Help! I Don’t Have Hot Water From My Boiler!
Boilers, or more precisely, not-working-boilers, have the ability to strike panic in the heart of all of us. There’s nothing quite as stressful as waking up, in the rush we live in, to discover there’s no hot water to ease you gently into your day.
Boiler problems of no hot water are one of the most common issues we hear. This is a simple guide to help you troubleshoot the problems, get things fixed, and get your day back on track.
Whilst many dread the thought of trying to fix their own problems because of gas being involved, there are some simple steps, that don’t involve a specialist hand, that can get you back up and running quickly. Follow the general rule of thumb that if you have to take off the boiler cover – stop – that’s where you need a Gas Safe engineer.
These are some of the checks and steps you can take to troubleshoot boiler problems of no hot water.
It might seem obvious but there’s no point getting bogged down in trickier checks, or even calling out an engineer, when there are several quick checks that could get the boiler working again.
Start With the Basics
Start at the boiler itself. Is power getting into the boiler – are the lights on and the timer working? If the answer is no, check whether the problem is just the boiler. You may have a power cut and need to do nothing more than wait for it to be back up. It’s also sometimes just a case of switching off the power supply to the boiler, and switching back on. Perhaps your boiler is feeling sluggish this morning too and simply requires a reboot.
Timers can also pose obvious problems. Have the clocks changed, or have you had a power cut that has reset the timer? If so, a simple re-adjustment should get the hot water back.
Whilst looking at the boiler itself, check if you can see the pilot light is on. There should be a burning blue flame visible. If it’s not present, or is orangey-yellow, then this will need attention. If the pilot light is out you can follow the steps in your boiler manual about how to reignite it. However, if you reignite it and it soon goes out again, this is a safety feature indicating a more significant problem. In this case call a Gas Safe engineer to come and rectify the problem for you.
If there’s electrical life in your boiler but still no hot water, check your water supply itself. Occasionally there can be disruptions in household water supply, and if no water is getting into the system then the boiler can’t do its job. Similarly, check no one in the house has accidentally turned off the household gas supply.
Head to the Thermostat
If the above first glance checks haven’t brought joy then head to the thermostat. Is it at the right temperature? This can particularly be the case in households with young children who like to fiddle! If there’s no obvious difference, try turning the thermostat up a degree or two. Then head back to the boiler and see if you’re now in luck.
If that’s not solving the problem, then head to a radiator and turn the temperature up to the highest setting. This can sometimes help to propel the system to start again.
Stick with Temperatures
Whilst trying to troubleshoot by adjusting thermostat and radiator temperatures, ask yourself if there’s a chance that the pipes may be frozen. In particularly cold weather the central heating pipes can freeze, especially if your heating has been turned down overnight. Therefore, it may simply be a case of your boiler has stopped working because there is a frozen pipe somewhere in the system.
The pipe that is most likely to freeze is the condensate pipe. This is the one running out of the back of the boiler to the outside drain. If there’s a possibility it may be frozen then get some hot, but not boiling, water and gradually pour over the pipe. Depending on how cold it is, you may need to do this several times. Then attempt re-firing the boiler. If you’ve had no hot water due to a frozen pipe then this will quickly remedy the situation.
If it turns out that you did have a frozen pipe, prevent the problem in the future by leaving the heating on, even at a low temperature, until the cold spell has passed.
Coughing and Spluttering Pipes
If you’ve been aware of pipes making spluttering sounds then you may well have an airlock. This can prevent hot water coming from the tap, or cause it to come in a spluttering and inconsistent manner. At times, air in the pipes is enough to block the water completely.
You can actually solve this if you feel confident by opening up the non-working tap, and running a hosepipe to it from the cold tap. The force of the cold water can dislodge the airlock and move it out. However, if this troubleshooting doesn’t quickly work then you may need a system drain performed by an engineer.
Consider the Diverter Valve
If your heating is working but you’re getting cold water from hot taps then it could be a problem with the diverter valve. This is the valve that enables a combi boiler to switch between its two jobs: heating water and heating the radiators. If you’ve got hot radiators but no hot water this could be a heads-up that this is the issue. If so, you’ll need to call out an engineer.
Check the Feed and Expansion Tank
This won’t apply to all boilers, but if yours has a small black tank, often in the loft, then you may need to give it a quick look to see if the ball valve float is moving properly. They can sometimes get stuck, which prevents the full system circulation.
