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Have you ever been left without heating and hot water in the winter because your boiler’s packed up? We can't imagine it's ideal.

Of course, you can’t predict when your boiler will breakdown, but you can keep it in good condition and have a backup plan, so you aren’t left in the cold. To make sure your boiler doesn't let you down this winter, we're going to take you through what to look for and why now could be a good to book in your boiler check.

Get it serviced annually

The best way to ensure your boiler is in tip-top condition is to get it serviced as part of a yearly routine. If you haven’t done this already this year, now’s the best time – before you go to put the heating on when the cold weather kicks in.

It is important to check your boiler for safety too. An expert can check the pressure of the gas and the flue as well as checking for potential leaks and signs of possible carbon monoxide build up – which can be fatal.

What about older boilers?

As a boiler gets past the 10-years-old mark, keeping it serviced may not always improve how it is running. Though it can be costly, upgrading to a modern and efficient condensing boiler can save money on energy in the long run. It’s worth weighing up how much you are paying on servicing each year and whether you can afford to keep running an older and less energy efficient model.

A quick checklist

Dig out the manual for your boiler and keep it handy. If it does break down, you may be able to fix it yourself: after all, you don’t want to incur expensive call out charges when all you needed to do was relight the pilot! Other simple fixes for heating that’s not working are checking the water level, resetting the timer and bleeding the radiators.

But where there’s work to do on the boiler, you must call in qualified professionals. Look online to find a reputable technician to do your service, or repair any problems, through the Gas Safe Register. Be sure to ask to see for the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card for peace of mind.

Get covered, have peace of mind

Another way to avoid boiler surprises all year round is to take out home emergency insurance. Boiler breakdown cover starts from around £5 a month and usually offers a package of boiler repairs to include labour and parts all year round. You can decide whether to include your heating as well or just cover the boiler, and some policies include cover for other home emergencies.

Policies and prices vary so it’s well worth shopping around – don’t just sign up to your energy firm’s cover. They may offer you a deal or discount to lock you in for a certain length of time, but it doesn’t always mean it’s the cheapest or most comprehensive option.

Check the terms and conditions of the policy and any exclusions. Some policies may restrict the time that can be spent on any one repair, or cap the costs of a fix, or the number of call outs you can have in a year. Also check if they guarantee a call out time for an engineer. Always check if an older boiler is eligible for cover, and ask what would happen if your boiler is beyond economic repair once the engineer takes a look.

Check your home insurance too

If you have home insurance, it may include boiler cover, but it’s usually an added extra. Check your policy and decide whether you want to add it on, or take out boiler cover separately. With thinkmoney home insurance, you can add additional cover that includes emergency boiler, roof repairs, damage or failure of plumbing or drainage system plus other emergencies from as little as £3.17 a month.

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