Winter is still some way off, but summer doesn’t mean you get to ignore your oil tank and boiler system just because you don’t need your heating very often. Summer is actually the time to do the groundwork on your heating system so it runs problem-free all through the winter. One big problem many people run into is so-called boiler lockout.
What is it?
Modern boilers are designed so that they automatically shut down when there’s a problem. This prevents further damage and helps to keep you safe. It also prevents you from using your oil supply, in the case of oil-fired systems. If your oil boiler locks out, you’ll need to reset it.
You’ll know you’re in lockout if there’s an error code on your display or there’s a red or green light flashing.
Causes of oil boilers locking out
Age is a factor, with older boilers being more prone to lockout because of wear and tear. Regular servicing can reduce this risk, as well as give you advanced notice of needing a replacement.
Anything that causes high or low pressure can also cause lockout, such as a blockage somewhere. Sludge is often behind low boiler pressure, so using additives in your home heating oil is a good idea, as these break down the sludge and make your boiler more efficient.
Sometimes the lockout happens because of something more serious – failing safety controls, for example. If you can’t get into your boiler after following the steps below, then leave it alone and call a professional in.
How to solve lockout
Check your fault code
This will tell you if it is lockout or something else.
If it is lockout
Attempt to reset your boiler. The reset button is most often near the light, but check your manual to make sure.
Look at your oil levels
If pressing reset does nothing, check the tank as boilers usually lockout when the oil levels are low so debris isn’t sucked into the system.
Call in a technician
If none of these steps work, then you need a repair with a registered engineer. Most often the problems are caused by dirty filters, blocked nozzles or air pockets, which are short work for an experienced professional.
How to prevent a lockout going forward
There are some steps you can take to reduce the chance of this problem occurring.
Turn off your boiler when you’re receiving a delivery, as the influx of new oil can stir up any debris that’s collected and this can end up being pulled into the system.
Book an annual boiler service
All boilers need an annual service at the very least. Your engineer will look the boiler over, release any trapped air pockets, replace clogged filters and make sure the nozzles are clean.
Use oil additives
These additives break down sludge and slow down its formation so that there’s less chance of it hitting the boiler system.
Never run out of oil
Your boiler will go into lock out when oil levels become critically low, so keep an eye on your oil and keep your tank topped up.