Boiler failure: the 7 most common causes


Are you taking a shower and running out of hot water? Does your radiator seem to be making strange noises? It’s colder than usual in your home, and when you touch your radiators, you have the impression that even on, they do not heat up? Clearly, it is pretty sure that you have a boiler problem. Many breakdowns can occur when it comes to the boiler! What are the 7 most common causes?

1 – The boiler makes strange noises

A professional would tell you: all the components of a boiler can cause various noises. Sometimes the machine boils, other times it hums and it can happen that it hisses. Try to spot this sound so you can possibly describe it exactly to a professional. If you have the possibility, see where that sound is heard because location plays an important role in analyzing the cause of the failure. Do you hear the noise, for example, at the level of the boiler itself, or rather in the pipes or at the level of the radiators? In principle, there are many possible causes and the solution to remedy the fault is not necessarily the same. Some noises may disturb you, but they are not a sign of a fault. Many boilers of a certain age have a constant hum that you can safely ignore. However, this buzzing sound can also indicate a serious heating problem, such as the internal boiler pump being faulty. If you are experiencing this problem and the noise is relatively loud, professional help would be recommended and welcome.

2 – There is air in the heating circuit

This is the classic of boiler failures. If you hear a bubbling or gurgling noise, in most cases, you can correct the situation yourself. This is a sign that air has accumulated in the radiators and throughout the heating circuit. Bleed your radiators! Follow these steps:

  • Turn off your heating system’s circulator and wait 30 to 60 minutes for your radiators to cool.
  • Locate the bleeder or bleed screw (it may look like a brass wrench), get a bleed key or a simple pliers, a container and a rag.
  • Open the bleed valve on each of the radiators one after the other. Let the air out. If the hissing stops and water escapes, close the valve.

Regular purging not only reduces annoying noise, but also saves you energy. As a result, water can again be better distributed in the radiators, which increases energy efficiency.

3 – The boiler does not start

The worst boiler problem is the one that affects the system as a whole. The first of the steps you should take would be to check if there is a problem that you can easily fix. For example, did you accidentally press the emergency switch? Does your boiler work in summer mode instead of winter mode? If you are not in any of these situations, you should call a professional.

4 – The boiler is no longer supplied with fuel

If your boiler is no longer working, it may simply be due to the fuel supply. Because your boiler is not likely to start if the burner receives too little or no fuel at all. This can happen, for example, when the fill level in the oil tank is particularly low. Because the suspended matter clogs the pipes and valves and this results in a malfunction of the burner. It is for this reason that if you have a boiler, you should always refuel when it is only a quarter full.

5 – The system pump has failed

The heating pump delivers hot water throughout the system. This supplies the heating surfaces with energy and the house with heat. If the pump fails, no water is flowing and your water heater is broken. You can check that it works, for example, with a screwdriver.

6 – The pressure is too low

This is another typical boiler problem and it can have various causes. An improperly adjusted safety valve can minimize pressure. A faulty expansion vessel is also a possible cause. If this problem occurs immediately after purging, add heating water. In the worst case, small or large leaks have formed in the heating circuit over time. A professional repairer can locate these leaks and fix them. He can solve this problem by looking at the pressure gauge. This is either integrated into the boiler or attached nearby. If you have a detached house and the display does not show at least 1 to 1.5 bar, you need to top up the system with water. If the pressure drops again and again, this may indicate, for example, a defective expansion vessel. In this case, an installer will hardly be able to help you out.

7 – The setting is wrong

The heater does not work if the heater command is wrong. In summer mode, the heating function is deactivated when the system is correctly adjusted. If, on the other hand, your radiators remain lukewarm on particularly cold days, it is because a bad adjustment can be the cause.

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