Add up to £30,000 to the value of your property with these home renovation projects

British households plough almost £30billion into home improvement projects each year – building extensions, erecting conservatories and converting lofts throughout the country.

There’s no question that investing in your home is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your hard earned cash. But which of the many renovation options on offer will put the most money back into your pocket?

In this week’s blog post, we take a look at four of the most popular home renovation projects on Bark to discover which of them will add the most value to your home.

Cash in on spare garden space with a conservatory

Done correctly, a conservatory costing between £4,000 and £10,000 could increase your home’s value by 5%. Given that the typical UK home is worth £216,750, that’s an average increase of around £10,800.

“Conservatories will add value to a home,” says the National Association of Estate Agents’ managing director, Mark Hayward. “But they need to be made with quality materials and provide a lot of light for the value to be significant.”

Conservatories are cheaper than full home extensions, they don’t require planning permission and they can often be completed within a week or two.

Remember that the ideal conservatory is a stylish segue between your indoor and outdoor spaces. So choose a design that strikes a good balance by adding the extra room without taking up too much garden space.

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Add 20% to your home’s value with a loft conversion

Experts agree that creating the space for an extra bedroom in your house is the easiest way to increase its resale value.

One of the most popular ways of doing this is by converting your unused attic space, with one Nationwide Building Society survey suggesting a loft conversion could add up to 20% to the value of your home.

How much your loft conversion will cost depends on the structure and accessibility of your building. But a typical quote from a builder will be somewhere in the region of £10,000-£15,000.

Work can often be completed in as little as six weeks and, unless you’re altering the roofline of your building, you may be able to go ahead with the project without obtaining planning permission.

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Create a spectacular showpiece with a new kitchen

If you are only going to improve one room in your house, says TV property expert Phil Spencer, you should make it the kitchen.

“This has now become the showpiece of the home,” he explains. “The number one priority is creating a handsome and efficient work surface and ensuring easy access between the three points of the kitchen triangle – that is, the sink, fridge and cooker.”

“Install equipment that is as up to date as possible, so it won’t look outmoded in 10 years,” he adds. “And make sure the price bracket of your kitchen matches the price bracket of your house. There is no point putting a £25,000 kitchen in a £250,000 house.”

Phil says a new kitchen will typically add 4.6% to the value of your house – which translates to nearly £10,000 for the average UK home.

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Transform your home with a property extension

Adding square footage to your home is pretty much a surefire way to boost its value, and there are a range of extension options you can choose from.

Single storey extensions like kitchens, living rooms or dining areas often don’t require planning permission – while a reputable builder should be able to handle getting permission to go ahead with larger renovation projects.

As with any building work, it’s important to compare several quotes before hiring someone. A poor extension can actually damage your home’s resale value, so take the time to shop around until you find the best pro for the job.

Expect to pay upwards of £20,000 for the project and add around 11% to the value of your home – which translates to £28,800 for the average UK home.

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How to get your garden ready for springtime without lifting a finger

With the recent wintry weather behind us, gardeners up and down the country are heading outside to prepare their gardens for spring.

But, here at Bark, we understand that not everyone wants to spend their spare time shovelling dirt. In the aftermath of Storm Doris, we’ve seen a surge in the number of people requesting gardening and fence repair services on our site – and we think they have the right idea.

Here’s how to complete those essential garden chores and get your outdoor space ready for springtime without ever lifting a finger.

Effortlessly repair damaged fencing

Last week’s stormy weather wrought havoc up and down the country, with 100mph winds buffeting coastlines, destroying fences and causing an estimated £100million worth of damage.

Collecting new timber, removing broken fence panels and digging out stubborn posts can be exhausting work. But there’s no reason you should have to be the one to do it! Place a Bark now to get quotes from local fence repair specialists fast and free.

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Clear the gutters without getting your hands dirty

Allowing your gutters to become clogged with leaves and debris can cause serious structural damage to your home, and it’s all too easy to forget about them until something goes badly wrong.

