With the glorious Summer starting to fade away, you’ve probably already started thinking about those dark nights, rainy days and freezing mornings we will all soon be facing.
Our boilers give us a warm, dry and secure home over Autumn and Winter, but with their lack of use over the warmer period, it is no surprise that the most common month for them to go kaput is February. They’ve suddenly been working in overdrive – if they’ve turned on at all.
Preparing Your Boiler For Cold Weather
Here are some tips on how to make sure your boiler will be fully reliable when you need it the most:
- Try it right now
We all want to grasp on to the last little bit of nice weather we have (and try to keep our bills low), so the last thing you will want to do is turn your boiler on. In fact, most UK households only start turning it on regularly in October.
But if you just keep it ticking over on low now, you will be able to detect any minor problems before they become serious. Think funny noises, leaks or it not heating up to the right temperature. Just leave it on long enough to heat up the radiators.
- Get it serviced
Even if all seems okay, it is best to arrange a local engineer to come out on an annual basis to give your boiler a professional check. They will be able to assess water/air pressure, and limescale build-up on the pipes – the things you can’t really see.
If your boiler was fitted recently, you were probably offered this service at the time. If not, it is a good idea to contact somebody who has a good knowledge of your make of boiler and try to get them out ASAP.
Most engineers also recommend services in the Summer months, so if something is wrong, you won’t have ages to wait to get it fixed, and it’ll be ready right when you need it.
- Bleed your radiators
Not a boiler tip as such, but a boiler can’t work fully without the entire heating system being in top-notch order. It is a simple maintenance task that most homeowners put off, so turn all of your radiators up full, switch the heating on and go around checking if they get hot enough.
If they don’t:
- Turn off your heating, and allow the system and radiators to cool completely
- Place an old towel under your radiator, and a small container under the valve to catch water
- Use a radiator key to turn the valve anti-clockwise slowly; a quarter turn maximum
- If there is any hissing, this is the air escaping. Wait until water starts to flow out, then turn it clockwise fully again to shut the valve
- Don’t let your pipes freeze
Depending on the type in your home, they may be at risk of freezing when the cold snap hits. If they’re insulated, there is little risk of standing water freezing, but if not then keeping your boiler on low regularly should prevent it.
It could be worth getting them insulated if it is a regular issue you face.
- Check/fit your carbon monoxide alarm
Carbon monoxide is hard to detect as it is odourless and can’t be seen. Yet, it can be fatal if you are exposed to it for a long time.
They are inexpensive and can be fitted easily. Once it is up and running, test it regularly.
- Get your boiler insured
Having appliance insurance helps in a lot of ways. Not only can it cover the costs of any expensive repairs and possibly replace the item if it is irreparable, but insurance companies can also organise a repair person to come to your house ASAP if you have a problem. Much easier than you calling around for an engineer.
There are plans available for under £10 per month, with most offering to cover callout and parts costs too which can be huge. Some slightly more expensive plans even provide annual servicing, which could be worth it in the long run.
- Look into getting a new one
Is your boiler getting on a bit? Do you think this could well be its last winter?
Their average life expectancy is 10-15 years, but even ones around eight years old aren’t as energy efficient as the newest models on the market. More energy efficiency could mean lower bills and better performance for you.
Some now even have frost protection, standby mode and separate heating and water controls. It could be worth investing rather than paying to insure one which is close to leaving you in the cold anyway.
No idea where to start looking? Thankfully, we have reviewed the best boilers available at the moment, from combi to open vent to compact – and told you what those terms mean.
They can all be found here.