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A boiler is an essential part of every household, and, as such, it should be serviced and maintained properly. Boiler repair shouldn’t be taken lightly – a faulty boiler, be it electric or gas-fuelled, can cause many problems for homeowners, including, but not limited to:

  • Improper water temperature (too hot, or too cold)
  • Low water pressure
  • Water discolouration or foul odour
  • Cracking noise
  • Water leakage
  • Faulty wiring

Some of these problems are not that serious, but you should exercise caution when you notice anything wrong with your boiler. If you know a bit about boilers, you can at least inspect and try to diagnose the problem before you seek a specialist. So, keep reading on to learn more about the common boiler problems and the possible solutions.

Table of contents:

Common types of boilers in Australia

The two common boiler types used in Australian households are electric and gas-fuelled. Based on which type you have, a boiler can heat water using different methods. 

Electric water heaters

Electric boilers come with various ways to heat water – solar energy, common electric heating elements, or heat pumps. They make up for roughly 52% of all the boilers in Australia and 77% of the boilers in New Zealand.

Electric water heaters use a heating element inside their tank to warm the water. Some of them don’t even have tanks, as they are made of just a heating element installed along with your plumbing only to produce warm water when you need them to.

Gas-fuelled boilers

Gas-fuelled water heaters can work with either reticulated natural gas or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). They make up for about 48% of all the boilers in Australia and use a gas burner to heat the bottom of their water tanks.

Frequent boiler problems and solutions

Boiler systems are complex and a repair could involve water, electricity or liquid petroleum gas under pressure. Boiler technicians are trained to quickly locate and properly fix issues with hot water systems so calling an expert is always the safest choice. On top of that, a licence is required in order to repair any type of water heating system, so meddling with yours could get you into trouble and pose a risk to your health.

Whether it’s a simple or a more complex boiler issue, you can turn your boiler off to do a simple check of the appliance to get a better idea of what is causing the problem. And we can help by giving you a few pointers. So without further ado, here are some of the most common boiler problems and tips on what to do if you encounter them.

Leaking boiler

There are a lot of reasons why you might encounter water leakage around your boiler. While some problems can be diagnosed and fixed by a non-pro in a matter of minutes, others might require a professional touch. The most common causes for boiler leakage are:

  • Pressure issues
  • Loose joints underneath the tank
  • Damaged rubber seals or gaskets

Both electric and gas boilers suffer from insufficient pipeage insulation after a while. Due to the constant warming and cooling, boilers and their tubes repeatedly expand and contract, shortening rubber seals’ lives. If your boiler is leaking, the joints and seals could be causing the problem. Here’s what you can try:

  • Check all the points where water enters or exits your boiler.
  • Use a dry cloth to dry them and observe to determine where the leak is coming from.
  • In case one of the pipes is leaking, it may need to be tightened or possibly replaced. You can request a check-up from a professional to confirm the correct solution.

Someting wrong with your boiler? Get an inspection by a certified technician in your area!

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Boiler water is too hot

It’s frustrating to turn your shower on and find out your water is boiling hot. If your boiler is gas-fuelled, all you need to do is reduce the heating flame. But with electric boilers, things are slightly different.

Some electric boilers are designed to turn on and start heating water up as soon as you consume hot water. In that case, the most efficient way to manage your hot water temperature is to turn your boiler on when you go to bed and turn it off when you wake up in the morning. By doing that, you have your boiler turned off during the day, so it doesn’t overwork, but you also save money on your electricity bill due to using your boiler in off-peak hours. Kewl, right?

The other type of electric boiler is the one with thermostats, which regulate the temperature inside the water tank and only turn the heating on when the water temperature drops below a specified level. If that’s your boiler, then you could check the thermostat settings and adjust accordingly, but only if you can do so without disassembling any covers.

How to safely check your boiler’s temperature level:
1

Turn the boiler off and let it cool down.

2

If you can access the thermostat without removing the cover panels, then check the heat setting.

3

The temperature setting on your thermostat should be around 65C.

4

If the temperature is too low – increase it accordingly.

5

Turn the power back on and wait for the water to heat up.

6

Fill a glass with hot water and use a thermometer to check its temperature.

If your hot water doesn’t get any hotter, then the problem is more complicated and you should have somebody over to check what’s going on.

