Possible reasons why you have a broken boiler – and solutions
Majority of the clients calling us to replace their old broken boiler with a new central heating system have no hot water or heating. Some of them have inconsistent hot water and heating. For some, the boiler has simply died down and won’t wake up. Some other common boiler faults are:
- Loud tapping, clanking and banging metal noises inside the broken boiler.
- Wireless thermostat or programmer malfunction – switch them to manual. For further tweaks, refer to the manual, or call the thermostat/boiler installation company.
- No gas supply. In which case you will need to call your gas supplier.
- No power. Check the power circuits, and call your electrician straight away.
- No water supply. Check if your water supply is turned on, and then call your water supplier.
- Frozen pipes: pour hot water on condensate pipe. For the future, consider Type O insulation.
- Inconsistent pressure (too high or too low). Typical range for modern boilers is 1.0 to 1.5 bar.
- Sky high gas/oil/LPG bills, which means the boiler has lost its efficiency.
If any of the above apply to you, hopefully there should be a common or relatively cheap fix for your broken boiler that you can do yourself. Or your local plumber could fix it for a nominal fee for you. If there are recurring problems like the ones mentioned above, especially for years, then you might be heading towards a broken boiler. And you might also be paying a fortune in energy bills. In which case, might we suggest for you to consider prevention rather than cure, and act now to get that boiler replaced. You don’t want to be stuck in cold wave with a broken boiler. Annual service to preserve manufacturer warranty helps a lot too, especially around the holidays with no heating or hot water.
Broken boiler and Carbon Monoxide poisoning
In many cases, the risks associated with a broken boiler can go beyond just annoying sounds or inconsistent heating. It can be downright dangerous, and potentially fatal for you or your family members. If you ever suspect a gas leak, you should call the Gas Emergency Services and exit the premises ASAP. There could be a carbon monoxide leak, which can be poisonous and possibly fatal for anyone that breathes it in. What’s more, depending on how severe the leak is, the poison can have its effect over the long term or even shorter periods of time.
After you breathe in carbon monoxide, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. Once this happens, the blood is unable to carry oxygen anymore, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die. As per the NHS, every year there are around 25 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning from a broken boiler aren’t always obvious, particularly during low-level exposure.
A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms may include:
- Nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting.
- Tiredness and confusion.
- Stomach pain.
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
If you suspect there might be a gas leak in your home, or if you encounter any of the above symptoms out of the blue, it’s best to contact the Safety and Emergencies line as soon as humanly possible on the numbers given below:
0800 111 999
0800 404 090
Error Codes for most popular boilers sold in the UK
We’ve compiled a list of links to error codes for most major boiler manufacturers in the UK. These links will take you to the official websites, saving you time in case of a broken boiler because of an error code flashing on the screen:
Broken boiler – Aluminium Heat Exchanger problems
In many cases the material used for the heat exchanger can make a huge difference to the overall durability and longevity of the boiler. A lot of boiler manufacturers source their aluminium heat exchangers from a third-party provider called Giannoni. One Google search is all it will take to find tons of complaints by plumbers and consumers about the problems they’ve faced with them over the years. One of the biggest complaints is strange coffee ground like build-up inside them because of corrosion and low clearance as pictured below:
The picture above is the reason why manufacturers ask clients to not only service their boilers regularly, but also get them cleaned properly. However, no matter how thorough you are, aluminium heat exchangers also require special inhibitors to maintain the system, without which there is a high risk of damage to the boiler. Annual maintenance is also required for removal of aluminium oxides, which can build up and can clog the condensate line.
For aluminium heat exchangers:
- Regular pH treatment is critical to maintain longevity and efficiency of the heat exchanger.
- In hard water areas, even with a soft water filter, you risk damaging the heat exchangers.
- There can be high degrees of corrosion through aluminium oxide build-up and further erosion at higher flow rates.
- Aluminium heat exchangers don’t last as long as stainless steel ones.
- Aluminium is cheaper to manufacture than stainless steel.
Viessmann, along with Vaillant, are two of the only boiler manufacturers who use a stainless steel heat exchanger. Viessmann go the extra mile and manufacture their own patented Inox-radial stainless steel heat exchangers. Viessmann’s stainless steel heat exchanger is pictured below:
Stainless steel is more expensive to manufacture, because it is much more corrosion-resistant, and a highly durable metal compared to aluminium. And because Viessmann manufacture it themselves in-house, they can offer a highly attractive price point. Which, to many consumers, on the surface looks like a cheap boiler, when it isn’t. Viessmann boilers also have the pressure release valve and condensate combined into a single unit, which makes the boiler more compact and easier to site.
If you have a broken boiler, should you replace it or get it repaired?
If your broken boiler is within manufacturer’s warranty or between 5-10 years old, it’s probably not worth replacing it (unless it’s a very low quality manufacturer). However, if it’s 10+ years old and you’re paying for frequent repairs, it’d be a good idea to consider replacing it with a new A-rated boiler ASAP. Because not only is your broken boiler (or if you have intermittent malfunction) out of manufacturer warranty, it is running on older non-condensing technology. Which means it’s not as energy efficient as it could be, and it’s costing you money on your energy bills in the long run. If you’re paying British Gas or any other companies offering maintenance plans, very often you can be paying anywhere between £15 to £30 per month. (Maybe that investment could be utilized for a new boiler with a warranty).
Replace your old broken boiler with a modern high-efficiency condensing boiler
Depending on the wear and tear on the heat exchanger (quite possibly aluminium) of your old broken boiler, it could be running at about 50% to 70% efficiency. In monetary terms, that means you’re losing about £50 to £30 for every £100 you’re paying on your energy bills per annum. Modern condensing boilers run at higher efficiency levels, over 93%+ efficiency in some cases. Some new boilers (like certain Viessmann models with a durable and corrosion resistant Inox-radial stainless steel heat exchanger) are close to 94% efficiency. Which means that on top of consistent hot water and heating, the difference in savings will be massive over the long term!
Whether you’re using Mains Gas, Oil or LPG, modern condensing boilers are highly efficient compared to your broken boiler. So, you get a much better return on investment by replacing an older G-rated boiler with a modern A-rated condensing boiler. With a modern condensing boiler and sensible usage of smart thermostats, consumers have reported savings of anywhere between £300 to £600 per annum!*
(*Based on savings reported by consumers using a Viessmann A-rated boiler with a stainless steel heat exchanger working at 90%+ efficiency.)
Broken Boiler – Get an online boiler quote
If you have a broken boiler and need an urgent boiler replacement, it’s a good idea to contact a boiler company who can replace the boiler within 24-48 hours or a couple of days from you getting the online quote or making first contact. To our knowledge there are only a handful of companies online that can do this job in that timeframe. One of them is Boilerhut. Simply enter your postcode below and click on the “Get FREE Online Quote” button.