Boiler Repair Cost Guide 2020

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It always happens at the worst time. You’ll be fast approaching Christmas, or you’ve had a month of heavy bills, and suddenly your heating has stopped working. Or perhaps you try running a bath and there’s next to no hot water, no matter how much you try. Chances are, your boiler has something wrong with it – it either needs fixing or replacing. But these jobs are notoriously expensive, and you want to make sure you save money where you can. What you need to know is how much does boiler repair cost, and how can you minimize this.

That’s why Quotatis have put together this price guide, up to date for 2020. In it, you’ll find answers to any and all questions relating to the cost of boiler repairs. This will include pricing information, as well as how long a typical boiler repair will take. We also have a boiler FAQ page that answers, in more bite-sized fashion, some of the questions you might have.

Contents

  1. Before you start
  2. Typical boiler problems
  3. What are the signs that I have a faulty boiler?
  4. What should I do if I smell gas coming from my boiler?
  5. When should I replace my boiler?
  6. Do I need to hire a professional?
  7. What will a boiler repair specialist do to fix your problems?
  8. How much does boiler repair cost?
  9. What factors can affect my boiler repair cost?
  10. Fixed price repairs vs time-based boiler repair costs
  11. Boiler cover
    1. What is it?
    2. How much does it cost?
    3. Is it worth it?
  12. How long does it take to repair or replace a boiler?
  13. Get a quote

Before you start

There are a few things you should consider before you call out a professional to repair or replace your boiler.

Budget

boiler repair cost
Budgeting is important

In emergency cases, this may not be as relevant. However, if you’re looking to get your boiler repaired or replaced before you’re forced to by a breakdown, then budgeting is key.

Boiler repair costs will rarely be below £100, which is not an insignificant amount of money. For many, fixing a boiler before you absolutely have to might seem an unnecessary expense.

This is why it’s important that you set out a clear budget beforehand.

There are plenty of other expenses to plan for when it comes to maintaining a home, so prioritise. Are your windows in a state of disrepair, or does your front door need an update? These may be more pressing concerns, more deserving of a limited budget.

Of course, if you’re repairing a boiler that has ceased functioning altogether, then budgeting takes on a different role. Consider whether you want to pay more for a full replacement, or if boiler repair costs are high enough already.

Scheduling

Once you’ve set out your budget, it’s time to figure out when the right time for a service will be.

Boiler repair doesn’t take an overly long time, but a total replacement can take much longer. With this in mind, if you can schedule replacement jobs for the weekend that is likely an ideal situation.

Typical boiler problems

Boilers are complicated appliances with lots of components, all of which can fail in various ways. Additionally, there are multiple kinds of boilers with each one having unique ways it can fail.

With all this in mind, this list of potential issues is designed to be as comprehensive as possible.

For more specific advice on condensing and non-condensing boilers, check out our dedicated article.

Faulty circuit board

The circuit board is the heart of any household appliance. From here, power is routed to wherever it needs to go and regulated to the correct levels.

Warning signs of a faulty circuit board include:

  • General loss of power
  • Flickering lights
  • Only working on and off

Note that a circuit board is different from a fuse box, although both play a role in how electricity is distributed to an appliance.

We bring this up because, if you believe your boiler has an electrical fault, you should check the fuse first. This is the most common area for electrical issues. However, if the boiler’s fuse is fine then it is possible the circuit has become unfit for use.

It’s rare that a circuit board can be fixed – instead, a brand new one should be installed.

Furthermore, it can often be difficult to diagnose the root cause of a damaged circuit board. Power surges can cause it to short circuit, but more commonly the issue will develop from a crack or a boiler leak. In that case, you’ll also have to fix the leak itself as well as ordering and fitting a replacement circuit board.

Broken pump seal

Pump seals are different to the pumps mentioned later on. Their role is to ensure that any water passing through a pump goes where it should go. This is to say, pump seals ensure the boiler doesn’t leak.

