Posted by: Vincent Wilkins: 08/10/2012
How often should I have my boiler serviced?
Your boiler, regardless of what fuel you use to power it, is the engine of your heating system and it works hard all year round to heat your home and provide hot water so a little care and attention is important. It is generally recommended that you have a service once every year, but is it really necessary, in my opinion yes. Your boiler works hard all year so in the same way you have your car serviced to ensure optimum performance, efficiency and safety it would be wise to do the same with your boiler. If you can’t remember the last time your boiler was serviced it really would be sensible to consider getting it serviced soon to avoid any nasty surprises and avoid it becoming dangerous. If however you have a boiler warranty it may specify a yearly service or the warranty will be invalid so in this case you don’t have a choice. It’s always worth checking your house insurance document to see if there is any clause that requires your boiler to be serviced on an annual basis.
Your family's safety, can you put a price on it?
The reality is most homeowners will ask themselves why should they bother with a boiler service when the boiler seems fine. A boiler and central heating system that isn’t kept in good working order and serviced regularly is at risk of breaking down at any time. This is disastrous enough if it occurs during an exceptionally cold spell of weather but is even more so if it involves a gas leak, a potentially lethal escape of carbon monoxide, or causes a fire due to electrical fault. CO is produced when there isn’t enough air for the complete burning of carbon fuels such as gas, oil, coal & wood, which causes an excess of poisonous fumes. To guarantee your safety, a Gas, Oil or Solid Fuel appliance service is recommended from a Gas Safe (GAS), HETAS (Solid Fuel), OFTEC (Oil), registered engineer. A service will identify any potential problems that can be caused from poorly maintained or incorrectly installed appliances.
The silent killer
One of the main problems with detecting CO poisoning is that symptoms can mimic many common illnesses, such as flu, tiredness and migraines. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that key symptoms to look out for are drowsiness, headaches, breathlessness and vomiting. Often referred to as ‘the silent killer’, CO (Carbon Monoxide) fumes are particularly dangerous because they can only be detected by equipment specifically designed to detect it. You cannot see, smell or taste the fumes, which in extreme cases can kill without warning in a matter of hours, badly maintained gas appliances are one of the biggest causes. For a relatively small cost you can take a positive step in protecting yourself from this silent killer by installing an audible CO alarm which will alert any occupants of a possible CO leak. At Conduction (UK) LTD we will fit a CO alarm for free when you book a boiler service, we will only charge you for the cost of the alarm itself no labour charge. What price safety and peace of mind!
Landlords have specific legal responsibilities to their tenants when it comes to gas safety. Please refer to our landlords regulation blog for more information.
What does a service entail?
At the opposite end of the scale, there are engineers who promise a boiler service yet only carry out simple annual flue gas checks. It's important to understand what correct boiler servicing entails in order to ensure that you receive adequate service at a reasonable price. During a correct service, particular emphasis is placed on testing all of the different functions for accurate and safe operation. In order to do so, thorough checking, cleaning and pre-emptive fault spotting must be done in order to achieve the best results. Even though your boiler may appear to be working well, faults could be hidden inside. Potential problems should be revealed during a boiler service. Regular servicing is essential to help detect faults before they occur for all boilers but especially if it’s an older model. At Conduction (UK) Ltd our engineers provide a thorough service that goes way beyond a fleeting 10 minute visit that merely involves a flue gas check. A proper boiler service cannot be done in 10 minutes so don’t be fooled. Regulations are intended to ensure that servicing is done correctly. If you are suspicious of the engineer and the service being carried out, it is advised that you report it to the appropriate authorities. Gas Safe, HETAS and OFTEC.
How long does a service take?
Expect a thorough service to take up to an hour (an oil boiler takes up to three hours)
Finding an engineer you trust
Ensure any engineer you use is Gas Safe registered for gas and qualified and competent in servicing your particular gas appliances. HETAS registered for solid fuel & OFTEC for oil appliances. Ask around friends and family for a recommendation. Don’t be afraid to ask to see their Gas Safe, HETAS & OFTEC ID or you can always check the individual or company on the relevant websites. If for any reason you are not happy with the service that’s provide I’d suggest you speak with the engineer or management to address any issue, failing that, if you are still not happy contact Gas Safe, HETAS or OFTEC for advice.