It has been a ‘little while’ shall we say, since we last posted a blog entry. Hopefully we’re back with a very informative piece though, and one which is pretty apt for this cold weather that seems to have happened upon us like a bolt out of the blue!
So needless to say the central heating is now well and truly back on for the foreseeable, which led me to think about all the care that a system should receive in order to see us through these cold winter months and not leave us dithering under multiple layers awaiting the arrival of an emergency call out engineer.
I have put together my Top 5 Tips to ensuring your central heating system is looked after, as much we all absolutely rely on it, to look after us!
1. Lag Pipes
A really easy, yet effective preventative to frozen pipes. In extreme cold, the condensate pipe from the boiler can sometimes freeze and burst, leading the boiler to cut out as a safety measure. Most DIY stores sell pipe lagging, ready to simply cut down to size and slot over the pipe.
2. Bleed Radiators
Over time, radiators can develop air pockets, which inhibit the performance of the radiator and result in poor heat output. The simple way to identify if this has occurred is to feel if the top of the radiator is considerably colder than the bottom. If this happens you need to ‘bleed the radiators’ which is basically the term for releasing the air that has become trapped inside.
It is simple to do, just make sure you have some kitchen roll or an old towel to hand! Firstly, ensure the heating is turned off. Take the radiator key (if you don’t have one they can be readily and cheaply picked up from your local DIY store) and slot it into the bleed valve, usually found at the top corner. Turn the key about a quarter turn anti-clockwise and you will hear a hissing sound – this is the air escaping. Once all of the air is cleared, water will start to drip – this is where the old towel comes in handy. Lock the bleed valve and you’re all done!
3. Check Water Pressure
After bleeding radiators, and sporadically throughout the year, you will need to check the pressure in your boiler. The pressure should sit between 1 and 1.5 bar to enable safe and efficient running of the system. You will see if the pressure has dropped from the display on the front of your boiler. It can drop over time for no alarming reason so there is no need for concern. You will however need to top it up to maximise efficiency. There should be instructions on how to do this on your boiler/in the manual, but if you have any concerns or are unsure of anything, we are always happy to help.
4. Service Annually
Probably THE most important tip as it is the annual service that ensures your boiler is in tip top condition all year round, delivering hot water and heating at every moment we need it. Think of it as an MOT for your boiler. We will check and clean all components of the boiler, ensuring that it is working smoothly and safely. A faulty boiler can be fatal. Having your boiler regularly serviced, means any little issues can be sorted before they turn into big ones, and if you have the boiler service done in the summer months, it should mean that there are no nasty surprises once the winter months arrive!
5. Clear the Clutter
Boilers need good ventilation in order to work safely and efficiently. It should also be easily accessible. So if the boiler is boxed away in a cupboard for example, you should make sure that the surrounding area is kept free from any clutter. You should also ensure that any external ventilation, such as air bricks are free from any blockages.
Now as much as we can carry out all the preventative measures detailed above, occasionally things do go wrong and that’s when you can call on us to help. If you notice any of the following warning signs, please do not hesitate to get in touch as we do not want anyone left out in the cold!
Check over the boiler and pipework regularly and as soon as you spot any sign of wear i.e. leaks or cracks anywhere in the central heating system, give us a call and we can ensure it is fixed before it develops into anything more serious.
And just a final point to note. Although it has started to get cold, it will undoubtedly get colder still throughout the next couple of months. Please don’t sit suffering under a blanket! Increasing the temperature on your thermostat just 1-2 degrees will make a huge difference to your comfort without having too much of an effect on your central heating bill.
Stay warm everyone, but remember we’re here if that’s not possible!