Boilers are put through their paces daily. We rely on them for hot water and to heat our homes. If you’ve recently replaced your gas heater, you may think you’re sitting pretty. However, even the newest boiler model can run into issues, leading to inefficient heating and increased energy costs. Worried your boiler isn’t performing as well as it should? Below are some tell-tale signs it may need replacing.
Common Signs That Your Boiler Needs Replacing
1. High Energy Consumption and Increased Bills
Energy providers may be upping their tariffs, but if you’ve noticed that your bills are increasing without explanation, your boiler could be to blame. Even though most boilers become less efficient over time, you’ll need to identify the efficiency rating of your boiler model to determine whether it’s performing as it should.
The simplest way to determine boiler efficiency is to refer to its ErP rating. In the United Kingdom, every new boiler should be an A-rated model. Contemporary boilers are particularly reliable, often performing at more than 90 percent efficiency. However, older heating systems may be connected to boiler models with a far lower ErP rating. For example, a G-rated boiler will struggle to operate at more than 70 percent efficiency.
An inefficient boiler can cost you dearly. In 2020, the average annual gas bill was around £550 or approximately £45 per month. However, an inefficient boiler can add hundreds to your yearly heating costs. If your current boiler isn’t fit for purpose, it’s high time to replace it. The overall cost of switching out a G-rated boiler to an A-rated model may seem considerable, but the swap will yield considerable savings in the long run.
2. Noisy Radiators and Unexpected Boiler Sounds
It’s not uncommon for a central heating system to make noise. When your boiler is turned on, it’s completely normal to hear a quiet humming sound. If you own a combi model, the boiler will fire up occasionally as part of its preheat function. If your boiler is producing any other kinds of noises or is particularly loud, you may need to investigate the issue further.
If your radiators are making unexplained sounds, don’t automatically assume the worst. Clicking and creaking sounds are particularly common occurrences. These noises are the result of hot water within your central heating system encountering the cold metal of your radiators. Once your radiators have reached a high enough temperature, these noises should subside.
Whirring noises, vibrations and hammering sounds are particularly alarming and usually a sign of something serious. It could be something as simple as a damaged valve, but there may also be a more significant issue at the root of things. If there’s no apparent cause behind a noisy boiler, you should switch it off and get in touch with an engineer.
3. Constant Boiler Breakdowns
In the UK, landlords are required to carry out boiler inspections once every 12 months. If you own your own home, you’re not bound by the same obligations, but it’s advised you invest in an annual service. This will ensure any minor problems are identified and remedied before they become more serious and lead to your boiler breaking down. During an annual inspection, an engineer may suggest you invest in replacement parts to keep your boiler ticking over nicely. The cost of these parts should be covered by your boiler insurance plan.
If you’re having to call out an engineer more than once or twice a year, there’s a very good chance your boiler needs replacing. Frequent breakdowns aren’t just inconvenient, they will also lead to increased premiums on your insurance cover as multiple minor repairs are carried out. Ultimately, it’s best to upgrade to an A-rated boiler model to ensure your heating remains on and the hot water continues to flow.
4. Unexplained Odours
If your boiler is performing as it should, you should never encounter an issue with foul odours. If your boiler is giving off a bad smell, take it as a red flag that something serious is going on. A defective boiler can be a sign you’re dealing with a carbon monoxide leak.
Although a gas leak is usually easy to discern by smell alone, there are other tell-tale signs of carbon monoxide to watch out for. If your boiler is operating safely, the flame should be burning blue. A yellow flame is a cause for concern and is a strong indicator that you’re dealing with a gas leak. If your boiler pilot light is blowing out regularly, you may also have a gas leak on your hands.
The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken very seriously. If you’re noticing any symptoms like headaches nausea, switch off your boiler and vacate your property immediately. Although the side effects of carbon monoxide should quickly dissipate, you’ll want to get in touch with a qualified engineer as soon as possible.
5. Radiators Aren’t Reaching High Temperatures
If it’s taking an age for your radiators to heat up, your boiler may be to blame. A typical A-rated boiler should achieve its maximum temperature in no time at all. If your radiators are taking more than an hour to reach your chosen temperate setting, your boiler is probably the culprit.
Sometimes, the cause can be more innocuous. If you haven’t bled your radiators for a long time, there’s a good chance that dirty water has collected within your heating system and turned into sludge. This prevents hot water from circulating throughout your central heating system. If you’ve recently flushed your radiators and they’re still not hitting high temperatures, your boiler is probably long overdue a visit from an engineer.
Time to Invest in a New Boiler?
Even the best boiler will eventually need replacing. A standard boiler model only has a lifespan of around 10-15 years. If you haven’t replaced your boiler in the past decade, it makes perfect sense to upgrade to a new model. Not only will you benefit from increased efficiency and lower overall fuel costs, but you’ll find it much easier to track down replacement parts should your boiler run into any issues down the line.
Ray Brosnan is the co-owner of Brosnan Property Solutions, a property maintenance company founded in 1997. Ray and his team are always busy this time of the year with boiler services. Rays team of certified boiler service engineers and electricians carry out inspections to see the condition of the boiler.