Servicing Your Boiler by Heather Hilder on September 30, 2020 “Expert Advice” Servicing Your Boiler As autumn arrives each year, one big question is asked in homes all over the country. When will we put the central heating back on? You might try to put it off until October or keep adding extra layers of clothing. But, if you’re anything like me, by the time it comes to wearing gloves indoors you will have given in and reached for the thermostat! The trouble is, any equipment or system that has effectively been shut down for six months can cause problems when brought back to life. I thought it would be a great idea to get expert advice from Martyn Bridges, Director at Worcester Bosch, for his thoughts on ‘servicing your boiler’. Unprecedented times “Summer/spring is traditionally when your boiler is serviced, when they’re not necessarily being used for heating purposes. So most people select that period,” Martyn told me when I interviewed him for my radio show ‘Let’s Talk Property’ on Radio Reverb 97.2FM. This year has been different for obvious reasons. “The thought of having a stranger into your home to look at something was out of the question,” Martyn pointed out. During lockdown, heating engineers and plumbers weren’t categorized as an essential worker. So the industry had to ask the government, ‘Are we allowed in people’s properties?’ “If it was an emergency, if your boiler had failed, or perhaps you had a leak, then yes, we were allowed in, complying with social distancing, to put right whatever had gone wrong. But boiler servicing wasn’t deemed essential.” Customer concerns I casually mentioned to Martyn that domestic gas supplies frighten me. This is something I have in common with many other people. “I can fully understand,” Martyn said, “gas is one of those black arts.” “Twenty three million homes are connected to the gas grid. I heard the other day there are 136,000 miles of gas pipework zigzagging all under the ground connecting to our properties. So it’s a fairly intricate infrastructure we have. Of course, we only hear about the situations where it’s gone terribly wrong. For virtually most of the time it’s a very safe and reliable form of heating and cooking for most people.” Safer tech for boilers “Newer boilers that are 15/20 years old, right up to modern day, are very safe indeed; they just won’t work if there’s a problem with them. They’re full of safety devices”, Martyn assured me. Even so, there are plenty of good reasons to make sure your boiler is checked every year. Even if safety concerns really aren’t at the top of the list. “Getting your boiler serviced annually will actually save you money in terms of its gas consumption. I know that sounds sort of countered by the fact that you’ve got to pay for an engineer, but when the boiler is in operation it will be running more efficiently,” Martyn explained. “The engineer will check that the combustion settings are correct, that the CO2 and the CO values are right, it’s running at its optimum efficiency and that the heat exchanger is clean. It’ll also give you durability and longevity. Boilers serviced on an annual basis will last much longer.” Landlords and the law on servicing It’s a legal requirement for landlords to have servicing done on a regular basis, but that isn’t the case for normal homeowners. “If you go to Germany, it’s a requirement for everybody. And I think in Germany, your household insurance is also void if you can’t demonstrate you’ve had your boiler serviced,” Martyn told me. “In the UK, we confuse matters. The boiler that you and I have in our home is no different to a boiler that’s in a landlord-tenant type arrangement. There’s no ‘special boiler’ for them and one for us. They’re all as safe or as dangerous as each other. But the Health and Safety Executive still choose not to make it a legal requirement for homeowners.” Top Tips on Servicing your Boiler As a homeowner and estate agent, as well as making sure that my company [Callaways] talks about issues which affect homeowners, landlords and tenants regarding safety and legislation, I also like to pass on any tips and tricks from other professionals whenever I can. So Martyn, your top tips please? “We’re all going to be working a bit more from home this winter. So we will need boilers like we’ve never needed before. They will be on in the daytime as well as the night and early morning. For all those reasons, I urge everybody if they’ve yet to do so, to get theirs serviced in readiness for the colder months of January.” If you’d like to know more about gas boiler safety the Worcester Bosch website is a great place to start. Also, the Gas Safe website holds the registration details of every qualified and competent gas safety engineer in the country. These professionals have to retake their qualifications every five years and hold the right insurances. You can hear me talking to more industry experts on my Radio Reverb show ‘Let’s Talk Property’.