Has Your Boiler Locked You Out?
Winter, as we all know, is the best time of year for a boiler breakdown. The heating has been switched back on and may well be working overtime to keep you warm, especially as this winter is a cold one and home heating oil prices are low. One of the most common problems you might face is boiler lockout.
What is boiler lockout, exactly?
Modern boilers have a clever mechanism that turns them off and locks them down if there’s a failure or a problem. It’s a bit of a shock, but it’s designed to keep you and your family safe. The lockdown also means that the oil can’t travel into the system, so you’ll need to reset your boiler once the problem is fixed.
How to tell if your boiler is in lockout.
If your boiler isn’t working and you think it may be in lockout, look for an error message on the display and a flashing green or red light.
What causes boiler lockout?
If your boiler’s an older model, it may be starting to fail due to general wear and tear. You’ll find that getting a regular service helps to keep things ticking over, but eventually, you will need to upgrade.
Other causes include excessively high or low pressure, possibly caused by a block in the system. Low boiler pressure can sometimes be down to sludge; if this is a regular problem you can try using an additive in your oil to prevent the build up of sludge.
It’s always possible that there’s a more serious problem causing the lockout. If you can’t identify a reason for the lockout, it’s time to call in a professional.
If you’re locked out, what should you do?
Identify the fault or error code
The fault code should give you an idea of the nature of the problem; you can work out whether it’s something you can sort out yourself or whether you need to call in an engineer.
Try resetting your boiler
You can always try the reset button – it’s usually found near the display, but do read your manual before trying it.
Look at your oil levels.
If the reset button doesn’t work, you should look for low oil levels. Boilers will often lockout if the oil levels are very low as this prevents water and sludge being drawn into the system.
Call in an engineer
If the reset button doesn’t work and the oil levels are OK, it’s time to call in your technician. Usually, the problems that cause lockdown are easily fixed – blocked nozzles or filters – so don’t worry.
How you can prevent a lockout
You can reduce the chances of a lockout by following these few simple tips.
Turn off your boiler during a delivery as deliveries can stir up sludge, debris and water which can be drawn into the system if it’s operating at the time.
Get an annual (at least) service to make sure there’s no trapped air, blocked nozzles and filters and to look for any worn parts.
Use oil additives to prevent the build up of sludge in the tank, and don’t let your oil run out, as your boiler will go into automatic lock down when oil levels become critical.