Noisy Boilers | Boiler Problems and Boiler Troubleshooting

There are many problems that can occur with a gas boiler during its lifetime.  Irrespective of the boiler brand – Potterton, Vokera, Ariston, Bosch, Baxi or any of the other makes on the market.  Some boiler problems are relatively minor affairs but some can be quite expensive to rectify, particularly where several components of the boiler fail simultaneously.

Expensive boiler repairs often create a dilemma for customers as to whether it’s worthwhile investing a significant amount of money into what is in effect an old boiler, or whether they should “bite the bullet” and replace the boiler entirely.   It all depends on the age of the boiler, the nature of the problem you are experiencing and whether or not your central heating engineer can successfully troubleshoot the boiler fault.  This blog post focuses on one the most common problems – noisy boilers.    Subsequent blogs will deal with other common problems so make sure to check back for further information on these faults.

Noisy Boilers

If your boiler is noisy either at intervals or all the time, this is generally a sign that the fan or heat exchanger is on its way out.  As the name suggests, the fan provides cooling for the boiler and helps to get rid of the products of combustion that are produced within the boiler.  The heat exchanger is the component responsible for actually heating the water within the boiler.

There are several reasons as to why the fan can develop a fault.  The age of the fan is the primary one.  Another aggravating factor is the fact in some boilers, the fan is located at a high point in the boiler and the heat inside the boiler dries up the bearings of the fan or even shorts out the cable connecting the fan to the PCB board of the boiler.   Usually when the fan makes noise, it also intermittently starts and stops.  Generally speaking fans must always be replaced.  They cannot be repaired.

In relation to a faulty heat exchanger, this can also create a “racket” inside the boiler.  Hard water and lack of chemicals in the central heating system are some of the factors which can damage a heat exchanger.  Heat exchanger faults often manifest themselves in that the boiler only heats the water and the noise becomes louder after about 10 – 15 minutes of continuous operation.

You can easily check if the heat exchanger is the problem by turning off all the rads and heating the water.  If this speeds up the process so the noise materialises quicker and for a longer period, chances are the heat exchanger is the problem.

The noise materialises faster as there is less water in the system.

Never attempt to troubleshoot a boiler or remove/replace any parts of your gas boiler.  Under new legislation, any person to work on a gas appliance, including a gas boiler must be registered and certified with the RGII – the Register of Gas Installers in Ireland.  Any gas appliance in your home can represent a hazard if it is not maintained in an appropriate manner.  Ensure that you choose a registered and certified gas engineer when having your boiler or any gas appliance repaired.  And please choose PC Heating & Plumbing when it comes to your gas heating requirements.

Why high efficiency boilers?

Homeowners can typically reduce their energy usage by up to 20% by installing high efficiency boilers as a replacement for older lower efficiency models. There is now grant aid available through the SEAI Home Energy Savings scheme to help you improve your home using this measure.

Older conventional boilers can be wasteful of energy and costly to run because a significant portion of the heat is lost up the flue/chimney. The latest models of high efficiency boilers capture more of this heat, which would otherwise be lost.

For a full explanation of high efficiency boilers and how they benefit you, view the article from the SEAI here.

Top 5 Boiler Replacement Tips

Boiler replacement of an existing oil or gas boiler is a significant investment and one which plays a key role in on-going energy costs. Therefore it’s very important to make the right choice and ensure that you are not creating new problems, where they don’t exist. Remember, choosing a “cheap” solution doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting best value for money long-term. There are lots of short-cuts that some other installers can take on the job, which inevitably lead to more costs for you, down the road.

We have outlined our top 5 things to remember when having your oil or gas boiler changed.

Tip No. 1 – Choose a boiler with a reputable brand name.
There are plenty of lesser-known and cheaper boilers on the market. And choosing such a boiler can make a significant dent in the final bill. However, don’t forget that after-sales service is very important. For example, if your boiler breaks down and you need spare parts for it, is there a proper after-sales network in place where spare parts can be sourced? If there are problems with the boiler on installation (as sometimes happens), is there a local agent, appointed by the manufacturer who can help resolve problems for you? Choosing a reputable brand, with a reputation for reliability and a proper after-sales support network will ensure that any problems that do arise, can be quickly and easily resolved by any central heating fitter.