Recognising that your pump seal is non-functional then is rather simple – do you have a leak? If the answer is yes, you could have a broken pump seal.

It’s very rare that anything other than the natural degradation of the product will cause this. If you have a leak but recently replaced the pump seal, the issue may be caused by another malfunctioning component.

Fixing this requires an entirely new seal. Repairs are impractical, as the seal must be air tight to function and its structural integrity is already compromised. It’s also fairly inexpensive to buy a new pump seal, so it won’t raise your boiler repair cost too much.

Damaged boiler fan

Combi boiler – fan motor

Boiler fans are a crucial part of the whole appliance. So, if this isn’t working it’s imperative you get it fixed as soon as possible.

The purpose of a boiler fan is to ventilate any harmful gases from your boiler and into the outdoors. Its functionality is vital to the safety of your home. The upside to this is that if your boiler fan is faulty, the circuit board is designed to detect this. In doing so, it will cut power to the rest of the appliance, preventing you from using it and creating harmful gases.

You will notice the boiler fan isn’t working if an air fault code begins to display on your boiler.

These damages can be caused by repeated and consistent use. Over time the fan mechanism will wear down and burn out. On the other hand, the bearings that hold it in place can also decay or simply come loose.

Unfortunately, because boiler fans need to be so robust, they must be replaced when broken – and replacements aren’t cheap. Faulty fans can be a significant factor in high boiler repairs costs.

Faulty motorised valve

The motorised valve is another integral part that helps direct and regulate the hot water produced by your boiler.

If it breaks then a few things can happen. A lack of hot water being supplied to taps and showers is the most obvious symptom. Radiators will also stop working, either as well as before or altogether.

Before you assume these issues are caused by a broken motorised valve however, check your boiler’s water pressure. Lots of times, low water pressure will cause hot water to not be supplied as effectively around the house. If your boiler is reading between 1 and 1.5 for its pressure then you can usually rule it out.

If, however, your boiler pressure is too low then we have a list of 6 things to do to remedy this.

Damaged thermocouple

Thermocouple

If you find a cable with dual prongs at one end connected to your boiler then it’s likely the thermocouple. These prongs are electrical conductors and they supply voltage to other devices.

A thermocouple is an electrical device designed to produce certain levels of voltage depending on the temperature. Otherwise known as a thermoelectric effect, the intention is to use this voltage to measure given temperatures. It does this by converting thermal energy into electrical energy, passing it through a cable and elsewhere.

So, if the thermocouple was connected to something extremely hot it would produce high levels of voltage. Comparatively, low voltages would signify that little heat is being produced.

As you can imagine, this is an incredibly useful device as it can monitor the temperature of your boiler. Should it suddenly produce low voltages, then you know there’s something wrong with its ability to produce heat.

Thermocouples are often paired with other devices like multimeters so you can interpret the readings. Other times they’ll be connected to pilot lights.

You can spot a broken or damaged thermocouple through:

  • Multimeters no longer giving readings
  • Pilot lights either going out or not staying lit
  • Your boiler no longer turning on

We list that final sign as boilers are built with certain safety functions. If the connected thermocouple no longer works then the boiler wont either. This is to ensure it cannot be turned on while you lack the means to monitor its heat output.

Typical causes of thermocouple damage come from what’s called “metal fatigue”. This means that, over time, the metal conductors will have been worn down. Mostly this is due to age, but it can also be due to constant changes in temperature.

Faulty pump

Central heating systems all have a pump that receives hot water from the boiler and circulates it throughout the house. If it’s damaged, or degrades over time, then your home will be unable to properly heat itself.

A telltale sign that the heating pump is faulty is if your boiler is leaky or noisy. Alternatively, if your radiators stop producing heat (either in part or altogether) then this is another sign.

A faulty pump can arise from a few causes. Primarily, a pump will stop working when the internal propeller gets stuck. This will cause an air lock as the air that needs to pass through it cannot.

What are the signs that I have a faulty boiler?

