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Posted on 15 October 2021

Your Boiler: The Basics

Although most of us have a boiler in our home, you may not know exactly what type of boiler you have, how it works and how you can help keep it running efficiently.

Taking out Boiler & Central Heating Cover with Home Emergency Assist before a problem develops is important, so you know you’re covered in the event of an emergency, and with a 24/7 emergency helpline and a UK-wide network of qualified engineers, you can be assured your home will be back up and running as quickly as possible.

We’ve put together a handy article to answer any questions you may have about your boiler and heating system.

What is central heating?

Central heating is the system which provides you with warmth from a specific heating source. Your boiler produces a steady supply of hot water which is then pumped around the pipes within your home to fill the radiators you have in every room.

What is a boiler?

The boiler is the most important part of your central heating system as this is what produces the heat. It’s a small furnace which uses gas, oil or LPG (liquified petroleum gas) as fuel. The majority of boilers in the UK are fuelled by natural gas, which feeds through from the national grid. There are different types of boilers too.

How does a gas boiler work?

Typically, there are several pipes entering the boiler. One feeds gas from the mains gas supply (which will come from outside your home) into the boiler. Another pipe enables cold water to enter the boiler so it can be heated, and a further pipe enables hot water to exit the boiler to be pumped around your home.

  1. When you turn on your heating, a valve opens which enables gas from the mains supply to enter a sealed chamber inside the boiler. The gas enters and is ignited by an electric ignition switch, which creates blue flames*. These heat a component within your boiler called a heat exchanger, which transfers the heat to the cold water pipe; this will heat up the water to around 60°C.
  2. Once the water has been heated, a pump (which is either inside the boiler, or very near to it), will pump the water around a circuit of pipe which runs around your home and passes through your radiators.
  3. The hot water enters each radiator, entering at one side and leaving at the other, providing heat for the room.
  4. Once the water has travelled around all your radiators, it returns to the boiler. The water will have cooled down by now, so the boiler will reheat the water before sending it around again.
  5. While the boiler is burning, it produces waste gases which need to be released outside your home. This is done via a pipe called a flue.

* IMPORTANT: if the flame in your boiler is not blue, i.e., it’s yellow or orange, the boiler isn’t getting enough oxygen. This can be very dangerous and mean that your boiler is emitting a lethal gas called carbon monoxide. This is colourless and odourless but can kill quickly so it’s important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

How do oil and LPG boilers work?

These work in much the same way as a gas boiler. The key difference is that, rather than the fuel being supplied by a national network of pipes, it comes from a tank of fuel which needs to be kept on the property.

Do boilers produce hot water for taps as well as radiators?

This depends on the type of boiler you have, as there are key differences. Many modern boilers work as both a central heating boiler and a water heater for your taps. Others may only be able to supply your central heating.

  • Conventional/Traditional Boiler: this will produce hot water for your central heating system but not your taps, bath, and shower. The boiler is fed cold water from a tank in your attic. These are used in combination with a hot water cyclinder in an airing cupboard which will heat and store water for you to use.
  • System Boiler: this requires a hot water cylinder to store hot water for your taps, but it’s supplied with cold water from the mains at a high pressure. This means there’s no feed for a tank in the attic.
  • Combination (or combi) Boiler: the most common type of boiler installed today. These have two heat exchangers and two hot water pipes. One is connected to your radiators and the other to your taps, bath, and shower. There’s no need to have a feed tank in the attic and as it produces hot water on demand, it doesn’t need a hot water cylinder.

What is a condensing boiler?

In the past, boilers were non-condensing which means that when the fuel burnt, a lot of heat was wasted when gases were released. Wasted heat meant that the boilers would have to work harder, costing you more money and increasing carbon emissions.

Today, all boilers installed must be condensing, which means any waste gases and residual heat pass through the heat exchanger that warm the cold water returning from the radiators before being released via the flue. This helps it to heat up and reduces the work your boiler has to do.

Condensing boilers are far more energy efficient, with over 90% of the energy used being converted into usable heat.

Considering a new boiler?

We’ver partned up with Heatable, who offer great boilers at great prices, guaranteed for 10 years. You can get a quick quote, 24/7, 365 days a year to find out how much you could save with a new energy-efficient boiler, with installation as little as 24 hours later!

You’ll also benefit from an additional £100 discount by using our exclusive discount code: HOME100 when you click to get a quote for a new boiler today using our referral link.

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 27 September 2021

Boiler Switch On Month

The weather may not be cold yet, but it won’t be long until the weather changes and we’re thinking of putting our heating back on.

October is Boiler Switch On Month so it’s a great time to start thinking about the colder weather ahead and the last thing you need is to discover your boiler doesn’t work or has developed faults in the time it hasn’t been used.

Boiler & Central Heating Cover can help protect your home in the event your boiler and central heating system stops working but it’s vital to have cover in place before a fault develops.

Read our tips for keeping your boiler and heating working as expected below.

Begin with a boiler service

Your boiler should ideally be serviced once a year by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

If you add a boiler service to any of your Home Emergency plans with Home Emergency Assist, we’ll typically carry this out between April and September to ensure any potential issues are raised before the colder weather.

You can find out what to expect in a gas boiler service.