Check this out!: Why is Your Fridge Not Cooling and How to Repair It

Boiler water isn’t hot enough

On the other hand, a cold shower can also be a pretty unpleasant surprise if you didn’t plan to have one. But when it comes to that problem, the issue might be lying somewhere else – if you don’t use hot water efficiently, no matter how much work the boiler does, it won’t be enough. Not to mention the electricity and power bills at the end of the month.

The general rule of thumb is that one person’s daily needs include about 30 litres of hot water. So, if your family consists of three people and you have a 100-litre boiler tank but still don’t get enough hot water, then your household can use some water efficiency changes! Here are three easy ways to increase your hot water use efficiency:

  • Invest in a low-flow showerhead
  • Use your laundry machine’s ECO program
  • Fix leaky faucets
Check this out!: Common Refrigerator Problems and Their Solutions

Noisy boiler tank

Coming home after a long day of work to find your boiler tank making noises can be annoying. Usually, the noise comes from water on the inside boiling. Contrary to what the name suggests, though, a boiler is not supposed to boil water – it is only supposed to warm it up.

Over time, sediment can build inside the boiler, due to the calcium and magnesium deposits, which are naturally present in tap water. The sediment usually builds up on the bottom of your boiler, making it work harder to heat water. This, in turn, can lead to water boiling and pressure problems.

Once again, the best course of action is to call a boiler technician to check the problem out. In the majority of cases, the most basic solution they’ll provide you with is to drain the boiler tank and try flushing the sediment out.

In a nutshell, your boiler technician will:

  • Turn the hot water unit off and let it cool down.
  • Locate the cold water valve and turn it off.
  • Use a hose to drain your boiler tank. The technician could add a solution prior to the draining to help break the sediment up.
  • Once the process is finished and your hot water unit is empty, the technician will turn your boiler back on and let it fill with water.
  • Once your boiler is back on track, your technician will check it again. If the problem persists, they will probably take it off for more sophisticated repairs.
Related article: Essential Guide to Air Conditioner Maintenance

Rusty or smelly water

Water can tell you a lot about your boiler’s condition and whether you need any boiler repairs. If your water is coming out with a colour – brown, yellow, green, red, and so on – that means that rust and dirt build up inside your water heating unit or your home’s plumbing system. In case the boiler tank is the source, flushing it could fix the corrosion issues.

On the other hand, if the water is clear in colour, but gives off a foul smell of rotten eggs, or sulphur, then the cause is simple: you have a high level of hydrogen sulphide along your pipework. That is usually the result of bacterial growth somewhere inside your pipes or your boiler.

However, these problems require a more sophisticated approach and are beyond the DIY skills of regular homeowners. In this case, your best bet is a professional plumber, but before you decide on hiring help, here’s how to find what is causing the smelly water:

  • Take two glasses and fill one with cold water and the other with warm water.
  • If the glass with warm water is the one giving off a bad smell, then your problem lies within your hot water unit, and you should have an electrician take a look at it.
  • If the glass with cold water gives off a bad smell, the odour is caused by your water supply line, which means you need a plumber to help solve the problem.

How to avoid boiler problems?

The best way to avoid boiler problems is by servicing and maintaining your water heating unit properly. There are several things to look out for to extend the life of your boiler. Here are a few tips for practical boiler maintenance:

  • Internal hygiene – Make sure to drain and clean the inside of the water tank every 10-12 months.
  • Look for leakages – Check pipes and tubes monthly for possible leaks, and do not hesitate to seek professional help.
  • Observe the warm water’s quality – Nothing, but clear and odourless hot water should be coming out of your water heating unit.
  • Get annual service – There are 8760 hours in a year and it takes only two to have your boiler serviced. Why risk problems?

Takeaways

  • Safety first – if anything makes you feel uncomfortable, turn the boiler off and call an expert.
  • There’s nothing wrong with looking at your boiler, but repairing it on your own is dangerous and illegal.
  • Be mindful of your water’s condition – colour and odour can be a call for repairs.
  • Boiler maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Never hesitate to hire a professional, even if it’s just for an inspection.

Boiler leaking water or making weird noises? We got you covered! Get in touch with a professional today!

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Disclaimer: We are a commercial home maintenance service provider. Our purpose with this blog is to provide valuable and accurate content for solely informational purposes. We strongly advise our readers to consider all the risks and health concerns before taking a DIY project. We also highly recommend you get fully informed about the laws and regulations regarding electrical, plumbing and other work in the different states of Australia.

  • Last update: January 26, 2022

Posted in All Articles, Home Improvement