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Time for a Check Up

Time for a check-up
Proud to be a Professional

Richard Soper, CIPHE Director of International Development, explains why he believes homeowners should be encouraged to book an annual MOT-style service for their property with a view to carrying out basic safety checks and maximising operating efficiency.

I’ve often heard it said that the kitchen is the heart of any home. I beg to differ. Look a little closer and you will find that what’s really keeping households going is a boiler, working behind the scenes providing heating and hot water at comfortable levels. Now that’s what I call the real beating heart of any property.

While having a smooth-running central heating system is vital to maintaining a certain quality of life, boilers are often taken for granted by homeowners and overlooked until something goes wrong. Waking up to a cold house with no hot water is usually the first sign something isn’t right, yet situations like these can often be prevented by scheduling a regular service or check-up for all elements of the system.

Small investment
So why aren’t more homeowners investing a small amount each year in making sure their heating system is kept in perfect running order? When we buy a new car, parting with a few thousand pounds is enough to make us book it in for regular services. Over a certain age, cars are also required to have an annual MOT to keep on top of maintenance and make sure we’re driving around safely for our own sake and that of others.

Buying a new boiler or having a complete new central heating system installed requires significant investment too, yet homeowners are more likely to have everything fitted and then forget their appliance exists when they should be thinking about the upkeep of that system. We might not be driving around in our homes but we spend rather more time in them than we do in the car. I rest my case.

Breakdown risk
When first fitted, all new gas and oil-fired boilers are issued with a commissioning certificate in agreement with Approved Document L of the Building Regulations. At this point, installers use the Benchmark Checklist that is included within the boiler installation instructions. This ensures that the appliance and heating system complies with the required regulations and in most cases, validates the boiler warranty too.

While these checks are carried out at the point of installation, after that, there is no compulsory requirement for boilers to have an annual service. This means homeowners can then choose whether or not to have their heating system serviced annually.
It’s at this point that problems can start. If properly installed, cleansed and flushed to begin with, a system should work well for a good while. However, if left unchecked, a boiler that isn’t serviced regularly can be more prone to breakdowns and become less efficient over time. This is especially the case for older boilers.

Mandatory servicing
This needs to change. For starters, the industry could work together to suggest that annual servicing should be made mandatory for all boilers with a view to helping homeowners save time and money in the long-term. While manufacturers offering longer warranties do require evidence of regular servicing in order for them to remain valid, older boilers need even greater protection if performance is to be optimised.

Regular work
As well as having clear benefits for homeowners, from an installer’s perspective, encouraging customers to have their boiler serviced regularly makes perfect business sense too. Offering and recommending an annual check-up deal means more work and regular work at that. The key to securing it is being able to communicate, quite simply, the message that prevention is better than cure and that a small investment each year brings the added reassurance of reliability and safety too.