Buying your own home is an exciting time for anyone, but when something breaks, it’s up to you to fix it, so you’ll want to take good care of things to stop that happening. We spoke to Paul Ritchie, Managing Director at All England Gas, to find out his top tips for looking after your boiler.
Boilers are one of the most important pieces of equipment in our homes, providing us with heating and hot water, so it can be a disaster when they break down. Boilers are expensive to repair and even more expensive to replace, so keeping it maintained should be a top priority. In this article, I’ll be giving you my expert tips on how to care for your boiler in your new home.
Keep the boiler and the area around it clear
It’s important that you keep the area free of any clutter in case of an emergency which requires you to get to your boiler right away. This is especially important if your boiler is in a cupboard where you usually store things.
The boiler itself should also be kept clean. Dust can build up in exposed areas, like the flue, air vents and grilles, so these should be cleaned regularly to avoid the boiler wearing out. I must stress that you never remove the casing of the boiler, as this could be dangerous and should only be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Set the water temperature
The ideal temperature for your hot water setting should be around 60°C, which is hot enough to kill any bacteria that may be in the water, but cool enough not to scald you. You might also want to invest in a thermostatic mixing valve which will make sure that your water is constantly set at a safe temperature.
Schedule your heating
The best thing about modern boilers is that they allow you to schedule your heating for whenever you need it. I’d advise setting it to come on about half an hour before you usually get up in the morning to make sure that your house is warm enough when you first get out of bed. If you’re always out during the day, schedule your heating to come on about half an hour before you usually get in, so your house is warm enough for you to come home to, without wasting energy heating up an empty house.
In the summer, you won’t want to have your heating on like you do in the colder months, but to avoid your boiler seizing up, I’d suggest that you turn your heating on for around 10–15 minutes every few days so that it doesn’t break down.
Insulate any pipes
In the winter, pipes outside your home that are exposed to the open air can freeze up and stop the boiler working completely, so you’ll need to insulate them to prevent this from happening. You can buy pipe insulation from your usual hardware retailer and can easily fit them around the pipe. The insulation then acts as a temperature barrier between the cold air and the hot water inside the pipes.
Bleed your radiators
Radiators are essential to heating our rooms, but sometimes air can get trapped in the heating system. This means that your radiator can fill up with the air instead of hot water. You’ll need to regularly bleed them to stop this from happening.
Your radiators should come with a key which can be fitted into the valve at the top and turned slightly until you hear a hissing sound — this is the air escaping. When the hissing stops, water should start to spurt out and this is your cue to turn the valve back to its original position. Sometimes, you may also need to top up the water pressure in your boiler according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Boilers can be dangerous. There are some warning signs that you should look out for:
- Check the flame inside your boiler. This is called the pilot light and should burn at a crisp blue colour. If it turns yellow, it can indicate that something is wrong.
- Keep an eye out for soot or a yellow/brown staining on or around your gas appliances.
- Carbon monoxide is a clear, odourless gas which usually goes undetected and can be fatal. You should fit a carbon monoxide monitor near your boiler which will detect the gas and alert you should there be any so you can get away safely. If there is an emergency, you should call the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999.If any of these things happen, or you notice anything suspicious, you should call an engineer immediately.
Getting your boiler serviced
I’d recommend that you get your boiler serviced annually to preserve its warranty. Always check that your engineer is Gas Safe registered, which means that they are legally qualified to conduct any checks on your boiler. During the service, your Gas Safe engineer will carry out regular maintenance checks to make sure that everything is working safely and efficiently. Sometimes, they’ll even give your boiler a quick clean if they think it needs it.
Your boiler is extremely important: after all, you don’t want to be left with no heating or hot water, and you certainly don’t want your home to be unsafe. But, by carrying out these regular care checks, you can stay on top of your boiler’s maintenance.