Home Improvement

Why Are My Boiler Controls Not Working?

What can be better than returning to your warm and cosy house after a long day at work? We bet you have already thought of curling up on the couch with a warm drink and a soft blanket for extra comfort. 

But wait a minute… 

Why is it freezing cold in here? And now the throw blanket is not a cosy attribute of the living room but the only source of heat.

Don’t rush to blame your boiler for the fault – the reason might be simpler than you think! If you have a thermostat or a programmer, then this is where you should start investigating from. In this post, we’ll give you a list of reasons why your boiler controls are not working, and solutions on how to potentially fix it.

Table of Contents:

So, if:

Then read this article until the end. You will certainly find some helpful information!

Time clock programmer problems

If you have a mechanical clock timer installed on your boiler, then the first thing you should be turning to when the radiators come on and off by themselves is exactly this little device. 

One of the most common reasons for the timer to stop working properly is a power outage. Sometimes we might not even notice how the electricity goes off while we are not home. In this situation, a great indicator will be the electronic clock on other appliances around your house. Did they go backwards or reset? Then this is your problem.

Electrical faults can as well cause the timer to reset. If the electrical supply to your boiler is being constantly interrupted or not received at all, your boiler might not fire up when needed. 

Another typical situation is the seasonal clock change. Older models of boilers are not responsive to clock changes, therefore they should be adjusted manually. 

And lastly, your timer might be simply going old. Mechanical parts are prone to wear and tear, whether we want it or not. 


Here is what might give you a hint that you have a faulty central heating timer clock. If your boiler: 

  • Keeps turning on and off when you don’t expect it;
  • Is firing, but there the heating is not working;
  • Turns on and straight off after a short period of time;
  • Doesn’t respond to the settings.

Then, in most cases, the timer clock is not working properly.

If the radiators are cold, the problem might be in a sludge build-up inside or in the faulty radiator valve.


Check the timer settings 

Visually examine the timer settings. As we already mentioned, the timer clock can get confused because of the various reasons – seasonal change, power outage, recent electrical works – anything that can cause the boiler shutting off completely. 

Check if the time settings are correct and day and night are not mixed. A simple solution, in this case, will be to reset the clock and input the desired settings.

Check the power supply

Start your examination from checking if the boiler is receiving power. Is it turned on? What about heating? Some models have separate switches for hot water and radiators. If yes, then move to the fused spur. 

On the front plate of the accessory, you can find a fuse that might have blown up. Usually, it is not hard to locate it, as the front plate has a “fuse” sign on it. Remove the cover and change the fuse to the correct size. Remember, that you should do that only with electrical supply off! 

Did it give any results? If not, then the problem is hidden somewhere else.

Thermostat problems

Timers are an attribute of the older boiler models and might seem inconvenient for some homeowners. Therefore, they prefer to install thermostats that are more responsive and easier to use. 

What does a thermostat look like? Usually, it represents a little device that attaches to the wall. The sensors inside the device allow it to determine the temperature of the room it is located in. The air around the thermostat triggers the heating to turn on and off depending on the required settings – if the temperature is too low, then it will turn it on and vice versa. If something prevents the thermostat from working properly, it might send wrong signals to the boiler and turn it on or off. That is why it is essential to install it in a location that doesn’t have any other appliances or heat sources that will interfere with the temperature interpretation.

Another potential reason could be dying batteries. If the thermostat doesn’t receive enough power, the device might act up, meaning that it will turn on and off and communicate with the boiler incorrectly. As a result, you have a boiler that does not respond to the thermostat.

Sometimes, the problem might be in the debris build-up. The dust and dirt can accumulate over time in the electro-mechanical thermostats, therefore preventing them from functioning properly. 


If the thermostat is at fault, here is what you might experience:

  • The display is not as bright as it used to be;
  • The controls on the thermostat are not responsive;
  • Your boiler is not following the commands set on the thermostat;
  • The radiators stay hot when the thermostat is off and vice versa;
  • The thermostat is not working at all.


Replace the batteries 

In common models of thermostats, the battery outlet can be located under the entire front plate. Depending on the brand and type of your thermostat, the front panel is removed by simply pulling the panel or pressing on the handle that releases the notches, so that you can remove it.

In some cases, you might find the white residue on the batteries – this is the alkaline from the batteries that leaked. Once you see something like that, you can be sure that the batteries are no longer usable. Remove the batteries only with the gloves on, as it might cause skin irritation.

