Top boiler checks to do before winter

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A boiler system breakdown during the winter months can cause a massive inconvenience and unnecessary cost for your family home. Here at Plumr we understand the importance of your boiler and have outlined  measures and steps you can undertake to ensure boiler efficiency and prevent any potential breakdowns and costly boiler repairs during the winter months. Modern boilers are becoming more practical, and it’s easy to forget they’re there. However, completing regular maintenance checks on your system will prevent expensive repairs during your boilers essential operating months.

Servicing your boiler 

Annual boiler servicing is advised for most systems and will often need to be carried out to comply with warranty. Cleaning and checking all boiler parts to ensure they are working efficiently as well as identifying issues early is included in a boiler service. This will help to prevent any system breakdowns before they come to a plumbing emergency, which is not ideal in the winter months. Cleaning the system will help to prevent any blockages which could affect your heating. Engineers advise booking this service before the winter months so you can fix any underlying problems and ensure your boiler has everything it needs to run smoothly over winter. 

Keep your boiler running

Turning your boiler on regularly and letting it run for 10-15 minutes before the colder weather periods hit is advised by engineers. Over time, your boiler can loose pressure and this can cause operation issues. Turning your boiler on regularly and keeping it active will help to prevent this. Switching your system on will highlight any parts that are working incorrectly and potential repairs that need to be carried out. Keeping an eye on your pressure gauge and ensuring it’s topped off will also help to maintain your boilers efficiency. 

Checking boiler pressure

Boiler pressure that is too low will affect your boilers efficiency. The recommended pressure reading for a boiler to operate at maximum efficiency is between 1-1.5. There will be a gauge on your boiler which will give you a pressure reading. Your engineer should point this out to you upon installation or should be pointed out in your system manual. If the reading is too low, you’ll need to use the taps to higher the pressure. It’s advised to aim for the lower end of the scale, as boiler pressure will rise slightly as your system heats itself up. This process should also be explained in your system manual, however if you’re unsure it’s best to contact an engineer. 

Bleed your radiators 

If air has become trapped in your radiators, it will prevent water from being circulated around your system effectively. If your radiators are warm at the bottom but cold at the top, this is usually a good indication that this has happened. A great way to resolve this issue is to bleed your radiators. You will need a radiator key and a clean cloth or towel to do this.

  1. Turn off your heating. If left on, you may get hot water spraying out of your radiators. 
  2. Use the radiator key to turn the valve on the top of your radiator. Attach the key to the groove in the centre of the valve and turn anti-clockwise. You should hear a hissing sound as any trapped air escapes from the radiator. Use your cloth to clean any excess water that leaks out. 
  3. When the hissing stops and there is only water leaking out, retighten the valve by turning clockwise. 
  4. After completing these steps and tightening the valves, you can turn your central heating back on.
  5. Check the pressure of your radiators by checking the reading from the gauge on your boiler. Bleeding your radiators can cause the pressure to drop. If the pressure has become too low, you’ll need to top it up. To do this use the lever tap on your boiler. 
  6. Check your radiators to make sure they are heating up properly. 

Insulate system pipes

Water left standing in pipes over the winter months can freeze, causing blockages leading to pipes bursting. Pouring tepid water over the frozen areas can unfreeze and unblock the pipes. However, this can be risky as using water that is too hot can lead to further damage. 

A great way to prevent frozen pipes is to insulate them.

A range of materials and methods can insulate your system pipes. Pipes becoming faulty could result in a complete system repiping, which can be costly and time consuming and not an ideal situation to be in over the winter.

Check your thermostat

A faulty thermostat can lead to a room being too cold or too hot. A common problem is the thermostat blowing and no longer sending a signal to the valve which allows the radiators to heat and will therefore leave your rooms cold. Another common problem is your thermostat not being able to tell when to cut off the heat. This means your home will continue to get hotter and hotter and become very uncomfortable. This can also lead to your system to use much more energy than it requires and result in expensive energy bills. 

To identify a faulty thermostat, with the heating set to ‘on’ at the timer, turn the boiler thermostat to minimum and see if the boiler switches itself off. If not, turn off the boiler’s time clock and check again. If the boiler fails to respond to the thermostat, it may not be working. In this case we recommend seeking help from a certified Gas Safe Engineer. 

Fit a system filter to your boiler

System filters are great tools for ensuring your boiler’s health and making sure it runs at maximum efficiency. They help your system to remove debris and impurities from the water running through it. This will keep your utility bills and emergency plumbing costs to a minimum, and also help your system to operate throughout the colder months. 

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