E160 Fault on a Potterton Boiler

TLDR: You need a qualified gas safe engineer to replace the fan and repair any other faults.

What is a Potterton E160 fault code?

An E160 fault on a Potterton boiler means the fan is not working. Reset the boiler and the fault will return.

Why is my fan not running?

The fan motor has failed.

All moving parts will eventually fail, most will last for a very long time but some will fail earlier than expected. The fan is designed to last for at least the period of the warranty but is expected to last much longer.

The internal control board in the fan has failed.

The electronic components on the fan are expected to last a long time but some will fail earlier If the fan has been subject to damp conditions from leaks in the boiler case or if the boiler has been turned off for a long period then the components can be damaged.

The sensors on the fan can’t detect how fast the fan is running. 

Modern boilers run the fan at different speeds to control the heat output of the boiler. To accurately control the heat output the boiler needs to know how fast the fan is turning. If the boiler doesn’t know how fast the fan is running then it can’t operate safely so it displays the E160 fault code and turns off.

The wiring to the fan is damaged.

The main cause of the wiring being damaged are if there are water leaks on the connectors, heat and fumes leaking from the combustion chamber, rough treatment when working on the boiler or if mice have been chewing the wires. All the wiring can be checked using a multi meter. There should be continuity from one end to the other on all the individual wires that make up the cable.

The main boiler PCB isn’t sending the correct power and signals to the fan. 

An engineer can check this by looking for the correct voltages at the connectors on the PCB. The voltages are available in the boiler instruction manual.  When no power is sent to the fan it won’t turn. The main PCB will recognise that the speed is wrong and display a fault.

Modern boilers have variable speed fans which work with DC voltage. This makes them more susceptible to damp conditions and spikes in the supply.

How do I know the fan is faulty?

The simple answer to this is that the boiler will tell you. E160 on a Baxi or Potterton boiler is a very reliable fault code. The main control board is constantly checking the speed of the fan and comparing it to an expected reading, if a reading is incorrect it will display a E160 fault code.

When the boiler is turned on there are two main sounds. The sound of the pump moving water around the boiler and the sound of air being blown through the boiler by the fan.

If there is a demand from the central heating (timer on and thermostat turned up) the radiator light will turn on by the number display and the water pump will start to run. After a short delay the fan will start to run. 

The noise coming from the fan should mostly be the sound of the air moving and the motor turning. Any grating or knocking sounds coming from the boiler are a sign the fan is worn or damaged.

What should I do if I get a E160 fault?

Unfortunately changing a fan is not a DIY under any circumstances so a gas safe registered engineer is required. 

Why can I not change the fan myself?

Changing a fan is not a DIY job. Heres why:

  1. The fan in a modern gas boiler carries unburnt gas into the combustion chamber before it is burnt. If the correct seals aren’t used this gas could leak causing a fire or an explosion.
  2. The fan in a modern gas boiler carefully measures the amount of gas being introduced into the boiler providing complete combustion.  After the fan is changed the boiler has to be set up properly using the correct testing equipment to prove it is safe. Changing the fan without proper testing is very dangerous and should never be done.

The fan is an expensive part so by the time you add installing and testing the boiler it will be an expensive repair.

For advice on other fault codes click here.

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