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Mass boiler breakdowns predicted as “polar plunge” hits UK

  • Last week of November forecast to be worst week for boiler breakdowns
  • British Gas predict a 39 per cent increase in engineer visits during November to fix broken boilers
  •  South Thames, South Bucks & Berkshire and Central London regions named the ‘Boil-uda Triangle’ – where boilers are more than 20 per cent more likely to breakdown 

 As the latest ‘polar plunge’ hits the UK, the last week of November is anticipated to be the worst for boilers breaking down across the country, according to British Gas’ historical HomeCare data. 

 The energy and services company predicts its team of engineers will visit more than 79,000 homes this week to help fix problems with heating or hot water, a 34 per cent increase on the previous week. British Gas has already seen almost a 40 per cent increase in engineer visits throughout November compared to October. 

 Analysis of British Gas’ historical big data reveals the frequency of boiler breakdowns across the country, highlighting the locations with the highest rate of engineer visits. Boilers in the South Thames, South Bucks & Berkshire and Central London regions experience the most breakdowns, leading the area to be nicknamed the ‘Boil-uda Triangle’. The number of engineer visits in these regions is more than 20 per cent higher than the national average.


 Top 10 regions for Engineer visits to fix problems with heating or hot water: 


Engineer visits

(Oct 2016 – Jan 2017)

South Thames


South Bucks & Berkshire


Central London


North Thames


West London


Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire


Wiltshire & Dorset




Surrey & Sussex


Sussex & Weald



Despite the high likelihood of boiler breakdowns this week, recent research* from British Gas reveals more than a third of households have not checked that their central heating is working, and four in ten have not had their boiler serviced in preparation for winter.  

The findings** also highlight that having no heating would be the number one disaster for the majority of households this winter. Despite this, more than a third of people admit they do not know where the boiler is located in their home. 

Matthew Bateman, Managing Director for Field Operations at British Gas, said: “This is set to be the busiest week for boiler breakdowns across the country, according to our HomeCare data. That’s why our expert engineers will be on standby to help keep customers’ homes warm, and boilers and home appliances working throughout the winter.”

British Gas’ in-house meteorologist monitors up to 30 weather stations across the country and keeps an eye on sudden changes in temperature. By watching the weather and reviewing the number of jobs engineers have attended in the past, British Gas can predict how many visits they will make to customers’ homes during the winter.

Notes to editors

British Gas’ top tips to help households stay a step ahead of winter:

1. Bleed your radiators: to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently. 
a. To do this, turn the system off and when cool turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved.
b. Cold spots in the bottom or centre of the radiator may be an indication of sludge build up and the need for system flushing.
c. Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

2. Block the breeze: Make sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills. 

3. Stay safe: It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly.

4. Love your boiler: Check to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary. 

5. Wrap up your water tank and insulate hot water:
The materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.

6. Insulate your pipes: Burst pipes are a huge issue during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

7. Be energy smart: Why not speak to your energy supplier about a smart meter? You’ll be able to see how much energy you’re using, in pounds and pence, with a smart meter monitor. In turn this helps you to better understand your energy consumption and identify where you can make savings. Find out more:

8. Maintain your drains: If you're trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it's a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don't restrict water flow at any point.

9. Control your heating remotely with Hive Active Heating: Using Hive Active Heating means you can control your heating and hot water remotely from your smartphone with the Hive app, so you can ensure your home is warm when you need it to be. Find out more:

10. Peace of mind: British Gas has a range of HomeCare products to help keep your home a step ahead of winter with protection for your boiler, heating, electrics and plumbing. With HomeCare you can have your boiler serviced every year for less than 40p a day. Find out more:

* The research was undertaken by Atomik Research on behalf of British Gas between 29th September – 4th October 2017, on a sample of 3,006 UK adults with gas appliances in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations.

** The research was undertaken by 3gem research on behalf of British Gas between 21st – 23rd November 2017, on a sample of 2,000 UK adults in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations.


For more information contact:

Bieneosa Ebite
Senior PR Manager
British Gas
01784 84 3000

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.

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