Central heating pumps are really important pieces of equipment. They feature in all central heating systems and are responsible for pumping hot water from your boiler to your radiators and back to your boiler. For the most part, they function effectively, efficiently and quietly, without needing any attention. However, as with any devices that have small moving parts, faults can start to occur over time.

It’s important to differentiate between regular central heating pumps and ground or air source heat pumps, which describe whole sustainable heating systems designed for renewable energy sources. Here, we focus on standard central heating pumps that are a component within all heating systems. Depending on the type of system you have, your pump may be located within the boiler casing, close to your boiler or in an airing cupboard.

If you’re wondering how long you can expect these pieces of kit to last, keep reading. Here, we explore the average lifespan of central heating pumps, look at what can go wrong with them and offer advice on how to spot and deal with potential problems. 

How long should a central heating pump last?

What is their typical lifespan?

As long as your central heating system is correctly installed and properly maintained, you can expect the pump to last for a long time. Typically, they keep going for well over 10 years, with some lasting 20 years or more. In fact, because they are normally so robust and reliable, you may never have to think about this component, or even know where it is located within your heating system.

Bear in mind that the quality of the installation you buy will have an impact on how long its components, including its pump, last for.  

Is my central heating pump broken?

Although central heating pumps tend to be very resilient and durable, they can fail for a variety of reasons. For example, they may become clogged up with sludge over a period of time, the bearings could fail or the impeller (which is the rotating part of the component) may wear.

Here are a few warning signs that there is a problem with your central heating pump - along with tips on what to do if these issues arise. Note that these suggestions apply if you can see your central heating pump. If the pump is located inside the boiler, it’s not advisable to take the cover off. Instead, it’s best to call in a professional

A humming or rattling sound

If you notice a humming or rattling sound coming from the pump, this could indicate that it wasn’t installed correctly. It’s important not to ignore this, as the vibrations that cause these sounds can result in long-term wear and tear, and stop the pump from working efficiently. 

To see if this is the problem, check the pump fittings. If you notice any loose screws or bolts, you could try tightening them. However, if you’re not confident attempting this kind of repair yourself, make sure you get a professional plumber or electrician to take a look.

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A knocking noise

If your pump is making a knocking or grating noise, this could be a sign of severe damage inside the component. It’s best to get an expert to check this out. You may require a replacement.

No sound at all

It’s normal for pumps to make a small amount of noise and to vibrate a little while they are working. If yours is completely silent, you may have a jammed impeller. This could be a result of grime and dirt in the system. If this is the case, a heating engineer should be able to flush the system out to unblock it.

Failure to start

If your pump isn’t starting, your central heating system may be failing to activate it, or a fuse may have gone. In cases like this, you’ll need to get a professional in to look at the wiring.

A leak

Water leaks can be a result of loosened pipe connections or failed seals, which are relatively easy fixes. However, don’t delay in getting an engineer to address this problem as water leaks can be dangerous given the close proximity of electrical components. Leaks can also cause a lot of damage to the surrounding area if they aren’t addressed quickly.

If you see brown liquid coming from the pump, this may be a result of corrosion - and if this is the case, you will probably need to get a replacement.

Failure to heat all radiators

If your upstairs radiators are functioning but your downstairs radiators aren’t, this may be a sign that the pump is beginning to fail. If your pump has a pressure dial, you can attempt to turn up the pressure. However, if this doesn’t work, you might need to invest in a more powerful central heating pump.

Noises coming from the central heating system

If your central heating system in general is making strange noises, for example it’s producing a knocking or humming sound, this may suggest that air has entered into the pump. To fix this, you can follow the manufacturer’s manual to bleed the system.

Should my central heating pump be hot?

Because it has to work hard to move water around your central heating system, you can expect the pump to be a little bit warm. However, if it feels hot to the touch, this can be a sign of a potentially serious fault.

So, if you notice that this component seems abnormally warm, don’t delay in getting a heating engineer to check it out.  

Is my pump under warranty?

When you’re buying a new boiler, it’s wise to make sure the appliance comes with a good warranty period that covers all components, including the pump. The vast majority of warranties will, but if you’re unsure, check with the supplier before you make a purchase.

This will give you peace of mind that if there is a problem within the specified period, you won’t be left counting the cost of a repair or replacement. Just make sure that you meet the conditions of the warranty. For example, you will probably be required to get your boiler serviced annually by an approved engineer - and to hold on to proof of this - in order to keep the protection in place. 

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