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My radiator is cold and not working, how could I fix it?

Finding that your radiator is not heating up properly can be frustrating, but luckily most issues can typically be quickly and easily fixed by a qualified engineer.

In order to get a better idea of what may be causing your radiator to stay cold, you could ask yourself the following questions: How many radiators are cold? Is your boiler and central heating switched on (obvious, but worth checking!)? If it’s all switched on and your radiators are still cold, then it could be due to the boiler, its controls or the pipework, in which case you should call a Gas Safe registered engineer. However, it may be worth going through the following common causes to rule out smaller faults first:

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Price Guarantee[28]

Simply answer a few multiple choice questions about your existing boiler and we’ll give you a fixed price for a new boiler including all parts and installation[28]

The thermostat is set too low

This may sound obvious, but research has shown that over 60% of us are making simple errors when using our thermostat ( If you have a basic thermostat – as opposed to a smart thermostat – you may have set the temperature too low. It’s usually recommended for homeowners to have their thermostats set at the lowest comfortable temperature, to enable both comfort and energy-efficiency. To make setting your household temperature more convenient, you could consider getting a smart thermostat installed. These intelligent devices are designed to ‘learn’ your heating habits and preferences to create personalised heating schedules that correspond with your daily routine. You could even adjust your home’s temperature settings whilst on the go.

The timer or programmer isn’t working

Your boiler is programmed to distribute heating and hot-water at appropriate times. You should be able to adjust the settings to your requirements. But if these suddenly stop working, it could be that the time is set incorrectly on the time switch or that the clock dial is stuck. Power cuts and seasonal time changes are common causes of timers/programmers appearing to be broken.

The gas boiler’s pilot light’s out

In old boilers, the pilot light provides the flame that lights the gas presented by the main burner. But if this goes out, a valve cuts the gas to prevent a dangerous situation. If you notice that the light has gone out, you could attempt to relight it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to relight the pilot. Repeat if necessary, but if still unsuccessful, contact an qualified engineer.

There’s a blockage in the system pipework

If you suspect that there’s been a build-up of rust or sludge in your radiators, a recommended way of rectifying this problem is calling a Gas Safe registered engineer to conduct a system Powerflush. The process involves sending a chemically infused liquid through your central heating system at a high velocity to remove any rust, dirt or sludge that may have built up over time; thus potentially restoring your home heating to full efficiency. HomeServe engineers are trained to conduct professional Powerflushes and an expert could visit your home at a suitable time for you.

There are air pockets in the system

Air can enter and build up in your radiators for a number of reasons. A rusty pipe, a small leak or an open tank in the loft could all contribute to this. You may be able to remove the air yourself by bleeding your radiators - it’s a fairly simple task, our guide to bleeding radiators could provide you with the instructions you need. If your radiators are constantly needing to be bled, there might be a larger issue, in which case we recommend organising an appointment with a trained engineer.

It is crucial to remember that you should only perform checks on your boiler that are simple with minimum risk. Do not attempt to fix the issue yourself as this could be extremely dangerous.

All of our engineers are Gas Safe-registered and fully qualified to diagnose and fix your central heating problems, so whether you know what the problem is or not, you can book an appointment with a local expert to diagnose the issue and get your heating back up and running effectively again.

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[2] Source: Saving calculated when replacing G rated with A rated boiler in a semi-detached house.

[5] Subject to an annual service at the customer’s expense. Warranty extension from 5-years to 7-years or 10-years only available on Worcester Bosch. Warranty extension from 5-years to 10-years available on Ideal Boilers. All warranty extensions subject to an additional charge.

[28] Exclusions apply. See