Boiler breakdowns tend to take place more frequently in the winter months, due to cold temperatures freezing and bursting pipes and the boiler having to work harder to heat up the home. Frost and snow are never far away from the Met Office’s weather predictions, so here are some tips to help keep your boiler ticking over in February.
Keeping your boiler on constantly prevents it from freezing and keeps it ticking over. The most energy-efficient way to do this is to keep it at a low setting, even in winter. This approach means that you are not constantly adjusting the gauge, using extra fuel to turn it on and off to suit the current temperature. If you feel cold, consider adding an extra layer before you decide to turn the heating setting up.
If yours is a condensing boiler, insulating the condensate pipes can prevent them from freezing and bursting in very cold weather. These pipes often run along the outside of the house and so are exposed to the elements more than other sections of the heating system. You can buy lagging material from most DIY stores and the job is relatively quick and simple to do. To thaw an already frozen pipe, place a hot water bottle on it, pour hot water over it or use a hair dryer to heat up the water inside. Then reset your boiler to get the water flowing through once more.
If your radiators have cold patches, this probably means that there is air trapped inside, which is stopping the hot water flowing properly. Extremes in temperatures can cause radiators to work less efficiently. Bleeding them will get rid of the air inside and help the water disperse correctly. It could also discharge some of the sludge that builds up inside radiators over time, although a professional chemical flush is the best way to remove larger build-ups or blockages inside the system. You can find instructions for bleeding radiators online, or your boiler provider may be able to help.
Boilers last an average of 12 years and it is estimated that half of the boilers currently installed in the UK are more than five years old. Consider taking out boiler care insurance if yours is reaching the end of its useful life, and get two or three quotes now for buying and installing a new one when the time comes. Make sure you have the number of an emergency boiler engineer close at hand if you encounter problems during a cold snap. Signs that a boiler is malfunctioning include excess condensation or discolouring, excess noise while it is working, an orange or yellow flame (as opposed to a clear, blue one) or the smell of gas.
Regular servicing of your boiler by an expert, Gas Safe registered company is the best way to maintain it in the best working order possible, whatever the weather. The money you spend on setting up regular checks will end up costing far less in the long run if a serious problem is discovered further down the line. Gas engineers get busier over the colder months, so book your appointment in plenty of time to ensure a warm house this winter.