What to do if your central heating stops working

Switching on the boiler to find that you’ve no central heating or hot water is far from ideal. Especially if it happens in the middle of winter. But before you call a Gas Safe engineer, take a look at these 12 simple fixes that might just get you up and running again without the need for a call-out.

What to do if your central heating stops working.

1. Check your other gas appliances and electrical sockets

You might be in the midst of a power cut, in which case nothing will be working. So if your gas hob and power sockets seem OK, move on to the next check.

2. Check your isolator and trip switches

The electricity supply to your boiler might have been interrupted. So if any of the switches in your fuse box are 'off', switch them on again and give your heating another try.

3. If you’re a prepay customer, check that you’re not out of credit

We know this sounds obvious, but it does happen!

4. Check your boiler pressure

Make sure the pressure gauge on your boiler control panel reads roughly 1 to 1.5 bar. If it doesn’t, carefully use your water valve to adjust the pressure as needed. If you’re not sure how to do it, our handy guide can help.

Bear in mind that you may have to reset your boiler once you’ve re-pressurised the system. So if you’re in any doubt about how to do so check your user manual.

5. Make sure your thermostat is set high enough

The Energy Saving Trust recommends that your heating should be set to between 18°C and 21°C. So if yours is lower, increase the temperature on the thermostat to see if that triggers the boiler. If this doesn’t work, try putting your heating on full for a little while.

6. Check that your timer settings are correct

If you’ve had a recent power outage – or even if you’ve brushed against the control panel – your timer settings might have been accidentally changed. Double check this and adjust them if you need to. Then set the heating to come on in 15 minutes’ time, to make sure it’s registering properly.

7. Make sure your temperature controller is turned up

Your boiler will have two dials on the control panel. One for water temperature and one for your central heating. Make sure the heating temperature dial is turned all the way up and try your heating again.

8. Check your loft tank if your system is open vented

If you’ve got a small plastic or steel tank in your loft it means your boiler system is likely to be open vented, and you may need to check if the float ball valve has got stuck. Only attempt this if it’s safe for you to get to it. You'll find the float ball inside the small plastic or steel tank and you’ll see little or no water in there. Very gently, move the float ball valve arm to free it but don't use force. Once you’ve done this your water should start to circulate again.

9. Make sure your pipes haven’t frozen

If it’s especially chilly outside and your pipes have frozen, you can try thawing them yourself using hot (but not boiling!) water. Or you can apply a hot water bottle or other form of warm compress to the affected pipe. Now give your heating another go.

10. Check that your pilot light hasn’t blown out

If your boiler has a permanent pilot light, you’ll need to check your manufacturer's instructions on how to relight it. And if you can’t get it to light again, have an engineer take a look. Any persistent pilot light issues should always be checked by a Gas Safe professional.

11. Try resetting your boiler

Your boiler’s reset button should be located somewhere on the front panel. Check your boiler manual for instructions on how to reset your specific system and see if this gets things going again.

12. Switch the boiler off and on again

You should find the power switch close to the boiler or in an airing cupboard. Switch it off for a few seconds and then turn it back on again to see if this kickstarts your heating.

And if you’ve tried everything and you still have no heating or hot water

Call a Gas Safe engineer to come and take a look at it for you. Our British Gas engineers are here to support and you can book an appointment here.

If you’re using an electric heater or other alternative heat source until your central heating is fixed, be sure to do so safely. They should be kept at least a metre away from anything combustible. Keep the heat in the room by closing the door and using a draught excluder. If you don’t have any, roll up a towel or bedsheet and use that instead.

To keep your central heating running smoothly all year round, have it serviced annually by a Gas Safe engineer. If you’re a HomeCare customer, an annual boiler service is included in your cover. If not, you can get a quote for a one-off service.

Still no joy, book an engineer

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