That’s why, at this time of year it’s a great idea to don a pair of heavy gloves, climb a ladder and give those neglected pipes a good seeing to. Or, if you’d prefer not to get your hands dirty, click the link below now and hire someone to do it for you.

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Prune shrubs and trees without breaking a sweat

The end of winter is a time for pruning back unwanted branches on your trees and shrubs to make way for new growth.

This is an essential task if you want your plants to remain healthy, safe and growing into an attractive shape. But tree surgery can be dangerous work if you’ve never done it before, and if you’re in any doubt about what you’re doing it’s best left to a professional.

So why not hire an expert to prune your garden this spring? Click the link below and we’ll put you in touch with local pruning specialists fast and free.

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Get your garden ready for spring today

In just a few weeks’ time, you’ll be relaxing in the garden with a cool glass of wine. But there’s a lot to get through before then to get your outdoor space looking its best – from weeding beds and repairing trellises to planting bulbs for the year ahead.

Hiring a professional gardener is the best way to tackle those necessary chores quickly and with a minimum of hassle, so your family can enjoy relaxing outside during the warm summer months.

So forget planting, weeding, mowing and seeding. Place a Bark now to get your garden ready for spring without lifting a finger, and find a great pro to keep it looking great all year round.

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Elite Pro Interview: How to hire a great interior designer for your home

Hiring an interior designer is a smart move if you want your home to look its best. Even if you have a natural flare for decorating, drafting in a professional can be an easy way to save time and money.

Whether you already have an idea of what you want, or are starting the project from scratch, a skilled interior designer will work with you to create the home of your dreams.

Here’s what three of our Elite Pros have to say about the best way to hire an interior designer for your next home makeover project.

What services can an interior designer provide?

You can hire an interior designer for projects of all shapes and sizes, from renovating a single room to an ongoing relationship to help you reimagine your living space many times over the years.

But whatever the scope of your home improvement project, the role your interior designer will play can be broken down into three phases: 1) concept design, 2) detailed specifications and 3) implementation.

“Implementation sources and delivers all goods and provides input to the build process on site if required,” explains Decodence’s Elina Helenius. “The concept provides an idea of the desired end state – finishes, materials and layout. The detailed design provides drawings for layout changes.”

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Decodence cultivated an air of class for this boutique winery

What should you ask before hiring someone as your interior designer?

Before you begin contacting interior designers, you should have a rough idea of what your home improvement project will involve. Take a look at the space and think about which features you’re ready to change, as well as what impact your lifestyle will have on the finished space.

“Give the designer as much information as you can – including budget, styles, colours, any photos, swatches anything that inspires you,” says Hazel Nutting from Hazel’s Interiors. “And don’t forget to mention any items that you may want to keep.”

She adds: “When choosing an interior designer, you will need to find someone that you get on well with. I believe that if you like their portfolio it will help the process.”

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Hazel’s Interiors created this light and airy country home

When you book an interior designer, what happens next?

When you find an interior designer you think you can work with, the next step is to meet in person and hammer out the details of your project.

“The process starts with a first consultation to find out the details of your project and your personal preferences,” explains Dennis Teepe, from Bespoqe Interiors. “Once appointed as your Interior Designer I will provide you with first design ideas and drafts.”

He adds: “After the concept design has been agreed, I will prepare a detailed design including colour schemes, fabrics and furniture recommendations. Sourcing suitable suppliers, overseeing the order and delivery process as well as project management is all part of our service.”

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A stylish fireplace centrepiece courtesy of Bespoqe Interiors

How much does hiring an interior designer cost?

The cost of hiring an interior designer can vary wildly depending on the scope of the job and the experience of the professional in question.

“Anyone can set up as an interior designer, and there are many advertising their services who are both untrained and unqualified,” says Hazel. “Their services may be cheaper but the service you receive will be very different and may not meet your requirements. I would make sure that the designer you choose is both qualified and insured too.”

Every interior designer will work differently and charge accordingly – either by the room, on a percentage basis, or even as a fixed lump sum. Comparing quotes from a selection of qualified pros is the best way to ensure the job is done at a price that works for you.

