There are few things as consistently inconvenient and unpleasant as when your boiler breaks down. Even worse, when it happens in the middle of the coldest months. Suddenly you’re not only without heat, but without hot water.
Unfortunately, boilers are often not included in home insurance policies, so it’s important to know how to deal with the situation. A boiler technician could be unable to help for days or even weeks, and you must stay warm until then. We’ve put together a guide for how to cope in the interim.
How to Deal with Your Boiler Break Down
First, you should know it’s against the law to use a gas appliance if you aren’t certain it’s safe to do so. That means turning off any gas appliances in your home until an engineer can take a look.
If your boiler breaks down and your insurance covers it, contact your policy holder as soon as you can. They should be able to book an appointment with an engineer and cover at least some of the cost.
With newer boilers, you may be able to make a claim with the manufacturer, if the warranty is still valid. However, how much help they will provide can vary from company to company.
If you don’t own the property and your boiler breaks down, call your landlord or estate agent. Inform them of any issues as soon as possible. They may have a preferred engineer or technician that they can send out.
How to Stay Safe If Your Boiler Malfunctions
When your boiler breaks down, your home can quickly become unsafe. Though most boilers come with safety precautions such as pressure valves that can switch the boiler off automatically, not all do. Be aware of the danger signs, such as scorching, black marks or soot around your appliances. If you smell gas, turn off your boiler and call Gas Emergency Services immediately.
In case of your boiler breaking down, it’s crucial to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. You should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home already, but staying aware of symptoms is key. Spotting symptoms such as tiredness, confusion, dizziness and tension headaches can mean the difference between life and death.
Especially in colder months, staying warm without central heating or hot water can be a challenge. This is particularly important for children and the elderly, but the cold can affect all of us.
Keeping Warm Whilst Your Boiler is Broken
There are plenty of ways to stay warm when your boiler breaks down. The most obvious option is, of course, an alternative heater:
- Electric heaters are small, portable, and look much like a radiator. Most are silent, and can quickly warm an empty room. Many are also fan heaters, though these can be noisy.
- Oil-filled heaters are inexpensive to run and efficient, despite taking longer to heat up than electric alternatives.
- Convector heaters are larger, but not as heavy as oil-filled heaters. They’re also quieter than fan heaters and might seem like the best option. However, they’re usually expensive.
Though a heater can work to warm your home, it can’t be used to heat water. When your boiler breaks, often your water goes too. Check whether you have an immersion water heater, as many properties are fitted with them, and if you do, you should still be able to use electricity to heat your water. And while you’re without heat, a hot bath or shower can be heavenly.
If you don’t have an immersion heater and your boiler breaks down, you can always opt for filling a bath with the kettle. However, it’s likely to be cheaper to fill several hot water bottles instead.
Pairing a few hot water bottles with plenty of blankets, towels or even your duvet can make for a toasty combination. Combined with layers of clothing, hats, and even your onesie, you might be surprised. The human body is amazingly capable of heating itself up.
To Conclude: What to Do if my Boiler Breaks Down?
Though no one wants it to happen to them, when your boiler breaks down, the best thing you can do is keep calm. Turn off your appliances, check for signs of danger and stay alert.
Once you’ve called an engineer, or someone has arranged for a technician to call in on you, then it’s time to get warm. Heaters can be a great temporary option if an engineer is delayed.