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Boiler Service Plans? Cancel NOW!

Boiler service plans, Homecare cover, Heating Insurance etc. Why are people taking these expensive plans out? Read below to find out how to save yourself a lot of money, and potentially, a lot of hassle.

Doing a rough survey from various customer visits, and checking online, I have found that annual service plans run at about £15-£30 per month, depending on the company and the level of cover. Annual boiler cover is less than Boiler Cover and Central Heating, and both are less than boiler cover, heating and plumbing. However, all these contracts have roughly the same cover depending on how much of the house is protected. Some of the homecare options include an excess, of say £50 when a callout is made, which reduces the monthly premium. A lot of the offers provide a very attractive first year introductory offer. Most of the annual boiler cover plans also include an 'annual boiler service'.

And so, here is the reality. Firstly, let’s look at the annual boiler service that is provided. To make it seem like you are getting a good deal and are being looked after, your insurance company will send an engineer out to 'service' your boiler. Please don't be fooled, they DON'T service the boiler. At best, they provide a gas safety check, to see that everything is safe, and take combustion readings (which are just noted down. If they are within the legal limits, no action is taken). If you are lucky enough to get a hard-working engineer, they may clean the condensate trap of dirt and (if installed) the magnetic filter). I have attended boiler services which had previously been covered by service companies for 10 years, and the level of crud and dirt was simply beyond belief. Clearly the first few gas engineers had not done anything to the boiler, then subsequent boiler services were skipped because it would have been too messy to work on, so nothing was done. There are no checks on these so called 'Boiler Services', so things get really bad after a few years.

Now bear in mind that a boiler needs the combustion chamber cleaned every few years. This requires replacement seals, and a good hour/ hour and a half to do. All the dirt that builds up gets brushed out in the boiler service and this allows the boiler to heat water and burn gas more efficiently. The maintenance company that you have your service contract with will NEVER do this. Boilers will keep working, they will just get less efficient over time. So, think about it, say you have had a service contract for 10 years, had you had a private boiler service, your boilers combustion chamber would have been cleaned at least 3 times. Service contract customer? NEVER!

Now, moving onto 'peace of mind'. ‘I have a service contact so that I just have one number to call if anything goes wrong’. While with most service companies this is true, with British Gas is certainly isn't. Their customers wait weeks for an appointment, can't get through on the phone, and can't even cancel their contact because they don't have anyone to speak to! British Gas aside, I believe service contracts are a total waste of money. Have a look at the figures below:

Let's take an average service contract, at £20 per month (£240p/a).

The average repair to a faulty boiler, including parts, is around £150-£200. The most expensive repair would be a 'fixed fee' repair direct from the manufacturer, at around £300 for a guaranteed repair and 1 year warranty. This means that, say you have a difficult fault, and your local gas engineer cannot fix the problem, or, the problem lies with the combustion chamber (typically the most expensive part of the boiler at around £400), you can simply call your boiler manufacturer, and have them repair the fault for a fixed price (which is £280 - £320).

Now, on average, you would be unlucky to have a fault with your boiler more than once every 5 years. Your service contract is £240 x 5 = £1200 (and no doubt it will go up every year). Say your combustion chamber leaks, (and you don't have a service contract) you call the local gas guy, he comes out and says "Sorry, bad news, you need a new combustion chamber". He charges you £70 for the diagnosis. You call Worcester, they come out and do a fixed fee repair. Total cost £370. You have saved £830! That's a nice holiday!

If there is another smaller fault, like a faulty sensor, this may only cost £100 to replace.

If you get an annual boiler service, the price would be £70 for the service. That is £350 in 5 years, so you can see, with two faults, and proper annual boiler servicing, you have still saved a lot of money (using all the examples above - £370 + £100 + 5 proper services £350 = £820). And this is a very pessimistic outlook!

OK, but what about your central heating? Winter comes, you turn on the heating, and nothing! Boiler is firing but the radiators are still cold. Hot water is fine. Usually, this is the zone valve that is stuck, and it can be replaced for around £150-£180. Zone valves last around 10 years.

Other faults that may occur are perhaps a leak in a pipe somewhere (£200?), boiler controller dies (£60) etc. So, you can see, to repair the faults as a one-off, rather than having a service contract can save you a fortune!

If you are worried about peace of mind, I would suggest get a list of 10 heating and plumbing engineers (obviously put Gas-It Heating at the top of your list!) then should disaster strike, you have a lot of recommended tradesmen who can come and help. You also build up a relationship over years, which makes fault diagnosis much easier, because the engineer gets to know the quirks of the heating system.

In summary, if you have a local gas engineer service and repair your boiler and central heating system, you will save yourself a LOT of money, and arguably, a lot of hassle, because you don't have to deal with the 'get out' clauses that a lot of these maintenance contracts carry. Please feel free to comment or contact us for more information.



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