Servicing your gas boiler is vital to keep it running smoothly and to protect the environment and ensure your safety. So be smart – follow the experts’ recommendations!
There’s nothing worse than being faced with a broken heating system in the middle of winter. This particularly unpleasant situation means having to find an emergency heating engineer, which can be quite a challenge when demand is high. So how can this type of problem be avoided? Having your gas boiler serviced regularly seems the obvious solution if you know how to organize it.
In Belgium, having your gas boiler serviced involves two different operations: the periodic inspection and the annual service.
The periodic inspection is compulsory every two years for all central heating boilers. In addition, it must be carried out by an approved professional. This is major maintenance work.
It consists mainly of three things:
It is also an opportunity to check the combustion quality and the boiler’s compliance with the regional requirements of the EPB (Energy Performance of Buildings) heating regulations. These regulations have two objectives: preventing atmospheric pollution caused by central heating systems and reducing energy consumption.
The regular boiler service (usually annual) involves minor maintenance. It differs from the periodic inspection in that it does not check compliance with the EPB requirements. Clearly, this minor maintenance is not necessary in the years when the obligatory periodic inspection is carried out. It should also be noted that although an annual service is legally required for oil boilers, it is still optional for gas boilers, provided that the two-yearly EPB inspection is carried out as required. However, you are strongly advised to remain vigilant and have your gas boiler serviced every year.
Did you know that the periodic inspection and the annual service are supplemented by the assessment, or “heating audit”? This involves a detailed review of the central heating system to assess its energy performance and detect any loss of efficiency. In Brussels, the audit must take place in the year before or after the boiler is fifteen years old. In Wallonia, however, it needs to be done at the time of the first (or the next) periodic inspection and after any changes to the system. Finally, in Flanders, an assessment must be carried out every five years.
In all three regions, therefore, it is compulsory to have your natural gas boiler serviced in accordance with the EPB requirements. Although each region has defined a strict legal framework in this area, the rules are becoming increasingly standardized.
Since 1 January 2019, people living in Brussels have had to arrange a periodic inspection for their gas boiler every two years, instead of every three years.
In Flanders, this two-yearly requirement has already been in place since 2007. In addition, the Flemish Region also requires the combustion gas flue to be cleaned at the same time. For Walloon residents, it is also obligatory for the inspection to be carried out every two years, except for boilers with a heat output of 100 kW or less (in which case the period is three years).
It is important to note that, as mentioned above, the periodic inspection must be carried out by an approved technician, unlike the regular service. At the end of the procedure, the technician will give you a signed service certificate summarizing the condition of the boiler. Tip: make sure you keep at least the two most recent certificates. These may be required if you need to be inspected.
Finally, consider making an appointment to have your boiler serviced during the summer. This is the time of year when heating engineers are most available. Many people tend not to think about it until the autumn, when the temperatures start to fall, but appointments are much harder to come by at that time. Sometimes you might have to wait several weeks for your heating engineer to service your boiler.
On average, it costs between €110 and €130 including VAT to service a condensation boiler or another type of gas boiler. But the figure may be higher if there are parts to be replaced or if call-out costs are charged.
To avoid any nasty surprises when the technician has finished, ask what the cost will be when you make the appointment. Better still, request a non-binding quote from several technicians. This will ensure that you receive the best price, or at least the best value for money.
To keep the cost down, you can sign up for a service plan, also known as a maintenance contract, with an energy supplier or a specialist company. The aim of such a plan is to entrust the future maintenance of your system to a single heating company. There are many benefits to this type of contract:
If you decide to take out a maintenance contract, you can negotiate the amount you will pay by emphasizing your commitment over the long term. In most cases, it will cost between €150 and €200 for a service every two years.
If you are unsure which boiler servicing contract to choose, the first (and safest) thing to do is always to check what the contract includes. Depending on the package and the provider, it might, in addition to inspecting the boiler, include call-out charges, flue cleaning, radiator and thermostat maintenance, and the cost of spare parts (all or only some). Please note that if you encounter a problem that is not covered, it is highly likely that you will have to pay to sort it out it, whether you use the same heating engineer or someone different.
Who has to pay for gas boiler maintenance in Belgium: the tenant or the landlord?
As specified in most lease agreements, the tenant is responsible for keeping the property in good condition, which includes regularly servicing the heating and hot water systems. It is therefore in the tenant’s interests to keep the invoices for the periodic inspections and annual services so that they can be shown to the landlord where necessary – if a problem arises, for example.
Sometimes, the lease agreement specifies that the landlord can schedule the boiler’s periodic inspections or maintenance. The landlord is then usually able to claim reimbursement for the work from the tenant.
Note that the obligations in terms of servicing a gas boiler are different from the rules on repairs. If the system breaks down, the cause of the damage will determine who is responsible. Basically, if it is due to age, normal wear and tear or force majeure (an unforeseeable and unavoidable event), the landlord will be responsible for repairs. If, on the other hand, it is due to incorrect handling or damage caused by the tenant, it will be up to the tenant to pay for repairs.
Why should you have your boiler serviced so often? In addition to being a requirement, this procedure offers a number of advantages and can help prevent unfortunate disasters.
Why should you have your gas boiler serviced? Because this procedure offers several advantages, whether you have a condensing boiler or another type:
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The price of an annual boiler service or periodic inspection can seem high. However, it is an essential expense. If you postpone your boiler maintenance, you run the risk of a fine if you are inspected, and of being turned down by your fire insurance company if you need to make a claim.
And remember that, ultimately, your boiler will cost you money if you don’t maintain it, because cleaning it improves its energy performance and limits component wear and tear. If you neglect your boiler maintenance, you can easily find yourself having to pay much higher heating bills than you would pay with a clean, efficient boiler.
While Belgian law requires central heating systems to be serviced, it is less demanding when it comes to gas stoves and water heaters. There is no obligation to have them inspected regularly. However, it is strongly recommended that you do so if you want to avoid any risk to your health and safety and make your appliance last as long as possible. To find out the required service frequency, check the appliance’s user manual or ask the manufacturer.
Want to know more about the various stoves, boilers and heating fuels available on the Belgian market? Do you have any questions about servicing gas boilers and burners? If so, please contact our advisers by phone on 0800 37 456 or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).