How do you organise getting your boiler serviced?


Userlevel 2


Can you help us by sharing your experiences?

We are interested to hear how you sort out getting your boiler serviced - how far ahead do you book it, how do you choose who does the service and how do you pay/budget for it?

It would be great to hear your thoughts! Please comment below!

15 replies

Userlevel 4
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I get a reliable local plumber to service our boiler. I book a couple of months in advance to make sure we get a date acceptable to both of us. I pay the £45-50 cash as I have enough in the bank to cover it.
Userlevel 7
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This is a big question, @Karen_OVO!

Personally I'm quite technical. I don't have any insurance, maintenance contract or annual service agreement for my gas boiler. If it needs seeing to, I'd know whether it's something I could do (practically & legally) or if I should call a qualified (Gas-Safe Registered) heating engineer.

In my area there are a number of local Heating Engineering companies who rely on keeping a good reputation to receive recommendations. They tend to provide good service because their future depends on it. I would favour them over anyone provided through a national Service Contract Scheme.

My gas boiler is one of three heat-inputs to my (large) thermal store. The others are a solar-heat-panel and a 24v immersion heater wired as a dump-load from my off-grid battery storage (fed from wind-turbine & solar-PV). I can cope for at least a day if my boiler is out of action. In other words, I've deliberately spread the risk by using sensible design.

It is a System Boiler. It only contains the heat exchanger and a pump. The complex electronics, timers and sensors are all on my thermal-store tank, not within the boiler. This means I am permitted to service them without calling a qualified engineer to work on the boiler! Once again, I've lowered the risk by careful design.

The boiler always runs in condensing mode, at a minimum 95% efficiency. This is because the return water from the thermal store is below 40degC. This is far more efficient than the return water from a radiator circuit, typically around 65degC. It puts the boiler under less stress, increases pump-life and reduces the build-up of residues in the combustion chamber. Thus it needs servicing less often because I've lowered the risks.

Last Sunday morning the main motorised valve feeding from the boiler to the mid-section of my thermal store sprung a leak. It was dripping and there was a puddle of water on the floor beneath it.

I could handle this myself. I have a complete spare valve and a spare cartridge-insert on-the-shelf, both bought on ebay. That costs me less than the call-out charge for a professional, let alone the hourly rate over a weekend!

Since the valve is readily accessible on the outside of the thermal-store and not in the boiler, I could legally do the job myself. This required depressurising the system and lowering the water level below the damaged valve. As the water contains around £100 worth of corrosion inhibitor, I saved it by allowing it to flow into a plastic water-butt instead of down the drain!

Picture here shows water-butt filled through plastic hose to its tap(!) and broken brass valve at top-centre with the motorised head removed.


Once I'd replaced the valve cartridge (3-mins), I used a bucket and a plastic funnel to pour the water/inhibitor back into the thermal store, then added an additional measure of fresh inhibitor (because I also keep that on the shelf!).

In conclusion:
  1. There are better ways to install boilers to increase system resilience, lower costs and achieve greater efficiency
  2. We could all do much more to help ourselves if we can access help through Forums like this
  3. I do believe that Insurance/Service-contracts are a good idea, but for reasons I will explain in a follow-up posting. There are ways OVO can help.

Does that provide the sort of feedback you're looking for, @Karen_OVO?
Userlevel 1
Over the years I have tried to get my boiler serviced but found that almost every company ignores my enquiry. One did reply to ask what kind it is and to then say they would not service it only condem it. That was without even coming out to look at it. The boiler may not be as efficient as newer models but it has been running perfectly well for the 14 years I have been here plus how ever many years the previous home owner had it.

I don't agree with just condemning something that is not broken. Until something does break I will be continuing to use it and I guess it will need to remain unserviced. It seems to me that companies are just greedy to make huge money from installing new boilers.
Userlevel 1
In all honesty I've yet to find a scheme that's not a rip off.

The main issue is getting the quality of trained staff. I've had to reprogram the whole system after BG on their gold service came around to my Grandparents and for some reason reset the entire boiler and programmer and then disappeared.

More amusingly I also happened to be around as another BG engineer was demonstrating to my mother that the pressure on her boiler was wrong, trouble was that he was reading the pressure on an old style manometer and was reading the pressure from the top of the meniscus rather than the bottom, my mother was a science teacher for 25 years and proceeded to tear several strips off him. I seem the remember the phrase "You stupid boy did you not pay any attention in your science classes" was used. I stood back and laughed...

