are no obstructions affecting its accuracy. If problems persist, it might be time to consider a thermostat replacement.

  4. Air in the Radiators: If your radiators feel cold at the top, there may be air trapped inside the system, preventing effective heating. DIY Fix: Bleeding the radiators is the solution here. Use a radiator key to open the bleed valve slightly until you hear a hissing sound, indicating the release of trapped air. Once water starts to dribble out, close the valve.

  5. Faulty Pilot Light or Ignition: If your boiler's pilot light has gone out or the ignition system is faulty, the boiler won't start. DIY Fix: Follow your boiler's manual to relight the pilot light. If the pilot light won't stay lit or the ignition system is problematic, it's advisable to contact a professional for further assistance.


Conclusion:

While some boiler issues require professional attention, many common faults can be resolved with a bit of DIY effort. Regular boiler maintenance and addressing problems promptly can ensure a warm and cosy winter for your household. If in doubt or if problems persist, don't hesitate to consult a qualified heating engineer to ensure your boiler operates efficiently throughout the colder months. Stay warm and enjoy a hassle-free winter!


If your boiler is older, did you know you can likely qualify for help replacing it through various Government backed initiatives? Check if you are eligible here.

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