Here is some winter wisdom for this cold snap!

As the temperature starts to drop again over the next few nights you need to think about leaving your central heating on. We receive calls daily from people with broken boilers, either because they haven’t turned them on properly for months or they leave them turned off over night and they end up with leaks. Here are some hopefully useful tips that will stop you having any unwanted break downs – keeping your home warm and efficient.

1. Is your boiler turned on?

This sounds crazy but it happens more often than you think. Make sure that your boiler is turned on at the spur/switch, whether its next to the boiler in the the airing cupboard. Also make sure that your thermostat is turned up – it’s easily done! Make sure that when your programmer is calling for central heating, your thermostat is turned up to a temperature above the current room temperature.

2. Are there any fault or error codes displayed?

Do you have a modern boiler? If the answer to this question is yes, then you’ll probably find that your boiler has a display. Some displays are more informative than others – but all modern boiler in some form or another display a fault code when there is a problem. To work this out you’ll need to have your instructions to hand! Typically, we all misplace things and if that is the case you’ll find most boiler manuals either in our website or via google.
Once you’ve found your manual, you’ll need to turn to the fault diagnostics page. This will usually tell you how your boiler displays error codes and what they mean. You might think “I’m not an engineer, how do i know?”. The reality is that you wont. Yet, if it’s something as simple as your pressure being to low, its something that you can remedy yourself. It’s possible that your error message may just saved you an expensive call out fee.

3. Is there enough water in your system?

Firstly if you have a Combi’ boiler – make sure that you’ve got enough water pressure in the system. Usually unless advised otherwise your system when cold should have between 1bar-1.5bar of pressure in. If this isn’t the case and the pressure display reads 0.7 or less then the boiler wont work and may need to be topped up. You can do this via the filling loop under the boiler. This will either be integrally fitted or remote via flexible hose joining the cold water pipe to the central heating. Turn the leavers a quarter of a turn, usually they will only turn in one direction, until the pressure reaches 1bar-1.5bar and turn off. Your boiler should run as normal, it may be necessary to bleed your radiators and repeat the process until everywhere is full.

Or if you have a Heat only system (header tanks in the loft space) you wont have to worry about topping up the water pressure as the water contained in the system can be topped up automatically through gravity via your header… If you have air in the system though it may not be possible for this process to happen on it’s own. You may have to bleed the radiators to remove the air and fill the system up with water. Once all the radiators are full, your system should function as normal.

Make sure that all of the above is done while your boiler is turned off.

4. Has your condensate pipe frozen?

This is only applicable to people with condensing high efficiency appliances. Any boiler that displays the letters ‘HE’ next to the model would suggest that you have an high efficiency boiler and such, a condensation pipe. Most heating engineers would sensibly try to install you condensing pipe from your boiler into an internal drain, usually a sink or bath. Sometimes this may not be possible and there is no other option but to fit the condense pipe externally. If your pipe is fitted outside it should be fitted in a minimum of 32mm diameter pipe, any less and it’s sensible to consider replacing it for a bigger sized pipe.

Now that we have identified your condense pipe, we need to determine if in fact it is the pipe that’s causing your problem. As said above, most modern condensing boilers will read this in an error code which you’ll find on the diagnostics page of your manual.
If you don’t have this, or are unable to find it you’ll know if your pipe is frozen or not as you’ll hear a bubbling noise coming from your boiler when you try to run it. It’ll sound almost like a pan of bubbling water, and it may even leak.

What you need to do now is boil a kettle of water! Once the kettle has boiled, tip the water over and along the condensing pipe. The build up of frozen water would normally be at the termination point in the grid or gutter. Repeat the process maybe up to several times before the water starts to pass. Given a few attempts the water should eventually move and the boiler should start to operate under normal conditions. If not, you can always give us a call!

6. Do you maintain your boiler?

It is extremely important to make sure that you service your boiler annually. Whilst modern boilers are less likely to become fouled they still require maintenance – mostly to ensure that they are running as new and remain as economical as possible.

7. Think before calling!

If you’ve had a boiler installed in recent years and it does stop working, make sure that you have checked all of the above before calling out any of the manufacturers under warranty. If the manufacturer arrives and the fault is found to be something of the above it’s possible that they could refuse to repair your boiler and actually charge you for the call out. If you are struggling it’s always best to call the person who installed the boiler prior as their call out fee is likely to be much less than that of the manufacturers!

Hopefully, all of the above had been of some use – remember if you struggle with anything, do not hesitate to give us a call on 01782 914020.