Boiler Maintenance 101
All households with a boiler should hire an HVAC professional to service their unit at least once a year. However, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to forget about your boiler for the rest of the year.
You can do several boiler maintenance tasks yourself, and scheduling them regularly could help you avoid expensive repairs and inconvenient breakdowns. Let's explore the ABCs of DIY boiler heating system maintenance.
What Boiler Maintenance Tasks Should Homeowners Do Themselves?
A boiler maintenance checklist can help you ensure you never miss an essential check. Add the following tasks to your list to prevent common boiler problems from going unnoticed:
Inspect the Insulation
The insulation around your boiler prevents heat loss and keeps it running efficiently. Therefore, it's worth checking for damaged insulation as part of your monthly boiler maintenance routine and replacing it if necessary.
Check Water Pressure
Low water pressure can prevent your boiler from circulating hot water around your home effectively. Usually, your boiler's pressure relief valve corrects overly high pressure. However, high pressure can be dangerous if the pressure relief valve doesn't work.
You can avoid problems with high or low water pressure by checking your boiler pressure once a month. Correct pressure readings can vary between boilers, and your manual will state the appropriate pressure for your model.
If the pressure's too high or low, you can adjust it yourself if you know how to do it. Otherwise, you can call an HVAC professional to correct the pressure for you.
Bleed the Radiators
Air pockets can develop inside your radiators, creating cold areas and affecting your heating system's efficiency. You can release any trapped air by bleeding your radiators.
Bleeding your radiators involves opening the radiator valves slightly to allow air to escape. Opening the valve too far could cause water to squirt out, so it's worth putting some old towels or rags below the valve before starting.
Check your boiler pressure after bleeding your radiators, as it can sometimes cause the pressure to drop. Generally, it's best to bleed your radiators once per year, ideally before winter begins. However, you can also bleed your radiators whenever you notice cold patches.
Clear Around the Boiler
Boilers need space and ventilation to work correctly. It's okay to store items inside your boiler room, but you should avoid packing items too close to the boiler itself. Tidying the area around your boiler on a monthly basis can help keep it operating safely and efficiently.
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Test Your Heating System
Leaving your boiler switched off for long periods can make it more challenging to identify potential issues. Spotting and fixing problems as soon as possible can prevent them from worsening and help you avoid pricey repairs. Generally, it's best to turn your boiler on for a few minutes once per month to make sure your heating system works correctly.
Check the Pilot Light
Your boiler's pilot light is a flame that ignites the gas supplying the burner. Checking your pilot light's color and strength once per year before winter begins can help you avoid heating issues when you need your boiler most.
Your pilot light flame should be blue, although it may have a slight yellow tip. A pale yellow pilot light can be a sign of insufficient heat, while an overly strong pilot light flame may make unusual noises.
You can adjust the pilot light yourself if it doesn't burn correctly by following the instructions in your manufacturer's manual. Otherwise, ask your HVAC technician can diagnose and fix the issue.
Look for Leaks
A leaky boiler can signify several issues and cause water damage to the surrounding areas of your home. You should check for water dripping from your boiler or the surrounding pipes and look for standing water around your boiler every week.
Water dripping from the overflow pipe could be a sign of a broken pressure relief valve, while other leaks could signify excessive pressure or a broken pipe or connection. Attempting to fix boiler leaks yourself could be dangerous in some situations, so it's best to turn off your boiler and call a professional as soon as possible.
Inspect the Vents
Clogged vents and flues can negatively impact your boiler's efficiency. You should check these areas at least once yearly and clear any blockages to keep your boiler working correctly.
How Much Does Professional Boiler Maintenance Cost?
According to HomeGuide, a one-off boiler service costs between $70 and $350 (CAD 95 and CAD 470) per visit. Alternatively, you could consider purchasing an annual boiler service contract for around $200 to $500 (CAD 270 to CAD 670). These contracts commonly include a yearly service, maintenance checks and discounted repairs and callouts.
All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.
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