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7 Most Common Boiler Problems and Why They Occur

Are you experiencing problems with your boiler? During the cold season is when your boiler is put to the test, especially if the outside temperature is below freezing (32° Farhenheit).

We’ve dealt with many issues related to boiler systems, but the following list of boiler problems are the most commonly found. Sometimes all it takes is a simple repair and other times, your boiler needs replacement.

Take a look at these common boiler problems to better understand what the issue might be. If your boiler system is experiencing any of these problems, you might need to call a heating contractor to come out to repair it.

1. Leaking & Dripping

Are you noticing any excess water surrounding your boiler tank or the pipes it’s connected to? Leaking and dripping caused by the boiler tank is extremely common. Over time, boilers can retain rust and become old. When this occurs, components of the system can lose their dexterity.

Leaking or dripping can be caused by old parts, an aging seal, the pressure valve is too high, the system is overworking constantly, or even the corrosion of pipes. In order to determine the cause of the leaking or dripping, it’s safest to contact a local heating contractor. They will come in and inspect the boiler tank and pipes to discover where the leaking water is coming from.

It may be something as simple as a loose fitting.

2. Kettling - Noises Like a Tea Kettle

Have you ever heard a tea kettle when it comes to a boil? This is a noise that can occur with your boiler and pipes; it’s commonly called “kettling”.

Kettling can also be noted as sounding like a sort of odd rumbling noise. Over time, your boiler’s heat exchanger can have a deposit build-up. This build-up comes from continuous water usage, so it’s a normal occurrence. However, these deposits can clog the flow of water in the heat exchanger, and this leads to intense heating, thus the noises.

When your boiler is kettling, it’s working harder to deliver the heat or hot water you need. This drives up your bills and shortens the boiler’s lifetime.

Kettling is most common in areas of the house with hard water, but can still occur where soft water resides.

3. Pilot Light Turning Off

Your boiler has a blue flame located underneath it to keep the system lit and running. When the pilot light shuts off, this typically means the thermocouple is having difficulties or is faulty. Your boiler’s thermocouple aids in the supply of gas to the boiler. Your newer boiler system will typically not have this problem, however, it still can occur.

Fixing your pilot light can be as simple as reigniting the flame. But, before you go about just reigniting flames where gas is in use, check to see if your boiler is receiving gas. If there is no gas reaching the boiler, it could be that your gas has turned off in your entire house or that the gas stopcock isn’t on.

After checking these troubleshooting options and ensuring you have gas in your home and the pilot light is still off, it’s best to contact a heating contractor. If you have a gas leak or it’s another problem occurring with the system, the heating contractor has the tools to deal with the issue without injuring themselves or damaging your home.

4. Condensate Pipe is Frozen

New boilers are condensing boilers. This type of boiler system uses a condensate pipe for the removal of waste gas that the boiler creates. When it’s freezing outside, the risk of your boiler’s condensate pipe freezing is very high. The water freezes and will cause a blockage.

This is resolved by defrosting the condensate pipe. You can thaw the pipe by applying hot water (not boiling) on the pipe, using a warm cloth, or using another warming method on the pipe. If you aren’t going to hire a heating contractor to come out to fix the frozen condensate pipe, we ask that you keep yourself safe by using gloves and protective gear to avoid injury.

5. Thermostat is Inaccurate

Your boiler’s thermostat is used to retain the appropriate temperature for the heat and hot water in the home. When this is reading the wrong temperature or is shutting the heating on or off, it might need a fix or to be replaced.

Thermostats can become old over time or wires can become loose. A thermostat malfunctioning is typical in older boilers. Sometimes, it may have nothing to do with the age or wiring at all. Perhaps the thermostat was bumped or the settings are inaccurate. Check to make sure the thermostat is set to “on” and the settings are as you want them to warm your home.

6. Irregular Hot Water and Heating

When you start losing heat or your water refuses to warm up, your boiler could have malfunctioning parts. While the boiler may not be in charge of the heating of air, it can still cause rooms to get cold.

Irregular hot water and heating could mean that your thermostat needs resetting or to be replaced, but it could be other failing internal components. The boiler valve, diaphragm, or airlock could need replacing, which shouldn’t be a project performed by someone without heating equipment experience.

Rather than trying to fix the problem yourself and finding out it’s more complicated than you might think (or it could be an entirely different problem), have a heating contractor come out to inspect the problem.

7. Radiator Stops Heating

A heating system can run on radiators. If these radiators refuse to heat up, you’re not going to get hot anything. You can typically find out if the radiators aren’t running properly when the bottom of the radiator is hot and the top is cool. This might be caused by sludge or grime build-up in the transfer section from the boiler to the radiator or the radiators being off-balance.

In the case of a cool radiator, bleed the system for a full reset or call a heating contractor to come out and fix it.


There are many problems that can occur with boilers, and many factors to take into consideration for each problem. If you’re experiencing heating issues with your boiler, you can sometimes troubleshoot the problem and have it back up and running in no time. But dealing with boilers can be very dangerous.

We highly recommend that you call a heating contractor that has experience in repairing and replacing boilers. WM Buffington heating contractors are licensed and have years of experience in the repair and replacement of boilers and their components. If it’s another heating or plumbing issue, we’ll be able to discover and take care of it pronto!

Call us today if you are having boiler problems and need your home to be comfortable and warm again.

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