Boiler Maintenance Tips & Checks
Boilers can last for up to 15 years on average, even longer if you maintain them properly; but where do you start?
As we’re into autumn with winter around the corner, you need to make sure that your boiler and central heating is running properly. This means knowing the best and most useful maintenance tips and checks you can make on your boiler to make it last for years to come.
So, Plumbworld has picked out some of the most important checks and changes you can do to make sure your boiler lasts well beyond 10 years. Some of these aren’t actually things that you can do to your boiler, but rather for your boiler to ease stress on it.
Read on to find out the vital maintenance tips, checks and changes you can do to keep your boiler running efficiently for years…
Get Your Boiler Serviced Every Year
This is the most important maintenance tip you can get. If you want your boiler to last for 15 years or longer, an annual service is vital.
A Gas Safe engineer will be able to check and make adjustments to the running of your boiler to ensure that it is not only efficient but safe. The engineer will check that the main parts of the boiler are working and give it a clean.
Read more: When to Replace a Boiler
Tip: It’s always best to get your boiler serviced in the summer or September when demand for heating is lower.
Some of the reasons to service your boiler can include:
Find issues before they escalate
Small problems can become big ones if they are left unattended or ignored. By ensuring your boiler is running properly, you can save money on future repairs. An engineer can find and fix any minor problems to help avoid future large-scale malfunctions and costly repairs.
You could save money on your bills
While servicing is a home expense, it could save you money. An engineer will carry out a host of checks to make sure your boiler is working efficiently which will save you money over time. A more efficient boiler costs less to run, but this also depends on its age and type.
It doesn’t take long
For something so important and that can save you money, it doesn’t take long, around 20 minutes. When it’s done, your engineer should leave you with a boiler checklist of information, so make sure that you keep it safe for reference afterwards.
What’s involved in a boiler service?
An engineer will begin by inspecting your boiler and its controls to make sure they’re working properly. Then, they’ll check for any potential corrosion and leaks, ensure the gas pressure is correct and test the flue to make sure it’s not emitting any unsafe fumes.
Tip: A boiler service can cost up to £80 for a standard efficiency boiler and upwards of £160 for a high-efficiency condensing boiler.
Bleed Your Radiators
Checking on your radiators is vital before autumn and winter arrives, and bleeding them also benefits your boiler.
Next time you have your heating on to keep your boiler active or to check for any potential cold spots, you may need to bleed your radiators. Bleeding a radiator is only a phrase, all you’re really doing is releasing any trapped air inside the radiators. This may have happened because air bubbles have become trapped due to a summer switch-off.
Tip: It will also help to balance your radiators at the same time.
Bleeding the radiators will ensure they warm up properly and work efficiently. Therefore, they will reduce the strain on your boiler. This then avoids potential boiler issues which can be expensive.
Tip: You can do this job without expert help - you need your radiator key - but you’ll need old towels and pots to catch any water - this is where the ‘bleeding’ term comes from.
Check Your Boiler’s Pressure
To circulate hot water around your home’s pipes and radiators, the boiler needs to be set at the correct pressure, which is why low pressure causes heating issues.
You should check the boiler pressure gauge to make sure it is at the correct level according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is often between 1 and 2 bar. Low pressure is usually caused by a loss of water from the system, meaning the expansion vessel requires repressurising.
If the pressure is too low or too high, you may be able to adjust this yourself. If you aren’t sure, call an approved engineer, as it is easy to damage a part of the boiler called the ‘Pressure Release Valve’. It is normal to have to repressurise a boiler once or twice a year.
What should my boiler pressure be?
Your boiler pressure will typically be around 1 - 1.5 bar when the heating system is cold. This is usually indicated on your boiler pressure gauge by, usually, a green zone. If your gauge is showing 0.5 bar or less, you will need to repressurise the system.
Tip: Always check your manufacturer’s user manual to ensure it is safe to do this.
Tp repressurise your boiler, follow these steps:
- Switch off your boiler and allow it to cool
- Double-check that both ends of the filling loop are securely attached - they may vary in design from one brand to another
- Open both release valves, to allow cold mains water into the system - you should be able to hear it
- Wait for the pressure gauge to read 1.5 bar
- Then, close both valves, one after the other
- Switch your boiler back on. Press the reset button on your boiler if needed
- Check the pressure now that your boiler is on
- Undo both ends of the filling loop and remove it. Be careful to catch any water spillage with a container.
- Keep the filling loop in a safe place
Powerflush Your Radiators
If you’ve bled your radiators and found that they’re still not warming up properly, "sludge" might be to blame.
Deposits of dirt and grime can build-up in your pipes and radiators over time to such an extent that your boiler simply can’t heat your home effectively. Eventually your central heating may suffer corrosion, which is a much bigger issue to correct at a higher cost.
So, if your radiators have cold spots, aren’t working or your heating is very slow to get going, it may be time to Powerflush them. A Gas Safe-registered engineer can do this. Powerflushing sends water through your central heating system at high speed to dislodge build-ups of sludge, rust and debris. Your boiler will be far more efficient and should last longer.
Insulate Your Pipes
Insulating your pipes, sometimes called ‘lagging’, is a simple but often overlooked job that will prevent putting too much stress on your boiler.
You’ll save money when it comes to heating your home and it’s simple to do with easy-fitting foam tubes. The tubes will reduce heat loss, keeping your water hotter for longer. You can buy the tubing, or lagging, at most shops but make sure you know the size for your pipes.
Clean Your Boiler
This may not be obvious but cleaning and keeping your boiler dust-free will be beneficial in the long run.
You’ll prevent the boiler’s tubes and pipes from becoming clogged up, which can hamper its performance and potentially cause higher heating bills. To prevent dust settling on your boiler, clean the outer housing. The interior can be cleaned during service.
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