Boiler services and boiler repairs August 2011
Boiler service and repairs investigated
We reveal the results of our investigation into boiler services and repairs, including how British Gas performs in comparison to local independent gas heating engineers.
Four out of 10 boiler engineers failed to do their job properly in a Which? undercover test - with two recommending hundreds of pounds of unnecessary work.
When we asked 10 boiler engineers - independents and big brands - to service a boiler with a minor fault, we uncovered shoddy workmanship and two engineers ready to undertake hundreds of pounds worth of unnecessary work. We also found that one engineer sub-contracted by national brand Homeserve failed to fully service the boiler.
British Gas fully serviced the boiler - eventually. It took the company three appointments to do the service, firstly because of a booking error and then because the engineer who turned up refused to touch the boiler since it had a minor fault.
Unnecessary boiler repairs
One independent engineer said he wasn't sure what the fault was but it was either the board or the gas valve, and repairs could cost around £500.
Another independent said it would be at least £200 for the part but suggested we might be better off getting a whole new boiler – as repairs would be expensive so they might not be worth doing – and naturally he was available to do the job.
We also found engineers who missed off key checks when servicing the boiler. To find out what a boiler service should involve see the Which? guide to getting a good boiler service. To find a good boiler engineer, Which? members can use Which? Local - our recommendations site where members review tradespeople they've used.
Which? research shows that you're unlikely to save money if you take out a boiler servicing contract. This is because the average spent on a service is £75 and you're unlikely to need repairs.
However, we also know that of the third of Which? members who do have boiler cover do so mainly for peace of mind.
To find out which boiler cover Which? members are most satisfied with, and what the individual policies cover, see our reviews of boiler servicing contracts, which includes British Gas Homecare, Homeserve and Worcester cover.
The boiler companies respond
Homeserve said: 'We employ a robust checking process, including technical audits, and qualifications and good repute checks. Once a contractor works for us we manage their performance closely and have a thorough complaints procedure. Yearly audits ensure high technical and customer service standards.'
British Gas said: 'We work hard to give our customers the best possible service. Our engineers fix 95% of boilers on their first visit. We offer a 24-hour emergency service, and our engineers are available as late as 8pm, seven days a week.'
Getting a new boiler
If you need a new boiler check out our review of boilers - we surveyed members to find out which boiler brands are most reliable. This reviews covers all the major boiler brands including Worcester.