How to Reduce the Risk of Your Boiler Breaking Down
There’s nothing worse than trying to put the heating on in the morning and finding your boiler has stopped working. Most people, it’s safe to say, take their boiler for granted. It sits in the background, doing its job for the most part and it can be easy to ignore until something goes wrong.
There is, however, a lot you can do to help reduce the risk of your boiler breaking down at just the wrong moment.
Have an Annual Boiler Service
Most installers will recommend an annual service and, for the cost, it’s an excellent way to regularly maintain the integrity of your boiler and your radiators. Your service will normally involve checking for potential problems and working to solve minor issues that can quickly build into bigger problems. An annual service takes about half an hour or so but can save you a big slice of money by reducing the potential for costly breakdowns in the future. Annual boiler services are also required by manufacturers to ensure boiler warranties are kept valid. If a new boiler is not properly maintained, the manufacturer is within their rights not to honour the warranty.
It also pays to check your radiators every so often. Just put your hand on the top and if they feel cold, you need to give them a bleed. At the side of the radiator is a nut which you can open with a key and let out the air. Have a cup or bucket handy to catch the water once it starts to come through. This is something anyone can do and doesn’t require a qualified engineer. Older radiators generally need this doing more regularly than newer ones but making sure you keep on top of it ensures less pressure is put on your boiler too.
Protecting Pipes in Winter
The problem with frozen pipes is they can not only damage your home when they suddenly thaw out but can also affect your heating system. You should make sure that all pipes that are exposed to icy conditions are insulated to avoid freezing. If you are in the middle of a particularly cold snap, try to programme your boiler to switch on every so often while you are out or during the night just to keep that water from freezing.
During winter periods the condensate waste pipe may also freeze up, which will cause the boiler to stop working. If this happens you can attempt to defrost the pipe yourself, a hot water bottle can be used on the frozen area or pour warm (not boiling) water over the frozen section of pipe.
Get a Powerflush
Over time your radiators get filled with sludge that can block them up and cause problems. A powerflush is a process that removes all this mess and needs to be carried out by a qualified heating engineer with the right equipment. It basically forces water through your central heating system and cleans it out and can help cure problems like noisy radiators as well as ease pressure on your boiler.
Install a Magnetic Sludge Filter
Highly recommended by both gas engineers and boiler manufacturers, Magnetic Sludge Filters do a fantastic job of protecting your boiler from black sludge (iron oxide). Located on the return pipe of your boiler, the filter collects the sludge thanks to a powerful magnet. The said sludge is then removed from the system completely. A sludge filter provides ongoing boiler protection and can prevent many boiler issues from occurring.
Put Your Heating on in July
Most of us tend to leave the heating off over the summer. Switching it on during this time is, however, quite a clever idea as it can stop parts in your boiler seizing up because they are not being used. Putting the heating on for half an hour here and there can certainly help maintain your system better.
Topping Up Your Boiler
Modern boilers are what is known as sealed systems, which means every now and then they will need replenishing with water. Think of your central heating circuit the same way as a car tyre, you fill the tyre with air up to a pressure, when the air is released the pressure drops – the tyre goes flat. Instead of air, we fill the central heating with water, up to an ideal pressure of between 1 and 2 bar. Filling the system involves keeping an eye on the pressure gauge and turning the handles to let water into the system. You will usually hear the water entering and the pressure can rise quite quickly so remember to switch off when the pressure reaches between 1 and 2 bar. If there is a leak on the system or you bleed your radiators the pressure will drop. Topping up after bleeding the radiators will remedy the problem, however if you have a leak it will need to be fixed otherwise the system will not hold pressure - just like how a puncture affects a tyre.
Put into Practice
These simple steps help make sure that your boiler and central heating system stays in reasonably good condition and, carried out regularly, can extend its lifespan. That means you should find yourself spending less on costly boiler repairs in the future. As a bare minimum, you should at least ensure you get a professional engineer to carry out a yearly service.