How Safe is Your Boiler?

In this blog we will provide you with a number of tips on how to ensure your boiler is safe.

It’s a sad fact of life that, while most of us religiously get our cars and vans regularly serviced, our poor old gas boiler is expected to perform at its most economical best, supplying hot water and heating, often 365-days a year – and often without a thought about boiler safety or servicing.

Ongoing research and development means new gas boilers are about as safe as they can get. Balanced flues, room sealed units, additional safety features, and cutting edge technology provide the safest, and most economical boilers available today. Nonetheless, even with this latest technology, a regular annual service by one of our fully qualified gas-safe engineers is the only way to ensure complete boiler safety.

But what about older boilers? How safe is a boiler that is five, ten, or fifteen years old, and what do you need to look out for? Certainly, if your boiler’s age is running into double figures and regularly causing you problems, it’s time to consider changing it.

No matter how new, any man-made object is likely to suffer the odd breakdown or part failure, and gas boilers are no different. Many of these can be easily rectified by the homeowner, but if the odd problem becomes a regular issue, please give us a call, and one of our gas-safe registered engineers will call round to ensure more serious complications are not on the horizon.

As your gas boiler and central heating system ages, you may find some of the following problems occurring. In them, we have highlighted a few boiler safety tips that you can tackle yourself, and when you need to contact a gas-safe engineer.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Although the latest boilers are ‘room sealed’, meaning they draw air through a flue from the outside, and exhaust all noxious gases outside the property through the same flue, a second line of defence is always a good idea.

Even today, there are over 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning registered in the UK every year, and likely many more that go undiagnosed. Mild carbon monoxide poisoning can include feeling sick or groggy, or developing a headache when time is spent in the same room as the boiler (usually the kitchen). These symptoms disappear when you go out, or move to another room. A carbon monoxide alarm costs just a few pounds, and will ensure you get instant notification if carbon monoxide is building up in your home.

No Hot Water or Home Heating Not Working

Not exactly a situation that compromises boiler safety, more of an annoyance, and there are a number of things you can check yourself before giving us a call.

  • Make sure power to the boiler hasn’t been accidentally switched off.
  • Check thermostat settings. Have they been altered, or reverted to factory settings during a night time power cut. If they have, reset.
  • Hold your hand on the central heating pipes and radiators, are some areas hot and some cold. Possible airlock. Bleeding the system as per your operator’s manual should solve the problem.
  • Operating Pressure. The digital read out on the front of your boiler will tell you if the operating pressure is too high or too low. Most systems work on 1.5 bar. Again as per the manual, drain some water from the system to drop the pressure, or add from the mains to increase pressure.
  • Frozen condensation pipe. In colder parts of the country frozen pipes are not unusual. Defrost the pipe using hot water (not a blow torch), and consider lagging any outside pipes.
  • Leaking boiler. A more serious problem usually associated with older boilers. Carefully turn off the power. If water is dripping onto the power socket, switch power off from the main breaker box and contact us. We will get an engineer to you as soon as possible.
  • Gurgling, rattling boiler. Could be just an airlock or something more serious. Don’t allow a small problem to become a big one, give us a ring.
  • The pilot light. A good indicator of boiler health. Pilot lights should always burn a deep blue colour. If yours is burning yellow or orange it is a sign of poor combustion, with unburnt gases escaping into the room and should be immediately switched off. If you can also smell gas, open all windows and doors, and contact us here at P Blackhall. We will get an emergency gas-safe engineer straight out to you.

Like all things in this world, the older your gas boiler gets, the less safe, less reliable and more expensive it becomes. Quarterly gas bills increase, and repair charges go up with more frequent breakdowns and out of hours call outs.

As a long-established family business, our team here at P Blackhall do our best to ensure your boiler stays safe to use whatever its age, but we won’t compromise on safety. In the odd situation where continued use of the boiler will likely put yourself, family, and others at risk, we are happy to discuss with you all the options to resolve the problem. If you have any boiler issues, or would like to discuss replacing an older boiler, please contact us.

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