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Why should you hire an interior designer for your next redecorating project?

Hiring an interior designer to remodel your home does more than just save you weeks of time and effort – it can also save you money.

“Updating and decorating your home can be a daunting process for many who just don’t know where to start or how to make the best decision,” says Hazel. “Interior designers are professional people who will take you through the process without any frustrations.”

She adds: “An interior designer can save you both time and money, providing you with a professional design within your budget and timescale with no costly mistakes.”

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How to find the best customers for your business with our new ‘dashboard search’ tool

Professionals covering large service areas – or providing many different services – often receive a high number of requests through Bark. So we created a brand new tool to make sure finding the jobs you want to pitch for is always easy.

It’s called “dashboard search” and it lets you quickly filter the requests in your Bark dashboard to find the jobs you want to do the most.

Simply use the brand new search bar at the top of the page in your Requests tab to specify exactly what you’re looking for and find the best customers for your business.

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The ‘dashboard search’ tool lets you filter your matching Barks to find the best customers for your business

This new search bar lets you filter your matching Barks by: 1) when they were submitted, 2) what they cost to respond to, 3) which category they were placed in and 4) where the job needs doing.

This last feature will be especially useful if you cover a large service area but are most interested in jobs from a specific location, such as your home town.

You can even filter your matching Barks by specific keywords customers use when placing their requests. (For example, customers looking for personal trainers often ask for either “daily” or “weekly” training sessions.)

Try spending an “evening in with Bark” today

‘Dashboard search’ lets you pick out all kinds of customers with the click of a button, from massage clients looking for a male masseur to wedding photography clients within three miles of your home and more.

That’s why we believe it will turn your Bark dashboard into a tool you can use whenever you like to find the best customers for you – whether you’re out on a job, or relaxing at home in front of the TV.

So spend some time today getting to know your new dashboard and using it to find the best customers on Bark.

Search for the best customers for your business now

Here’s what makes Bark customers the best leads for your business

With many of our pros generating thousands of pounds a month using our platform, it’s easy to see why Bark is fast becoming the UK’s favourite lead generation service.

Professionals throughout the country use us on a regular basis to find new customers and grow their business – from wedding photographers in Birmingham to magicians in Canterbury.

To show you why more businesses join our platform every day, here’s a closer look at what makes Bark customers the best leads for your business.

Customers on Bark are actively searching for your services

As a professional on Bark, every potential customer we alert you to is actively seeking the services you provide.

We invest heavily in online campaigns to find people looking to hire everything from balloon twisters to criminal lawyers, and then use ‘service areas‘ to match them with skilled professionals in their area.

For example, we find people looking to hire interior designers in Liverpool by running targeted PPC ads like this one for people who search “Liverpool interior design” on Google:

We find people looking for services online using PPC ads like this one

But if you’ve ever run your own PPC campaigns, you’ll know most people who click these ads aren’t serious about buying your product or service.

So the first thing Bark does is filter out everyone who’s not really serious about paying for your services. If they click our ads but don’t finish placing their Bark, you’ll never hear about them.

See exactly what each customer needs doing for FREE

When we find a customer who needs a service you provide, we then ask them a series of questions about the job they need doing.

At this stage, we also run a series of checks to ensure that they’re serious about hiring someone – such as checking their contact details are valid and ensuring they’ve filled out our questionnaire correctly.

Once we’ve verified that the Bark is genuine, we’ll send you the details free of charge, so you can see if it’s something you’d like to pitch for:

When someone places a Bark, we’ll then email you the details of the job they need doing so you can decide if it’s for you

With other marketing methods, you’ll often end up paying to receive enquiries that aren’t right for your business, but Bark is different.

If you’re busy on the dates the customer needs the work done – or if you just feel the job isn’t something you’re interested in – you can simply ignore the request and wait for something else to come along.

When you see a job you’d like to pitch for on Bark, click the “CONTACT” button next to their request to send the customer a tailored message and access their personal phone number.

No commission, no monthly fees

With thousands of people using Bark every day to find everything from plumbers to web designers, event performers and more – there’s never been a better time to join our service.

