Talking Simply

A boiler breakdown or even a service can be a stressful experience for homeowners. Many feel the situation is out of their control and outside their level of understanding - leaving them open to being over-charged. Here we outline the top questions customers have about their boilers and the best way to answer them.

Talking Simply

Why does my heating turn-off when I run a bath?

Hot water takes priority over heating, which is why when you turn the tap on to fill the sink or the bath, the heating will switch-off.

Why do my radiators click when the heating comes on?

It could be number of things. Radiators are supplied with bracket inserts to help reduce expansion noises when the radiator heats up or cools down. Check these have been fitted if you are able to look behind the radiator.

Why does it take so long for the hot water to come into the tap?

There can be a number of potential reasons for this including the distance water needs to travel from the boiler to the tap. Another common cause is that many people turn the tap on full blast and expect heat instantly. In fact, the cold water has to travel through the heat exchanger so if it's on full blast, it simply doesn't have enough time to heat through.

Do I actually need my boiler to be serviced annually? Why?

The key reason is to keep it in good working order. As part of the service, an engineer can check for water leaks in the boiler for example, something that would not be obvious if the boiler was left unchecked. If a boiler is still within warranty - an annual service is a condition of it. If you don't keep up with the services, the warranty becomes null and void.

Why do I need a separate heating control, can I not just control the heat on the boiler?

A heating control helps the user to have much greater control over when the boiler turns on and off and at what temperature, as the boiler control only regulates the heat in the boiler, not the temperature of the home. It helps the consumer to heat the home quickly and efficiently - to the chosen temperature.

What is the benefit of a more efficient boiler?

One of the main advantages of modern boilers is the fact that they are condensing, which means that the boiler recovers some of the heat which would have normally been lost through the flue and then recirculates it.

How long will it take to recoup costs?

The savings generated from a new boiler, will be dependent on a number of factors including the thermal performance of the property, the rating of the boiler being replaced and also other factors such as the heating controls being installed.

A semi-detached property, with a G-rated boiler could look to save in the region of £200* a year if its replaced with an A-rated boiler and heating controls.

Will a new boiler add to the value of my house?

Every new property sold, requires an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) within which the current heating system is declared. There is no research that categorically relates a new boiler to an increase in property value, but a recent study from insurance provider GoCompare suggests it could add as much as £7,000**.

What are the benefits of a filter?

Iron oxide, aka rust, can build-up in your boiler and cause what is commonly known as sludge. A particulate filter uses magnets to attract the iron oxide travelling through the system, preventing a build-up. It can then be removed quickly and simply as part of an annual service.

If I have a filter, do I still need a service?

Yes. A filter is a good precautionary measure to protect the boiler and wider system from sludge build-up. A service however will look at the whole boiler and ensure it works safely and efficiently.

How do I know the difference between things I should have fitted and the nice to haves, that I can't really afford?

Give the homeowner the best advice you can, however if they are still unsure, you can refer them to consumer bodies such as the Energy Saving Trust (EST) or the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC). For new standards like Boiler Plus, it can be difficult for homeowners to understand why they have to have additional energy saving measures. Directing them to independent sources such as the EST or HHIC can help to explain the reasoning to customers.

How do I bleed a radiator?

Ideally this would be an opportunity to show a consumer exactly how to do it. Alternatively, you could direct them to a video or explain in brief, the steps to take.

To an installer, the questions may not seem like rocket science but to the average homeowner, the boiler and heating system are relatively alien and very much a fit and forget item within the home. Taking the time to help homeowners to understand a little about the system and the boiler itself, will help to build a good relationship with them - leading to further work and potentially recommendations too.