Spreading the cost of your regular boiler inspections

If you have a conventional fuel-powered boiler then you will need to take care of it if it is to perform at maximum efficiency and to minimise costly breakdowns and repairs not to mention the inconvenience of being without heating and hot water.

Boiler manufacturers and suppliers and energy companies all offer boiler care policies where for a fixed monthly payment you can have an annual service for your boiler and also be covered for unexpected breakdown and repairs.

The average cost for one of these policies is between £150 and £250 and this can be spread out as twelve monthly instalments providing many people with an affordable route to complete boiler care and removing the worry about unexpected repair bills. The other great feature is that you know who to call in the event of a problem and it saves the hassle of phoning round trying to find a heating engineer who can come out at short notice.

However, if you have a new boiler and service it annually then some people feel that buying a policy to cover against breakdowns is a waste of money and not necessary with a new and well-looked-after boiler.

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What kind of things can a boiler service reveal which may lead to additional cost?

A boiler service or even a breakdown may result in extra costs and these are some of the most common replacement parts:-

  • New heating pump – £175-£200
  • Replacement thermostat – £175 – £225
  • Magnetic filter installation – £250 – £350
  • Replacement fan – £225 – £275

These parts are commonly replaced on older boilers but it would have worked out cheaper to have an annual service plan if you get caught with one of these bills.

When is a boiler inspection useful?

A boiler inspection can be useful if you have just bought a new house especially if there isn’t any paperwork available about boiler care and maintenance from the previous occupants. A boiler inspection can also be useful if you suspect that your boiler isn’t working efficiently enough or if there is a potential safety issue.

Ask your heating engineer if they charge a fixed fee for this or whether you would just pay a call out fee plus the standard hourly rate.

Why service your boiler?

Traditional boilers need regular care and maintenance otherwise they will experience a parts failure or breakdown and it is always at the most inconvenient time. Even if your boiler continues to function, without care and attention, it will not perform efficiently which could mean that your house is not as warm as it should be or your heating bills go up. An annual service is recommended by virtually all boiler manufacturers and heating engineers. Poor boiler care could lead to the early replacement of a boiler and this will cost in the region of £2,000-£4,000.

What are the standard issues or faults that people experience with their boilers?

There are a number of issues that people encounter with their boilers which may generate a requirement for service or repair. These include:

  • No hot water
  • The pilot light is out and won’t relight
  • The thermostat is unresponsive
  • The boiler cuts out a lot for no reason
  • The radiators are cold or at best, tepid
  • The boiler is making a funny noise
  •  There is an increase in utility bill costs which might indicate the boiler is not performing efficiently

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Know your boiler type

When you phone up for a quote for the cost of boiler servicing or inspection, it is important to know what type of boiler you have as this could influence the price and you will be asked the question. There are two main types:-

  • Conventional boilers – these use a storage tank which has cast iron heat exchangers inside the tank which heat up the hot water. This is the type of boiler which supplies plenty of hot water but if the hot water runs out, you have to wait for the tank to heat up again
  • Combination or Combi boilers – these access water directly from the mains supply. There is no requirement for a storage tank and they are a lot smaller than conventional boilers so are often located in the kitchen hidden behind a cupboard door

What are condensing boilers?

Condensing boilers are the most common type of new boiler. They are popular for households who want to control their energy costs but they can require more care and attention. On the upside, condensing boilers are 10%-20% more efficient than conventional boilers but their main drawback is that the system is much more likely to freeze up in cold weather.

The most common issue with a condensing boiler if it isn’t working properly is that the condensate pipe could be frozen. Setting the heating timer/room thermostat to continuous is one way to prevent the condensate pipe from freezing up according to HHIC – the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council. The most energy-efficient way to manage this issue is to leave your heating on low all the time. This will cost you slightly more over the winter period but it will prevent the condensate pipe from freezing up which could land you with an expensive bill and in the wrong type of hot water. With the recent run of mild winters across most of the UK, this is not something you may need to do all the time but in a cold snap, it can work very effectively

If the pipe has frozen, you can place a hot water bottle on it or pour warm water over it and then reset the thermostat. If the pipe is really frozen then you may need to persist for a while in order to effect a thaw. Persistent freezing problems may require a longer-term solution such as moving the pipe indoors or replacing it with a pipe that has a wider diameter. Or, you can try insulation around the pipe.

