So, you’ve just moved into your new home and you’ve got everything set up to make it as cosy as possible, including your central heating. But, do you know what to do if your boiler breaks down? Luckily, Beckie Hatton from Home Appliance Care has given us her top boiler tips for new homeowners.
Our boilers are one of the most important elements in our homes, but we don’t often think about them until they break down. I’ll be sharing my best advice when it comes to boilers, including servicing, care and maintenance, so you can keep your new home warm no matter what the weather throws at us
Keep it clear
Exposed areas on your boiler, like air vents, grilles and flues, can collect dust and become blocked, so it’s important to keep these parts clear to prevent wear. However, never remove the casing, even when cleaning: only a qualified engineer should remove it to avoid gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep the area around the boiler free of any clutter and make sure it’s easy to get to in case of an emergency.
Schedule your heating
Your new home should already be fitted with a thermostat, so start planning what times of the day you’d like your house to be heated. No one likes getting out of bed to the cold air on a morning, so schedule the heating to come on half an hour before you usually get up. During the day, you don’t want to be heating an empty house while you’re at work, as this will only waste energy and money, and work the boiler when it’s not needed. Again, schedule your heating to come on half an hour before you’re due to be home to heat it through. Don’t completely turn off your heating, even in the summer, as this can cause the boiler to cease up and break. In the warmer months, turn your heating on for around 10–15 minutes every few days to stop it breaking down.
Set your water temperature
The temperature of your water will be displayed on your hot water cylinder and should be set at around 60°C. This temperature is hot enough to kill any bacteria which may be in the water but not hot enough to burn you. A thermostatic mixing valve will check that your water is always set at a safe temperature.
Bleed your radiators
Sometimes, air can get trapped in the system, filling your radiators and causing them to become cold. To stop this from happening, bleed your radiators regularly by inserting a key into the bleed valve at the side and turning it until you hear a hissing sound as the air starts to escape. Once the sound has stopped, water will drip from the radiator, which means all the air has gone — this is your cue to turn the valve back.
When air gets into the system, it can sometimes cause the water pressure in your boiler to drop. When this happens, you can top it up by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are a few safety precautions you need to take when maintaining your boiler:
If it’s gas, the flame inside (the pilot light) should remain blue. If it turns yellow, this can be a sign that something is wrong, and you should call an engineer immediately.
Carbon monoxide is a lethal clear gas that can go undetected without a monitor, so install a carbon monoxide detector near the boiler so you can be alerted right away if there’s a leakage. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion and loss of consciousness.
When to get your boiler serviced
General maintenance alone won’t protect your boiler: it’ll also need servicing every year. This is to check that all of the components of the boiler are in working order and to give them a clean if they need it. Schedule your boiler service before the winter so you can make sure that it’ll keep you warm during the colder months.
During a service, the Gas Safe Engineer will check:
that each component is working correctly and efficiently
the gas pressure and flow
the flue and combustion to make sure that your boiler is using the right measurements of gas and air
that electrical components are clean and in good condition
that any seals are intact
your safety devices to make sure that they’re all working properly
pipes, making sure that none are not blocked
Boilers are expensive to fix and even more expensive to replace, so looking after them should be a priority. Regular maintenance and servicing will keep your boiler running smoothly, keep your home warm and, most importantly, keep you and your family safe. If you notice anything unusual happening with your boiler, call an engineer immediately.