Turn your boiler back on gradually

Aim to turn your boiler back on once or twice a month during the summer to stop any debris building up. This will also help to show any issues that may be developing in time for you to have these rectified. If you haven’t been doing this, don’t worry, there’s still time! Fire up your boiler a couple of times over the next few weeks before winter hits.

Boiler not working as expected?

If you switch your boiler back on and it’s not working as expected, we’ve got a few articles that may help:

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 13 September 2021

Gas Safety Week 2021

In honour of Gas Safety Week, we thought we’d share some more tips with you about keeping safe at home.

Unsafe gas appliances have the potential to leak, cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. According to information from the Gas Safe Register, 1 in 6 homes has an unsafe gas appliance. You can find out how safe your area is on their interactive map.

Here are some tips for keeping your home safe.

Use Gas Safe Registered engineers

Ensure you use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, repair and service your boiler and gas kitchen appliances. You can find (and check) engineers on the Gas Safe Register website.

With 1 in 6 boilers inspected being unsafe, it’s vital that you have your boiler regularly serviced and checked once a year. You can add a gas boiler service with any of our Home Emergency products for £6 a month and we’ll always send a Gas Safe Registered engineer to your home.

Check your appliances

If you spot any of these signs, you need to get your gas appliances serviced straight away:

  • Your appliance isn’t working as expected
  • There’s a floppy yellow flame instead of a crisp blue one
  • There are brown/black marks around the appliance
  • Your boiler’s pilot light keeps going out
  • More condensation than normal on the inside of your windows

The Gas Safe Register recommend that you don’t wait for these warning signs before getting your appliances serviced; always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to find out how often they recommend a service.

Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas which is caused by the incomplete burning of gas or LPG. This usually happens as a result of a gas appliance being fitted incorrectly, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It’s especially dangerous as you can’t see, taste or smell it and some symptoms mimic a cold or flu.

The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  1. Headache
  2. Dizziness
  3. Nausea
  4. Breathlessness
  5. Collapse
  6. Loss of consciousness

If you have any of these symptoms and your gas appliances are showing any of the above signs, get into fresh air as soon as you can and see your doctor/go to hospital. They will be able to do a blood or breath test to check for carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you’re concerned there’s an immediate danger, you can also phone the gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999 (mainland GB).

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Getting your gas appliances checked regularly by a Gas Safe Registered engineer is the most important thing you can do to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

You can also install a carbon monoxide leak detector – or audible carbon monoxide alarm – in your home too, as they’ll emit a sound when carbon monoxide is detected. However, because these alarms only work when carbon monoxide is present, you shouldn’t rely on these alone.

To ensure their effectiveness, make sure any carbon monoxide detector you buy is kitemarked to standards BS EN 50291-1:2010.

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 22 September 2020

Turning Your Boiler Back On After Summer

Although we’re currently enjoying warm weather in some places around the UK, it won’t be long until the weather turns and we’re having to switch our heating back on. 1 October marks the start of Boiler Switch On Month, when we start to think about the colder months ahead.

If you’ve had your boiler switched off for the summer months, you might find when you come to switch it back on that your system could have developed faults or in the worst-case scenario, not work at all.

Home Emergency Cover can help protect your home against the event that your boiler and central heating stop working and ensure you’re not left with no heating during the colder weather or a large repair bill.

We’ve put together some tips for restarting your boiler this year, ready for the winter months.

Gradually turn your boiler back on

You should have been aiming to turn your boiler on once or twice a month during the summer months to stop any build-up of corrosion or dust. Doing this also flags any potential problems before you come to switch it back on permanently. If you’ve not been doing this, don’t worry – there’s still time to fire your boiler up a few times over the next couple of weeks before the weather turns colder.

Check for faults

Faults can occur over long periods of inactivity, such as the summer months.

Pilot Light Not Igniting: if your pilot light keeps going out, you should first check that there aren’t any issues with your gas supply. Use our guide to find out how to get your pilot light switched back on.

Low Boiler Pressure: boilers can lose pressure over time and a boiler without enough pressure won’t work. Yours should be at around 1 bar; any less and you may find issues with your system. Read our guide to topping up your boiler pressure.

Build-up Of Limescale: getting your boiler descaled can prevent potential leaks and even pipes rupturing and helps to prolong its life. Find out how a Gas Safe Registered engineer would descale your boiler.

Don’t turn the heat up too fast

We know it’s tempting to turn the heat up as soon as you start feeling the cold, however doing this can mean you set the temperature too high, wasting both money and energy. Try instead to turn your heating up one degree at a time. For most households, a temperature of around 18-21°C is ideal, however the elderly or unwell may need the temperature a little higher.

Bleed your radiators if needed

Because you won’t have been using your central heating over the summer months, you’re unlikely to notice if your radiators have stopped working effectively. If you notice that your radiators have cold patches, or aren’t warming up at all, you may need to bleed them to remove any trapped air. You can read our handy step-by-step guide for bleeding your radiators.

Boiler not working correctly?

If you’re not able to get your boiler up and running correctly after winter, you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you have Boiler and Central Heating Cover or Complete Home Emergency Insurance with Home Emergency Assist, we’ll course and send a Gas Safe registered engineer to you in the event you have no heating to get you back up and running as quickly as possible.

To find out more about how we’re here to solve your emergency breakdowns with our boiler and central heating cover including service and other types of home emergency cover, including plumbing and drainage and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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