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Last updated: 10th August, 2023


Boiler Safety Tips for Homeowners: DIY + When to Call an Engineer

Boiler Safety Tips for Homeowners: DIY + When to Call an Engineer

Key takeaways

  • Boiler safety and proactive maintenance are essential for a safe home and long-lasting equipment.
  • Recognising signs of trouble allows homeowners to respond appropriately with DIY fixes or professional assistance.
  • Homeowners should be aware of carbon monoxide dangers and know when to call a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Our latest blog delves into critical boiler safety tips that every homeowner should know, ensuring the safe operation of your new boiler and seeking the right boiler help when necessary.

Boiler safety is an essential aspect of maintaining a comfortable and secure environment within a home. At iHeat, we understand, proper boiler maintenance not only ensures a longer life for the equipment, but also helps in preventing accidents and costly repairs. 

Homeowners can take certain steps to ensure that their boiler operates smoothly and safely, while also knowing when to call in a professional engineer for assistance.

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Understanding the fundamentals of boiler safety and performing proactive maintenance can significantly reduce the chances of a breakdown or hazardous situation. By recognising signs of trouble, homeowners can take appropriate action, whether that involves a simple DIY fix or calling a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

Awareness of carbon monoxide dangers, proper boiler operation, and knowing the criteria for when to seek professional help are key aspects to maintaining a safe home boiler system.

Fundamentals of Boiler Safety: DIY Tips

Understanding Your Boiler

Boilers play an essential role in keeping our homes warm and comfortable, but they need proper care to function efficiently. Firstly, homeowners should familiarise themselves with their boiler's basic operations and maintenance tasks. 

They should know how to adjust the thermostat, timer, and temperature settings for optimal performance and energy efficiency.

While regular cleaning and checking for leaks might be manageable for some DIY enthusiasts, more complex maintenance should be left to professionals. 

Remember that proper insulation on pipes prevents freezing and helps maintain an even temperature throughout the system.

Boiler Types


Combis or combination boilers, combine all components and aspects of a heating system (central heating and hot water production) into one succinct and powerful unit.

Their economic size, quick flow rates and dual functionality means combis are extremely efficient and effective when heating a multitude of property sizes, being best suited for small to medium sized homes with 1-2 bathrooms.

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System boilers perform best in homes with a high hot water demand, specifically either larger properties with a higher number of residents or properties with two or more bathrooms. 

System boilers store hot water in a separate cylinder which provides constant flow access but requires additional (minimal) storage space.

System boilers can service multiple flow outlets at one time, meaning no one in a larger home would be standing around waiting for a shower.

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Heat Only

A heat only boiler provides the heat for a home's central heating system and hot water cylinder. A heat only boiler is suited to servicing larger properties with multiple bathrooms/radiators or a business premises with a high water demand. 

Heat only boilers do require sufficient installation space within a property, as they use two storage tanks (feed & expansion) as well as the aforementioned hot water cylinder. 

Although a combi is generally considered more space saving, a modern heat only boiler is still compact and can supply more bathrooms with hot running water than a combi can.

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Key Boiler Features

Every boiler comes with a range of features designed to ensure safety. It's important to understand and regularly inspect these features:

  1. Safety Valve: This vital component releases excess pressure to protect your boiler from malfunctioning or exploding. Regularly checking the valve for signs of wear, corrosion, or blockages will save you from costly repairs and potential hazards.

  2. Pressure Gauge: Keep an eye on the pressure gauge to ensure your boiler is operating within the recommended limits. If the pressure is too high or too low, it could indicate issues with the unit that need professional attention.

  3. Reset Button: Most boilers have a built-in reset button that allows you to restart the system when it locks out due to safety risks. Familiarise yourself with the reset process, but be cautious not to rely on this as a quick fix to recurring issues.

  4. Flame Sensor: This safety device monitors your boiler's flame status. Regularly inspect it for proper functioning, and clean it if required.