You don’t have to pay subscription fees and we don’t take any commission on work you secure through our platform. So, once you’ve responded to a Bark, everything you make from the business is yours to keep.

So why not join the thousands of small businesses who are already profiting with Bark today? Claim your FREE account now and start hearing about customers in your area right away.

Start receiving the best leads for your business today

5 home improvement projects that could shave £880 off your energy bills

When dreaming about which improvements you’d like to make to your home over the coming year, investing in energy efficiency measures probably isn’t at the top of your wish list.

But while flashier purchases like pool tables and granite work surfaces may be more appealing on a superficial level, it’s actually these more “sensible” investments that will really pay off over the longer term.

Taking the time now to stop your home leaking money will help put cash back in your pocket to spend on anything you like. So, today we’d like to share five energy saving projects that could cut your bills by £880 this year alone.

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Save £250 a year with this “blanket” for your house

About a third of all heat lost in uninsulated homes leaves through the walls, which is why modern homes are now built with wall cavity insulation.

But, if your home was built before the 1990s there’s a good chance it has hollow wall cavities – meaning you could save up to £250 a year by getting them filled by a professional home insulator.

Think of it as wrapping a blanket around your home to keep everything warm without having to turn up the heating.

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Add value to your home with energy efficient windows

Replacing your draughty old windows and doors with energy efficient, double glazed ones will do a whole lot more than just save you £110 a year on bills.

It also cuts down on noise pollution from outside, helps reduce your carbon footprint and adds significantly to the resale value of your home.

So, although the annual energy savings may well be modest, the many additional benefits you’ll enjoy make double glazing a highly rewarding investment for your home.

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The cheapest way to knock £25 off your heating bills

One of the simplest ways to knock a few pounds off your energy bills is to hire a draft proofing expert to survey your home.

Having a professional block up the unwanted gaps that let cold air in and hot air out is cheap and easy to do – and could shave between £25-£35 a year off your bills. Place your Bark now to get quotes from local draft proofing installers fast and free.

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Why a new boiler could save you £255 a year

According to the Energy Saving Trust, heating and hot water accounts for 62% of a typical household’s annual energy costs. That means the quality of your boiler can have a big impact on how much you’re paying – and a clunky old one could be costing you a small fortune.

In fact, hiring an experienced gas engineer to install a modern combi boiler in your home could save you £255 this year alone.

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How loft insulation pays for itself many times over

A quarter of all heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home. So it should be no surprise that insulating your loft, attic or flat roof can be a simple way to reduce your heating bills by up to £240 a year.

Once properly installed, loft insulation is effective for upwards of 40 years, meaning it has the potential to pay for itself many times over. So place a home insulation Bark now to get quotes from local loft insulation specialists fast and free.

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The easy way to save £1,000s on your wedding

With Brides Magazine putting the average cost of a UK wedding at £30,111, it’s hardly surprising that the internet is awash with articles suggesting ways to save money when you tie the knot.

These cost cutting measures tend to focus on which bits of your big day you could do without – such as ditching the free bar, having fewer flowers or baking your own wedding cake.

But there is another way to save hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds on your wedding without cutting back on the things that will make your special day special.

How to get the best deal on your wedding day

While it’s true that hiring the best venue, photographer and entertainment for your wedding can be expensive, there are also some great deals out there that could save you a small fortune.

So the best way to save money on your wedding without cutting important corners is to shop around to find the best value suppliers – and that’s where Bark comes in.

We’ll do all the legwork for you to contact potentially thousands of pros on your behalf to get you quotes fast and free.

Plan your wedding with Bark

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Save up to £800 on wedding photography

The best wedding photographers provide a comprehensive service, complete with a wedding album and second shooter to assist on the big day – and will often charge in excess of £1,200 for their wedding packages.

But there are plenty of more affordable photographers who will still do a great job of capturing your special day on film, and finding the right one for you is easy with Bark.

On average, our wedding photographers quote around £700 for wedding photography, with some offering their services for as little as £395!

