Carrying out repairs on your boiler is not only a major nuisance but can also be really expensive. Boilers have the essential job of supplying hot water and maintaining a warm household which is a necessity for every household. Too often households will neglect their boiler, failing to take the necessary precautions to prolong the lifespan of their boiler. Using certain preventative measures allows costly repairs to be averted and ensure that your home continues to be heated and hot water is always accessible.
Why is boiler maintenance important?
For a start, boiler maintenance is important in making sure that your boiler is safe. Secondly, spending small amounts of money on regular boiler maintenance can save you money in the long-run. A new boiler can cost anywhere between £500 and £2500 not including the cost of a gas registered engineer to come and fit it, so the longer you can put off buying a new boiler, the better. Boilers are also said to account for over 50% of what you spend annually on energy bills, so a regularly maintained efficient boiler can make a huge difference to the cost of your annual energy bills.
Methods of Prevention
1.) Annual Boiler Check/Service
Carrying out a boiler service at least once a year can extend the life of your boiler considerably but is something that the majority of households fail to do. A boiler which hasn’t been serviced on a regular basis could be operating inefficiently, which could be adding unnecessary costs to your energy bills. A good time to arrange your boiler service would be before the colder months of the year. Boilers are obviously used more frequently during winter months, and as a result are more prone to breaking down. It is essential that a boiler service is carried out by a gas engineer listed on the gas safe register to guarantee any work on your boiler is carried out safely. If you have purchased boiler cover, it may be that a free annual service is included in your policy so it’s worth double checking.
What should a boiler service entail?
• An engineer should examine the boiler and controls to confirm they are functioning correctly
• A check for corrosion and leaks
• A check of all key components
• A gas pressure check
• Boiler parts should be cleaned (if required).
• The engineer should inform you of any problems that have been identified, and the cost of fixing these problems.
• If required, new parts will be sourced and fitted.
2.) Identifying potential problems before they occur
The majority of people fail to check their boiler until it fails to heat water or the central heating doesn’t turn on. However, often this can be avoided if these problems were addressed earlier, so it is imperative to check your boiler every now and again in case of irregularities.
A common way people discover problems with their boiler is through monitoring the boiler’s flame. A boiler flame should be clear blue at all times, a yellow gas flame is a great indication that there is a problem with the boiler and a gas engineer should be called.
Leaks may also occur over time due to damaged or worn out parts. It is important that your boiler is regularly inspected for leaks and that this problem is not left unresolved. Another common indicator is the boiler making clanking or ticking noises that it hasn’t made before, predominantly when the boiler begins to fire up. If either of these problems do occur then again a registered gas engineer should be contacted.
Also, if your boiler begins running inefficiently and using more gas than it previously has despite no drastic increase in use, then this could mean that your boiler has an underlining problem that is making it run inefficiently.
3.) Turn heating on
It is greatly advised that you regularly turn on the heating even in the warmer summer months. This keeps the boiler ticking over and prevents the pumps and boiler from seizing up. Experts recommend that this only needs to be done once a month for as little as 15-20 minutes.
4.) Bleed the radiators
In order to maintain efficiency in your central heating system, bleeding your radiators on a regular basis can be a good idea. Bleeding the radiators is simply removing excess air trapped in the system. If a radiator is cold at the bottom it could mean that the radiator needs bleeding. If this is not done regularly then it can place added pressure on your boiler and increase your energy bills. The more efficiently your boiler and heating system functions, the less fuel is used, leading to a lower gas bill.
5.) Boiler Pressure
Boiler pressure can be another obvious indicator that something is wrong. Boilers are inclined to lose pressure over time and this can cause them to run uneconomically. The pressure can be checked through the pressure gauge on the boiler. Each boiler will come with specific instructions about its pressure system. If you check the user manual you may be able to re-pressurise the boiler yourself.
6.) Ventilation, Dust and Removing Clutter
If your boiler is in a cupboard, it needs to be clear of clutter. The majority of households will not have access to their boiler as it is being blocked by clothing, duvets or other household possessions. Boilers need ventilation so that they don’t overheat so it’s best to consult either a gas safe engineer or the boiler manufacturer to make sure that your boiler is adequately ventilated. Be aware of the accumulation of dust as this can also have an adverse affect on parts of your boiler. The fan is the most common part to suffer from dust build-up.
7.) Flushing and Descaling
Dirt and sludge will build up within your heating system over time, this may need to be addressed fairly regularly through power flushing your boiler with clean water. Boilers are prone to limescale which will noticeably hinder the performance of the boiler and prevent it from working at full efficiency. If too much limescale has accumulated within your boiler then you should look at de-scaling your boiler when it is next flushed.
8.) Boiler and Heating Cover
There is nothing worse than your boiler breaking down during the height of winter. For this reason, some people prefer to purchase boiler insurance for peace of mind. Boiler insurance will usually have a 24-hour helpline which is open 365 days of the year meaning that any problems will be fixed in a short space of time.
Boiler cover can cost anywhere between £3 and £20 a month depending on the level of cover required. The price will depend on whether boiler cover is solely purchased or whether extra cover such as central heating cover is also included. Price is also influenced by other factors such as voluntary excess, number of callouts, monetary value of the insurance, e.g. covered up to £1500. So be sure to read the policy details for each policy before committing to a purchase.