To remove the residue, you need to use a mild acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Simply dab it around the affected area. As soon as it stops fuzzing, you should let it dry and polish with a pencil eraser afterwards. Place new batteries and see if there are changes.

Clean your thermostat

To do that, you need to prepare a soft-material cloth or a soft brush and cotton buds to reach in the narrow spaces. It is important to mention that you shouldn’t touch any of the contact points with bare fingers. 

Take off the front panel of your thermostat and remove the batteries before cleaning the device. Brush the dust, bugs and debris off the thermostat and clean the contacts with cotton buds. Once you remove all the dust, place the cover back and try to run the thermostat. 

Analyse the location of your thermostat

The free airflow is essential for this little box-like device to sense the air temperature. It should be able to feel the changes in the temperature and present it accurately. Therefore, the perfect location will be a clear space without any heating sources or draughts nearby. With that being said, the thermostat shouldn’t be located next to kitchen appliances, windows, doors, air conditioners or in direct sunlight. 

If you notice that something might contribute to misjudgement of temperature, then change the location of the thermostat. Ideally, place it in the centre of your home. 

Check the wiring

Sometimes, the thermostat might not communicate with the boiler because of the faulty wiring or broken components. Unfortunately, unless you have engineering skills, the task might seem quite complicated. That is why the people abstain from dealing with electricity and seek professional help. Annual boiler servicing can help too, as you can eliminate some problems early. Alternatively, if you need to replace the boiler, we also use an installation service too. Check our prices in our article how much to install a boiler.

Digital programmer problems

Digital or electronic programmers are designed to make it easier for consumers to set the time when you want your heating to turn on and off. Unlike the timer programmer, this device allows you to have a freedom of heating controls. You can set the heating to be turned on once a day, twice a day, or have it constantly on.

Exactly the flexibility of controls can actually become confusing for homeowners. We might not even notice how one extra hit on a control button can totally change the settings. 


Don’t hesitate to have a look at your digital programmer, if you notice the following:

  • You have hot water but no heating;
  • Your boiler keeps running when the programmer is off;
  • Central heating programmer display is not working.


Have a look at the settings

First of all, check if your programmer shows the right time. Some of the models are not responsive to seasonal time changes. 

Try to manually reinstall the settings that you prefer to have around the whole week. Your programmer will pose you a “set of questions” in order to confirm the settings. Depending on the model you have, you might have “YES” and “NO” buttons, arrow buttons or an “OKAY” button. Find your manufacturer manual, if the setting adjustment seems confusing. 

Once it’s all set and done, check if it helped the situation.

Reconnect the boiler thermostat with the wireless programmer

If something interrupts the radio frequency connection between your boiler thermostat and the programmer, you need to re-establish the link between the two. When that happens, you can see corresponding symbols on the display of the programmer. 

The way you reconnect the two depend on the unit that you have. Usually, you can find the setup instructions in the manufacturer’s manual.

Restart the programmer

Sometimes, a simple restart is enough to bring the confused programmer to life. Depending on your controls you might need to slide the control bar to the reset settings or choose it manually on the display. 

Can’t fix your boiler controls on your own?

If nothing brought any results, the problem might be more complex than a broken thermostat. Even if you identified the issue yourself, it never hurts to consult with the professionals. You can also consider the idea of investing in a boiler cover plan that includes maintenance of your boiler and controls.

Trust this job to Fantastic Services! Once the plumbers get to the job, they will inspect your central heating system thoroughly to identify where the problem is coming from. No matter the brand, the certified plumbers we work with, are ready to get your central heating system fixed. 

What are you waiting for? Book your boiler repair service, today!

Need a professional to take a look at your heating system?

Book your consultation now!

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH
  • We're certified:


  • If you recently have experienced a power outage, your timer or programmer settings might have reset;
  • Older models of boilers are not responsive to seasonal changes and you’ll have to adjust it manually;
  • Proximity to heat-producing appliances, direct sunlight or draught can confuse thermostat readings;
  • Wireless programmers sometimes lose connection with boilers, therefore they might not communicate properly;
  • One of the most common reasons for the programmers and thermostats not responding to the commands is dead batteries;
  • All of the above signs can indicate more serious central heating problems. In such cases, you need to contact a professional to identify where it comes from.


Did we cover your problem? If not, leave a comment in the comments section down below! Our team will be more than happy to help you out.

Image source: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popo

3.7 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x