Maintaining your Gas Central Heating System

publication date: Nov 24, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Maintaining your Gas Central Heating System

It’s starting to get a little parky outside and as Kate’s living in a 200 year old farmhouse, she realises that she’s probably not the only one that has had boiler problems. Fortunately for Kate, she’s got fab contacts in the trade and within 24 hours had an idea of what might be going wrong, and a week later having worked out what had gone wrong, she was able to organise to get it fixed.

Not everyone though has people in place to sort their central heating when it goes wrong. Sadly, more modern boilers, as with most things, just don’t seem to last very long. Typically a boiler from the 50s and 60s would have happily lasted around 20 years. Now you’ll be lucky to get 10 years of life out of one.

So, if you do have gas central heating, it’s essential to make sure you have it regularly checked by a properly trained Gas Safety Engineer.

First jobs first:-

  • Check your gas fitter really can fit and fix your gas boiler and appliances.
  • Visit the Gas Safe Register to check your chap has all the necessarily insurance in place.
  • Next it’s important to have your gas checked every single year. Many people don’t do this, which is odd and it’s not a legal requirement, which is even more odd as if you rent a home out to tenants, you are legally required to get a gas safety certificate on an annual basis. This check should be for your boiler and any gas appliances such as a cooker and especially your gas fire, which can easily need tweaking on an annual basis to make sure it’s safe for your home.

Who can carry out your gas safety check? Anyone that is on the current Gas Safe Register. No-one else can legally check out your gas for you – and if they do, they are breaking the law!

How much will a gas safety check cost? This will depend on where you live, but is likely to be from £70+VAT. That may sound a lot for now, but think about it, how much are you’re and your kids lives worth? If you check your smoke alarm on a regular basis, you should also have your gas appliances checked annually.

Gas Central Heating Cover

Is monthly gas appliance cover worth paying for? The answer to this really depends on what you have in your home and how willing the company is to cover the key appliances. Unfortunately, most of these policies only cover homes with brand new to four or five year old boilers and appliances. In other words, they are already half way through their lives.

Kate says that “Cover is worth considering if you have a family, particularly someone that is young or old who cannot really be without heating. When my heating breaks, it’s not a major problem, I have spare heaters, one of my showers is electric and if there is no hot water to wash things, I just use the dishwasher!”.  However Kate recommends that you check out what cover comes with your central heating. “You might find the boiler is covered for parts and labour under a warranty and if you’ve just moved in somewhere, you might be able to extend the warranty cover too.” But, Kate warns, don’t just take any warranties for granted, make sure that they cover you fairly for the costs you will save. For example, if you have a boiler just out of a warranty and a gas safety check would only cost £60 + VAT for the year and say around £200 if something went wrong, paying £30 a month for cover would actually cost you more!

“Often the best thing to do is to find someone local, have a good relationship and get them to check your gas appliances annually and then they’ll pop round (often for free) to diagnose a problem and then take a few days or a week to sort out any emergencies” concludes Kate.


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