Summertime Boiler Maintenance Tips

Posted on: 2 June 2015

With summer in full swing, there's a good chance you won't have to think about your boiler for a while. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to keep it ready to tackle the first cold weeks of autumn – and what better way to do just that than with some summertime maintenance?

Given the extended downtime that the summer season offers, now is the best time to give your boiler some well-needed preventative maintenance and repair. The following offers plenty of helpful tips for maintaining your boiler throughout the summer months.

Visual Inspection

A visual inspection is always crucial for identifying and preventing problems before the boiler is put back into service. Although a seasoned heating and cooling professional, like one from A Bailey Plumbing, is best equipped to perform a comprehensive inspection, there are plenty of items you can check on your own:

  • Examine the outside of the boiler for any signs of rust or corrosion. In most cases, the source of the corrosion is usually a water leak. Light, superficial rusting can easily be repaired, but heavy, flaking rust is usually the sign of a boiler that is in immediate need of replacement.
  • Carefully examine the chimney and flue connections. These parts tend to develop cracks due to rust, corrosion and overall wear and aging over time. These areas should always remain sealed and in one piece.
  • Take a look at the heat exchanger. Make sure there's no visible rust or corrosion.
  • Check all air bleeder vent valves, pipe fittings and circulator pumps for signs of water leakage.

Giving It the Royal Flush

Over time, rust, various mineral deposits and other types of debris can settle along the bottom of the boiler, creating a sludge that could potentially interfere with the heating system. Fortunately, you can flush this sludge out of your boiler using the following steps:

  • Locate the boiler drain valve and attach a garden hose to the outlet. Make sure the hose runs outside to a suitable drainage area. Make sure the water inlet valve is closed.
  • Open the drain valve and allow the water to drain out until it turns clear. Afterwards, close the drain valve.
  • Open the water inlet valve and allow the tank to refill to capacity. Afterwards, disconnect the garden hose.
  • Some heating systems may require you to bleed the radiators prior to start-up. Locate the bleed valve and place a bucket of water underneath. Use a screwdriver or radiator key to crack open the valve and allow the air to escape. When water comes out of the valve, close it and repeat the bleed procedure on other radiators throughout your home.

While giving your boiler a periodic flush is a good thing, it shouldn't be done too often. In many cases, excessive flushing actually introduces additional oxygen into the water tank, which could accelerate rust and corrosion to unacceptable levels.

This may explain why some boiler-based heating systems have a shorter life expectancy than average. Most gas-fired boilers have a life expectancy of around 10 to 15 years, with high quality models capable of lasting as long as 20 years with careful maintenance.

Consider Descaling Treatment

If your home's water source features an especially high amount of minerals (otherwise known as "hard water"), then you may want to consider having your boiler treated for lime scale removal and prevention. Descaling involves using a combination of chemicals to strip away calcium and other mineral deposits from the boiler as its being flushed. Your heating and cooling technician may also add treatment chemicals to help prevent further mineral buildup.

Don't Leave It off for Too Long, Though

Throughout the summer, many homeowners tend to forget that they even have a heating system, so it's often left off for months on end. This can actually be detrimental to the unit's health in a wide variety of ways. For instance, the gas valves on your boiler can actually stick in place if they're left unused for long periods.

To keep all of the moving parts of your boiler in good shape, it's always a good idea to fire up the system at least once a month. Simply let it run for a few minutes to give the gas valves and other parts a good, brief workout before shutting the unit down again.

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