Could your boiler be on the brink of breakdown?

What would you do if your boiler broke down? You’d probably be taken by surprise, left with a pretty hefty bill, and chances are, things in your house would be disrupted for some time. It just isn’t possible to live comfortably when your boiler is on the blink. You need to be aware of the signs to look out for in a faulty boiler, so you can fix them before it’s too late. Could your boiler be on the brink of breakdown? Read on to find out!

The Date Your Boiler Could Break Down

Not meaning to scare you or anything, but did you know that there’s an actual date your boiler could break down? Boilers will most likely malfunction in December, so beware and remember that this is a good time to have some emergency cash put aside!

It’s common for boiler breakdowns in the run up to Christmas, and you really don’t want to have to tackle your boiler between Christmas and New Years. You’re supposed to be having fun!

Most people turn to the internet in an attempt to quickly fix it themselves to continue with the festivities, but this will cost you more in the long run and can be very dangerous. You can look online for some simple tasks, but for anything you’re unsure of, you should always call in a professional to help you. It’s typical that during the coldest months, your boiler is most likely to break down. 

The Most Common Boiler Problems

We’ve already discussed that boilers most commonly break down during the winter months, but it can happen at any time of year. The most common problems you should look out for in a faulty boiler include:

boiler breakdown

No Heat Or Hot Water

If you’re not getting heat or hot water from your boiler, it could be down to broken airlocks and diaphragms. It could also be down to motorised valve failure or issues with your thermostat. Low water levels may also be an issue. You may need a new part, and it usually isn’t wise to attempt to do this yourself.  

Leaking And Dripping

Where the water is leaking from will give you a big indication of what your problem is. You should never try to fix this yourself, warn 1st Clear Flow Ltd. The most common cause is a broken internal component, but your boiler pressure could be too high. Make sure you call a reliable professional who can help you.

Strange Noises

Noises coming from the boiler can be scary and confusing. Having air in the system is the most common reason, but your water pressure could be too low. It could also potentially be pump failure in older systems.

No Pilot Light

A pilot light that won’t come on is usually due to a broken thermocouple which is stopping the gas supply. It could also be a draught blowing the pilot light out or a deposit built up in the pilot light. You should always make sure there are no issues with your gas supply before you try the pilot light again. Always follow your manual’s instructions for the best results, and call out a pro if you’re unsure of what to do.

Losing Pressure

A pressure gauge below 1 may indicate an issue for your boiler. You may need a new pressure relief valve or have a water leak in the system. You can potentially try repressurising the system if you’re confident enough, but don’t do it if you have no idea what you’re doing. You may end up with a larger bill than you intended.

Frozen Condensate Pipe

Your boiler will often have a fault code or warning notification if your condensate pipe has frozen up. This pipe is usually the plastic pipe amongst metal underneath your boiler, but not every boiler has one.

Thermostat Problems

If you’re having problems with your thermostat, you may need a new one. Make sure you perform some common sense checks, as your thermostat could have simply been knocked out of the correct position.


This happens when lime scale or sludge builds up on your boiler’s heat exchanger. It sounds similar to boiling a kettle, hence the name. It can affect both hard and soft water areas but is most common in soft water areas. If you don’t sort this out, it can shorten your system’s life and make the boiler work harder.

Radiators Not Heating Up

This could be sludge or air build up causing an uneven distribution of heat. If the bottom is warming up you may need to bleed it. Bleeding a radiator is pretty straightforward and you don’t really need an engineer. The system could need balancing if it’s just certain radiators in your home. Chemically flushing the system could be needed, but you do require an engineer for this.

Boiler Switches Itself Off

If the boiler is switching itself off, you may have low water pressure or a thermostat problem. If you can’t figure out why it’s doing it with the information here, you may need to call an engineer.

boiler breakdown

Signs Your Boiler Cannot Be Repaired

Although there are signs your boiler needs a repair, there are also signs your boiler cannot be repaired at all. If you spot any of these signs, be prepared to replace your boiler:

  • It’s broken a few times over the last few years. It would likely be cheaper for you to install a new boiler.
  • It’s on the ‘short parts list’ and parts are difficult to find according to a pro. It will likely be more cost effective to find a new boiler.
  • The price of your service contract is increasing. This means your service provider is covering their interests by charging more. Buying an energy efficient boiler can mean you make your money back in savings over just two years.
  • It’s costing you more money to produce the same level of comfort. You definitely need a new boiler as it’s expending more energy.
  • The carbon monoxide detector has gone off. Call a professional immediately and be careful! This could kill you if you don’t make it your top priority.
  • Your house and water aren’t the right temperature anymore.
  • Your boiler gurgles and makes horrendous noises. This could be a simple problem, but if it continues, then you may need a new boiler. It’ll cost too much money and take too much time in the long run, even if it’s simple enough to fix.

boiler breakdown

Checking Over Your Boiler

Unsure of when your boiler is going to need to be replaced, and what condition it’s in now? It’s time to check over your boiler. However, bear in mind that if you don’t know what you’re looking for, getting a professional in could save you money in the long run.

  • Look at the age – depending on the kind of boiler you have, it could last anywhere from 15-50 years. Newer boilers are set to last much longer than older models. Make sure you know what year you had yours installed so you can work it out.
  • Check the energy expenditure – if your energy bills slowly rising, make sure it isn’t due to the energy expenditure of your boiler. If it’s down to the company you’re with, find a better deal!  
  • Checking for discoloration – yellow flames on a gas boiler and black soot on an oil model are deadly signs. This means your fuel may not be burning properly, and could be creating carbon monoxide.
  • Looking out for leaks – if you ignore even a small leak for too long it can cause costly floods and property damage. Make sure you get these seen to ASAP!

If it sounds like your boiler is on the brink of breakdown, or has a serious problem, make sure you call in a professional ASAP. Don’t leave it until December when most boilers tend to break down. You don’t want that bill on top of your Christmas spends!

It can be tempting to attempt to fix boiler problems yourself, but make sure you’re confident and knowledgeable before you do so. Not making a repair properly could cost you so much more in the long run, including your life! To keep yourself and your family healthy, it’s always best to get checked over and repaired by a pro that you trust.

If your boiler is beyond repair, don’t fret too much. This gives you the opportunity to replace your boiler with a new, energy efficient boiler. This will cost you now, but in the long-run you’ll have less problems and save money on your utility bills. Many people who invest in a more energy efficient boiler model find that they make their investment back and begin to save money in around two years.

Knowing as much as possible about boiler problems and what to look out for can safeguard you for the future. Bear these things in mind and you should be able to stay on top of things!


  1. Great tips thanks
    Have my boiler serviced every year
    Touch wood – Never had any issues yet

  2. Great post, you have pointed out some great details boiler. I found this article about many searches on Google. You’ve made my day! Thank you again

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