As winter approaches, the need for a functioning boiler becomes more critical than ever. Boilers play a pivotal role in keeping our homes warm and comfortable during the chilly months. However, the cold weather can strain these devices, leading to breakdowns at the least convenient times. Thankfully, with a bit of foresight and regular maintenance, you can prevent boiler issues before they arise. Here’s how to ensure your boiler runs efficiently throughout winter.
Tips for Preventing a Boiler Breakdown in Winter
One of the worst times of year to have boiler issues is during the winter, but unfortunately it’s a particularly common problem at this time of year. So, to help you avoid the headache of a boiler breakdown over the winter months, let’s go over some tips to keep it running smoothly:
Annual Service is Key
Just like your car needs its yearly MOT, your boiler requires a professional annual boiler service to ensure it’s in top shape. Trained engineers can spot potential issues during an annual service before they escalate and give you peace of mind that nothing should go wrong during winter. So make sure that you book an annual service for your boiler to get it checked over.
During an annual service, the engineer will clean essential components, check for corrosion or leaks, test the pressure, and ensure all parts are functioning as they should. This catch-all inspection is a great way to keep your boiler in good condition for winter when you’ll be using it more.
Bleed Your Radiators
If your radiators are cold at the top but warm at the bottom, it’s likely that air has built up inside. This air can cause your boiler to work harder than it needs to. To combat this, you’ll want to bleed your radiators.
Using a radiator key or flat screwdriver, slowly turn the radiator valve anti-clockwise. You’ll hear a hissing sound as air escapes. Once water begins to dribble out, tighten the valve back up. If done correctly, you’ll have bleeded the radiators and made your heating system more efficient.
Insulate Your Pipes
One of the most common causes of boiler breakdowns in winter is frozen pipes. If the condensate pipe (which removes acidic water produced by the boiler) freezes, it can cause the boiler to shut down.
Thankfully, if you insulate your pipes then you can mitigate the risk of frozen pipes. Insulating your pipes with foam sleeves or lagging is the best way to do this. It’s inexpensive and can be purchased from most DIY shops. Pay special attention to pipes that are outside or in unheated areas of the home.
Keep the Boiler Pressure in Check
Your boiler relies on a certain pressure to function properly. Too high or too low, and it might not work or could become dangerous. So make sure that you regularly check the pressure gauge on your boiler, particularly in the winter. If it’s too low, you may need to re-pressurise your system by following the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s consistently high, call a professional for a service.
Run Your Heating Regularly
Even during milder autumn days, it’s a good idea to run your heating for at least an hour. This prevents the system from seizing up due to inactivity. Regular use keeps parts moving and helps to highlight any issues before the deep winter sets in. So don’t be afraid to switch the heating on a little earlier in the year than you’d like, as it could ensure the longevity of your boiler in the winter.
Consider a Boiler Replacement
If your boiler is over a decade old, it might be less efficient and more prone to breakdowns than newer models. Although it’s a significant investment, getting a new boiler installed in preparation for winter could be a smart move if your current one is old. Upgrading to a newer model can save on energy bills in the long run and reduce the risk of wintertime malfunctions.
Signs Your Boiler Has Issues During Winter
As the cold weather sets in, it’s essential to keep an eye out for any signs of boiler issues. Addressing problems early can help you prevent a full breakdown and ensure a warm and comfortable home throughout winter. Here are some indications that your boiler may be struggling:
- Unusual Noises: If your boiler is making new, unusual noises it could be a sign that something isn’t right. If you hear gurgling, banging or whistling, then it’s a good idea to get a professional to take a look at your boiler.
- Intermittent Heating or Hot Water: If your heating or hot water is cutting out sporadically, it might be due to faulty thermostats, low water pressure, or issues with the motorised valves.
- Boiler Keeps Switching Off: A consistently shutting off boiler can be due to various reasons, such as low water pressure, a problem with the thermostat, or a blockage in the system preventing proper water flow.
- Leaks or Drips: Any visible leaking or dripping from your boiler is cause for concern. It’s crucial to get a professional to investigate this as soon as possible, as it could be due to a broken internal component.
- Slow Heating: If it takes significantly longer than usual for your home to warm up, this can indicate issues like a malfunctioning thermostat, sediment build-up, or problems with the boiler’s circulatory system.
- Increase in Energy Bills: A sudden spike in your energy bills might mean your boiler’s efficiency has decreased, and it’s using more fuel than necessary to heat your home.
Don’t Let Your Boiler Fail You This Winter
Winter boiler breakdowns can be stressful, especially when the temperature plummets. But by taking these preventative measures, you’ll not only increase the longevity of your heating system but also enjoy a warm and cosy home all season long.
If you require assistance with your boiler, let our experts at West London Gas help. Please get in touch with our team to discuss your needs further or book an appointment.