As the heart of the home, a boiler is essential in daily life; heating the rooms and providing us with hot water. It is normally something we take for granted, but sorely miss when problems arise! Following these vital maintenance tips will keep your central heating running as efficiently as possible through these colder months, and could help to save you money and hassle in the long run.
Read the boiler manual supplied
This is an obvious and dull one to start us off, but reading the boiler manual is essential. Whether you have just moved into a new house or had a new boiler installed, take the time to read through the user guide and familiarise yourself with the different parts and settings. All models are different, so don’t presume that you already know everything about your new boiler from previous experience. After reading through it, keep the manual in a safe place.
Annual boiler service
Just like with a car, a regular boiler service will ensure that it is running smoothly and at its maximum efficiency. A certified engineer will be able to clean out access areas, ensure that there is no damage, and spot any problems that may cause breakdowns later on. You should get your boiler serviced at least once a year, and autumn is the best time to do this.
Check the boiler pressure
The pressure gauge is normally located underneath the boiler and should be checked regularly. Check the manual for your model’s preferred settings, but this is normally between one and two. If the pressure is low, then slowly top it up, but be careful not to add too much water to the system. Check the gauge routinely as a drop in pressure can mean there is a leak somewhere.
Check the boiler overflow pipe for drips
If the pressure becomes too high in your boiler, this can damage the Pressure Release Valve (but sometimes this can just become damaged over time by itself). Water dripping from the outside overflow pipe is an obvious sign of this, and you will need to call in a certified engineer to resolve the issue and replace parts.
Ensure there is adequate ventilation
It’s vital that your boiler is well ventilated in order to keep it running safely, and these levels are stated in the user guide. Make sure that the area around your boiler is cleared and free from clutter, and boxed in boilers have easy access points.
Is the flue accessible?
Recent changes in the law mean that boiler flues must now be visible and not covered over. These regulations mean that cracks and gaps in the piping can be spotted during inspections, as these often lead to deadly carbon monoxide leaks. Uncover areas around your flue, and any that are built into walls and ceilings must have access points and flaps installed.
Check the flame colour
The flame in your boiler should always be blue. Yellow or orange flames mean that your boiler isn’t running properly and should be inspected by an engineer as soon as possible.
Prevent freezing pipes
During the cold winter months, pipes can quickly freeze over when not heated regularly, so it is advised that you turn the heating on for a short time every day. If you’re away for days at a time or you’re going on holiday, set the thermostat to come on while you’re away. You may be using extra energy, but it will cost a lot more to fix the problems frozen pipes can cause. If a pipe is blocked by frozen water, the pressure will quickly build up when the boiler is turned on and cause it to break down completely.
Bleed the radiators
Even if your boiler is working perfectly, you can still encounter problems with the radiators themselves. A common one is when the radiators only heat up at the bottom, meaning that they need bleeding. Use a radiator key to release the valve and hold a cloth underneath to catch any drips. You should hear a hissing noise as the air escapes, twist it back closed when water starts to come out. After they are topped up, the radiators should heat all the way up. Check your pressure gauge again now, as bleeding often causes the pressure to drop.
Know when to call in the experts
And finally, if you do encounter problems with your heating system or boiler breakdowns, do not attempt to fix them yourself. Call in a certified engineer who knows exactly what they’re doing to avoid causing further damage or putting your home and family at risk.