Heating not working properly? The maintenance jobs you can do – and when to call in a pro

Caught out by a cold spell because your heating's not working well? DIY fixes aren't always the answer

TODO alt text

Autumn is really and truly here and, with temperatures plummeting across the UK, it's well past time to check your boiler is in good working order and that your heating system's functioning well. We asked Hometree, the online boiler installation specialists, how you can roll into the cold season without any heating hiccups. 

Get your boiler serviced – but by a professional

Don't know anything about boilers? Of course you don't (heating engineers excepted), and neither should you. Checking a boiler is something best left to a professional (and never to you after a quick internet search). 

They should also have a look at all of your radiators to make sure there are no blockages or leaks. If you are renting, check with your landlord, as some may have an agreement with the property's energy provider that includes a free boiler check.  

Spot the warning signs yourself

This is something you can and should do. Think your boiler sounds weird? Don't ignore the early warning signs of a boiler that's running inefficiently or incorrectly: gurgling noises or excessive noise from your boiler could indicate trapped air, or a loss of pressure. If the pilot light is not coming on, you may be experiencing a loss of gas supply. If you notice any of these signs, get your boiler seen to at once.

Bleeding your radiators may (or may not) cure cold spots

Again, a job you can do yourself: bleeding radiators at the start of every cold season really pays off (if you notice that your radiators are hot at the bottom and cold on top, you need to bleed them; if your radiator heat is patchy, with cold spots in random places, then you're most likely dealing with sludge, and will need to get a professional involved). Sorting out your radiators will ensure your boiler isn't under too much strain, and will run efficiently.

Don't neglect leaks and drips

Keep hearing a dripping sound? Don't ignore it – at early stages, having a leak fixed (again, by a pro) may require nothing more than a replacement seal. Let it get worse, and you may have a heating disaster on your hands. 

Get your pipes insulated

Nothing disrupts a home during the winter like a burst pipe – but you can easily prevent this problem by making sure your pipes are insulated and connected to an anti-frost/frost-detecting device. If you are going away for more than a few days in winter, make sure you set your thermostat to heat the house for at least an hour each day. Or invest in a smart thermostat that you can control remotely.