Boiler Maintenance: The Comprehensive Guide

To get the most of any equipment you own, it is essential to ensure that they are serviced regularly. The regular checkups, not only bolster the longevity of the building’s heating system but also minimizes operating and energy costs in the long term.

Boiler Servicing: What to Expect?

All boiler maintenance is conducted by experienced engineers and most of these maintenances lasts around half an hour. They typically start with a visual check before checking the inside of the boiler. The visual check is done before so as to ensure that the associated pipework is installed and positioned correctly and that the boiler is working properly. The engineer will be able to identify some superficial problems just through this first check itself. To inspect the inside of the boiler, the engineer will remove the boiler casing and examine each of its components. This second inspection will confirm whether the boiler is working safely and efficiently.

Engineers who maintain boilers will typically have a list of that they will have to check. This checklist will include some of the following:

  1. Check the gas pressure and gas flow. Correct if necessary.
  2. Use a flue gas analyzer to confirm that the boiler is burning the appropriate amount and mixture of gas and air. Ensure that the flue is not blocked. 
  3. All safety devices must be checked.
  4. Check water and gas pipework to ensure that there is no blockage.
  5. Ensure that all electrical connections are in good condition.
  6. Check the fans. It is essential that the fan and other key components of the fans are working efficiently.
  7. Ensure that no seals have been damaged or ripped off. The seals must be intact.
  8. All electrodes must be in good working condition.
  9. Ensure that the condensate trap and pipe are not blocked. Clean if necessary.
  10. Clean all components inside the boiler.

Once the maintenance is over, the engineer will inform you if any building and safety legislation and regulations have been breached. Do not be afraid to ask questions, especially when they are recommending changes and repairs. Make sure that all parts that have to be changed are replaced by parts from a reputable manufacturer, ideally from the boiler manufacturer itself. The engineer will also give you a full-service report that you have to sign once the checks are over. Only sign this report if you are happy with every element of the service your boiler has received.

But How Often Must a Boiler Be Serviced?

Generally, boilers have to be serviced every 12 months. But if you just got a new boiler, talk to the manufacturer and confirm when you must get the first service done. This is mostly because you’ll have to ensure that you meet the terms of your warranty.

There are several problems that can arise if the boiler is not properly maintained and regularly serviced. One such problem is gas leaks that can actually lead to the deadly gas carbon monoxide seeping into the building. This is especially important if your house is not equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm. Engineers who service boilers would detect if there is a risk of a gas leak when they conduct their maintenance. But since carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect, consider getting such an alarm even if you regularly get your boiler services – as an added measure of precaution.

Things You Can Do Yourself

Even though people recommend getting your boiler maintained at least once a year, it does not mean that you have to wait for that once a year’s appointment to make sure the boiler is in good condition. There are a few things you can do on your own, on a daily basis and on a monthly basis.

Boiler Maintenance: Things You Can Do on a Daily Basis

  1. Ensure that there is no water leaking from the boiler.
  2. Conduct a visual inspection of air piping and flue gas vent piping to ensure that there is no sign of blockage.
  3. Inspect around and under your boiler equipment to make sure that the area around the boiler is unobstructed. The vent termination must also be free of any object that may block the vent.
  4. Your manufacturer must have recommended a designed range for temperature and pressure for the equipment. Check that these read within the recommended range.
  5. If there is a display panel, ensure that there are no error codes being displayed. If you see one, jot them down and immediately contact the service contractor.
  6. Ensure the combustion air opening is not blocked.
  7. There must be no unusual vibration coming from the equipment. If you hear strange noises, don’t wait for the next scheduled service. Get in touch with your service contractor.

Residential Boiler Maintenance Tips

Through a vital service in hot water supply and household warming, residential boilers add to the comfort level of any home. If you want your boiler to always perform at its optimum best and enjoy that level of comfort throughout the winter season, boiler maintenance is a must.

Additionally, if you take care of your boiler properly and ensure that maintenance are done properly and on a regular basis, you can expect your boiler to last up to 25 to 30 years. In fact, regular maintenance will also help avert accidents and ceaseless repairs. These maintenance will also boost household safety and boost the efficiency of your boiler.

We’ll start by covering every part that needs to be inspected, before moving to a checklist you can follow when scheduling boiler maintenance.

Key Items that Need to Be Inspected

  1. Air Vents and Flues
    Air vents and flues can become blocked by the accumulation of dirt and dust. If the air vents and flues are blocked, the boiler will not work efficiently. This specifically applies to gas boilers, however. Have the technician inspect the vents and flues and clear the passage if any blockage has occurred.
  2. Water Level
    You can check the water level of the boiler on your own. A check every fortnight or so is generally recommended. A boiler that’s operating without water will become damaged beyond repair and can even lead to an accident that endangers the lives of your family members. You want to make sure that the pilot light is on when you have to check the water level. If the water level is indeed below the minimum, you can tend to do it yourself if only a few minor adjustments in the set-up is required. Otherwise, have an expert check the plumbing and correct any faults.
  3. Leaks
    Leaks are rather common in residential boilers and may happen during normal usage of the boiler. It doesn’t matter what your boiler runs on, whether it is gas or fuel, the leaks will generally occur through the valves. Leaks usually signpost that some adjustments are needed in the system. And if you do notice damaged or worn out parts in the boiler, you’ll need to find someone who can repair and/or replace these parts.
  4. De-Scaling
    The use of hard water typically gives rise to excessive lime-scale in the boiler. If left unattended, lime-scale will accumulate in the boiler. This accumulation can prevent the boiler from working as it should by hampering the heating capacity of the boiler. Keep an eye out for this – if you detect lime-scale limit going beyond the recommended limit, you will have to de-scale your boiler.
  5. