A rise in the number of boiler-related emails in my inbox tells me it’s that time of year when people decide whether their boiler will survive another winter. But when your boiler breaks do you get a good repair service?
Our recent boiler brand reliability survey found that 48% of people with a boiler up to seven years old have experienced a fault. And two thirds of these faults stopping their heating or hot water from working.
Luckily not all faults lead to a visit from the repairer, but a third of the people we asked have had to get their boiler repaired since it was first installed.
What those figures don’t capture is the frustration of a boiler that breaks down repeatedly, with a fault that no one seems to be able to pin down. Which brings me to my own boiler…
The trials and tribulations of my boiler
One freezing cold morning, after a spell of unseasonably warm weather, I was woken up by a very bad tempered husband swearing about a lack of heating and hot water. The LCD display on the boiler told us there was a problem with the gas supply. We quickly discovered that this was nonsense, but couldn’t reset our boiler to get it working again.
The first repairman came out, took the casing off, pressed the reset button and it started working immediately. He couldn’t identify the problem, suggested we leave it to see if it happened again and asked for £109 in call-out fees.
The same thing happened a few weeks later when there was another sharp change in the weather. A few hours later I watched the repairman come in, take the casing off, press reset and the boiler sprung back into life. He then spent over an hour unplugging leads, cleaning sensors, running diagnostic tests and phoning the manufacturer to see if they could work out what was wrong.
To cut a long story short the fault eventually turned out to be a build up of debris in the ignition, which meant it couldn’t create a spark to ignite the gas. This made the boiler ‘diagnose’ a gas supply problem and switch itself off, where changes in the weather expanded and contracted the ignition’s metal pins, creating this intermittent fault.
All it took to solve the problem was one repairer who knew enough to come in, clean the pins and bend them apart slightly. Job done, no problems since. The one thing we didn’t need, and every single repairman mentioned, was a new printed circuit board, costing more than £100.
Do you need boiler breakdown cover?
My problem is that it took five separate repairmen, one service and tens of trips into the loft to reset the boiler to get this problem fixed. Without our boiler repair contract we’d have spent more than £500 on call out fees to get a couple of bits of metal unbent and cleaned.
Still, that’s not to say you need to invest in a boiler servicing contract or breakdown cover as not everyone’s as unlucky as me. We’ve found that the average cost of an annual boiler service is £70, while the cheapest annual service contract costs around £140 without call-out fees. It’s likely that your boiler won’t require any repairs when it comes up for its annual service, so you’d be £70 better off if you paid for a one-off service.
I’m curious to hear what boiler experiences you’ve had – have repairers got straight to the root of the problem and fixed your boiler without hassle? Or have you had to pay for expensive return trips to a boiler that keeps on giving up the ghost?