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Book a great DJ for half the usual price

Premium wedding DJs in London and the South East will often quote £450 or more for their services – and if you want to get the best money can buy, you might feel that’s very reasonable.

But there are also many great DJs out there who will play your wedding for a fraction of that price and still keep your guests dancing all night long.

For example, the average quote for wedding DJ services on Bark is £300 – with the cheapest DJs costing as little as £200 for the night.

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Find wedding caterers to suit any budget

Gourmet wedding catering can easily set your back £35-£50 per head – so, even with a relatively short guest list, it’s easy to end up spending a ton on food and drink.

Luckily, there is a wide range of different wedding catering options out there to suit all budgets and tastes, from traditional three-course meals, to hog roasts and beyond.

Most Bark pros quote around the £12-£15 per head mark for wedding catering, with some budget caterers quoting as little as £6 per head.

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Compare pros for your wedding and get quotes fast

With dozens of wedding categories at your fingertips – from wedding cakes to venue hire, wedding flowers and more – finding everything you need for your wedding is easy with Bark.

Simply let us know what you want and we’ll reach out to recommended service providers on your behalf to get you quotes fast and free.

Click the link below now to find great professionals for your wedding and start saving money with Bark today.

Plan your wedding with Bark

Our new-and-improved trades categories make it even easier to secure new business with Bark!

We launched 300 new-and-improved trades categories this week, to make it even easier to find great leads for your business with Bark.

As well as many services that are brand new to our platform, we’ve divided general categories (e.g. plumbing) into specific job types (e.g. bathroom repair, or leaking and burst pipes).

We believe this approach will make it even easier to find new customers with Bark – and today we’ll look at what these changes mean for your business.

Know exactly what customers are looking for

By making our general trades categories more specific, we hope to give you a much clearer idea of what each customer is looking for before you respond to their Barks.

Where previously someone might have placed a Bark for a builder, they can now specify exactly what type of work they need doing – whether that’s concrete levelling, block paving installation or anything else.

This will make it much easier for you to decide if a job request is something you want to help with before you respond to it.

Cheaper to pitch for smaller jobs

Splitting the requests placed on our site up in this way also helps us ensure the price of responding to a Bark reflects the value of the job the customer needs doing.

For example, we know a pipe repair job is worth less than a full bathroom remodel – so these new categories will help us make sure smaller jobs are cheaper to pitch for than big ones.

Easier to choose which leads you hear about

Last, but not least, these new categories will help us make sure we only alert you to the best leads for your business.

Imagine your company offers wallpapering services, but not shelf installation. In the past, these jobs would have both come under ‘handyman services‘ – but now you can use our new trades categories to specify that you’d like to hear about one and not the other.

Start hearing about customers completely FREE

Our registered pros are already signed up to hear about relevant Barks in our brand new trades categories. If you’re new to Bark, you can join them today and start hearing about potential customers in your area completely free.

Click the link below now to claim your free Bark account and start growing your business with our service right away.

Get the best leads for your business now.

5 essential checks to keep your home cosy and warm this winter

It’s National Maintenance Week! Founded in 2015 by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, this annual campaign is dedicated to reminding people how vital proper maintenance is during the winter months.

“Maintenance makes a difference – never put it off!” says National Maintenance Week spokesman and TV archaeologist, Neil Oliver. “The longer you ignore a problem, the harder it becomes to put it right.”

To help you keep your home in top shape and avoid costly repairs in the springtime, here’s our essential guide to maintaining your home this winter.

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Wrap your pipes up warm

Being full of water, pipes have a tendency to freeze in winter. As the liquid inside them cools, it expands rapidly and puts strain on your pipes.

As a result, thousands of UK families experience blocked or burst pipes each year during winter cold snaps – especially those who live in older properties, or in colder parts of the country.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we recommend drafting in a professional insulator to wrap your pipes up warm with insulating foam.

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Get your boiler serviced so it runs smoothly

There’s nothing nicer than returning to a warm home on a bitterly cold day – but before you put the heating on full blast, you should book your boiler in for its annual checkup.

