If you feel the cold, your boiler breaking down is probably one of your worst winter nightmares. But good news: there are lots of things you can do to minimize the risk of it happening. Here are our top tips:
1. Get serviced
You really do need to have your boiler serviced every year. Waiting for it to break down doesn’t make financial sense: part of the point of a service is to pick up the little faults before they become serious, so the breakdown (and all its attendant costs and stress) never happens. Many types of boiler and central heating cover include an annual boiler service as part of the package, meaning you can spread the cost over the year.
You might also want to talk to your engineer about whether your heating system needs a clean-out, known as a power flush or mechanical flush, to get rid of sludge which can build up and hamper its efficiency. Never try to fix a problem with your boiler yourself – it’s illegal and dangerous.
2. Bleed your radiators
If your radiators are cooler at the top than they are at the bottom, they probably have air trapped inside them and need bleeding. The trapped air means your heating system isn’t operating at full efficiency, and your bills will be higher than they need to be.
You can bleed a radiator yourself and it’s not difficult – all you need is a radiator key and a rag. Turn the heating off, put the rag underneath the radiator, put the key into the valve at the top of the radiator and turn it slowly anticlockwise. This will let the trapped air out and you’ll hear a hissing noise. As the hissing lessens, it means you’ve done the job, so do the valve up quickly before the water goes everywhere. Repeat as necessary with the other radiators and you’re done.
3. Give your boiler fresh air
Your boiler needs to have enough ventilation to run safely. So if it’s in an airing cupboard, utility room or kitchen, make sure there isn’t anything obstructing airflow to it. Check the flue, vents, and airbricks from time to time to make sure they are not blocked by debris.
4. Insulate your pipes
Frozen pipes and tanks are the banes of every boiler owner’s life. Not only can they cause a boiler breakdown, but they can also burst and leak, causing untold havoc. Insulation is your savior here. You can buy a type of insulation called lagging, which can be made from various substances – glass, wool, foam, or plastic – and just wrap it around the pipes. Don’t worry, this shouldn’t be a difficult job – most DIY shops sell ready-made lagging that you just slip over your pipes, for around £1 a meter.
5. Insulate your home
No matter how effective your boiler is, if your home isn’t well insulated, it will lose heat and your bills will be more expensive. This can cause the boiler to work overtime, increasing the risk of both general wear and tear and faults. Consider cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, and double glazing as long-term solutions, as well as small remedies like draught excluders on your windows and doors in the short term.
6. Set your mind at rest
A boiler service plan from Warranty People allows you to pay for your annual boiler service through monthly payments. You can also choose to include both boiler and heating cover, so if you do need to call an engineer out to fix a fault, the cost is covered. If you’re shopping for the best boiler and heating cover or are unsure if your central heating is healthy, find out more about our boiler and central heating cover today.