What to do when your oil boiler stops working

A family sitting indoors with their hats and scarves on as their oil boiler has broken down.

You get out of bed one frosty morning and blimey it’s freezing! The boiler’s stopped working! What now? It’s happened to most of us at some point.

Do you have power? Are the controls turned on? Is the timer switched to on? Are the batteries OK in the room thermostat? Is the room thermostat turned up? This may seem silly, but other people living in the house may have adjusted them.

Assuming these are all OK, the next thing to check is your boiler. Start by opening the casing door. Is there a glowing red light on the burner? The burner is the red or silver box normally at the base of the boiler. If it is then press it. You will hear a motor and a fan start up. And after about 30 seconds or so your boiler will have fired up.

If it doesn’t, then the next thing to check is the level in the oil tank. With families spending a lot more time at home, it’s very easy to burn your way through the oil. And if you’re out of oil, you will need to organise a delivery before you call us out. Even we can’t get it running without oil!

Once the oil has been delivered, it’s time to call Oil Boiler Services on 01903 726295. You will need the oil pulled through to the boiler and the boiler commissioned.

If you do have oil, however, then there are several reasons why your boiler might not be working. But at this point all the easy fixes are ticked off the checklist and you should call the professionals.

The most common reasons for an oil boiler not working.

  1. Lack of servicing. Oil boilers need cleaning and checking annually. You will probably get away with it for a few years after a new installation. But when they soot up, it’s an expensive job to sort out.
  2. Running out of oil. It sounds silly but it happens a lot, especially during lock down. You’re at home a lot more and with the heating on.
  3. Flat batteries in the thermostat. Again, it sounds silly, but it happens a lot.
  4. Component failure. This is a lot more common in boilers that aren’t serviced regularly. Parts like nozzle’s, photo cells and filters have a finite service life. And if they are not changed in good time, they will cause sooting and a large bill to put right.
  5. Weather related faults. This normally happens in cold conditions with freezing condensation waste pipes. These pipes are associated with condensing boilers and if incorrectly sized or not lagged will freeze. When this happens, it causes the boiler to lock out.

    Also, in cold conditions water in the fuel supply freezes, chilling the oil. This causes it to turn waxy, starving the boiler of fuel and causing it to lock out. Oil tanks should be checked for water contamination when the annual service is carried out.
  6. Power cuts and fluctuations. There isn’t much you can do about this. But if you live in the countryside then power fluctuations are more common. Sometimes, you might see your lights dim for a second. When this happens it’s likely you’ve just experienced a power fluctuation. First, check to see if the boiler has locked out, and if so, press the red reset button. You should only press the reset button once (or twice at most), but this will usually fix it.

Contact the boiler specialists

If you’ve done all the basic checks and your boiler is still not working, then it’s time to call Oil Boiler Services. Our friendly OFTEC registered team are always happy to help. You can reach us on 01903 726295 or you can send us a message.

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