If you’ve noticed any of the issues that can be caused by the equipment listed above, then it might be time to call a professional. However, that list isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t cover some of the more generic problems that you might experience.

As such, Quotatis have also compiled the list below to look at things from the other end, so to speak. Instead of examining how components work and what problems they might cause when broken, this list is problem-centric.

This is designed more for people who are currently experiencing problems and need to know what’s causing it. The section above is better suited to those who want to expand their boiler knowledge and prepare for future problems.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs that you have a faulty boiler:

Age

One of the first things you should check is how old your current boiler is. The typical lifespan of the appliance will vary slightly between makes and brands. However, as a general rule every boiler can start to significantly degrade in quality after 5 years.

If you’ve had your boiler for over 5 years, it’s worth thinking about getting it repaired or replaced.

Boilers usually come with a warranty, so make sure to find out how long that covers you for. Most will be between 1-3 years, but select brands and deals can offer you a 5+ year warranty. Fixing any problems within your warranty period will obviously drastically decrease your boiler repair cost.

If your boiler is around 5 years old and starts having issues, repairs are sometimes still a worthwhile investment. Check with a trained professional first though, one that can physically inspect your system. 6 years or older however, and repairs become increasingly lower value for money. This is due to the higher frequency of issues and repairs it will need. The older your boiler is, the more likely it is that you are better off simply replacing it.

Boiler protection measures

Another indicator that you have, or could have, a faulty boiler comes down to whether you have boiler protection.

There are multiple forms of boiler protection. These include:

  • Scale reducers – installed in the water tank to prevent the build-up of limescale.
  • Boiler filter – this makes sure that any rust or dirt that accumulates gets caught and doesn’t circulate throughout the system.
  • Central heating inhibitor – designed to isolate dirt and rust within the connecting pipes that isn’t caught by a boiler filter. Its purpose is to break these elements down, improving waterflow.

Assuming your boiler has one or all of these, they can (as with most components) degrade over time. Additionally, some boilers don’t actually come with these installed. In those cases, your system definitely needs repairs – if only to have these things fitted.

Preventing the accumulation of dirt, rust and limescale is critical to the long-term health of a boiler.

In the event that there’s a limescale build-up, so-called hotspots can develop. These areas concentrate heat and in doing so can cause cracks to form.

Furthermore, the filtration capabilities of a central heating inhibitor are so important that the lack of one in a boiler is a common cause of warranties being rendered non-binding.

Boiler won’t turn on

This issue is more common than you’d think. It also isn’t as much of a cause for concern as it initially feels. Oftentimes when a boiler won’t start, it’s because one of its safety measures have kicked in. So, while this does signal your boiler needs repairs it also indicates that it’s working correctly and, importantly, safely.

Typical reasons for this include damage to the boiler fan and the thermocouple.

While these aren’t the cheapest components to repair, they are vitally important to the function and safety of the appliance.

Radiators

One of the easier signs to spot. You’ll soon realise whether or not the heating is working properly when you turn it on in the winter and it doesn’t feel at all warmer.

There are many reasons that your radiators can be functioning at sub-optimal levels.

First, the radiators themselves might be damaged. You can solve inconsistent heat from radiators either through bleeding them, or hiring an engineer to flush them.

Second, radiator issues can arise from problems directly related to your boiler. Usually it will be either a motorised valve or pump that has failed and affect the radiators.

Leaks

By contrast, leaks can be harder to spot straight away. This is especially true if your boiler is enclosed in a pantry or cupboard-like space.

Leaks tend to be caused by one of two key elements failing: the pump or the pump seal. Otherwise though, if any part of the boiler that deals with water develops cracks then leaks can appear. This is a notorious problem for old pipes, for example.

Leaks are also tricky because, if not dealt with quickly, they can cause other problems. Should water come into contact with the boiler’s circuit board then you can expect a cascade of problems to deal with. Solving this early is therefore key to keeping the boiler repair cost low.