The extra strain that’s put on your boiler during the colder months can cause it to leak or break. So it’s important to make sure yours is in top working order before it gets too nasty outside.

It’s also a great way to make sure your central heating is running efficiently, and could save you up to 25% on your heating bills.

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Bleed your radiators so they run efficiently

If your radiators are creaking, or colder at the top than they are at the bottom, that’s a sure sign there’s trapped air inside them keeping the heat from circulating properly.

That means it’s time to grab a towel, get on your knees and bleed your radiator. It’s a messy job, but a small price to pay for a lovely warm home.

Or, if you’d prefer not to get your hands dirty, simply place a Bark now to get quotes from local plumbers fast and free.

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Keep the heat in with proper home insulation

About a quarter of your home’s heat it lost straight through the roof. So if you want to keep your home warm without having the heating on 24/7, the first thing to do is check your loft and wall cavity insulation.

Upgrading your current home insulation needn’t cost the Earth, and it could save you a fortune on heating bills over the long run.

Place a home insulation Bark now to get quotes from local insulation professionals fast and free.

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Clear your guttering of leaves and debris

Gutters have one job – to guide rainwater off your roof and straight down the drain. But, despite their importance, it can be all too easy to forget about them until something goes badly wrong.

Allowing your gutters to become clogged can cause serious structural damage to your house, and lead to health issues for you and your family from the damp.

That’s why it’s important to hire someone to check your guttering thoroughly at least once a year to keep everything working properly.

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Book a boiler service today to ensure your home stays warm this winter

Autumn has barely begun and already there’s a chill in the air. Soon, it will be time to fire up the boiler and bed in for the cold months ahead.

Keeping your boiler in top working order is essential if you want to avoid unpleasant outages later in the year. It’s also a great way to ensure your central heating is running efficiently, and could save you up to 25% on your heating bills.

Here’s why you should book your boiler in now for its annual checkup to help make sure your home stays lovely and warm this winter.

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Why do boilers break in winter?

Your boiler is the main system responsible for heating your home, and it does this by boiling water to generate steam. That steam then heats the air in a forced air system, such as your central heating or underfloor heating.

If your boiler doubles as your hot water heater, it will work all year round. But, as the temperature starts to cool, it will need to work much harder to boil its water.

This can put extra strain on your boiler, especially if it’s poorly maintained – and as a result, your boiler is more likely to break in winter.

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How can you tell if your boiler is broken?

Boiler failure can present itself in a variety of ways – the most obvious being if it stops working entirely and your house becomes freezing cold. If your boiler also supplies your house with hot water, a broken boiler will also leave your home without hot water.

Worst of all, poorly maintained boilers can start leaking highly dangerous carbon monoxide gas. Over 4,000 people are admitted to A&E with boiler related carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK each year – so it’s important to get yours serviced regularly.

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What does a boiler technician do?

During a service checkup, your boiler technician will check for oil or gas leaks, and maximise the efficiency of your boiler . An experienced boiler technician will also be able to listen for any strange noises that might indicate damage.

Should your boiler need replacing, they may also conduct a heating system flush to remove any waste or sludge that’s built up in your heating system.

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How much could you save?

Having a boiler engineer optimise your boiler’s efficiency has the potential to substantially reduce your heating bills. For example, while some people view them as being generally less reliable, modern boilers are significantly more efficient than their older counterparts.

According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, boilers more than 15 years old are likely to have less than 70% efficient. By contrast, modern boilers are typically more than 90% efficient.

That means replacing your old boiler with a new one has the potential to knock 25% off your heating bills.

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Where can you find a reliable boiler technician?

With Bark, finding a reliable boiler technician is easy. We’ll do all the legwork to find you recommended local pros, so you can simply choose the one that’s right for you.

When selecting a boiler technician, it’s important to keep their level of experience in mind. If your boiler runs on gas, you should also ask if they’re a member of the UK Gas Safe Register, as all UK gas engineers are required to register with this body by law.

Place a Bark today to prepare your boiler for winter, and get quotes from recommended boiler technicians in your area fast and free.

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