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3 Common Boiler Problems

Whether it’s used for radiant floor heating, forced air heating, or just the hot water in your home, your boiler is an important part of your home’s functionality. A malfunctioning boiler can cause a great deal of distress, especially during cold winters. Being without hot water for cleaning is a problem, but for those who use a boiler as their main source of heat, a malfunctioning boiler is a recipe for chilly days.

Fortunately, many of the issues you’ll find with a boiler are common. Boilers aren’t the most complicated system to work with, but the mixture of pressure and heat can make them dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. While you can fix a few things on your own, if you aren’t confident it’s better to call a professional.

Cold Water

If your water is running just fine and you don’t hear any strange noises but the water is still cold, then you have a problem with the heating system. The simplest problem is an issue with the thermostat. If the thermostat itself is not sending a signal to the boiler that the water temperature has fallen, then the heating process won’t begin. Replacing the thermostat or control switch should solve the problem without requiring major boiler repairs.

A slightly more complex fix is a problem with the pilot light. If the room with your boiler is drafty, those drafts could be extinguishing the pilot light whenever it lights. Fixing drafts and resealing the room will help with this (and has the added benefit of improving insulation and reducing heat loss for your home). Excess carbon deposit buildup on the pilot light could be preventing the spark from igniting when it attempts to start. Cleaning off the buildup will restore functionality, but be careful you do not damage the pilot light. If the pilot light still does not function, a broken thermocouple is likely. It should be replaced, a process which we recommend is handled by a professional.

If you use a radiator and the you can feel heat coming from the pipes close to the boiler (do not touch the pipes, just hold your hand nearby to see if any heat is radiating) but the radiator pipes further away are still cold, there is likely a blockage in the system or excess air inside the radiator line.

Leaking Water

There’s almost nothing worse than walking into your basement and stepping into a puddle of water. The sudden realization that your lack of heat or hot water and the puddle in the basement are related is one of those worse things. But leaking water from a boiler isn’t limited to large breaks. Small leaks in the system can lead to drops in water pressure, increased water bills each month, and colder temperatures in your home.

Finding a leak isn’t difficult unless the leak is from a pipe in your wall. Discolored walls, small puddles, and high water bills are all tell-tale signs that your pipes are leaking. Low boiler water levels are also a sure sign of a leak somewhere. Occasionally you can fix these leaks by tightening up a few joints or resealing connections. Usually, a leak requires a replacement for a section of pipe or a connection.


If you hear a banging or whistling noise (similar to the bubbling-whistle noise of a kettle boiling) from your boiler, then you’re looking at what’s known as kettling. The noise is caused by heating issues generated from hard water deposits left behind by water. Getting the boiler cleaned or using a home-water softer will remove or alleviate the banging noise.

It’s important to mention that if your boiler isn’t actually heating your water, in the case of a broken pilot light or extreme levels of kettling, the unheated water can become a habitat for bacteria. A broken boiler is no joke, so it’s best to have it repaired as soon as possible.

If you need help detecting air leaks and other sources of inefficiencies in your home, call your home comfort experts at (217) 866-1596 for your Free Whole Home Inspection and Analysis. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

We also offer an ongoing Home Maintenance Plan to help ensure you not only have regular heater/furnace maintenance and tune-up checks, but also saves your money!

Cassel Home Comfort Heating & Cooling, situated in the Champaign IL, is committed to being your best HVAC contractor choice in Central Illinois in both Value and Customer Service!