Pilot light

Of all the components that can stop working, the pilot light is designed to be easily identifiable when it does. Moreover, the pilot light only tends to cease lighting for one reason (aside from being broken itself).

If you inspect your boiler and find the light off, then it is almost certain that the thermocouple has degraded due to metal fatigue.

What should I do if I smell gas coming from my boiler?

If you smell gas coming from your boiler, then you need to take more immediate action.

Call 0800 111 999 – this is the Gas Emergency Services line. It’s free to call and can advise you on what to do if you believe you have a gas leak.

Unlike some of the problems above, this is not a harmless issue. Gas odours can be a sign that your boiler is emitting carbon monoxide, which is poisonous. As such, it’s important if you do think you smell gas to remain calm and call the number above immediately.

When should I replace my boiler?

Most of the time, the issues above can be solved with some simple repairs. The average boiler repair cost isn’t too high and it shouldn’t take too long. However, there are cases where repairs are insufficient or inefficient.

Replacements cost much more than the typical boiler repair cost. They also take far longer, as they require an inspection followed by a complete removal and installation process. As such, replacements should be viewed as something of a final option.

In terms of repairs being insufficient, there will come a time when your boiler is just too old. To a certain degree it won’t matter if you repair it. More problems are sure to crop up and sooner than they did last time.

This leads into the point about inefficiency. Sooner or later, you won’t be saving any money by repairing instead of replacing, because the repairs are so frequent. A wiser investment with older boilers is to pay the higher upfront costs to avoid continual expenses down the line.

Another way of looking at the efficiency problem is through its energy rating. Lots of older boilers rank lower on this, often at around C or D grade. By contrast, more modern appliances might be more expensive but they can carry A grade energy efficiency.

Over time you’ll earn back some of the boiler replacement cost through the money you save on monthly bills.

Before you replace your boiler though, it’s worth researching what the best combi boiler on the market is.

Do I need to hire a professional?

Under no circumstances should you try to service and repair your own boiler. It is a complicated appliance that requires lots of training to correctly repair. Not only is it incredibly dangerous to attempt DIY repairs, but you can also make the existing damages worse.

If this happens, you’ll not only increase your final boiler repair cost, but you’re also likely to void any warranties.

Fixing a boiler requires a qualified specialist.

There are two kinds of qualifications to look out for. Older boilers will need someone who is a registered engineer with OFTEC. Gas boilers, by comparison, require someone who is a Gas Safe registered engineer.

British Gas offer repair services, on both annually charged cover services and individual cases. Compare their prices with those of local tradespeople for the best deals.

What will a boiler repair specialist do to fix your problems?

When you call out an engineer for repairs, you may be curious to know exactly what it is they’ll do. While the exact process will differ depending on what needs repairing, there is a general set of tasks they’ll conduct.

To begin with, an engineer will conduct a few preliminary tasks. Namely, this will consist of some basic checks for leaks, cracks and things of that nature. After that, they’ll take off the boiler casing in order to diagnose any internal problems.

At this point they’ll remove broken parts and install new ones if and when they need to.

Once all of that is done, the specialist will put the casing back on. They’ll ensure it is properly sealed to prevent further issues. Then the engineer will check the gas pressure.

Finally, as long as everything else is fixed and inspected, they’ll conduct a flue test. This is where they make sure that your boiler isn’t producing any toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide. Of course, if you’ve called them out specifically for this then this step will come much earlier.

How much does boiler repair cost?

The average boiler repair cost is about £225 in the UK, with the wider range being between £90 and £450. However, these figures are estimates.

Your boiler repair cost is a somewhat variable figure, that’s made up of a few different elements. Specifically, your expenses will include:

  1. The cost of new parts
  2. Labour
  3. Ongoing fees (in case you buy boiler cover)

New boiler part cost

The price of new boiler parts is the most variable of all three. Some parts are relatively cheap while others are much more expensive. For quick reference, we’ve put together this handy table to give you an overall idea.

