As an estate agent, are you aware of the most common central heating problems your tenants face?
Unsurprisingly, the main reason tenants get in touch with estate agents is due to problems with the property, and in our experience, the top of the list includes things like faulty boilers, leaks and a lack of heating and hot water.
Below, I’ve listed six of the most common problems and issues with central heating that cause tenants to get in touch with you, and our easy solutions to help get you out of a tight spot.
Follow these good practices
Always provide a handy checklist attached to the boiler casing, detailing five basic points to check before calling you (the estate agent) or a Gas Safe registered heating engineer. If you are fitting a new boiler in a let property, ask the engineer to fit an efficient control system that is easy to use for tenants.
Many tenants move into properties and simply don’t have access to instructions or don’t know how to work various appliances, so it’s a good idea to ask the landlord to download copies of the instruction manuals you can then forward on to tenants, just in case.
In my experience, I’ve found a lot of call-outs are due to completely avoidable issues such as the tenant’s heating not switching on, only to later realise that the boiler isn’t coming on as the room is already up to temperature!
1. No hot water
In other words, no hot shower or bathing facilities. Unless of course, you have an electric shower installed which isn’t reliant on your boiler to heat the water (something I always recommend as back-up, just in case this happens).
The Fix: The problem could be as simple as a fused spur-type switch being turned off by a safety conscious tenant, or low pressure at the boiler which requires topping up to 1.5 bar. Please see our video below which details exactly how to top up the pressure in your boiler.
If none of these options work, you may have to call an engineer.
2. Lack of heating
This isn’t such an immediate problem in summer, but in the depths of winter when heating is needed, it’s generally something you’ll want to see to right away so tenants are kept safe and warm.
The Fix: Again, this problem could be something as simple as a user error, or not knowing how to use or work the controls. It could be that someone has simply turned off a switch somewhere – that’s why it’s always handy to have a checklist attached to the boiler casing of five points to check before calling the agent or engineer.
3. Radiator was bled or aired
If a radiator is not heating in one of the rooms, I find it’s usually very common for one of the tenants to try and be helpful and use an air key to air/bleed the radiator. In this case, you’ll find it starts to heat, but then the boiler stops working.
The Fix: A quick fix for this is simply topping the boiler back up to 1 – 1.5 bar, as per our videos above.
4. Carbon monoxide alarm sounding
If a carbon monoxide detector goes off, this is potentially very dangerous and in all cases must be checked immediately. It could be something simple like a very small kitchen with all the windows and doors closed with a gas cooker and oven on, or a sealed room without adequate ventilation.
The Fix: It could be a matter of simply opening a door or window, but don’t take any chances and call a gas engineer immediately.
5. Leaking water to the flat below
If neighbours from downstairs have visited the tenants to tell them that water is coming through their ceiling, it can be particularly worrying as you’ll want to find the leak and fix it straight away without causing further damage to the property.
The Fix: Firstly, check the boiler’s pressure gauge; if it’s at 0, there’s a high chance there’s a leak on the heating circuit. If it’s been fault-free and watertight for many years, someone may have bashed a pipe or radiator valve whilst vacuuming or moving furniture. Call an engineer who can come out to take a look at it.
The most common reason for this problem is a leak above the bathroom, due to faulty silicon sealant or loose tiles from hard-wear in a rented property. As the agent, you should go and inspect the problem. If there’s running water, turn the cold water mains screw-down valve off as it enters the property, then open all the taps.
TIP: Remember, ‘righty tighty’, ‘lefty loosey’ if you don’t know which way is on or off. Again, this is handy to include in a checklist for tenants when dealing with problems with the property.
6. A smell of gas, or CO poisoning symptoms
If tenants smell gas, or are experiencing headaches, nausea and flu-like symptoms, this could be an immediate sign of danger from a gas leak or CO poisoning. It could be there’s a faulty appliance causing the problem, or a problem with your gas supply pipe.
The Fix: Tell tenants to turn all gas appliances off, and turn off the emergency control valve for gas. Locations and directions to this should be included on the checklist. Next, tell them to open all windows and call the gas emergency line on 0800 111 999. They should avoid striking matches, and using naked flames.
I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful, and remember, it’s always wise to be prepared in the event that tenants need your help dealing with some of the problems above. It’s always a good idea to build up a relationship with one or two trusted gas engineers, so you have someone you can rely on in an emergency.
What are the biggest reasons/issues tenants have contacted you about? Let me know in the comments section!