Regularly maintaining and checking your boiler system can prevent unnecessary breakdowns and improve its safety. 

However, some tasks mustn't be performed by homeowners. Complex maintenance and repairs should always be carried out by Gas Safe registered engineers to avoid putting you and your family at risk.

Proactive Boiler Maintenance

Proper boiler maintenance is essential for the safety and efficiency of your heating system. Regular checks can help you identify potential issues before they become serious problems.

In this section, we'll discuss some proactive steps that homeowners can take to maintain their boiler, along with situations that require the expertise of a qualified engineer.

One essential aspect of boiler maintenance is checking the pressure gauge regularly. Ideally, the boiler pressure should be between 1 and 2 bar. If the pressure is too low, it may lead to inadequate heating, while excessively high pressure could be a safety hazard. 

Homeowners can consult the boiler manual for instructions on adjusting the pressure manually if required.

Radiator valves play a significant role in distributing heat throughout the home. Make sure they are in good working order by checking them at least once a year. 


Bleeding the radiators twice a year can also help maintain optimal system performance. This process involves releasing trapped air to improve heat output and efficiency.

Pipe insulation is another crucial aspect of boiler maintenance. Insulating the pipes can help prevent heat loss and reduce the risk of freezing during cold weather. 


Pay particular attention to any exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or lofts, as these may be more vulnerable to freezing.

Routine cleaning and inspection of the boiler and surrounding area is a simple yet effective measure to ensure its longevity and efficiency. If the boiler is stored in a cupboard, make sure nothing obstructs its ventilation. 

Dust and debris can accumulate on the boiler's components, so it is good practice to clean the exterior with a soft brush or cloth.

While DIY maintenance can help keep your boiler in good condition, some tasks require the expertise of a professional engineer. Homeowners should make a point to schedule an annual service with a registered technician, as this not only helps highlight and address potential issues but also ensures the manufacturer's warranty remains valid.

In summary, proactive boiler maintenance is essential for homeowners who wish to prolong the life and efficiency of their heating system. This includes monitoring the pressure gauge, maintaining radiator valves, insulating pipes, and cleaning the boiler. Additionally, it is wise to seek professional assistance for tasks that need in-depth expertise, like annual servicing.

Signs of Trouble and Initial Response

Boiler issues can be inconvenient and even dangerous. Homeowners need to be aware of the signs that their boiler may be malfunctioning. One common issue to look out for is odd noises coming from the boiler, such as a boiling kettle sound. This could indicate a build-up of sludge on the heat exchanger, which may require a system flush by a heating engineer.

Another potential problem is the absence of heating in the home. In this case, homeowners should first check the thermostat settings and ensure that the timer is set correctly. If these settings are correctly configured but there is still no heat, it's a sign that the boiler needs professional attention.

Low pressure is another common issue that may be resolved by following simple DIY steps. Check the boiler's water pressure indicator. If it's below one, try re-pressurising the boiler by locating the filling loop, usually found at the bottom of the unit. Attach the hose ends to the valves and refill the system until the indicator reaches the recommended range. Remember to switch off the boiler while performing this task.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can be released from a malfunctioning boiler. Installing a carbon monoxide detector near the boiler can help detect any leaks and protect the household from potential harm. Additionally, external pipes should be inspected for damage or freezing during the winter months. Frozen pipes may burst and cause damage to the boiler or home.

In some cases, resetting the boiler by following the manufacturer's instructions can resolve issues temporarily. However, constant resetting may suggest an underlying problem that needs a professional assessment.

Gas leaks are particularly hazardous and they require immediate attention. If homeowners detect a gas smell or suspect a gas leak, they must switch off the main gas supply, leave the property and contact a qualified gas engineer. It's essential to avoid using electrical devices or lighting flames, as these actions might cause an explosion.

Ultimately, maintaining boiler safety requires a combination of vigilance, DIY troubleshooting, and knowing when to call an engineer for help. By being proactive and addressing issues before they escalate, homeowners can help keep their boiler in good condition and ensure the safety of their household.

