Frequently asked questions about boilers
Here are some of the top questions we most often get asked about boilers!
What different types are available?
There are a number of types of boilers. The right one for you will depend on your property, the area you live in, and your needs.
The most common boiler is a combi boiler. These boilers fuel your central heating system as well as a separate water heater. Water is heated directly from the mains when you turn on a tap, so you don’t need a hot water storage cylinder or a cold water storage tank.
Their compact size make combi boilers ideal for smaller properties.
Then there are system boilers. System boilers do require a tank for storing hot water. The major heating and hot water is built into the boiler. Since there is no requirement for a cold water tank in the loft, it can be useful for a hope with no loft space. And these boilers are also compatible with solar power systems, if you decide to get panels on your house.
The remaining type is a standard boiler, which you’ll often find with older homes. Such boilers need both a hot water cylinder and also a cold water tank in the loft to feed the system. If your property has an older radiator system, it may well be that a standard boiler will be best for your needs, since the system may not cope with the higher water pressure needed by the other boiler types.
When in doubt, get the advice of your heating engineer as to which type of boiler would best suit your situation.
How often should I replace my boiler?
Generally, you would expect the lifetime of a good quality boiler to be around 15 years for a gas boiler, 15 to 20 years for one using heating oil. The better you take care of it, with regular servicing etc., the longer it is likely to last.
Knowing when to replace it is a bit like the process you might take with a car. When the repairs start to become more and more expensive and frequent, then it becomes cost effective to get a new and more efficient boiler than to continue squeezing the last bit of performance out of a system that’s on its last legs!
Again, your heating engineer will be able to advise when it seems sensible to get a new boiler if yours is starting to have problems.
How often should I get my boiler serviced?
It should be part of your annual routine to get your boiler serviced. Preferably during the summer months when you don’t need the boiler running to keep you warm, and the workload for your heating engineer isn’t full of emergency call-outs from people whose boiler has broken down.
How do I reset my boiler?
If your boiler can’t be turned on, it has probably gone into ‘lockout’ which is sign that there’s a fault. There may be a fault in the system, which will be indicated with an error code on the display screen, if there is one. Or there may be other problems, such as interrupted fuel supply. Either way, you need to get a heating engineer to fix the problem before simply resetting the boiler.
If you’re confident there is no specific problem, but the boiler needs resetting, check the manual for the location of the reset button for your specific boiler. Hold it down for around ten seconds and then wait for the boiler to ignite – it could take up to a couple of minutes. Don’t keep pressing the reset button over and over – it won’t help. If you can’t get the boiler to reset, then you need to get help.
How do I know if my boiler is efficient?
Boilers are given an ENERGY STAR rating to show their fuel efficiency. A well rated boiler should be a highly efficient one, and the technology has been improving all the time so any new boiler you get will likely be significantly more efficient than your old one.
You should remember that having a highly efficient boiler offers a long-term lower overall cost of ownership, because of the smaller quantity of expensive fuel it will burn.
How do I know whether heating engineers are qualified to work on my boiler?
Any heating engineer should be Gas-Safe registered. This is a legal requirement and you can check at the Gas Safe Register website. Likewise, if you’re dealing with heating oil because your home is not on the gas grid, your engineer should be OFTEC approved. Again, you can run a check on the OFTEC website.