Updated: Monday 25 May, 2009
Boilers used to require constant attention, but developments that allow you to set digital controls that take care of everything have meant that you’re less likely to notice if something is wrong with your boiler. But there are a set of safety checks that you can implement to ensure that your boiler and home gas appliances stay safe. Read on to find out more...
You need to make sure that your boiler receives a yearly service - but you should never attempt to replace parts or service your boiler yourself - it must always be done by a registered technician.
If you have a gas boiler, you need to check that your technician is registered with Corgi (the Council for Registered Gas Installers). If you have an oil heating system you can contact Oftec (the Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry) to find a local, registered technician.
Having your boiler regularly checked and serviced will prevent unnecessary problems and help to avoid the cost of emergency repairs.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless and potentially lethal gas. It can be given off by the incomplete burning of gas by household appliances, when there is an insufficient air supply - this is called “incomplete combustion”.
CO poisoning can occur via a shared flue or chimney, or even from a neighbour’s appliance.
Incomplete combustion can occur when:
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness, headaches, nausea and chest or stomach pains. It is often confused with flu but if you experience any of these symptoms while using a gas appliance, you need urgent medical attention.
Because of the way that carbon monoxide affects the body, smaller people will succumb to its effects quicker - making children and the elderly particularly vulnerable.
Although you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, you can check your gas appliance is working correctly by looking at the flame. If it’s bright blue, it’s healthy. If it’s yellowy orange, this is evidence of a possible carbon monoxide presence.
Brownish-yellow stains around the appliance, pilot lights that frequently blow out and heavy condensation in the room where the appliance is installed are also indicators that you need to get your appliance professionally checked.
You can also fit an audible CO alarm. These cost around £25 and will alert you in the same way as a fire alarm if carbon monoxide is detected in your home. Corgi does not recommend the cheaper “black spot” detectors available for around £5. It sys: “Although they are much cheaper than CE-approved audible alarms, they are often inaccurate and cannot alert you if you are out of the room or overcome by fumes. This could be the difference between life and death, so don’t chance.”
Taking out boiler cover from your energy supplier or from an independent company will ensure that you’ll never have to pay expensive emergency fees if your boiler or heating system breaks down suddenly.
Most cover is in the region of £15 a month - a total of around £180 a year. Check to see if this includes your annual boiler service - if it does, then that’s between £70 and £100 that you would have had to pay out anyway, so you will in effect be getting a year’s emergency repairs and parts cover for around £80.
However, if you’ve recently had work done, or had a new boiler or heating system installed find out whether or not you’re already covered - many new installations come with a year’s guarantee on the work, so you could end up paying for something you already have if you take out additional cover.
If you are not covered, you should compare boiler insurance deals.
If you struggle to meet the cost of your yearly boiler service, contact the Energy Saving Trust, your energy supplier or your local authority to see if you qualify for free checks through the Priority Services Register.
Otherwise, you could think of boiler insurance as a monthly installation to cover the cost of your essential yearly check - with extra benefits.
Comparing and switching is quick and easy when you use the EnergyChoices.co.uk calculator