Lifestyle Guides

Is your boiler winter-ready?

We all know how cold a UK winter can get, so making sure your boiler’s running in top condition is very important.


As one of the hardest working appliances in any home, it’s inevitable things could go wrong, so proper maintenance is key.

Because boiler breakdowns are so common – often due to poor maintenance and servicing – most insurers exclude boiler cover from a home insurance policy and instead offer it as an optional extra.

At Admiral, Gold Home Insurance customers get Boiler Emergency Cover as standard, and Platinum customers get Home Emergency Cover as standard (this includes cover for plumbing and drainage as well as boiler and heating systems). You can add the Home Emergency Cover upgrade to your standard Admiral Home Insurance

More than 1.25 million homes across the country experienced a boiler breakdown in 2018, according to British Gas, leaving people unable to heat their homes. 

To help prevent your boiler packing in when you most need it, here are a few simple things you can do at home.

Looking after your boiler 

  • Bleed your radiators - this will help release the air and allow your boiler to work more efficiently. This is an easy job you can carry out yourself – read our step by step guide on how to bleed a radiator 
  • Test it - when your boiler’s not in use over the warmer months, check it every couple of months by running it for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Regular servicing – maintaining a boiler can help it last longer; it’s recommended you have an annual service.

Boiler maintenance is essential for efficient energy use, saving money and longevity. According to Energy Saving Trust, boilers account for 55% of what you spend on energy bills each year, so an efficient working boiler makes a big difference. 

If your boiler’s not working… 

We spoke to claims experts Sedgwick who offered the following advice on what to do if your boiler’s on the blink: 

  • Check your thermostat – if your thermostat’s lower than 21 degrees it can stop your heating coming on so try turning it up higher 
  • Power cut – if you’ve had a power cut recently it could’ve reset the timer; double check to see if you just need to pop your desired times back in. The same goes if you use a smart device  
  • On a meter? - forgetting to top up your meter is easily done so if your boiler’s not coming on, make sure you’ve got credit
  • Leaky radiator - if your radiator’s leaking, try tightening the nut 
  • Reset your boiler – if your boiler was made before 2004 it’s probably got a pilot light rather than a rest function, so make sure the pilot light’s on. If not, you may need to relight it – your boiler manual will show you how
  • Signs of frost - boilers won’t work if the condenser pipe’s frozen; try pouring warm water onto the pipe to unfreeze it. Here’s a video for more help 
  • Re-pressurise your boiler – if the pressure’s dropped you may need to top it back up. Follow the instruction manual, visit your boiler brand’s website for a tutorial or contact a trained professional to do this for you. 

Viessman, an international manufacturer of heating systems, gives these steps if you want to do it yourself:

  • Switch off your boiler and let it cool
  • Double-check both ends of the filling loop are securely attached – a leak in a valve could be causing pressure loss
  • Open both valves to allow cold water to enter the system (keep an eye on the pressure gauge)
  • Close both valves when the pressure gauge reads 1.5 bar
  • Remove filling loop if it’s not built in
  • Switch the boiler back, recheck the pressure and, if needed, press the reset button
  • So what’s actually covered?

Admiral Home Emergency and Boiler Emergency includes cover for a variety of boilers:

  • Combination boilers

  • Conventional boilers
  • LPG
  • Solid fuel
  • Electric boilers
  • Solar
  • Oil 
  • Other forms of primary heating through renewable technologies  

And we’ll cover you for:

  • Complete failure or breakdown of your primary heating/hot water system, resulting in no hot water and/or heating
  • Loss of water pressure in a boiler due to a fault
  • A water leak from the boiler/heating system

Parts and devices we cover:

  • Domestic gas boiler in your home (max 60Kw/hr output)
  • Boiler isolating valves
  • All manufacturer-fitted parts within the boiler including the pump, motorised valves, thermostat, radiator, timer, temperature pressure controls and the primary flue
  • Primary heating such as renewable technologies, LPG, oil, solid fuel, electric and solar

And what’s not covered? 

Here are a few examples of what's not covered, you can see the full list in your policy booklet. 

  • Any heating system which isn’t wholly situated within your home or shared with a neighbour
  • Descaling and any work arising from hard water scale deposits (including power flushing) or from damage caused by hard water or sludge resulting from corrosion
  • Replacement of any added equipment such as a Magnaclean 
  • Adjustments to the timing and temperature controls, or replacement of controls which can be manually operated safely, including relighting the pilot light/flame
  • Boilers which are still working, but you suspect may be about to break down 
  • Repair to or replacement of  underfloor heating systems, warm air units, air or ground source heat pumps
  • Any fault arising due to sludge, scale, rust or debris within the primary heating system or damage caused by any other chemical composition of the water 
  • Repair to or replacement  of convector heaters, inhibitors, water tanks, radiators, radiator valves, thermostatic valves and hot water cylinders
  • Repair to or replacement  of gas appliances (such as cookers)

How to make a boiler emergency claim

We hope you’ll never need to make a boiler emergency claim, but if you do, you must call us within 48 hours of discovering the emergency and  have the following pieces of information to hand before you get in touch:

  • Policyholder name and address
  • Policy number 
  • Boiler details  
  • For emergency assistance contact the 24-hour emergency helpline on 0345 609 4375. The helpline’s open 365 days a year.