Last updated on December 9th, 2023
If your boiler keeps losing pressure, you are not alone. You shouldn’t need to repressurise your boiler regularly, if you do, you have a problem.
I have been fixing boilers and heating systems for over a decade, and the central heating system losing pressure is normally easy to fix.
In this post, I’ll cover the most common causes of regular pressure loss on a boiler.
Why Does My Boiler Pressure Keep Dropping?
Your boiler losing pressure regularly is most likely for one of these reasons:
- A Leak on the central heating system
- The expansion vessel has lost its air
- Pressure relief valve passing water
- Filling loop is slightly open
The most common problem I get called out to when a boiler is losing pressure is a leak somewhere on the central heating system.
This could be anywhere on the full system: a radiator leaking water, a radiator pipe under the floor, the boiler, literally anywhere on the heating system.
How to find a leak in a central heating system
To find a leak in the central heating system, the first thing to do is check all the radiator valves.
The most common place for a heating system leak is on a radiator valve. Check them all for any signs of water, or old water damage like rust or stains.
Radiator leak fix
Sometimes you can fix a leaking radiator valve by tightening one or some of the nuts on the valve.
There are at least three places a radiator valve can leak from that can be fixed by tightening the nut with an adjustable spanner.
There are two main nuts, one on the pipe at the bottom, and one on the tail coming out of the radiator.
Then there is the gland nut right on top where you turn the valve to open and close it.
You might need to replace the radiator valve if the leak won’t stop after tightening the leaking nut.
After fixing the leak, you should bleed the radiators and repressurise the boiler to 1 bar on the pressure gauge
If the leak is not on a radiator, you should check under the boiler and any other heating pipes on show around the house.
If you can’t find the leak anywhere on your heating system, it could be under the floor.
This means the floor will have to come up, or you can try adding some central heating leak sealer to the system. Leak sealer will only work if your boiler is losing pressure slowly as it will only fix small leaks.
Your pressurised central heating system (combi boilers and system boilers) needs an expansion vessel to take the expansion of the water from the heat when the heating is turned on.
If your system or combi boiler pressure is dropping with no leaks, then a faulty expansion vessel is the most likely cause.
Expansion vessel location
We can find these either inside the boiler or somewhere on your heating pipes, depending on what kind of system you have.
The expansion vessel is full of air, so when the heating is on it takes some of the pressure increase away from your radiators and pipes.
If it loses air (quite common), then your boiler pressure will rise too high when you turn the heating on, causing it to reach over 3 bar of pressure.
This will cause the pressure relief valve (safety device), to release all the water (pressure) outside and take your pressure to 0 bar on the pressure gauge.
This is why your boiler is losing pressure.
How to fix the expansion vessel problem
To fix this problem, you need to either recharge your expansion vessel by pumping it up with a pump, or if that doesn’t work, and the diaphragm inside the vessel is split, you will have to replace the expansion vessel.
Pressure Relief Valve
All combi boilers and pressurised heating systems must have a safety device called a pressure relief valve (PRV).
A PRV protects your central heating system from building up too much pressure and causing a radiator or boiler to blow up.
PRVs can leak because they get little bits of debris or dirt stuck in them when they open to release the high pressure.
Slow Pressure Drop? If your boiler pressure keeps dropping slowly and it’s not rising to 3 bar first, you should check your copper blow-off (overflow) pipe outside for dripping water.
If it’s dripping, you will need to replace the pressure relief valve.
You need to make sure the pressure is not rising before replacing the pressure relief valve because the new PRV will leak if something is causing the pressure to rise.
Another reason for losing pressure could be your filling loop being open or broken.
This will cause the pressure to rise to 3 bar and the PRV to blow it off outside.
Sometimes the valves on the filling loop are not closed properly after topping the pressure up, causing the system to slowly fill with too much water and pressure.
Or, maybe the valve just doesn’t close fully anymore because of dirt or damage inside and the filling loop valve needs to be replaced.
I have been called out to fix a boiler where the filling loop was left fully open when the customer thought it was closed.
The water was constantly blowing off outside through the PRV pipe like a tap, but the customer hadn’t noticed as the heating was still working.
There was still enough pressure because the mains water pressure constantly flowed through the PRV.
Before replacing the PRV, always make sure you have fixed any other problems first, as you might be wasting your time.
If your boiler is losing pressure because of the expansion vessel or filling loop, then you might have to replace the PRV as well.
Once the PRV has blown water out, sometimes they never quite close properly again.
Boiler Pressure Rising to 3 Bar
If your boiler pressure is rising to 3 bar, then having a leak is not causing the boiler to constantly lose pressure. This is almost always caused by your expansion vessel not doing its job.
Your boiler pressure rising to 3 bar could also be caused by the filling loop constantly letting water into the heating system, but this is a lot less common.
Make sure your filling loop for repressurising the boiler is fully closed (it might need replacing).
When your boiler pressure rises to 3 bar it will cause your boiler to keep losing pressure.
The pressure relief valve is set to let the water out of your central heating system when it reaches 3 bar.
This is a safety device which means the pressure relief valve is doing its job and telling you there is a problem elsewhere, causing the boiler pressure to keep rising before it drops.
How to Release Pressure From Boiler
To release pressure from the boiler, you need to let the water out of your heating system when your boiler pressure is too high.
If your boiler pressure keeps rising, or you repressurise the boiler too much, you might need to release the pressure.
Here are four ways to reduce the boiler pressure:
- Use a hose to drain some water out of the system from a drain-off valve
- Open a radiator bleed valve with a bleed key and catch the water in a bucket
- Turn the red plastic knob on the pressure relief valve
- Crack a nut on a radiator or the boiler and let it run into a tray or bucket
Boiler Pressure Guides
- Glow-worm boiler pressure
- Baxi boiler pressure
- Worcester boiler pressure
- Vaillant boiler pressure
- Potterton boiler pressure
- Ideal boiler pressure
- Vokera boiler pressure
If your boiler loses pressure constantly then finding out the cause is the first step to fixing it.
You might need to call a heating engineer if you need to replace any of the parts mentioned but here are 3 potential easy fixes without having to replace parts:
- Close the filling loop fully
- Recharge the expansion vessel
- Add a bottle of leak sealer to the system to fix a small leak
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below and I’ll try my best to help.
Please share this post if you find it helpful.
Can a boiler lose pressure without a leak?
Yes! A boiler can definitely lose pressure without a leak.
A leak is the most common cause of pressure loss, but it could also be caused by an expansion vessel problem, a pressure relief valve problem, a filling loop problem, or by bleeding the radiators.
Can a dripping tap cause boiler pressure to drop?
No, a dripping tap can not cause boiler pressure to drop. A dripping tap is not connected to your central heating system, so a kitchen or bathroom tap dripping is impossible to affect your boiler pressure.
How often should a boiler lose pressure?
A boiler should never lose pressure unless there is a problem. If your central heating is losing pressure slowly, then you might have a small leak in the central heating system.
You might be able to fix this leak by adding a bottle of leak sealer to the system.
What should boiler pressure be?
Your boiler pressure should be around 1 bar when the heating is off and the system is cold. If it drops below 1 bar, then you should repressurise your boiler.
When the heating is on, it’s normal for the pressure gauge to be around 2 bar.
Is low boiler pressure dangerous?
No, low boiler pressure is not dangerous. If your boiler pressure is too low then the boiler will not work but it will not make it dangerous.
You should repressurise the boiler if you have low pressure to stop it from breaking down when you really need it.