How to decide between boiler cover, boiler repair or boiler replacement

Get to know your options when it comes to keeping your boiler running smoothly so you stay warm and cosy.

What’s best for my boiler?

When your boiler is having issues, it can be tricky to know what to do. Repair it? Buy some boiler cover? Replace it altogether? There’s a lot to think about when all you want is a nice warm home and hot water.

And even if your boiler is behaving itself at the moment, it’s worth considering your options to ensure that you have cover if you need it or know what to do in case of difficulties.

Replacing a perfectly decent boiler before you need to might be expensive – but it’s worth doing the sums because newer models are more energy-efficient than older ones, so a replacement could actually work out cheaper in the long run. Similarly, although you could look at boiler cover as an extra outlay, it could work out the most cost-effective way to keep your home running smoothly, compared to paying for one-off repairs as and when you need them.

We run through the options in different scenarios – and do the workings out so you don’t have to!

Boiler cover

It used to be that the only choice you had was between shelling out for boiler replacement cover, or taking the hit and paying for one-off repairs or replacements as and when you needed them. On the one hand, you might end up paying over the odds for cover that you don’t end up making use of. On the other, you could be faced with a big old bill when you least expect it.

Lots of companies offer boiler insurance, but British Gas HomeCare offers four different levels of cover that you can choose from depending on your needs and budget – and all of them include an annual service visit to keep your boiler in tip-top shape.

Boiler repairs

If you’re having issues with your boiler or your central heating, it could be something that you can sort out yourself, or get repaired by a Gas Safe engineer. For example:

Water pressure issues

Take a look at our handy guide to water pressure issues to see if you can diagnose and resolve the problem yourself. If not, calling out a Gas Safe engineer is likely to be more economical than boiler replacement.

Radiators heating poorly

With any luck, this is easily solved (for free!) by bleeding your radiators. If not, it could be down to deposits building up in your system, slowing it down. A Gas Safe engineer can arrange a chemical Powerflush to clear the system before any major damage is done. This is more cost effective than boiler replacement, but might not be the answer if the corrosion is extensive.

Minor low-cost issues

The ten most common boiler faults had an average repair cost ranging from £115 (to replace an overheat thermostat or automatic air vent) to £305 (to replace a printed circuit board). However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some repairs can cost over £1000.

So if your boiler has a few years of safe and efficient service left in it, it’s worth fixing them rather than replacing your boiler straight away.

Boiler replacements

To replace or not to replace, that is the question. Even if you’re not experiencing any issues with your boiler, you might still want to consider replacing it if it’s getting on a bit. Today’s boilers are far more energy efficient than those of even just a few years ago, so replacing your boiler with a newer model can help you save money on your bills, as well as helping you reduce the carbon emissions of your home. If you want to find out more about energy efficiency, you can read our dedicated guide.

A new boiler can cost anything from £500 to £3150, according to Which? and we can help you find the right boiler for you. And if you’ve got HomeCare, it might be even lighter on your wallet.

You’ll need to consider replacing your boiler if it experiences:

Heavy corrosion

Impurities and water acidity can eat away at your boiler’s internal electrics and seals if it isn’t serviced regularly. Efficiency will suffer as a result, and it’ll need extensive repairs – so a replacement might make more sense. Have a Gas Safe engineer take a look if you notice signs of rust or corrosion on the outer casing, seams, or water inlet of your boiler.

Water leaks

While a leaky modern boiler is often straightforward to fix, cast-iron boilers are more of a challenge. They will most likely need to be dismantled if the leak is caused by a crack in the iron body, and the extra labour will be expensive so it could be better to replace it. Learn more in our guide to the different types of boilers.

Poor combustion

This poses serious risks, including carbon monoxide leaks, fire and even explosion. Telltale signs are soot on or around your boiler, or the pilot light repeatedly blowing out, get it inspected by a Gas Safe engineer straight away.

They might condemn the boiler, but don’t panic. Scary as it sounds, your engineer will make sure everything’s safe, before advising you on the next step. For safety’s sake, this may well be replacement.

Dangerous flue

Your entire flue, along with your boiler, needs to be inspected annually to make sure it meets safety standards. All modern gas boilers have flues with inspection hatches and so meet current Gas Safe Regulations, but if your boiler is older and has a concealed flue (in a ceiling or wall void) your Gas Safe engineer must mark it as ‘at risk’ because they're unable to check its whole length and so can't confirm it won’t become dangerous. They’ll also recommend that you no longer use your boiler.

You may need to put in inspection hatches, move your boiler or install a new flue – or even all three. When you add up the cost of the work, it could end up costing as much as a full installation. If it does, it's worth considering a boiler upgrade.

Need help?

Remember, your trusted Gas Safe engineer will always be the best person to advise you on your individual circumstances. So if you're unsure about any aspect of your boiler's performance, or safety, you can book a heating consultation  or see our guide to finding your own trusted Gas Engineer.