Common Heating Emergencies and How to Handle Them

December 11, 2023

As winter approaches, you really don’t want your heating system to fail you when you need it most. Heating emergencies can be a sudden nightmare, but with a few essential tips on how to handle them you’ll avoid a cold and uncomfortable ordeal during the coldest months of the year.


Boiler Breakdowns

A malfunctioning boiler can be a real challenge, especially in the middle of winter. If your boiler stops working, here's what you can do:

· Check the Basics: Ensure that the thermostat is set correctly and the pilot light is on.

· Check for Leaks: Inspect for any water leaks around the boiler. If you find one, turn off the gas supply and contact a heating engineer immediately.

· Reset the Boiler: Some boilers have a reset button that you can try. If it doesn't work, avoid repeated resets and call a professional.

· Inspect the Circuit Breaker: Sometimes, a tripped circuit breaker can cut off the power to your boiler. Check and reset the breaker if necessary. If it keeps happening, you‘ll probably need to call a professional.


Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are a frequent winter problem and can lead to major issues like burst pipes as well as the consequent problems with having no water.

To tackle this problem you’ll first need to find the frozen pipe. Feel the pipe for extremely cold spots or visible frost. It’s particularly common where pipes and taps are on the outside of a building.

Use a heating pad, hairdryer or a towel soaked in hot water to try to thaw the frozen pipe. Start from the end nearest the tap and work your way backwards.

To prevent future freezing problems you should insulate any exposed pipes and even consider keeping a slow trickle of water running during extremely cold weather. Be warned though that an outside tap that trickles might cause slip hazards in icy temperatures.


No Heat in Specific Rooms

If you have rooms that are colder than others, it may be due to blocked vents or issues with the radiators.

First check the vents, making sure they are all open and unblocked. You may also need to balance the heating system so that all the radiators come on at the same time.

If a specific radiator has no heat, or limited heat, it could be caused by a build-up of sludge. Sludge is debris in the heating system that gets stuck at the bottom of a radiator causing uneven heating across the radiator. If sludge becomes a problem, the best response is power flushing the system, which forces the dirt and debris out.

Other causes of a cold radiator could come from an air lock in a pipe or if there is air in the radiator itself. If the thermostatic radiator valve is closed, this could also be the cause of a cold radiator. This is a simple fix with a pair of grips and a little lubricant to stop it sticking.


Strange Noises

Unusual sounds from your heating system can indicate problems.

Rattling or banging noises may be caused by loose or broken parts. Turn off the system and call a professional to inspect and repair it.

High-pitched squealing or whistling could indicate a serious problem in the system. If this happens, again turn off the heating and get professional help.


Try Regular Maintenance

It's important to have your heating systems inspected and properly maintained before the winter season. This reduces the likelihood of the more common callouts you could experience. Regular maintenance can also help prevent emergencies and help you keep your home warm and comfortable throughout the winter.

If you do find yourself having an urgent problem, call a professional. Keep the number of an emergency heating engineer handy so you always know where to go if anything should occur.


Final Thoughts

Heating emergencies can be worrying at first but relax because you can usually resolve them easily with professional help.

Remember that your safety should be the top priority, and if you're unsure about any heating emergency, particularly where boilers are concerned, don't hesitate to call a qualified heating engineer. Regular maintenance and inspections can also help prevent these emergencies, ensuring your home stays warm and comfortable throughout the winter.


Urban Splatter

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