We frequently discover the source of intermittent or occasional hot water and heating problems can be caused by low pressure when you have a combi boiler or sealed system. If there is a drop in water pressure to your home this can pose problems.
Near to the boiler casing itself you should be able to see a pressure gauge. This should show a reading of around one bar. Some boilers have an indicator marking where the pressure should be. If the gauge is reading low then you may need to re-pressurise the boiler. You can do this yourself following the steps in your boiler manual in some cases. However, remember that if you need to remove the boiler cover you should stop and call a Gas Safe engineer.
Water pressure can also drop due to a leak somewhere in the system, as well as low mains pressure. Do a quick walk around your system to check for any leaks anywhere. The sooner you find them, the more minimal the damage.
Conversely, there can be problems with the pressure release valve which is designed to relieve excess water pressure within the boiler. If there’s a problem with the valve this can appear as a low pressure problem which is an inbuilt safety feature. A boiler engineer can diagnose this problem and easily fix it.
Specific Problems with Electric Boilers
Electric boilers come with their own unique set of problems that can be more complex than gas boilers. Bear in mind that if you are in any doubt you should get a qualified engineer to come and take a look. You can, however, troubleshoot by checking the circuit breaker and checking if a fuse has blown. If this isn’t a problem, or the fuse immediately blows again after being reset, you should call in the experts.
Regular Problems of No Hot Water
If you’re regularly experiencing problems with no hot water, then you may well have a boiler size or tank capacity which is simply not up to the demands of the size of your household. In other words – it’s too small for the job. If you have a full household and a high demand for hot water then it may be time to consider whether you need a larger tank or replacement boiler that is more suited to your needs.
At Ecosafe we install high-specification boilers and take care to assess your individual requirements before recommending the right boiler for you. To get an idea of how much this may cost, use our simple online quote tool.
Getting Your Boiler Working Again
Hopefully by following these steps your boiler will quickly be performing well again. However, for anything more than a minor and easily rectifiable problem, you should get an engineer out to check that everything is working as it should. Furthermore, never take risks when checking the different problems above – if you’re unsure then call a Gas Safe engineer. Gas leaks and boiler problems can pose a significant safety risk so should not be ignored or attempted by yourself.
Getting in the Experts
If troubleshooting hasn’t worked, or you don’t feel confident to undertake the steps yourself, then you should call in the experts. The good news is that this needn’t cost you a fortune, and needn’t require long waits.
At Ecosafe we offer a safe and reliable 24-hour boiler breakdown service with Gas Safe engineers throughout the south of England in the towns of Salisbury, Poole, Bournemouth, Winchester and Southampton, as well as all surrounding villages and areas. We don’t charge a callout fee and we always aim to offer free and trustworthy advice so that you can make the best decisions. We do this whilst being upfront about what a boiler repair will cost you so that you know exactly what the problem is, how we will fix it, and what it will cost.
Furthermore, we offer discounts for OAPs and offer a service for landlords throughout the region.
At Ecosafe, our Gas Safe Engineers can repair all types of gas boiler whether in a domestic or commercial setting.
So, if troubleshooting hasn’t solved the problem then give us a call on 0333 939 0161.
A Word for Tenants
If you’re in rented accommodation and are having problems with your boiler – meaning no hot water – then you should know your rights. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 ensures that you have the right to expect the landlord to carry out boiler repairs in a ‘reasonable time’. For an emergency repair – such as having no hot water or no heating – then this should be within 24 hours of you noticing the problem.
Do put your request for the repairs in writing so that you’ve got a record of when you made the request. If your landlord is refusing to undertake the repairs then speak to your local environmental health team and they can insist the repairs are made on your behalf. However, you must also make sure that you take steps to protect from damage the boiler whilst you are living in the property.
The Tenants Voice offer free template letters which you can use to contact your landlord to request a repair to your boiler.
Protecting Against Boiler Breakdown in the Future
Boilers, like any hardworking piece of machinery, need regular servicing and care to prolong their lifespan. By having your boiler serviced annually you can ensure key components are checked and replaced before causing problems. You will also ensure your boiler works at optimum efficiency for its fullest life. We have a range of Care Service Plans starting at as little as £6 per month for boiler servicing alone. A Care Service Plan can also prevent unexpected bills due to boiler breakdowns.
If you need help and advice with your boiler problem call one of our Gas Safe Engineers on 0333 939 0161. We’re here to help.