How to Deal with Boiler Breakdown During Winter?

by Softiex UK Softiex
The best time for boiler servicing or a new boiler installation is summer. If it breaks down in winter, there are some remedies you can try.

Boiler breakdowns in winter are always bad news as this is the busiest time of the year for boiler servicing and repair companies. You may be required to wait multiple days for a repair during the coldest time of the year.

Most plumbers would prefer you to let them service your boiler in summer instead of waiting for it to break. If you need a new boiler installation, summer is the ideal time for everyone. In winter, Gas Safe engineers are very busy and there is often a queue.

Electrical circuits are dangerous, especially near water, and interfering with gas is even less safe. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can safely check before calling the plumber. They may fix your problem or make it easier to describe the fault, which helps the plumber come with the right spare parts.

Pilot Light

If you have a pilot flame, make sure it is lit. If it isn’t, you can attempt to restart it providing there is no smell of gas. Watch it closely afterward, because pilots go out for a reason - a yellow flame indicates it needs a service clean as soon as possible. There is a carbon monoxide risk if you don’t fix it.


Are thermostats and timers powered on? Some run on batteries, so change them. Try adjusting their heat settings to see if the boiler comes on.

Air Blockages

Air in your pipes and radiators can stop the hot water circulating, so use a radiator spanner to loosen their top nuts until any air has escaped.

Low Boiler Pressure

Combi boilers are particularly prone to stop because of a low-pressure issue. Check your manual for the optimum pressure and then your gauge. Most combi and system boilers need between 1 and 1.5 bar. The pressure can usually be adjusted by turning a valve (but never go too high) or you can top up the system with a filling loop.

Condensate Pipes

Condensing boilers (mostly combis) have a pipe through the wall which expels water vapour. A common fault during a cold snap is for that water to turn to ice and block the pipe, which will stop the boiler. Slowly warming your external pipes can melt the blockage and permit the boiler to restart.

Diverter Valves

Combi and system boilers have a diverter valve to switch between central heating and hot water. It sometimes sticks in one position or the other. As a result, you may lose one or the other, or both will come on when you only wanted one or the other. You will need a qualified plumber to change it, but at least you can tell him what to expect.


Strange noises can be caused by airlocks or corrosion in the pipework or the heat exchanger. If you have this problem and then a breakdown, sludge or limescale could be involved. Your plumber may have to flush the system, but faulty thermistors and stuck pumps can also be to blame.

Tepid Water

Boilers can have problems with thermostats, timers or heating elements. However, combis are the most likely to have this issue. Unfortunately, many underpowered combis were installed, and as they age their performance gets worse. You may find that you can get hotter water by restricting the flow rate (turning the tap half off), but turn it too far and the temperature sensor will flip it off. Try varying the thermostat. If this is a chronic problem, a new boiler installation may be the only solution - otherwise diverter valves and pumps may be at fault.

A New Boiler Installation

A new boiler installation is also an option. A regular service allows you to monitor the health of your boiler and budget for the day to replace it. In an emergency, however, there are finance terms available and vulnerable families may be entitled to some help.

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About Softiex UK Innovator   Softiex

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Created on Jan 28th 2021 07:09. Viewed 141 times.


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