Boiler component Cost
Timer £90 – £100
Automatic air vent £100 – £170
Thermocouple £140 – £160
Boiler fan £110 – £230
Air pressure switch £190 – £200
Pump £200 – £220
Circuit board £250 – £270
Pump seal £290 – £310
Motorised valve £300 – £350
Heat exchanger £400 – £500

 

Of course, these are the prices for each component individually. If, for instance, your pump and adjoining pump seal break, then they’ll total roughly £500 to both be replaced.

Bear in mind though that not every faulty part need replacing. In many cases issues with your boiler can be fixed with some minor adjustments or cleaning. This will substantially lower the boiler repair cost, leaving you with just the labour to cover.

Labour costs

Sometimes these costs are included in the rate you’re charged for repairs. Other times, it will be a separate figure. If you hire a professional to repair a specific problem, make sure you’re clear how labour is factored in.

If, on the other hand, you are unsure what the issue is, then you’ll find need an inspection. For this, a Gas Safe engineer will have to come to your house and examine your boiler personally. This will allow them to figure out what parts need replacing and give them a chance to buy them.

Gas Safe engineers each have an hourly rate, and this is conditional on a few things.

Time is an important factor, and we don’t just mean the time it takes them to complete the job. Emergency calls that need repairs done on short notice cost more. This is also true of those scheduled extremely early or late.

Furthermore, who you hire affects labour charges. Large national companies such as British Gas often cost 25-50% more than smaller, local alternatives.

Location plays a role too. As you’d expect, London prices are obviously higher than most other regions. Some London prices can be as much as an extra 100% in price.

On average, labour costs for inspections will run you about £50 per hour (and £90-£100 in London).

What factors can affect my boiler repair cost?

The cost of individual boiler parts can cause the total price of repairs to vary wildly. However, this and wages aren’t the only thing that can affect your boiler repair cost.

Listed below are the additional, more indirect factors that can influence your bill.

Age of boiler

This can increase your costs in a variety of ways. First, the older your boiler gets the more often you’ll need to repair certain parts, incurring more frequent costs.

Second, older boilers have older parts. This means that if your boiler is 10 years old or more, its parts are increasingly likely to be outdated. Repairing and replacing these components becomes more and more difficult as time goes on, with the replacement parts getting progressively more expensive.

Choice of tradespeople

There are two key choices when it comes to boiler repair: national companies, such as British Gas, and local companies.

While lots of people choose national companies, local professionals can often save you money. Groups like Eon might be known brands that have dedicated customer service teams, but they also charge quite a lot for these factors.

Type of boiler

Boilers come in lots of different makes and models, and as such each one works slightly differently. Most of the time this shouldn’t affect boiler repair cost too greatly, but it is still a factor.

Generally speaking, larger boilers have space for components and more complex systems. This can lead to larger bills as a way of accounting for this.

More specifically, the actual format of boiler – that being: combi boilers, conventional boilers and others – will significantly impact repair prices. Because of the modernity of a combi boiler, they tend to be easier to repair. As such you can expect lower costs involved with these makes. Conventional boilers, by comparison, are more expensive to fix.

Location

The effects of location are as you’d expect them to be, and are the same as we mentioned in the preceding section. London prices are by far the highest, with the potential to double your final boiler repair cost.

Fixed price repair vs time-based boiler repair cost

When it comes to the services offered, either by large companies or local enterprises, there are typically two options. These are fixed price repairs and time-based repairs.

The way these options work are fairly self-explanatory:

  • Fixed price repairs are where you’re charged a flat fee for an agreed upon list of services.
  • Time-based repairs are where you’re charged for how long the specialist is at your property. Sometimes this is hourly. But, because of the short time it takes to carry out repairs, this differs from provider to provider.

As it would be impossible to compare the packages offered by all local tradespeople across the country, we’ve collated a few of the national company’s offerings. With these, you should get an idea of what to expect at the most expensive end of the market. Local options are likely to be cheaper than those listed here.

