Essential Heating Tips and Checks Before Autumn
Summer may be a strange time to be talking about your heating, but it’s the perfect time to make some checks and ensure it’s ready for autumn.
What you don’t want is to roll into autumn or winter, your home is cold, you go to switch your heating on but it’s not working. It’s an annoying problem when it happens but it’s quite common. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive to fix.
So what can you do? Plumbworld has put together this guide to the essential tips and checks you can do at home to ensure your heating works and is efficient when you need it. Most of these you can do yourself but others may need an expert.
Read on to find out the essential heating and radiator tips ahead of autumn…
Check Your Heating
Summer is the perfect time to check your heating is working and it’s as easy as giving it a trial run to make sure that it is operating properly.
This means that if you need repairs to your boiler or heating you can book it in before you really miss your central heating later in the year. It’s much easier to book an appointment with a plumber in summer for heating issues as, understandably, they’re not as busy.
Tip: In the COVID environment, it could be much more difficult to book a plumber, even if they are classed as essential workers. If you can get someone, they will need to be given a COVID-secure environment to work in. They may also have their own rules.
While you may not have had your heating on, it’s likely that you’ll have used your boiler to heat your water over summer. Turn up your thermostat to make sure everything is working correctly. If your radiators are fitted with Thermostatic Radiator Valves, then open them up so you can check the whole system is warming up.
Once the system has been on for 30 minutes, check all the radiators have come on and are evenly warm. If your radiators are only hot at the top or at the bottom, then they will need to be rebalanced. You can find out how to do that here.
Tip: To keep your boiler active, turn your heating for 20 minutes every three to four weeks.
Get Your Central Heating & Boiler Serviced
Preparing for the cold weather that comes in autumn and winter should be done now and your boiler should be serviced.
Do not wait for cold weather to find out that something is not working properly - not only will you and your home be colder for it but your wallet will take a hit, too. Heating engineers are much busier at the beginning of autumn and winter as we turn on our heating only to find it doesn’t work properly.
So, you should book your annual boiler service in the summer. If you haven’t had your boiler serviced, it isn’t too late to find a registered engineer to come and do it. A boiler service can cost up to £80 for a standard efficiency boiler and upwards of £160 for a high-efficiency condensing boiler.
That may sound expensive for a single day job but it will ensure that everything is working efficiently ahead of winter. A yearly service is all about making sure everything works as it should, and any minor problems are picked up. It’s best to pay for your service before they become more expensive issues.
Bleed Your Radiators
As autumn draws nearer, checking on your radiators is vital, and part of that is to bleed your radiators after you’ve checked them.
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.
Bleeding the radiators will ensure they warm up properly and work efficiently. Therefore, they will reduce the strain on your boiler. This would then avoid potential boiler issues which can be expensive. You can do this job without expert help but you’ll need old towels and pots to catch any water - this is where the ‘bleeding’ term comes from.
Learn how to bleed a radiator with our guide
Fit Thermostatic Valves
Unless you have a lot of people at your home, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need to heat every room inside your house to the same temperature.
You can avoid wasting money on heating up empty rooms by installing thermostatic valves on your radiators. A thermostatic radiator valve - or TRV - may not seem like much but they can be an integral part of your heating system.
TRVs connect to your radiators like any other valves but allow you to set the heat output quickly and easily using the dials on them. You can set the rooms you don’t use as often to a lower temperature. This will ease the workload on your boiler and save you money.
Check or Fit Loft Insulation
Loft insulation is an easy way to keep your home warm and summer is a good time to top up your insulation.
Loft insulation will immediately bring benefits to you - not just with warmth but helping your heating bill. Like heating engineers, you may also find there are offers on insulation at this time of year because it’s not in demand.
You should always check your insulation, particularly if you’ve recently moved into a property, to make sure it’s in good condition. It could have holes or be worn too thin to effectively insulate your home. Loft insulation should be at least 270mm thick and avoid compressing or squashing it, otherwise it won’t be as efficient.
If you, like many of us, use your loft for storage, this may mean that you will have to raise the level of your loft flooring to avoid squashing the insulation. You should also make sure that your insulation is laid away from the roof edges. This will let in air for ventilation and prevent damp.
Tip: This isn’t about avoiding draughts, a build-up of condensation which may lead to mould wood rot.
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