Through the colder winter months, your boiler can be your best friend. Even if you don’t think about it every day, your boiler is something you will definitely miss if it were gone. In the winter months, living without a boiler is very difficult and luckily in the UK this is not a reality for most people.
Although we all take our boilers for granted, it is more important than ever in the winter months to make sure it is properly maintained and looked after, so looking after your boiler is one of the best practices you can undertake from the moment you move in. Replacing a boiler can be expensive not to mention a hassle. One of the most tangible benefits of servicing and looking after your boiler is that a cared for boiler is far more energy efficient and is far better at efficiently heating your home.
How can we keep our boilers running smoothly and prolong their efficient lifespan?
Energy efficiency and your boiler
When it comes to your gas and energy bills, it will be your boiler that contributes to the most consumption and therefore the majority of your energy and gas bills. By keeping it running as energy efficiently as possible, you can lower your bills and save potentially hundreds of pounds every year. The harder your boiler needs to work to heat your water and your property, the more energy and gas it will use, costing you more on your bills.
The UK government’s Green Home Grants can in some circumstances cover the costs of some types of new boilers, such as biomass boilers. You may also consider utilising the Green Home Grant’s vouchers to install an air source heat pump, for which the government will, under the scheme cover all of the costs. Being a ‘green home improvement,’ installing an air source heat pump can go a long way in cutting your energy consumption and making your property more energy efficient and better for the environment.
Get your boiler serviced regularly
Ideally you should get your boiler serviced on an annual basis. If it has been a few years since your last boiler service make sure you book in to have your boiler serviced as soon as you can. Getting your boiler serviced means booking a licensed boiler engineer to come out and inspect your boiler and it is important you use a Corgi registered and Gas Safe engineer to do so. Your engineer will look at things like air pressure and limescale build-up in the pipes, all of which can impede the efficient and safe running of your boiler.
It is also worthwhile investing the time and getting your boiler serviced instead of just calling out an engineer when it breaks. Getting your boiler serviced means that engineers can spot small problems and fix them before the boiler gives up altogether. There can be a bit of a wait to get your boiler serviced in the winter, so in future see if you can book in the spring or summer when there is less demand.
Check your pipes
Water freezing in your pipes can cause major problems for your boiler and even stop it working. There are two main ways to go about avoiding this. You could leave your boiler on at a fairly low temperature consistently throughout the winter. This way the water will always be warm and won’t have a chance to freeze. However, this option will mean that your boiler is on constantly which could put more strain on your boiler and is not the most eco-friendly option.
The alternative and increasingly common solution is to insulate your pipes from the outside. Insulating your pipes is fairly easy to do yourself and just involves wrapping your pipes in foam to stop the water freezing.
Check your radiators and central heating
Once you have had your boiler serviced in you know it is working, it’s time to check your radiators. Put your heating up nice and high and one by one check that your radiators are working properly. If your radiators don’t heat up properly or if they only partially heat up (for example only the top or lower half of a radiator) this may indicate a problem with the radiator or the boiler. For example, your radiator may need balancing or bleeding.
Bleed your radiators
Keeping your radiators working efficiently involves bleeding them on a regular basis. The simplest way to check if your radiator needs bleeding is to turn on and check it with your hand. You will be looking to see whether the radiator is hotter at the bottom than it is at the top. If this is the case, then your radiator may need bleeding to get it back to working at full capacity. To bleed your radiator:
- Place an old towel and a tub like an empty ice cream container under the radiator valve
- Turn off your heating
- Use a radiator key to turn the radiator valve anticlockwise
If the radiator needs bleeding it will hiss as air empties out of the system and eventually water will run out steadily. When this happens, you can use the radiator key to close the valve.
Get a carbon monoxide detector
Whenever considering the health of our boiler it is important to make sure that we have a Carbon monoxide detector. Faulty boilers can release carbon monoxide, an odourless and invisible gas that can be deadly. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your house to prevent this happening by alerting you to any Carbon monoxide.