Steps for Proper Boiler Operation

Operating your boiler efficiently and safely begins with a few simple steps. Regular maintenance, as well as paying attention to the thermostat, timer, water pressure, and other aspects related to central heating and hot water, ensure your home stays comfortable and your energy bills remain low.

Firstly, it's important to set your thermostat and timer appropriately. Adjusting the thermostat to around 21°C should provide an optimal temperature for your home. Utilise the timer for early mornings and late nights, to avoid overheating during warmer seasons. This ensures that water keeps flowing through the pipes and the central heating system operates smoothly.

Monitoring your boiler's water pressure is another crucial step. Regularly checking the pressure gauge on your boiler ensures it maintains a suitable range, typically between 1 and 1.5 bars. Too low or high water pressure may lead to issues in heating your home properly, and could cause potential damage to your boiler.

Regular boiler services are necessary to maintain peak performance and longevity. A professional service should be conducted annually to spot potential issues, keep the warranty valid, and prevent costly breakdowns. Moreover, this routine check-up allows you to assess whether your boiler requires repairs or replacements.

When you encounter issues related to your central heating or hot water, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take before calling an engineer. For example, check if the issue might be connected to the timer settings or thermostat temperature. Additionally, verify that the boiler’s pilot light is on, and consider resetting the boiler as per its instructions.

However, if problems persist or you're unsure about any aspect of boiler operation, it's best to call a professional engineer. They possess the expertise to diagnose and resolve any issues quickly and safely, ensuring your home remains warm and comfortable. In conclusion, proper boiler operation entails attention to your thermostat, timer, water pressure, and annual services whilst recognising when to seek a professional engineer’s assistance.

The Role of a Gas Safe Registered Engineer

A Gas Safe Registered Engineer plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of gas appliances in your home.

They possess the required expertise and qualifications to work on various types of gas installations, such as boilers, cookers, and fires. These engineers are regulated under the Gas Safe Register, which is the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas appliances.

Gas Safe Registered Engineers undergo rigorous training and assessment to obtain their certification. They adhere to strict rules and guidelines set by the Gas Safe Register, thereby ensuring that they provide the highest level of service and safety. 

Hiring a Gas Safe Registered Engineer is imperative when dealing with any gas-related work in your home, as they are knowledgeable about current regulations and safety procedures.

These engineers offer a wide range of services, including installation, maintenance, and repairs of gas appliances. 

They're skilled at detecting leaks, diagnosing faults, and ensuring that your appliances function optimally. Moreover, Gas Safe Registered Engineers are trained to conduct mandatory yearly safety checks on your gas appliances, ensuring they are fit and secure.

However, homeowners should not attempt DIY gas work, as it can be extremely hazardous and even life-threatening if done incorrectly. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warns against DIY gas work, as improper installation or repairs can lead to gas leaks, fire, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

When to call an approved engineer? If you suspect a problem with your gas appliance, it's crucial to contact a Gas Safe Registered Engineer immediately. Signs of a malfunctioning appliance may include strange noises, an unusual smell, or poor performance. 

Do not attempt any repairs yourself, as this could worsen the issue and jeopardise your safety.

In conclusion, it's essential to understand the significance of the Gas Safe Registered Engineer's role in safeguarding your home. By trusting these experts with all gas-related work, homeowners can ensure a safe and efficient environment for their families. 

Remember to verify the credentials of any engineer you hire, as only those listed on the Gas Safe Register are legally permitted to carry out gas work in the United Kingdom.


Criteria for Engineer Intervention

When it comes to boiler safety, it is essential for homeowners to know when it's appropriate to attempt DIY repairs and when to call a professional Gas Safe engineer. 

Many issues can arise with boilers, from pressure drops and strange noises to complete breakdowns. In this section, we will discuss the criteria for engineer intervention to help you make the best decision based on your specific situation.

