Boiler breakdowns can feel like a total headache no matter what the cause or when they happen!

When the timer fails on a boiler, the part can seem such an essential element to the running of the boiler, plus in some circumstances this part failure can imitate that the entire heating system is broken, however this is not always the case.

In this post we will explore the reasons behind a timer faulting as well as providing some troubleshooting tips on what to check to resolve the matter.

It is worth noting that some scenarios will require the assistance of a specialist Gas Safe engineer in order to safely confirm the diagnosis of the fault and undertake any repairs.

What a Boiler Timer Should Do

A functioning timer on a boiler should enable a programme to be set those controls when the heating and hot water are turned on.  The programme is commonly set to mimic the household requirements around their daily routines and should provide an economical method of controlling the heating.

Common Boiler Timer Faults

Thankfully most of the very common timer faults are due to events that can take place, and therefore one identified, can be easily fixed. The most common faults are as follows:

  • The clocks changing – Within the UK the clocks change twice a year, however some boilers are do not automatically adjust for the time difference, and therefore the programme will go out of sync. In this case, there should be an easy fix by manually changing the time by one hour on the timer unit on the boiler.  Should you need further guidance on how to change the time, refer to the boiler’s manual.
  • A power cut – Some older boilers may not restart following a power cut and therefore will require a manual reset. In you are unsure on how to complete this, please refer to the boiler’s manual.
  • A tripped boiler fuse – Another common issue is a tripped boiler fuse, which would need to be checked via the household fuse board. Should a fuse be down, follow the instructions in order to switch it back on again safely.  If the fuse keeps tripping, there could be a more serious electrical fault and therefore a qualified heating engineer would need to be called out to investigate the matter further.

How to Reset the Boiler Timer

Some of the scenarios as discussed above may require the boiler to be reset.  Always refer to the boiler manual should you need any additional information on how to complete this.

How to Set a Standard Timer

In order to set a traditional dial timer, turn the dial clockwise to set the current time.   Should you need to set or amend the programme then the programming setting function would need to be activated by moving the switch to the clock setting.

Once this is in place then the homeowner or engineer can review the current settings by viewing the pins around the outside of the dial.  Should any changes be required, the pins that commonly represent 15 minutes each can be pushed up or down in order to make the appropriate routine.

Once the programme is correct, the switch would need to be moved out of the programming mode.

Digital Timers

Digital timers are commonly easier to operate and amend.  In addition, digital timers usually have more functionality including differing between weekdays and weekend in order to create a more specific programme.

Similar steps would need to be carried out as mentioned above, including ensuring that
boiler is showing the current time, and amending the time and programme as needed via

using the buttons on the device.  Each model will differ slightly and therefore it is always best to refer to the boiler’s manual for specific instructions.

How to Fix Broken Timers

As we have briefly discussed, there are many different makes and models of boiler timers and therefore we cannot be specific regarding the steps required in order to fix each type of make and model, however please some general tips below.

Combi Boiler

Combi boilers are popular types of boilers that supply both heating and hot water and tend to have digital timers. Although most combi-boilers are fairly modern devices and therefore will likely have further model specific guides online, they can be more complicated than their predecessors and therefore if in any doubt regarding the concern then a qualified heating engineer should be called out.

Standard and System Boilers

Standard and system boilers tend to have the dial timers that can fail due to their age.

Should the simple checks have been undertaken and the timer not be restarted, then it is highly recommended that a qualified heating engineer should be called out in order to provide further assistance, confirming the matter and quoting for any parts as necessary in order to get the boiler up and running again.

Unfixable Timers

Unfortunately, even the best made boiler parts do not last forever and therefore if a qualified heating engineer cannot fix the part or not be able to source the specific part anymore, a new timer may be required.

If the price quoted is very high and the boiler itself is also aging, it may be more economical in the long run to replace both the boiler and the timer. New boilers will likely save energy costs for the household, as well as being supplied with a new warranty protecting parts for a set period which also provides peace of mind.


In this guide we have discussed a range of common faults that can occur with boiler times, including providing some troubleshooting tips, as well as advising when it would be more appropriate and safer to call in a qualified heating engineer.

Unfortunately, due to the variety of boiler brands and models available, we cannot be specific regarding our advice and therefore it is always worth checking the boiler manual for further guidance or if this is not available, searching the internet for your specific boiler model.

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