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What is a Central Heating Pump?


While your boiler heats water for your home, the central heating pump is what pushes it round your pipes and through your radiators. Without the pump there’s no central heating, so when it develops a fault it’s clearly a big deal.

Here’s what you need to know about central heating pumps, the problems a broken one can cause, how to get it fixed and what it’s likely to cost you.

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What and Where is a Central Heating Pump?

The pump is a small but crucial part of your heating system which is usually located close to the boiler or sometimes in an airing cupboard. It will pump hot water around your pipes so every radiator is heated and then return the water back to the boiler.

The pump needs to be able to do this at enough speed that the water doesn’t have time to cool down on its journey and even the radiators furthest from the boiler get water as hot as the closest.

Central Heating Pump Speed Settings

As the pump needs to be able to get the hot water around your whole home before the water cools, the speed of the pump is important. The more radiators you have the faster the pump will need to work to make this possible which is why there is why a central heating pump isn’t a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment. Some pumps come with speed settings so they can be adjusted to suit different sizes of home.

The speed of your central heating pump is also important when it comes to keeping energy bills to a minimum.

A heating pump which is set up too fast is working harder than it needs to and will be wasting energy, making unnecessary noise and may wear out faster than it should. A slow heating pump won’t heat all your radiators adequately. This can also cause the boiler too overheat and if you don’t realise that this is the problem you may find yourself turning the thermostat up to compensate and using more energy.

A professional heating engineer will be able to assess the best speed of central heating pump for your home.

Types of Central Heating Pump

There are several types of central heating pump with different speed settings:

  • Single Speed: Best suited to smaller homes with up to 10 radiators but these pumps aren’t as popular any more because of their limited functionality.
  • Multiple Speed: These will often have 3 speed settings so the speed can be adjusted to suit different homes.
  • Variable Speed: Some central heating pumps can automatically adjust their speed setting as your heating is working. These pumps aren’t suitable for you if your radiators have thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) as it could damage your boiler.
  • Combination: Combination pumps let you choose between one of 3 fixed speeds or a variable setting.
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    Signs of a Broken Central Heating Pump

    Problems and faults with central heating pumps need to be fixed. If you’re experiencing any of the following issues then we recommend contacting a professional engineer to get it sorted as soon as possible.

    Heating Pump ProblemWhat’s Happening?
    Leaking pumpThis could be the result of poor installation, the pump loosening over time or corrosion.
    Radiators not heating properlySpeed settings on the pump might be too low. The pump may have a switch that can be easily adjusted from 1-3 (1 being the slowest, 3 being the highest) but if you’re in any doubt we recommend contacting a professional engineer.
    Loud noises from the pumpThis could be due to a buildup of air in the system which may be able to be fixed by unscrewing the bleed screw to let air escape.
    Not pumping waterIf the pump has been working for several years it may be that a part has worn out and it needs to be replaced.
    BlockageOver time dirt, rust and grime can build up in your system and block the flow of water through the pump. A professional engineer will need to flush the system to clear the blockage.

    To prevent this from happening, a magnetic filter can be installed which will catch debris before it has chance to block the system.

    How Much do Central Heating Pumps Cost?

    On average a central heating pump costs between £80 – £200 but some very high quality models can cost up to £300. Remember, it’s a hugely important part of your heating system so when it comes to replacing a central heating pump, it’s not the time to cut corners – you should go for the best quality you can afford.

    These potential costs don’t include installation, which will vary depending on the installer carrying out the work. To find the best deal, you should always compare quotes from several installers.

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