A Guide to Boilers

January 19, 2021


Boilers are integral to our warm and comfortable living at home, but as they’re usually tucked quietly in a cupboard, we tend to forget about them. However, when they break, they certainly make their presence known by impacting your hot water, heating, and wallet.

In this guide, we will be exploring which type of boiler is best, how much it costs to service a boiler, how to hire the right gas engineer for the job and lots more. This is your one-stop go-to for all things boiler related.

What Type of Boiler is Best?

Bioler on a blue wall

There are a variety of boilers that you can have to heat your home to suit your needs. Which boiler is best for you could depend on your budget, the space in your home and your existing system. There are three different types of boilers that you can get, they are:

Combi Boiler

  • Omits the need for cold water or feed and expansion tank
  • Hot water available on demand
  • Compact design

Conventional Boiler

  • Cold water or feed and expansion tank required
  • Ideal for larger homes

System Boiler

  • Omits the need for cold water or feed and expansion tank
  • Ideal for larger homes
  • Good for low-pressure areas

Why You Need an Efficient Boiler

Put simply, an inefficient boiler will contribute your rising energy bills. Older and uneconomical boilers use more energy to heat the home whereas newer, more energy-efficient boilers use less and so contribute less overall bills.

Most modern-day boilers come with an energy-efficient rating, so you’ll be able to compare to other models and brands on the market.

How Often Do I Need to Have My Boiler Serviced?

Plumber looking at an open boiler

Much like your vehicle, it’s important to stay on top of boiler maintenance and have regular services to ensure it’s working efficiently. Leading gas engineer experts recommend this is done annually, so that you can expect reliability from your boiler year-round.

A service costs approximately £70 and is a fee that could save you a higher bill in the future.

However, just because you’ve had a service, doesn’t mean your boiler won’t be prone to breaking.

What is checked in a boiler service?

To ensure that your boiler is working as efficiently and safely as possible, your gas engineer will check the following:

  • Correct gas pressure and flow is optimum (not too high, not too low)
  • Flue check for gas safety and any other toxic emissions
  • Electrical connections are working properly
  • Fans and ventilation
  • Water and gas pipework including old, damaged pipes and leaks
  • General check everything is working safely and sufficiently

In the unfortunate event that your boiler does not meet the safety regulations, your engineer will inform you and can either undertake the repairs for you or point you in the direction of a reputable gas engineer to fix a boiler.

It’s important to know that this is a legal obligation for landlords, so if you’re renting out property, be sure to be on top of your servicing and paperwork to protect your tenants.

How to Know if Your Boiler is Breaking

Sometimes, boilers show signs of slowing down and breaking, and if your boiler is particularly old, keep your eye out for these signs so you can be prepared, and when it’s broken, you’re not in for a nasty surprise.

One of the most important warning signs that your boiler is on the brink is an unpleasant smell. If this happens to you, shut your boiler off immediately and call for emergency maintenance. Bad smells could be burning materials from overheating or even a gas leak, which can be fatal.

You may also notice unusual sounds coming from the machine, whether that’s a low humming sound, whistling or strange knocking and gurgling noises – these are all signs that your boiler is struggling to function, and you’ll need to call a gas engineer out as soon as possible.

Perhaps your boiler appears to be running as normal, but your energy bills are coming back higher than usual, even though you are using – or believe you are using – the same energy consumption as before.

As mentioned, older boilers or deteriorating boilers are not as efficient as newer models, and so the first sign that something is up could be a painfully high energy bill.

Water leaks are another tell-tale sign your boiler is on the brink, and this can show itself in either moisture around your boiler or pressure issues. Leaky boilers can be caused by loose valves, damaged or old pipes, or a bigger issue so best to get these checked out, as left untreated can cause a larger problem later down the line.

What Do I Do If My Boiler Breaks?

Boilers always seem to break at the most inconvenient of times. If your boiler has broken, then there are a few options available to you.

The first being to check with the manufacturer on whether the appliance is still in warranty and if they will send a service engineer to your home.

Failing that, ring a gas-safe engineer who will be able to come out and deal with your broken boiler.

Never ignore a broken boiler – it’s a necessity in modern Britain and one appliance that you will certainly notice missing. If this happens to you or an elderly relative in the colder months, perhaps look to move somewhere warm while you’re waiting for your new boiler to be installed.

If you have boiler cover, you will need to ring your insurance company as it may be part of the policy that they have to send an engineer out to fix it on their behalf.

Plumber working on a boiler

How Much Does a New Boiler Cost?

New boilers aren’t cheap, and it can be frustrating when you need to pay out for a new one. However, it’s good to remember that a poorly working boiler will cost you more in energy bills long-term, and if you’re living in the northern hemisphere you can’t get through winter without a boiler.

Cost varies, but prices for boilers tend to range between £600 and £1000; a premium model could set you back £2000 – and then there are installation fees to consider.

The cost to install a boiler could also set you back. Create an iknowa project to talk to our gas engineers today and find out their costs for installing a boiler.

Boiler cover is a good idea to help spread the costs and soften the blow when your boiler packs in.

How Do I Know Which Boiler is Best for Me?

Even though it’s an expensive purchase, a boiler is not the type of appliance to scrimp on to try to save money. Whilst you don’t need to buy a top-of-the-range model, it will be better, in the long run, to invest in the right boiler for you.

Sometimes, you’ll be constrained by the available space in your home and existing system, especially in older homes where the pipework may not be primed for a premium model.

The type of water pressure you get in your home is also good to consider as different boilers work better with different pressure systems.

Common Boiler Problems

If your boiler hasn’t completely broken, it could get by with some simple repairs, rather than installing a new boiler.

It’s important to note that unless you are a professional, you shouldn’t attempt any kind of repair job on a boiler, this includes removing the casing to inspect the boiler further.

However, some of the more common problems that arise with boilers are:

Boiler losing pressure

The pressure of a boiler should sit at around one-bar. If yours is below this, or suddenly drops, then your boiler has lost pressure. This can occur from a leak, which if ignored, can see a gradual drop overtime. It could also be the cause of a broken or faulty pressure release valve.

Water Leaking from the Boiler

As you can imagine, this is far from ideal, and if this happens, you’ll need to get in touch with a repairman to replace any old or faulty parts.


If your boiler is constantly overheating, it may have a faulty overheat thermostat; a boiler part that typically prevents the boiler from getting too hot.

After inspecting your boiler, you may realise that it cannot be fixed and so, what do you do if you need a new boiler installed?

Hiring a Professional to Help with Your Boiler

Plumber working on a boiler

If you’ve bitten the bullet and invested in a new boiler, then you’ll need a qualified gas engineer to come and install it for you.

It’s important that you use a professional when it comes to your boiler, as it’s not something you can add to your own to-do list of DIY tasks around the house because of safety issues with gas. To work with gas, you need to gain a gas safety registration and be certified with industry-standard qualifications. Do not attempt to install or fix a boiler yourself.

We only list trusted and reputable tradesmen who are experts in their craft, so you can sleep easy knowing that your boiler has been safely installed. Hiring a gas engineer couldn’t be easier with iknowa – register today.

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