So if Ovo can avoid the usual scenario where the tender for the work in that area gets repeatedly sub contracted out to the lowest bidder who then employs some minimum wage zero hours contract gig economy slave on 2 hours sleep to do the work, then I will be all ears.
Userlevel 2
I have a contract with British Gas that includes for a yearly service. I don't know if it's good value or a rip off but I've had to call British gas a couple of times and they have come out quickly to fix the repair and I haven't been charged
Userlevel 2
SaleNowOn wrote:

In all honesty I've yet to find a scheme that's not a rip off.

The main issue is getting the quality of trained staff. I've had to reprogram the whole system after BG on their gold service came around to my Grandparents and for some reason reset the entire boiler and programmer and then disappeared.

More amusingly I also happened to be around as another BG engineer was demonstrating to my mother that the pressure on her boiler was wrong, trouble was that he was reading the pressure on an old style manometer and was reading the pressure from the top of the meniscus rather than the bottom, my mother was a science teacher for 25 years and proceeded to tear several strips off him. I seem the remember the phrase "You stupid boy did you not pay any attention in your science classes" was used. I stood back and laughed...

So if Ovo can avoid the usual scenario where the tender for the work in that area gets repeatedly sub contracted out to the lowest bidder who then employs some minimum wage zero hours contract gig economy slave on 2 hours sleep to do the work, then I will be all ears.



That's an interesting thought @SaleNowOn - have you had bad experiences with engineers in the past? (other than the meniscus incident of course!)
Userlevel 2
@Transparent Wow that is a really detailed answer - thanks! You mentioned you had thoughts about how OVO could help with insurance & service contracts - what kind of things were you thinking of?
Userlevel 2
Sharon_Treehouse wrote:

I have a contract with British Gas that includes for a yearly service. I don't know if it's good value or a rip off but I've had to call British gas a couple of times and they have come out quickly to fix the repair and I haven't been charged

@Sharon_Treehouse That's good to know - so how does it work to arrange your annual service? Do you have to remember it is due or do they contact you? What is the process to book it in & how are you finding it?
Userlevel 2
Absolute Zero wrote:

I get a reliable local plumber to service our boiler. I book a couple of months in advance to make sure we get a date acceptable to both of us. I pay the £45-50 cash as I have enough in the bank to cover it.



@Absolute Zero Thanks Nigel. Have you been using the same plumber for a while? What kind of things make you feel someone is reliable?
Userlevel 7
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Hi @Karen_OVO and fellow Forum Members,

1. One of the problems I have with annual Service/Maintenance Contracts on boilers is that they are priced on average conditions.

Those who, like me, have a well-installed boiler and central-heating pipework system don't get any better deal than those where there are inherent problems, such as:
  • Pipework below the drain-off point, allowing a build-up of sludge
  • Inadequate System Inhibitor chemicals
  • No pump run-on to remove high temperature water from the boiler for a few seconds after the flame extinguishes
  • No bypass-loop or modulated pump
  • Ineffective air-bleed pipe/valves

Very few householders would even understand whether their installation had these deficiencies. Yet these issues all increase the need for maintenance on the boiler and pump, and reduce their lifetime.

If I buy-in an Annual Service Contract, I am effectively paying more than necessary to subsidise others whose installations are sub-standard.


2. I think a Service Contract and a Fault-Repair Contract should be a matched pair. If the Company doesn't (properly) maintain the boiler and central-heating, then it should be they who suffer the penalty of having to undertake an emergency call-out if the system fails.

However, this is extremely difficult to police. It's too easy for an engineer to arrive on site and simply declare that the boiler/pump has failed through fair wear & tear because it's older than some arbitrary number of years. The homeowner is then expected to pay for an expensive item which possibly shouldn't have been required for several more years.


3. There are two categories of people who I feel are most in need of an effective Service & Fault-repair Contract.
  • Elderly/disabled
  • Those is (fuel-)poverty who couldn't afford a sudden lump sum if the heating failed

The first group should probably already be on OVO's Priority Service Register (PSR). Couldn't this be linked to the Annual Contract such that they also get the most immediate response should their heating fail?

The second group contains some elderly people, but also a large number of young families with small children who are just about covering the mortgage payments on their first house. As owner-occupiers they may outwardly seen affluent. But a massive bill to replace a boiler could push them into a cycle of debt.