Firstly, it is crucial to understand that any work involving gas appliances should always be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Repairing, fitting, or moving these appliances, such as boilers or cookers, carries a significant risk if done by an unqualified individual. For example, unsafe gas work can lead to gas leaks or even explosions. Therefore, when dealing with gas-related issues, it is always best to call a professional to ensure safety.

Additionally, boiler repairs can be quite complex, particularly when it comes to diagnosing the issue. A qualified engineer is trained to identify the problem quickly and accurately, saving you time and frustration. 

If your boiler is experiencing significant drops in water pressure or generating a series of unusual noises, it's an indicator that something is wrong and may require an expert's attention.

Power flushing is another situation where professional help is advisable. This process removes sludge and debris from the central heating system, improving its efficiency. 

However, power flushing can be a challenging task for DIY enthusiasts due to the pressure involved and the risk of damaging components. To avoid any complications, it's best to hire a Gas Safe engineer who has the expertise and equipment to perform the procedure safely.

Lastly, if you require a new boiler, it is essential to consult an engineer. Installing a boiler entails adhering to specific regulations, such as efficiency standards and building codes, which only a certified professional can ensure. 

Moreover, a qualified engineer can provide guidance on the most suitable options for your home, considering factors such as demand, size, and energy efficiency.

In summary, when dealing with gas appliances, complex diagnostics, power flushing, and new boiler installations, it is best to enlist the help of a Gas Safe engineer to ensure safety and correct execution. By recognising these criteria for engineer intervention, homeowners can enjoy peace of mind and maintain their boilers in the best possible condition.

Understanding Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a perilous substance that homeowners must remain vigilant against. It's an odourless, colourless, and tasteless poisonous gas, which makes it challenging to detect without proper equipment. CO forms as a result of incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, such as gas, oil, wood, and coal, in appliances like gas boilers, cookers, and heaters.

Being aware of carbon monoxide's dangers is crucial, as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This poisoning often occurs when household appliances used for heating and cooking aren't properly installed, are faulty, or have been poorly maintained. 

Thus, ensuring that your gas appliances are in good working order will help prevent potentially fatal CO poisoning.

It's important for homeowners to implement preventative measures against carbon monoxide leaks. One practical solution is to install carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with gas appliances and flues. These detectors can provide an early warning if CO levels increase, enabling you to take swift action and prevent possible harm to your family.

In addition to installing detectors, routine maintenance checks by a Gas Safe registered engineer are vital to keep your appliances and flues in good condition. Moreover, it's wise to educate yourself on the signs of carbon monoxide leaks and potential poisoning. 

Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect CO exposure, seek immediate medical help and arrange for an inspection of your appliances by a professional engineer.

Ultimately, understanding carbon monoxide dangers enables you to care for your home and family in a more proactive manner. 

Although DIY measures, such as installing detectors, can provide some protection, enlisting the help of a qualified engineer remains an invaluable aspect of keeping your home safe from the hazards of CO.

Comprehensive Guide to Prevent Boiler Explosion

A boiler explosion is a devastating event that can cause extensive damage to your home and put your family's safety at risk. Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines and recognising when to call an engineer, you can effectively prevent boiler explosions.

Regular maintenance: The first step to prevent boiler explosions is to carry out routine maintenance on your boiler system. Check for leaks, strange noises, and any signs of wear and tear. Make sure the boiler's ventilation system is not blocked and that it is providing adequate airflow. Additionally, clean and remove any dirt particles that may interfere with your boiler's operation.

Monitor pressure levels: A primary cause of boiler explosions is excessive pressure. Keep an eye on your boiler's pressure gauge and ensure it remains within the recommended range. If you notice a significant increase in pressure, contact a professional engineer immediately for further examination.

Ensure proper water levels: Another critical factor in preventing boiler explosions is maintaining the correct water levels. An insufficient water supply can lead to overheating, which may cause the boiler's metal parts to reach their melting point and potentially result in an explosion. Regularly monitor the water level in your boiler and refill as needed.

