5 boiler maintenance tips to avoid a breakdown
Like most appliances that run your home and keep your family comfortable, the boiler plays a very important role, especially during the colder months, and yes they do need to be shown some love from time to time. Think of it like servicing your car or bike, you may not use it every day but when the time comes you want it to run smoothly.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be running down to the basement or the attic every week, or have an engineer over every month to keep it running, most boilers only need a big service once a year but that also depends on what condition it is in, how often it is used and on whether or not the owner has been doing anything to help it along during the year.
How often should you run maintenance on your boiler?
This is a very subjective question as unlike servicing your boiler, which you should do once a year, there are no rules as such that govern how often you need to run maintenance. The simple answer is as often as you have the time to do it as the better it’s kept, the less likely it is to cause your home trouble or need an expensive fix.
There are a lot of things you can do yourself to keep the boiler in a good state, without the need for an engineer or technician, calling in a professional should only be reserved for an emergency breakdown or for the annual checkup.
As for doing the maintenance yourself, like we said there are a couple of things you can do and we’ll cover that in the next section below along with some signs to look out for that show it needs some maintenance.
Signs your boiler needs some love
Check the pressure
In order to heat your home, the boiler needs to be set to the right pressure, this is what helps it circulate the hot water to your pipes and radiators. Usually, the pressure bar should be between 1-2 but if it’s too high or low, your user manual should be able to guide you to adjust it yourself.
Check the radiator
Check the temperature of your radiator, if you find that the top stays hot while the bottom is cool it means you have a debris problem. This is quite common and no real cause for alarm, naturally forming debris develops over time and settles at the bottom of the radiator but you can have an engineer clear it for you by performing a power flush.
On a side note, if your radiator has not been heating at all, you may have to check the valve as well as it could be damaged or need replacing.
Check the external pipe
If the external pipe, also called the overflow pipe is dripping water you may have a slightly bigger problem. This is one that you should let an engineer handle as he may need to fix the pressure release valve.
It’s not just important to keep your boiler clean but also to keep the area around it clean and clutter-free as well. This is to ensure that airflow and circulation around the system remain clear.
Regarding the boiler and its components, you can check the air vents and flues for blocks and make sure that airflow remains clear and unobstructed.
It goes without saying that there aren’t any objects cluttering the boiler, things like coats or covers etc should not be placed over the system.
Additionally, if the boiler is in a closed space, like a cupboard, it should have enough breathing room between it and the wall or any other objects.
Water and sediments
While you are checking on the boiler, you should inspect the tank to make sure the water levels are right. If not, check for leaks around the tank or any of the pipework. You can also take this opportunity to check for sediments.
A good way to ensure your boiler remains healthy and functions optimally is to keep it well insulated.
Insulating the boiler and your pipework can help you get the most out of the heating and in the long run, will put less of a strain on your system while also dropping your electricity bills.
You can also keep an eye out for condensation and clear away any buildup during the insulation check.
The general temperature of your boiler should be around 18 degrees celsius when inactive, rising to around 21 degrees while active.
If your boiler rises to higher numbers, you may have a problem with the pump or it could be a blockage in the system. If both your pump and pipework are clear and it still gets too hot, you will need a technician to take a look at it as some other internal components may be malfunctioning.
It’s important to keep your burner clean, you can do this by removing the mesh and washing the tubes.
Once clean, you can reinstall the mesh to allow it to dry, however, do not attempt to start the boiler while the burner is wet. Give it enough time to dry out and once you’re sure, you can fire it up again.
Bonus tip for the Summer
This last one is less of a maintenance tip and more of a ‘good practices’ one. Since the weather gets quite warm during the summer we tend to forget about the boiler or the heating system, however, we recommend that you turn it on once in a while. You can do this with the timer on days when the house will mostly be empty. The reasoning is simple, when the boiler remains inactive for a long time, it can cause stagnation and blockages and keeping it active can reduce the likelihood of that happening, meaning it is much less likely to break down during the winter.
You don’t need to do this often, even once each summer should be enough.
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