Diagnose central heating problems

Problems with the central heating can drive fear into the heart of any householder, especially if your boiler is kicking up a fuss or you've suffered a total loss of heating. Troubleshooting central heating problems can be tricky, so if in doubt call on the skills of a professional.

No heating

When your central heating stops working it seems quite natural to panic, but stay calm and perform some simple checks before calling in the cavalry:

  • Thermostat
    Check that the thermostat hasn't been set too low. The boiler will only work if the heating has been set higher than room temperature.
  • Timer
    There may also be a problem with the timer – make sure that the heating is coming on when you want it to and that you haven't accidentally set it for 4am instead of 4pm.
  • Pilot light
    Check that the pilot light in your gas boiler hasn't gone out. If it has, there are usually instructions on how to re-light it on the front of the boiler or inside the boiler door.

If these measures don't solve the problem then call in a Gas Safe Register professional.

Noisy boiler

If your boiler makes all sorts of odd banging and bumping noises then there may be a lack of water in the feed and expansion tank. This is usually located in the loft.

Once you've located yours make sure that it's topped up with water. If it isn't then there may be a frozen pipe, airlock or the mains water may even have been switched off.

Another issue could be a build up of sludge and scale in your boiler. Air in the boiler can also cause similar banging noises. Don't try and tackle these problems yourself, call in a Gas Safe Register professional heating engineer.

Leaking pipes

Leaky pipes are a nuisance, and can grow into bigger problems if left unchecked.

  • Leaky connection or joint
    If water is leaking from a connection or joint then it should be easy to tighten the joint with a spanner or wrench. However if the joint has been soldered you won't be able to tighten it and the pipe may need replacing.
  • Leaking from pipe
    If the pipe is leaking from a section which has no joint or connection then the pipe will need replacing. A short-term solution is to tie a rag around the pipe, or use specialist sealant from a DIY store. You may wish to get a professional plumber to replace the pipe as it can be a messy and complex job.

Water gurgling

Water gurgling noisily through the central heating system is a pretty clear sign that you have air in the radiators. This problem can be easily resolved by bleeding your radiators.

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