National Company Fixed price repair Time-based repair
EDF energy £99 – Monday to Friday

£114 – Saturday/Sunday

N/A
SSE £95+ N/A
British Gas N/A £99 to £109 – up to 30 minutes

£239 to £289 – 30 minutes to 2 hours

£449 to £499 – over 2 hours

Scottish Power £78+ £13.65 for every 15 minutes after first hour

Boiler cover

Boiler inspection

If you research some of the larger companies like EDF and SSE then you’ll notice they provide boiler cover. At first you may turn away from it, given the additional expenses it adds to your boiler repair cost. However, to make an informed decision you should have all the details.

What is it?

Boiler cover is best viewed like a form of insurance. If your boiler breaks then boiler cover entitles you to certain services that can fix this.

Multiple types of boiler cover exist. Each one has a different price and protects you against different problems.

At the lower end there is basic boiler cover. This is a standard package where, if a home has boiler cover, they likely have this. The components covered by this policy tend to be things like thermostats, boiler controls and programmers. Also included are (typically speaking) annual check-ups for maintenance, as well as customer support call centres.

Specific providers will offer slightly different packages though – so be sure to check. EDF, for example, offer up to £500 toward boiler replacement in their basic service.

Then you have boiler and central heating cover. As you’d expect, this includes everything from the tier below as well as coverage for pumps, flue and radiators. If you’re worried about not having heating during the winter, or want to be extra safe when it comes to preventing any harmful gases from being produced, this option is ideal.

The other main type of coverage is the boiler, central heating and wiring cover. In addition to everything the other packages offer, this protects your plumbing, electrical wiring and even drains.

How much does it cost?

Just like with the fixed time vs time-based repair comparison, we’ve put together a list of some of the largest boiler cover providers. All data has been collected directly from each company’s respective websites.

 

Brand Basic boiler cover cost (monthly) Boiler and central heating cost (monthly) Boiler, central heating and wiring (monthly) Excess
EDF energy £7.92 £10.34 £12.55 £95
SSE £4.95 £9.50 £19.95 £50 – £95
British Gas £14 £15.58 £19.25 £60
Scottish Power £3.50 £5.50 £8.75 (goes up to £17.50 after 6 months) £99

Is it worth it?

If you can afford the additional costs, boiler cover can be an excellent investment. Energy bills are a big part of any household’s expenses, and half of that is from your boiler usage.

With this in mind, it makes sense to look after your boiler. It’s impossible to predict when something will go wrong, and it often does at the worst times. Having an added level of protection and insurance can save you from having to pay a nasty lump sum when you least expect it.

How long does it take to repair or replace a boiler?

Repairing a boiler is a much simpler task, and takes much less time.

Repairs typically take between 1 and 2 hours to complete. That includes everything from initial inspection to flue checks. Of course, this can vary due to certain factors – the age and complexity of your boiler being among them.

Replacements, on the other hand, are a much more involved process. It’s not simply just deactivating, uncoupling and removing the old boiler and then fitting a new one. Once the new boiler is in place there are a variety of functionality and safety checks to be conducted.

As such, the average boiler replacement time is between 2 to 3 days. At its soonest, a new installation can be accomplished within 8 hours to a day. However, more complicated installations can take up to a week.

Get a quote

At this point you should be a veritable expert on all things boilers and boiler repair. If, though, you’ve realised that you’d be better served buying a new boiler rather than repairing your current one, we can help with that too.

Check out our ultimate price guide for new boilers, linked here. It details everything you could want to know when asking the question: “how much does a new boiler cost?”

Otherwise, if you’d like help finding a local, qualified tradesperson to repair your boiler, fill out the form below. We’ll put you in touch with a selection of professionals. Each of them will provide a quote to help you gauge your boiler repair cost, and you can decide from there.

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Nathan Price

Nathan Price is a Content Marketing Intern at Quotatis. He writes about a range of topics that focus on saving customers money and helping them find creative new ways to renovate their home.