Tucked away in some remote hidey-hole of your home, your boiler is probably feeling quite neglected by now, but as the faithful heating hub of your home, it deserves some attention.
Maintaining your properties boiler may sound dull, but there are some major reasons it should be on your agenda.
What are those reasons?
A well-maintained boiler can have a longer life, help reduce your energy bills and keep you and your family safe. That is three pretty good reasons to start taking it a little more seriously.
More so, a poorly maintained boiler is not just likely to have a shorter life, but it is far more likely to experience faults and require emergency repairs in the short to medium term.
Crucially, however, a boiler that has not been maintained may render your warranty null and void. That means that if something does go wrong, you will no longer be entitled to the cover you received under your warranty.
Normally a manufacturer’s warranty will cover mechanical faults, which can be costly, so maintaining your boiler is certainly worth the effort.
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Benefits of Maintaining your Boiler
There are a whole host of important reasons for keeping your boiler and heating system well maintained, here is a summary of the major reasons:
- Safety – Perhaps most importantly is safety since heating systems like gas combination boilers and oil boilers utilise a flammable fuel source, so it is essential to check for leaks.
- Save Money – Not only is it cheaper to repair small and minor defects before they turn into larger, more expensive problems, but a properly maintained boiler will ensure it is running at optimum efficiency, helping you to reduce fuel usage and save money on your energy bills.
- Keep Your Warranty Valid – Most boilers come with a warranty period, meaning that if mechanical faults occur during this period, they will be repaired free of charge by the manufacturer. But often, this is on the condition that you have had your boiler regularly serviced by a certified technician.
Boiler Maintenance Checklist
Now that you know the reasoning and benefits as to why you should keep your boiler well maintained; the question remains….
How exactly do you maintain such a complex piece of engineering?
Thankfully, the process is easier than you might think and of course, involves hiring help in the form of a certified HVAC professional for certain tasks.
So, what exactly does a boiler maintenance checklist look like?
Get an Annual Boiler Service
First things first, it is important to realise that as you are not a certified HVAC professional, and so what you can do will be limited to visual inspection for the most part.
To maintain your boiler and heating system fully, you will need to hire a certified HVAC professional to carry out periodic and comprehensive inspections.
Getting your boiler professionally serviced should be done annually. They will ensure the boiler is running safely and at optimum performance.
This involves them assessing the key components of the boiler e.g. the heat exchanger and ensuring there are no signs of damage. They will also clean any visible dirt or sludge from the components.
Ideally, you want to get your boiler serviced before the winter months when you are likely to be increasing your boiler usage considerably.
Also, bear in mind that without a service your warranty is likely void. Typically, a service is required annually to keep your manufacturer’s warranty active.
Here is a more detailed list of checks a certified HVAC technician will carry out during an inspection and service:
- Check the venting system for visible defects.
- Ensure all pipework joints are intact and free of holes.
- Inspect air intakes and vents to ensure they remain free from obstructions.
- Inspect control settings and operating controls.
- Test safety mechanisms to ensure they are working as intended.
- Clean your system components e.g. the heat exchanger.
- Examine wiring and connections.
- Test the boiler’s water quality.
- Examine the burner.
- Carry out a final test once the boiler has been service.
Carry out Regular Visual Inspections
So, you have decided to commit to an annual professional inspection and your probably wondering what maintenance tasks you can carry out by yourself?
As mentioned previously, you can complete a thorough visual inspection to detect minor issues before they snowball into major defects.
Ideally, you want to carry out a weekly inspection of your boiler and heating system to check that it is functioning properly.
Make sure you refer to your user manual and take the time to read the guidance, as there will be slight differences between different boiler brands and models. The manual will provide details on what your readings and specifications should be.
Here is how you should carry out visual inspection of your boiler, it is pretty easy:
- Read your boilers interface, checking for any obvious error codes.
- Read the boiler gauges and check they meet the specs detailed in your user manual.
- Listen for any obvious sounds that may seem out of the ordinary.
- Make sure the area is free from any obstructions and well ventilated.
Bleed Your Radiators
Have you ever noticed that some radiators do not warm up as fast as others when you turn your boiler on?
This can leave certain rooms feeling cool and even worse, you may feel the need to use some form of supplemental heating in those rooms, driving up your energy costs even more.
