In the depths of winter, with our oil boilers running at maximum, there’s a greater chance that you could come home to a cold house and an illuminated lockout light.
What is ‘boiler lockout’ and why does it occur?
When a boiler recognises a fault, most commonly through its flame sensor, it has a safety mechanism to automatically lock-down to prevent further damage. This safeguard is referred to as lockout in oil fired boilers. As well as recognising a problem, the safeguard is designed to prevent additional problems, and one part of the lockout is the interruption of your oil supply. If your oil fired boiler is in lockout then it will need to be reset, to restore function.
If you you’re unsure if your boiler is in lockout mode, check for:
An error code on the digital boiler display or boiler control panel.
A flashing red or green light, or an illuminated orange light.
The causes of an oil boiler lockout vary. Older boilers can be more prone to boiler lockout due to general wear and tear and neglected boilers can lockout because they have not been adequately serviced or maintained . Having your boiler serviced regularly can increase reliablilty and performance.
Another cause could be a blockage or restriction in the system that disrupts the oil feed pressure. A blocked filter on your tank, or a failing fuel pump can reduce the required fuel pressure for efficient safe atomisation and burning. Sometimes you may have simply run out of oil!
You can take your own steps to restart a boiler, if you have adequate oil in your tank, and many boiler manuals list these. But remember: Do not exceed your own ability. A persistent problem will probably require a professional solution.
1. Check the fault code
This will help clarify the problem, and confirm whether you are experiencing boiler lockout or if there is another fault/problem present.
2. Check your oil level
This is best done manually, e.g. dipping the tank with a garden cane, as both electronic and manual gauges can develop faults and give incorrect readings.
3. Reset your boiler
Once you have confirmed a boiler lockout, you can try pressing the reset button. This is usually found near the light or on the control panel. If you are unsure check your boiler manual to find its location.
4. Hire a professional
If your heating oil tank isn’t running low or has run out we’d recommend booking a repair service with an OFTEC registered technician. They can resolve a host of common problems such as blocked nozzles, dirty filters, or air locks, without leaving you with a large bill.
Goff’s two top tips for preventing boiler lockout.
1. Service your boiler annually.
All oil boiler manufacturers, and OFTEC recommend that your oil boiler should be serviced at least once a year. An OFTEC certified engineer will examine the boiler, check that the nozzles are clean and replace any dirty or faulty filters, and ensure your oil tank is in good condition.
2. Keep an eye on you oil supply.
Your boiler will automatically lockout if you run out of oil, so the best way to prevent this is to monitor your oil use and order in good time for the weather conditions.