Tips when you have no heating or hot water

A home with no heating or hot water is no fun. Here's what to do if you find yourself in hot water when your boiler breaks down.


Home not warm?

If you've set your thermostat but you get back home to an eerie chill and no hot water, it sounds like there's something wrong with your boiler. Here are some ideas on diagnosing the issue to help you if you're calling in the professionals.

Head to the boiler cupboard and check your boiler pressure, which should be between 1 and 1.5 when the system's cold or not being used. If this isn't the case, it's time to call in a boiler engineer to see what's wrong and fix it.

1. Check your thermostat

Sometimes a faulty thermostat can throw a spanner in the works. If you suspect all is not well – here's what you should do:

Firstly, set your thermostat to 21 degrees to increase the temperature on the thermostat to see if that triggers the boiler. If this doesn’t work, try putting your heating on full for a little while.

Check that your thermostat settings haven't changed due to an accidental knock. If nothing's changed and the time is set as you expected, it might be time to replace it. A qualified professional can do this for you.

Considered going smart with your heating? You can control temperature and timings, even when you're not at home.

2. Check your timer settings

If you find yourself without hot water – here are a few quick fixes to consider before calling a plumber:

Check that your boiler timer settings haven't changed due to the following:

  • The clocks have changed
  • The power supply or back-up batteries are failing
  • Another family member changing the settings without you knowing.


Set your heating to come on 20-30 minutes later, to make sure it is registering properly. If you've checked the above and there are no issues then it may be time to call in a trained Gas Safe engineer.

3. Why is my electric heater not working?

There are several reasons why your electric heating may not be working. These could be:

  • A blown fuse: unplug the device and check the fuse box (switching all back on). You may need to replace the fuse or reset the circuit breakers.
  • The power supply down: check the main power supply (and if it is not working follow our steps to dealing with a faulty thermostat). If the main supply is working check the power switch, if this is broken you'll need to replace it.
  • Auto safety shut off: unplug the device and let it cool for 15 minutes, then plug back in. The auto safety switches on when the appliance gets too hot.
  • Faulty cord: check the cord is not faulty or broken anywhere.
  • The thermostat: It could either be stuck, gone loose or may have become faulty.

If you still can't get your heater to work there might be an issue with the heating element, which would probably need to be replaced. If you're unsure or can't fix the issue, always contact a professional.

4. Bleeding your radiators

If you find that your radiators are not as warm as they should be, or even if they're ice cold, try bleeding them. You can call a plumber or do it yourself. Find out how you bleed your radiators.

5. Replace your boiler

If your gas or LPG boiler has broken down, you might be able to repair it. If it's beyond repair, you could get a brand new, energy efficient one as early as the next day through BOXT, one of our trusted partners. Learn more about getting a new boiler here.

6. Make sure your pipes haven't frozen

When it is especially cold outside and your pipes have frozen, you can try thawing them yourself using hot (but not boiling!) water. Or you can apply a hot water bottle or other form of warm compress to the affected pipe. After you have tried this give your heating another go.

7. Check your pilot light hasn't blown out

If your boiler has a permanent pilot light, check whether it is lit/lighting. If your boilers pilot light isn't lighting you’ll need to check your manufacturer's instructions on how to relight it or seek a professional engineer to take a look and see if they can help. Any persistent pilot light issues should always be checked by a Gas Safe professional.

And finally...

Living in cold conditions can be harmful to some people’s health. Take a look at the NHS cold weather advice to see if you're at risk. If this is the case for you, please be sure to make your personal situation clear to your engineer. That way, they can work quickly to resolve your heating and hot water problems.

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