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How to Keep Warm if Your Boiler Breaks Down

Becky Mckay
By: Becky Mckay
Updated: 5th November 2021

Super cold person

If your boiler breaks down, the first thing to do is call out a qualified engineer to repair or replace it.

Once you’ve arranged a time and date with your engineer, you will need to think about how to stay warm and heat water.

Here’s how to keep yourself and your home warm without a boiler.

Heating your home when your boiler is broken

Many households have boiler breakdowns in the colder months. Often when a boiler is turned back on after seeing little or no use over the summer months.

Should this happen to you, there are many ways to heat your home until your boiler is repaired. If you have a working fireplace or wood burner, now is the ideal time to use it. Alternatively, there are various types of heaters that work well as a short term solution.

Fan and halogen heaters work well in short bursts, but if you intend to heat a room for a long period of time they’re not ideal. They can soon become expensive to run.

A better option is an oil heater or radiator. This will keep a room warmer for longer once it’s been switched off. Convection heaters should also help to keep a room at a more consistent temperature if they feature a built in thermostat.

If you do use any of the tips, try to only heat the areas of your home that are being used the most. This will make it faster and easier to heat an area up, and help keep that warmth in.

More ways to keep your home warm

There are plenty of ways to keep your home warm while you wait on a boiler repair. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Electric blankets can help to keep your bed and bedroom warm (you can also layer up normal blankets and throws).
  • Wear extra layers and thick jumpers. Hats and socks will also make a surprising difference to how warm you feel.
  • Use hot water bottles or heated wheat bags.
  • Keep draughts out and heat in by ensuring your curtains are closed when the temperature outside starts to drop for the evening.
  • You can also combat any draughts in your home by making draught excluders and sealing around windows.

It's also important to note that older people tend to need a higher temperature of home. So, additional measures may need to be taken to ensure an adequately warm environment is available.

Ideally, you won’t be without heating and hot water for too long. So find the best heating engineers in your area now.

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Heating water without a boiler

If you can’t get hot water from your boiler then you might want to use:

Immersion heaters and electric showers

If you have a hot water tank or cylinder in your home, you may also have an electric immersion heater.

This can be used to heat water as and when you need it, but beware that this is an expensive method. Turn the immersion heater on for only short periods of time and then check if the water is warm enough for use (make sure to turn it off once it is).

The amount of time you need to leave it on for depends on how many people are in the property and what you intend to use the water for. If you have an electric shower, this should also still work without problems.

Boiling water

As a last resort you can boiler water in a kettle or pan on the stove. Make sure to mix this water with cold water before attempting to use it for anything like washing up or bathing as it could be hot enough to scold.

How to avoid a boiler breakdown

Blink Noisy Boiler
A broken boiler is the last thing you want. So here are the best ways to keep your boiler running reliably.

Annual boiler service

You should arrange for your boiler to be serviced once a year. They’re not needed by law (unless you’re a landlord) but booking one is in your best interests.

An annual boiler service typically costs £80 to £100 (possibly more if you live in London) and could save you from having to deal with a larger unexpected repair bill further down the line.

You’ll also need to get your boiler serviced each year to keep the warranty valid. Many modern boilers come with long warranties of around 10 years or more so keeping it valid will see that you’re covered for as long as possible.

Replace an old boiler

A boiler that was installed more than 10 years ago is old. And an old boiler is an unreliable boiler.

A new boiler will not only be far less likely to break down, it can also help to reduce your heating.

Not sure how old your boiler is? We can help you find out.

Arrange a replacement during the summer

Summer is the best time to replace your boiler.

And that’s why it’s important to plan ahead.

Think about it:

If you’re waiting for your boiler to break down before replacing it then chances are it will break during the winter. When you’re using the heating more often. As heating engineers are busier during the winter, you could be waiting a while for a replacement. That means no heating when you need it the most.

Arrange a boiler replacement for the summer and you can be confident that your new boiler will be ready to heat your home during the winter. Plus, you could also save a bit of money on the installation as heating engineers tend to be more available when it’s warmer.

The same goes for servicing too. Book your annual boiler service each summer and any problems will get the attention of an engineer before the temperature drops.

Becky Mckay

About the author

Becky Mckay

Becky has been a writer at Boiler Guide since 2021. Her vast boiler knowledge means she’s ready to help with any home heating query, big or small!

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