In Coronavirus lockdown! Everything you can do to avoid having to call in a heating engineer
We are living through challenging times indeed! Because of the Covid-19 virus, we are all having to learn an entirely new way of living where we stay home and avoid as much contact as possible. We know that if we do this, irksome as it may be, it will keep us safe from harm, and from possibly putting more pressure on our NHS.
But what if your boiler breaks down? Not everything in life decides to just work perfectly because you’re in a difficult situation. Spring is definitely here, but it’s not warmed up so far just yet that you probably want to turn off your heating.
Well, if you really need help, we are certainly taking every measure to try to protect our colleagues and our customers, respecting social distancing rules. But you probably want to see if there are things you can do to avoid having to call in the first place. Here’s a checklist of things you can try before calling for professional help.
Probably the first thing you should do – if you don’t know exactly where it is – is find your boiler manual (along with manuals for other essential equipment). At this time when getting people to help may be more difficult, and the whole family may be using things more, it’s probably a good idea to know where all these documents are if you’ve not been organised in that way in the past. In particular, if you lose heating, you don’t want to be spending hours looking for the manual!
- It seems obvious (although sometimes these things are less obvious when you’re feeling worried and stressed) but check the power supply. It can be a simple failure of power that’s led your boiler to become unresponsive. Bored children at home may find all sorts of switches to press without realising the consequences!
Likewise, if you’re on a prepaid gas meter, check you haven’t run out of credit. We only suggest it because we’ve seen it numerous times!
And finally, for those of you with the newer wireless controls, if the problem is that the screen has gone blank or it becomes unresponsive, check the batteries inside. Try it with brand new ones and see if it makes a difference. It’s embarrassing enough to find that you’ve called out a heating engineer just to change a battery for you! You definitely don’t want that at the moment!
- We’ve just moved the clocks forward, so probably you’ve recently adjusted the timer and know that it’s working. But if there’s a problem, it’s worth checking that it’s working okay. Sometimes, a brief power interruption (and every system is under a bit of strain in the current circumstances, so such interruptions could certainly be something that might happen, maybe overnight without you realising) can mean that a timer will lose the time. Of course, if you forgot to move your timer clock forward, that might be your problem right there!
- Check the pressure gauge on your boiler. If it’s reading one bar or less, it suggests that low pressure could be what is giving you problems. Check your boiler manual for the exact details, but for all boilers topping up the pressure is straightforward and not something you need someone to do for you.
- Reset the boiler. Again, modern boilers make this easy. Just hit the reset button and see if that solves the problem. For older style gas boilers, it could be that the pilot light has gone out, so check that this is one and relight if necessary.
- If you’re on gas, check that the other gas appliances are working. If they aren’t, then you know you have a gas supply issue not a boiler issue, and can get the right help.
- Check the thermostat. It could be that the thermostat is turned down quite low, and it doesn’t need to come on given the temperature of the house. Try out turning it up significantly just to see if that kicks it back into life. If it does, then turn it back to a comfortable level maybe slightly above where it was before.
- Another one you might think is too obvious to be told, but that we see all the time. If you’re on heating oil, check that you haven’t run out of oil! Sounds obvious, but sometimes the equipment can mislead you into thinking you have more than you do. For instance, some older oil tanks have sight gauges (transparent tubes running up the side of the tank showing you the oil level). These often require a lever at the bottom of the gauge to be pulled to allow the oil to settle at the correct level. It’s all too easy to think you have lots left only to discover that you’re running on empty! Sometimes the best check is the ever-reliable stick, inserted into the tank until you see it disturb the surface of the oil!
If you’ve checked all of those and you’re still not getting any joy, then give us a call. If we can help over the phone, we will. If not, we will send a heating engineer. They will keep their distance. We ask that they are able to wash their hands when they’re done (they’ll have their own towel to dry them). Stay safe! And stay warm.