The central Heating Boiler is the ‘heart of your central heating system. Working away behind the scenes producing heating to keep you and the family nice and cosy and supplied with hot water, for that relaxing shower before or after work.
Like most things and a boiler is no different, it requires regular attention and proper maintenance to keep it running efficiently.
The last thing on your mind in the midst of summer as you wipe the sweat from your brow, is your central heating boiler? It’s still producing hot water and the heating won’t be needed until winter, we’ll check then, right?
Well, not really as under that premise you won’t know if anything is amiss until you flick the switch to ‘heating’, on a chilly winter’s evening or morning, only to find it’s not working as it should. How frustrating is that? Good maintenance is not the only key to reliability but essential for safety reasons.
The Annual Service
Working on a gas boiler is not for the DIY person no matter how skilled they are, it’s one of those jobs that must be undertaken by the professional gas registered engineer. A simple annual service will keep your boiler in tip-top condition and able to cope with those winter days.
The best time to do it is well before winter is upon us, usually late September to mid-October. Following this rule can avoid a boiler breakdown whilst enhancing its lifespan. If your boiler is insured the insurer will insist it is service annually.
Some boiler manufacturers also insist a boiler is serviced regularly to comply with the boiler’s guarantee/warranty. When was the last time your boiler was serviced?
With some boilers, the standard water pressure is between 1 to 2 bars. The right pressure maintains good hot water circulation around the system. Keep a check on the pressure gauge on the boiler, is it working within the recommended pressure range as per the manufacturer’s instructions? If not call a professional gas registered engineer to investigate.
Are the radiators heating up evenly? Any cold spots in the radiators or any that are completely cold could suggest other issues? Trapped air is usually the culprit when they’ve not been in use during the summer months.
Now, this is a simple but effective task that can be managed by a novice DIY person.
A radiator bleed key (available from most hardware stores) a cloth to catch the drips from the air valve. A cloth directly beneath the radiator and in line with the bleed valve to stop any dirty water staining the floor.
Make sure the heating is turned off.
Turn the radiator key slowly, anticlockwise to ‘crack’ open the valve, whilst holding the cloth under the bleed key to catch any drips. Do not unscrew the bleed valve completely, as it will detach itself from the radiator.
As the air escapes, an audible hissing sound will be evident, accompanied by a few bubbles. Keep the valve ‘cracked’ open until a steady, bubble-free stream of water flows. When you are satisfied the water is bubble and air free, tighten the valve (clockwise).
Wipe down the radiator to remove any watermarks. Repeat this process with every radiator until all the air has been removed from the system. This simple operation should do the trick?
For radiator balancing, this can be more challenging and is best left to professionally qualified heating or plumbing engineer.
· You should then check the boiler pressure after this procedure as it may affect it.
A strong blue colored flame indicates the correct burning conditions of gas and oxygen. If at any time it should turn yellow or orange, it is potentially a sign that Carbon Monoxide is present and a professional Gas Safe Registered engineer must be called to investigate for any risks to health. Flame conditions would also be checked during an annual boiler service.
Correct ventilation prevents the boiler from heating up. Wherever the boiler is situated make sure there aren’t any items surrounding it that could possibly obstruct the airflow around the boiler. A space of 700mm is ideal between the boiler and any obstruction. Keep all air vents and flues clear of any obstructions.
Regular Heating Checks
Just turning your heating on for 15 minutes throughout the warmer months keeps the pump moving and the boiler in good shape. If a boiler is not used during the summer months, moving parts in the pump or the port valves could seize and cause an operation problem when the colder weather kicks in!
The external condensate pipe may freeze when the temperature drops below zero. If this happens the frozen wastewater causes the boiler to shut down. To prevent this insulate all external pipework. This also includes pipework in the loft especially if it’s not well insulated.
A cost-effective method of alerting occupants to any hazardous Carbon Monoxide gasses present in the atmosphere – it avoids any health risks or fatalities! Keep it in close proximity to the boiler. Please check the alarm regularly to make sure it’s in good working condition, as they are battery operated.
A boiler flue removes harmful waste away from your property and out into the atmosphere. Like most things, they can move, loosen or crack over time. Therefore, a flue must be accessible for inspection at all times (by a qualified Gas Safe engineer).
To enable inspection, access hatches must be installed into a ceiling at prescribed distances, to allow the engineer visual access to the flue for inspection purposes. Without the inspection hatches, it would be impossible to test the flue for any defects, which would register a failure on the Gas Safety Certificate.
All landlords have a legal obligation to have every gas installation in a rented property tested annually or risk prosecution! If you need access panels fitted contact Marvel Property Solutions Ltd and a professional tradesperson will attend to install them.
Overtime dirt, debris, and gunk will accumulate at the bottom of all radiators, which will affect the efficiency of the system (if a magnetic filter has not been installed after a power flush).
If you have bled all radiators and some radiators are hot at the bottom and still cold at the top or there are cold spots could indicate rust formation and ‘gunk’ build-up, restricting the circulation of hot water around the central heating system. This will increase your energy bills making them more, expensive (none of us want that) as your boiler needs to generate more heat to compensate.
If you are experiencing some or all of the above then it’s time to clean up your system with a Power Flush. Contact Marvel Property Solutions Ltd for details as it requires specialist equipment and is not a typical DIY task!
Not your Typical DIY
Boiler repairs have been and will always a job for the qualified Gas Safe Engineers, registered with Gas Safe. Without the legal qualifications, it is illegal to attempt to undertake any repairs on any gas appliances. If you are a competent DIY person and think ‘I’ll give it a go’ – Don’t even go there!
You would be putting yourself, families, neighbours, occupants, and tenant’s lives at risk! Gas is a dangerous product to be handled with care if not lives will be lost, be warned!
With anything gas related call Marvel Property Solutions Ltd our professional gas crew are here to help.