Boiler Timer Not Working? Here’s Why!

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Last updated: October 31, 2023

Nobody wants to return to the dark ages of relying on wood and coal fires to heat their homes. That’s why when you notice that your boiler timer isn’t working, it often seems like a major catastrophe. As the most important part of the central heating system, you should deal with the broken heating timer on your boiler immediately. Additionally, it’s important to diagnose a faulty boiler timer correctly first time, as plumbers and heating engineers sent out to deal with the boiler timers of disgruntled owners who bought a new timer to solve the problem often find that the timer not working wasn’t the problem.

We don’t believe in wasting unnecessary money heating engineers and new boiler timers to find solutions. As a result, we’ve put together a handy guide with the key questions you need answered to solve your central heating problems quickly and effectively.

Electric water heater

What Your Boiler Timer Should Work Like

For starters, it’s important to grasp how a timer should work so you can quickly identify any problems. Essentially, when you turn your hot water tap on, warm water should instantly come out.

As certain households use more hot water during certain days than others, a good boiler timer will allow flexibility to meet these demands. Say, for example, one person in a household has their shower in the morning whereas the other has it at night. You can ensure the hot water doesn’t run out by setting your boiler controls to ensure that the hot water is on and ready to go at these specific times, saving both time, frustration, and energy.

On a similar note, timers are economical when it comes to controlling the heating. Are you out at work during the day? Setting the timer on your boiler so the heating doesn’t turn on is a clever move to save some cash. The only downside to this timer control is that timers – most that consist of a round dial with the 24-hour clock in the middle – don’t have the capabilities to adapt to different routines such as ensuring the heating is on during weekend days.

Common Boiler Timer Faults

Thankfully, many common boiler timer faults are incredibly easy to fix. That’s why we’ve taken a look at the most common reasons for common boiler timer faults below. More often than not, they’re not “faults” as such, but easy fixes!

You’ve forgotten that the clocks changed: Although certain boilers account for the changes between Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time, many older models do not. This could be the reason why you’re feeling ever so cold in the morning!

Your boiler timer clock reset along with a power cut: Have you endured any power cuts in your home lately? Often, a power cut throws boiler time settings out of whack and resets the clock entirely.

A boiler fuse has tripped: Check your fuse board (otherwise referred to as a customer unit) that controls your home’s electricity supply. If you notice that the switch is pointing down, this indicates that the fuse has tripped and the circuit carrying power to your boiler is off. Hopefully flicking this switch back up will restore power to the boiler!

Has the fuse blown?: If you’ve followed the instructions above and flicked the switch up to find that your timer clock still isn’t responding, now check that your fuse hasn’t blown by finding the switch that turns your boiler off. Removing the fuse with an electrical screwdriver to replace it with a new one should get your boiler back up and running.

How Do I Reset My Boiler Timer?

Despairing homeowners, don’t fret – often, resetting the timer on a boiler is a quick and easy task. We’ve listed how to tackle this task on both standard and digital timers in bullet points below:

Standard timers

  • Set the current time: First and foremost, turn the dial clockwise on your timer to set the current time. The clock should be obvious in the middle of the timer.
  • Choose the best time for your boiler to turn on: Now turning your attention to the dial tabs, the heating times should be selected by pushing the little tabs in or out. Each pin represents a period of fifteen minutes, so slide in what times you need heat in your home and slide out the times when you don’t.
  • Activate the timer function on your boiler: We find that many homeowners fail to activate the timer function on the boiler itself, even after carrying out the other steps. Most timers include an on, off, and timer switch nearby the timer itself. If you can’t see it anywhere, have a look around or research your specific model online or in your instruction manual.

Digital timers

The interface on digital timers for boilers is often more advanced and often leads to confusion, especially if you’ve been used to working with a standard timer for many years.

  • Make sure the boiler is showing the current time: Although many control panels show the correct current time automatically given their high-tech capabilities, adjust it yourself with the help of the instruction manual. Make sure you check whether the time you’ve set is to AM or PM! Believe it or not, this is a common “quick fix” that users overlook.
  • Change the heating schedule: Selecting the “set time”, “set clock”, or “program” options should allow you to flexibility to change the heating schedule to meet your own needs. Most digital timers contain arrows to adjust to different days of the week for shift workers too. Remember to set the heating timer to go on around half an hour before you actually require the heat.
  • Select “run”: To confirm your changes, find the button that says “run” or “set” so you can enjoy all the perks that your digital timer has to offer!

If setting the timer on the boiler still isn’t working, we also recommend resetting the boiler itself – what those in the industry refer to as a “soft reset”. Find the power switch on your boiler to turn it off and wait for around sixty seconds before switching it back on at the wall. Be patient as your boiler often takes a little time to reboot itself.

Man hand setting the room temperature

How to Quickly Fix Broken Boiler Timers

There are many quick fixes for broken timers controlling the boiler. In order to solve your boiler timer problems, you’ll firstly have to identify what type of boiler you actually own. There are three main types of boilers, each type susceptible to varying types of timer faults.

Combi Boiler

A combi (combination) boiler is a single unit that serves the heating and hot water functions in a home. The number of homes with combi boilers has increased dramatically in recent years, given that they’re extremely efficient systems to own.

As the mechanisms controlling combi boilers are advanced, the quick fixes are often solved by having a fiddle around with their settings.

  • Zone control: As many timers on combi boilers boast a “zone control” option – when different parts of the central heating system can be turned on and off dependent on your household’s needs –we recommend tinkering with your timer to ensure the zone control is set correctly. Hopefully, the only fix for your broken timer is that your downstairs heating wasn’t programmed to turn on the same time as your upstairs heating!
  • Thermostat: Often, the quick timer fix isn’t actually a timer fix after all – more like a thermostat fix! As combi boilers are directly linked to the heating, your thermostat may just be set too low.

Check out our review on: Nest Vs Hive: Which Is The Best Smart Thermostat

Standard/Regular and System Boilers

These traditional models commonly reside in older properties and rely on a cold-water storage tank to maintain the water cylinder and ensure the central heating system’s water level remains stable. A system boiler requires a hot water cylinder for the heated water to be stored, although unlike traditional models, they don’t rely on a cold-water storage tank.

  • Old age: As condensing boilers are the standard these days, it may be that the timer on your boiler is just decrepit from old age! Alternatively, your thermostat could be decrepit.

Don’t Despair If Your Boiler Timer is Unfixable

Unfortunately, broken boilers timers are quite often unfixable – especially when your boiler timer is an older model. Don’t beat yourself up about the cost and instead, consider it buying a new boiler clock to be a worthwhile investment. Intelligent heating systems have come a long way in recent years from the old mechanical clock designs. In fact, the most sophisticated timers are controllable from smartphones through apps that deal with room thermostat. Therefore, any money spent on a timer for your boiler will change your quality of life for the better.

On the other hand, if you aren’t a homeowner and rent out a flat, it is the responsibility of your landlord to ensure your heating and hot water are running efficiently. For that reason, don’t spend any of your own money on a new timer unless they’ve offered to refund it in full.

Fiddling around the boiler timers may be a time-consuming task. But with the right amount of persistence, you’ll have a functioning heating system again in no time!


  1. How to set a timer on a boiler – Viessmann
  2. If your heating isn’t working – British Gas