A common reason for this issue is having trapped air in the system. To diagnose this issue, feel the radiator; if the bottom is hot while the top is cold you are likely to have trapped air.
Fix this issue by taking the following steps:
- Get yourself a rag and radiator valve key.
- Protect your carpet with something and have a bucket prepared in the event of a leak.
- Using the valve key, turn the valve anti-clockwise.
- Once you hear the hissing noise, the air is being released from the distance.
- Once all the air has escaped, water will begin dripping from the radiator.
- Turn the radiator key to close the valve.
- Once completed, check the radiator has an even amount of heat at the top and the bottom.
Important: Once you have bled the radiators, check the pressure gauge, if it has lost pressure, you may need to add some. This is a relatively easy process, check out this boiler pressure guide for simple, step by step instructions.
Balancing Your Radiators
Ever bled your radiators and wondered why some radiators seem cooler than others, even though they are set to the same number on the radiator valves?
For various reasons such as proximity to the boiler, some radiators just heat up faster and to a greater extent than others, while some remain relatively cool.
Often, this means that the radiators need to be “balanced”, essentially, it means allowing more water to flow to cool radiators and less to the hot ones, essentially allowing your entire system to achieve an equilibrium in terms of heat.
Radiators are balanced by adjusting the radiator valves until the heat throughout your radiators feels evenly distributed.
If you live in a larger property, this may be more difficult to achieve, in which case you should seek assistance from a professional engineer. They will have the necessary equipment and knowledge to determine how to accurately balance your radiators.
Over time and with neglect, the water within our heating systems tends to become dirty and denser. This can lead to a system that is less efficient and is more prone to damage over time.
The water within the system is constantly flowing through our boilers, pipework, and radiators, so quality can have a fundamental impact on the system.
For example, over time sludge, rust and dirt can naturally build up within the system over time, which impacts the flow rate of the water, resulting in cold spots and inconsistencies. Even worse, these residues can cause corrosion and damage to your boiler and any metallic components.
Power flushing as the name suggests is the process of using pressure and chemical cleaners to flush your heating system, essentially giving the system a deep clean. It does this by helping to remove the residues from your system, ensuring your system runs better and lasts longer.
Without a power flush to regularly clean your system’s water, you are asking for long term issues. The unfortunate reality is that it is quite common for people to simply replace their boiler once it breaks down, without ever addressing the root cause.
Astoundingly, some people never clean their systems water and fail to realize the dirty water is causing the eventual corrosion and damage of their boiler and associated heating system components.
But now you know, remember to periodically get your system power flushed, it’s a relatively inexpensive process which can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Check Your Boiler Pressure
Usually, we try to reduce the pressure in our lives, but in the case of your boiler, a little extra pressure may be a good thing!
Your boiler’s pressure can have a big impact on your system’s performance and in some cases can result in a fault, impact efficiency, and completely stop your system from working.
Why is pressure important?
The pressure within your system helps to maintain the flow of water through the system. Too little and water will not go through the system fast enough to get heated, too fast and it will not stay hit the heat exchanger long enough to become heated.
How often should you top up your pressure?
How often you top up your pressure depends on your boiler model, but whatever the boiler it is a sensible idea to keep an eye on your boiler gauge every other month.
If the pressure drops below 1 (low), you can easily top it up by reading the user manual and doing it yourself, however, if you need assistance, your local HVAC technician will be more than happy to help.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Do you care about your family’s safety? Of course, you do, so make sure you make use of a carbon monoxide detector.
If your boiler does have a fault, it can be a real danger to you and your family. Therefore, your carbon monoxide detector must always be in proper working order.
When you carry out maintenance tasks on your boiler, it is a good idea to check your detector too. Ensure it is always clear from any obstructions as ventilation is essential for its proper function. It is also worth checking that the batteries are in working order and routinely renew them just to be sure.
Your boiler is a fundamental component of your home, helping to keep the temperature ambient and comfortable, often for decades at a time. So, taking the time to maintain your boiler will help this reliable piece of engineering serve you and your family for longer and with minimal hiccups along the way.
Maintaining your boiler will help increase its longevity, prevent major defects, and ensure it is operating at its optimum, helping to increase its efficiency and save you money.
The best part is that it is relatively simple, crucially just remember to book a professional annual service and carry out regular visual inspections yourself.