Why Are My Boiler Controls Not Working?

Gas fired boiler control panel closeup

6 Common Thermostat Problems and How to Fix Them

It can be a nightmare if you can’t control your boiler from the thermostat, especially in the icy winter months.

You might wonder, why are my boiler controls not working? Why does my boiler keep going on and off? Why is the appliance not firing up at all?

It’s easy to get all worked up and think that something is seriously wrong with your heating system and think you need a replacement boiler. But, the likelihood is you don’t and the problem might not be with your boiler. It might be with the thermostat.

Keep reading to learn why your thermostat might not be working and what you can do about it.

1. Check that the Boiler is Turned On

If you can’t control your boiler from the thermostat, check that there is a power supply. Ensure your boiler is turned on both at the mains and the appliance.

It doesn’t matter whether you didn’t turn your boiler off. Start by making sure the appliance is on. While this suggestion may sound silly, it can save you from paying a call-out fee to get an expert to fix your boiler only to discover that the appliance is turned off.

Sometimes your boiler can turn off during power cuts and fail to come back on when the power is restored. It is also possible that someone in your household has turned the appliance off unknowingly.

Even if you didn’t purposely turn off your boiler, it doesn’t cost anything to check and make sure that the appliance is on. Turn on your boiler at the mains and at the appliance itself. If the boiler had been off, it should respond to your thermostat when you turn it back on.

2. Make Sure You Know How to Work the Thermostat Correctly

man turning on a British Combi Gas Boiler

A thermostat detects and regulates a set temperature, but you probably already know this.

Knowing the definition of a thermostat is one thing, but knowing how to use the device is a different thing entirely. Your heating system won’t automatically know what to do because you have a thermostat.

You have to learn how to adjust the temperature setting on the device and how to program it correctly.

Thankfully, it is not too difficult to learn how to work these small devices, even if you’ve never used one before. You can find the instructions on using your thermostat in the user’s manual or search online for the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Replace Old Batteries

Sometimes you can fix the problem with your thermostat by simply changing the batteries, particularly with a wireless thermostat, if you notice the display is darker or fainter than usual.

In most cases, you should get a low-battery warning either in the form of a blinking light or a message on the screen. If for some reason, you didn’t notice the warning, the batteries will eventually die off, and the device won’t be able to send any temperature instructions to your boiler. Pretty soon, you’ll notice the thermostat isn’t working.

Look at the thermostat display. If it is too faint or completely blank, try replacing the batteries. In many cases of a broken thermostat, your boiler won’t turn off!

4. Get a New Thermostat

If your thermostat is old, it might start to malfunction. Most thermostats can last for up to 10 years on average. Still, some may not last that long and will need to be replaced.

You may need to replace your thermostat if it consistently fails to register room temperatures correctly. Here are some other signs that your thermostat is either outdated or bad.

  • Difficulty maintaining temperature settings: You might be dealing with a bad thermostat if the temperature changes too frequently without warning.
  • Unexplainable high energy bills: If you’ve been getting higher-than-usual energy bills, the malfunctioning thermostat may be reading the temperature incorrectly and causing the unit to cycle more times than it should. Unfortunately, frequent unit cycles will increase power consumption.
  • The heating system keeps turning on and off: Frayed or damaged wiring inside the thermostat can compromise its connection to your heating system, making your appliance turn on and off. In this case, a professional can tell you if you need to get a new thermostat or if the current one can be fixed.

If you notice that the thermostat is old or outdated, simply get a new one to continue enjoying adequate heating and hot water on demand.

While we are on the subject of a thermostat replacement, consider replacing your old one with a modern thermostat. Modern thermostats, such as smart thermostats, are more convenient to use. You can even operate them via an app on your mobile device.

Many of these smart options can learn your preferences about your household heating needs and automatically turn your boiler on or off to suit your needs. For example, the device can turn on your heating 15 minutes before the usual time you get home, so you come back to a warm, cosy home.

If you are thinking of getting one of these, consider reading our guide on the best smart thermostat to help you choose the most suitable option for your existing heating and hot water system.

5. Clean the Thermostat

master holds a thermostat from an electric boiler in his hand

Dirt, dust, and debris build-up can affect the functionality of your thermostat. If your boiler isn’t responding to the controls and won’t turn on, look inside the device to see if it looks dirty.

  1. Take off the front panel of the thermostat.
  2. Remove the batteries.
  3. Use cotton buds or a soft brush to carefully brush off the dirt.

Be careful not to touch the contact points with your bare fingers.

6. Change the Location of Your Thermostat

Your boiler and thermostat need to communicate to work properly. The location of your thermostat might interfere with this communication and can cause the device to misjudge the temperature sometimes. If this happens, the thermostat will send wrong signals to the boiler, and the heating won’t work when you want it or will keep working when you don’t need it.

For example, installing the thermostat near a poorly insulated area in your home or too close to a heat source, such as a radiator or the boiler itself, can cause inaccurate readings.

If this is the case, you need to relocate the thermostat to a more neutral spot in your home to improve its accuracy. Moving your thermostat to a different location shouldn’t be difficult if the device is wireless. If it’s wired, you will need a technician or electrician to move the thermostat.

Get Professional Help

If your boiler controls are still not working after trying all of these tips, the problem might be more serious than a broken thermostat. Your best bet would be to get professional help in this case.

If you experience recurring issues with your heating system, it might be more prudent to get a boiler cover plan that includes the repairs of boiler controls as well as maintenance of the appliance.

Compare Boiler Quotes can help you find the best quotes from boiler experts near you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today if you need professional help with your boiler controls.

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