I don't (yet) have a comprehensive suggestion to put to OVO to resolve how to best help this last category of people. But it might be some form of insurance added to their monthly fuel bills. It might also include a free Home Energy Assessment such as is already available in my area from Government funding.


Has anyone else has some insights on all three points above?
Any suggestions about how to help those in (fuel-)poverty?
Userlevel 4
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@Absolute Zero Thanks Nigel. Have you been using the same plumber for a while? What kind of things make you feel someone is reliable?[/quote]We have got a reliable plumber that we found years ago, but, he was not available to replace our boiler. We also have a reliable odd job man and I asked for a recommendation from him. The plumber who replaced the boiler was efficient, reasonable value for money and friendly.
Userlevel 2
Hi Karen, I get an email from British gas letting me know that the service is due and I can book an appointment online
Userlevel 4
We were with British Gas until they replaced our boiler, hot water tank and thermostatic valves. The price included a year's free cover, so our existing cover was suspended. They then removed our maximum no call out discount, whereas to me they should have given us a discount for a new system. I also found out that they hadn't replaced like for like, with no immersion heater, so when we installed solar panels we couldn't use the excess for heating water (Access is so tight that the tank has no space above).

Then we moved to Scottish Power as they were cheaper, and included boiler cover in their pricing. After a few happy years, the damned government decided that was potentially misleading so required that it be separated, which meant we got charged more - hence we moved to OVO for the gas and electric. Once it was split, after 4 years when SP had already managed to avoid one annual service, I cancelled them this February.
I've found this thread because I have therefore been exploring options for servicing and being prepared for call outs. I've looked at the OVO recommended scheme with trepidation due to even more bad reviews than SP. A friend uses a local plumber, who is great WHEN HE COMES. The problem is you want big enough to be fairly sure you will get help when you need it, but small enough to actually care about the customers. Through friends, I have found several that will do the service but who are so busy that they aren't actually available when needed in emergency.

I've found three likely candidates by internet search, the big comparison sites (useless for this), checkatrade and Yell.com, and then reading reviews.
Userlevel 7
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I didn't expect to be posting back here again, but I hope you're still watching, @Karen_OVO. I have a worrying story to tell:

This morning I was speaking with the boss of a local electrician's company about 40 miles from where I live.

He'd been called out on Friday to the home of an elderly/vulnerable couple who couldn't get their central heating to come on. Despite the fact that it isn't really an electrician's field, he attended because they lived only 400m from his offices in rural Devon.

On arrival the electrician was told of the symptoms, and diagnosed incorrect settings on the main time-clock (in the hall, not on the boiler). He quickly adjusted the time & temperature settings.

The Home Owners then handed him a Service Sheet completed by a Boiler Service Engineer, from a National Company, who had completed an annual-service just two days earlier. He looked through the Service Sheet to see if the Time-Clock had been covered in the Service Schedule.

To his surprise he noticed that the Service-Engineer had stated three major components within the boiler had been replaced - despite the fact that this had been just an Annual Service with no known faults at that stage.

The bill has yet to arrive, but he estimates several hundred pounds of questionable work is about to be invoiced. In fact, he even questions whether the parts really have been replaced. After all, who is to say whether the main pcb (control circuit board) is a new one or the same one as before?

Have this elderly couple just been conned?

How could they understand what work was actually carried out?

And - whether parts were actually replaced or not - how could they possibly complain?

So, all credit to the local tradesman for telling me of his suspicians.

I don't know what OVO might be considering by way of any Boiler Maintenance Strategy, but this sad tale needs to be taken into account.

There should be some way of verifying that any work done was essential, and that any replacement parts can be accounted for.
Userlevel 6
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I use a local plumber who lives around the corner, but realise I am lucky to have found one. He sends my a reminder to book the service a month before it is due and I pay the annual fee once the work is complete, so no service plan or anything.

Re: @Transparent's tale, isn't this all too uncommon in terms of large national corporations? They seem to struggle with quality control of their staff and contractors. The same could be said of many industries. How many would have a cautionary tale about a motoring experience? I believe watchdog have done investigations in the past of both cars and boilers, they secretly marked the parts before the service and checked afterwards to see if what was claimed to be replaced was actually done. How you solve this problem? Not sure.....

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