How to find a boiler service engineer?

If you are not part of a monthly or annual service plan then you will need to find someone to come and service your boiler and repair it when it breaks down. Having someone local, reliable and professional is very important as there is never a good time to be without heating and hot water. This is why we always recommend that you get a quote from Calloutcharges.co.uk first as we have access to a large network of local plumbers. If your boiler is gas-powered then you will need someone who is a Gas Safe certified engineer otherwise they will not be legally allowed to touch your boiler.

Safety First

There are real safety implications with faulty boilers particularly if they are gas-powered. Around 24 people a year in the UK die from carbon monoxide poisoning because of a faulty gas boiler.

Warranties from the manufacturer

Most boilers installed in the last ten years have as a condition of any repairs under the warranty that the boiler has had an annual service.

Home insurance and boiler repairs

Many home insurance policies will now pay for boiler repairs so check your policy wording carefully and also the excess which could be a significant amount; an annual boiler service and repair plan may work out cheaper even for just one breakdown and almost definitely if you have more than one repair issue in any given year.

Check your home insurance policy before you take out a boiler service and repair plan as you could be doubling up on the cover and paying much more than you need to every year.

Financial assistance with the cost of boiler servicing and repairs

If boiler servicing or repairs are going to cause you financial hardship, then British Gas, EDF and nPower’s Energy Trust schemes can help with assistance towards these expenses but you will need to fill out a form to demonstrate why you need the help. The Government can also provide help through the Warm Home Discount Scheme or you could allocate some of or all of your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment if you are eligible, to boiler servicing and maintenance costs. Annual boiler servicing maintenance and repair plans can work out at a very affordable amount each month and completely remove the worry about paying for boiler servicing costs and unexpected breakdown charges which concern many people.

There are real safety implications with faulty boilers particularly if they are gas-powered. Around 24 people a year in the UK die from carbon monoxide poisoning because of a faulty gas boiler.

Boiler Inspection Cost FAQs

Can I service my own boiler?

You should not service your own gas boiler – mains gas or LPG – unless you are a Gas Safe Certified technician or engineer, there are immense safety risks in doing this.

What are the required qualifications to service a gas boiler?

Your engineer must be on the Gas Safe register and you can check that out on their website. At the end of a boiler service or inspection, you should be given a Gas Safety Certificate and this needs to display the following information:

  • The name of the engineer
  • The name of the company
  • The address of the company
  • The Gas Safe number

It should detail any problems or issues that came up during the inspection and also the results of the flue test. The engineer should also make you aware in writing and verbally of any safety concerns they have and if they have looked at other gas appliances, then this should be recorded as well

What are the key things to look out for when buying boiler cover?

All work must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Watch out for inflated prices as the big energy providers do play on people’s fear of being without heating or hot water during the colder months. Many policies require a boiler to be below seven years of age. Understand the distinction between boiler only cover and boiler cover with central heating; the latter includes the boiler and the entire heating system so all of your radiators, the pipe run and the valves.

You don’t have to take your boiler cover from your energy provider, you can shop around for a better price. The price comparison websites are useful for this. Read the small print carefully and understand how many callouts you are entitled to each year within the stated premium. Some policies restrict the number whereas others are unlimited. There may be conditions attached to the repair and maintenance section of the policy like having an annual boiler service or inspection so read them thoroughly and make sure you comply or you could find yourself without cover right at the wrong moment. There can be age restrictions as well so your boiler may simply be too old to be eligible for cover.

Rich Crossley
Having spent 30 years working all over the world for top-tier investment banks, I’ve owned and developed houses all over the world – Europe, the US and Asia. I’m now based back in the UK and involved in the property industry – oh, and I’m a keen DIY enthusiast!
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