Water treatment: Treating the water you use in your boiler is vital for preventing dirt accumulation in the boiler shell. Install a strainer to remove particles from the boiler feed water and periodically check its proper functioning.

Safety devices: Ensure that your boiler has safety devices installed, such as pressure relief valves, to release excessive pressure and prevent any mishaps. Regularly inspect these safety devices to confirm they are in good working order.

Fuel source management: To prevent fires or flameouts that may cause explosions, you must carefully manage your boiler's fuel source. Ensure that there is no leakage of gas or oil, and be attentive to any signs of imminent burner failure, which may require the intervention of an engineer.

When in doubt, it's essential to call a qualified engineer to inspect your boiler and tackle any issues that may compromise its safety. By taking the necessary precautions and practising proper maintenance, you can ensure that your boiler remains in optimal condition and protect your home from potential boiler explosions.

Conclusion and Final Safety Advice

In conclusion, boiler safety is paramount for homeowners to ensure a warm and hazard-free home. Abiding by gas safety advice and undertaking regular maintenance can drastically reduce the risk of potential issues.

First and foremost, having your boiler serviced annually by a certified professional is essential. This ensures optimal operation, prevents breakdowns, and maintains the manufacturer's warranty. Additionally, it's important to familiarise yourself with your boiler's manual and adhere to the manufacturer's specific guidelines.

Homeowners should also regularly check their radiators to ensure they're generating equal amounts of heat, indicating that the boiler is functioning correctly. Keeping your boiler area ventilated and unobstructed is another important practice, as it allows proper airflow and reduces potential hazards.

However, it's crucial to know your limits as a DIY enthusiast. Gas safety regulations are stringent in the UK, so avoid unauthorised tampering with your gas appliance. In case of a gas leak, adhere to the following safety precautions:

  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate your property.

  • Turn off the gas supply at the mains.

  • Refrain from using open flames or electrical appliances.

The key takeaway is balancing DIY maintenance with expert guidance from a certified engineer. Stay informed and vigilant about your boiler's performance but consult a professional when necessary. Utilising the available resources and adhering to gas safety advice will ensure your home remains warm, efficient, and secure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I call a boiler engineer?

A boiler engineer should be called for regular maintenance checks, at least once a year, to ensure your boiler is operating efficiently and safely. Additionally, call an engineer if you notice any unusual noises, leaks, or if the boiler is not producing heat or hot water.

What is classed as a boiler emergency?

A boiler emergency usually involves gas leaks, water leaks causing structural or electrical damage, or when a boiler is producing carbon monoxide. These situations pose imminent danger to your health or property, and an engineer should be called immediately.

Can a plumber do a gas safety check?

Gas safety checks should be performed by a Gas Safe registered engineer, not a standard plumber. Some plumbers have the required qualifications, but it's essential to verify their registration before hiring them for a gas safety check.

When is it considered an emergency boiler repair?

Emergency boiler repairs are required when the boiler is not functioning, and there is a risk to your well-being or property. Examples include no hot water during freezing temperatures, a complete boiler system failure, or a suspected gas leak.

Am I allowed to fix my own boiler?

While minor tasks like adjusting the thermostat or bleeding radiators can be done by homeowners, fixing a boiler is a complex job that requires professional knowledge. Attempting to repair a boiler without proper expertise can be dangerous and often void the boiler's warranty.

Which tasks should only be performed by a certified engineer?

A certified engineer should handle tasks such as servicing the boiler, installing a new boiler, repairing or replacing parts, power flushing, and conducting safety checks. These activities require the right skills, equipment, and adherence to safety regulations.

How can homeowners ensure their boiler is running safely and efficiently?

Regular maintenance, including an annual service by a Gas Safe registered engineer, can ensure your boiler runs safely and efficiently. Additionally, keeping your boiler area clean, checking the pressure, and bleeding radiators can help maintain optimal performance.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.