Tip No. 2 – Make sure that your central heating system isn’t the cause of your boiler problems
In some cases, incompatible design of your heating system can cause technical problems with your boiler. Before making the decision to change the boiler, have your heating engineer check the heating system to ensure that this isn’t the case. For example, check the pipe sizing and ensure that this is compatible with your boiler. At PC Heating, we often see situations where the resolution of other problems on the heating system might have negated the need to change the boiler in the first place.

Tip No. 3 – Pay particular attention to the location of the boiler
This is where energy consumption comes into play. Pay attention to the location of the boiler. For example, if your boiler is on an external wall close to the heat source, this will reduce the amount of water to be heated and therefore reduces energy costs. If using an oil boiler which is located in the garden or at some distance to the boiler, make sure that all underground piping is properly lagged to maximise heat retention and reduce heat loss.

Tip No. 4 – Make sure that the heating system is chemically treated
It’s very important to ensure that the heating system is chemically-treated in line with the boiler manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do this, can cause long term and irreversible damage to the boiler, particularly in hard water areas such as we have in Meath and parts of Dublin. If your heating system needs to be drained for any reason, (for example if a new radiator is installed), make sure that the fitter tops up the heating system with the relevant chemicals on completion of the job. Make sure that chemicals are also topped up at each annual boiler service.

Tip No. 5 – Use an authorised, well-established RGII registered gas installer
Working on gas appliances and boilers is a dangerous business. Faulty or sub-standard workmanship can represent a serious hazard in your home. For that reason, it is now against the law to have someone work on gas appliances that is not certified and registered with the RGII (Register of Gas Installers in Ireland). Check the register on the RGII site and ask friends, family or neighbours for a recommendation when looking for a competent central heating engineer. And of course, please consider PC Heating & Plumbing for your heating needs.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Up to €560 in government gas boiler grants available

For some time now, the government has provided homeowners with boiler grants, in the form of SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme, to upgrade their central heating systems which reduce energy costs and represent a more eco-friendly approach to the environment. Under the terms of the scheme, all works must be completed by an SEAI registered contractor. Homeowners apply to the authority for the grant and are directly reimbursed by the authority, subject to satisfactory performance and in line with the SEAI regulations and codes of practice.

PC Heating & Plumbing is an authorised contractor under the SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme.

The following grants are available from the SEAI:
Heating System High Efficiency Oil / Gas Boiler with Controls upgrade. €560
Heating Controls Upgrade only €400
Solar Heating €800
Building Energy Rating (BER) €50**

*Cash Grants are set value unless expenditure is below the set value, in which case the actual expenditure will be reimbursed.**A Building Energy Rating (BER) is an integral part of all grant applications under the HES scheme, whereby homeowners must undertake a BER on their home after grant aided works have been completed. A homeowner is entitled to BER funding of €80 once per home. This funding will be applied to your grant application automatically provided you have never applied previously for BER funding. You will be informed during the online grant application process if BER funding is available for your home or as part of your Letter of Grant Offer if you have applied through the post.

Please note the minimum grant amount for the first application must be €400. A BER grant, where applicable, does not count towards the €400 minimum.

For more information on the SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme and to apply for funding under the scheme, please click here.

What are Heating Controls?

Typically homeowners can reduce their energy usage by up to 20% by installing easy to use heating controls in their home and using these controls in an efficient manner.  There is now grant aid available through the SEAI Home Energy Savings scheme to help you improve your home using this measure.

But what are heating controls?  Adequate heating controls can help a homeowner to accurately match your space heating and hot water schedules to the working and living patterns at the house i.e. when heat and hot water are required, it is there; when it is not, it is turned off. But what heating controls qualify for the SEAI Better Energy Grant.

Read the full article here from the SEAI for a detailed explanation.