How To Cope With A Boiler Breakdown

Keeping warm and accessing hot water when disaster strikes in cold weather

In the main, boilers give many years of reliable service but they can and do go wrong; ironically, it’s often when they’re needed the most. Just as temperatures drop, it’s possible that your boiler could stop working leaving you without central heating or hot water.

Professional back up

Regular boiler servicing will help prevent it breaking down at crucial times, and having the phone number handy of a Gas Safe Registered plumber who can provide swift emergency boiler repair will mean you’re inconvenienced for as little time as possible.

Here’s some tips on how to cope until your boiler is working again.

Wrap up

Wearing an extra layer or two of clothing is a basic free step you can take. You may feel a bit odd wearing a hat and chunky sweater indoors, but you’ll feel more comfortable.

If you’re spending the evening watching the television, then why not get the duvet from upstairs and snuggle under it? It’ll also then be warm when you decide to go to bed.

Electric heaters

Using portable electric heaters will help keep you warm, but take care as they can be expensive to run for longer periods and often only really keep a space warm as long as they’re switched on. It’s better to think of them as only heating a space you’ll be using, not as a full substitute for your central heating.

Fan heaters – good for an instant ‘hit’ of heat, but the space will cool soon after they’re switched off. They’re a good solution for short term heating – for example, warming the bedroom while you’re getting dressed.

Convection heaters – these can heat a room although may take a little time to do so as the warm air circulates.

Halogen heaters – cheaper to run and best for heating one small area. They’re ideal if one or at most two people are in the same place for an extended period.

Oil filled radiators – better for heating a space and keeping it heated, but they’ll prove expensive to run over a longer period.

Be careful with the use of electric heaters – ensure flexes don’t pose a tripping hazard and, if you’ve dug out some older heaters from the loft or other storage, remove dust from them and don’t use if they look the worse for wear (frayed cables for example).

Consolidating room use

While you may use various rooms in the course of a day or evening usually – perhaps people in the kitchen, lounge and maybe a bedroom upstairs – it may be preferable to use only one or two rooms while the heating isn’t working.

Trying to keep multiple rooms warm with various space heaters could prove difficult, expensive and even potentially dangerous (someone falling asleep with a fan heater whirring away in a bedroom for example).

Hot water bottles

Using them in conjunction with warm clothing will help you feel warmer in yourself so there may be less need for electric heaters.

Immersion heating

You may know if you’ve got it, but if not bear in mind many hot water heating systems have electric immersion heater back up. Look for a cable running from your boiler to a switch possibly with an indicator light on it; by switching it on this will heat your water but won’t help with the central heating.


Obviously, a challenge without hot water, so you may have to improvise by heating water with the kettle and washing as best you can.

Another option if you have a leisure centre nearby or you’re a member of a gym is to use their showering facilities. In the case of the leisure centre, you may have to pay for a swim or other activity of course.

Combating draughts and ‘cold spots’

This is worth doing anyway to conserve heat, but if you have any draughts then try and plug them. Simple measures such as closing curtains as soon as dusk falls and using draft excluders at the bottom of doors can help prevent heat loss and colder air getting into rooms.


While planning for a boiler breakdown may seem a bit depressing, it’s better than being caught out when the worst happens. As mentioned earlier, ensure you have the contact details of a reliable and trusted emergency plumber and perhaps invest in a few electric space heaters so you know you have modern appliances to call on if required.

Author: Editor

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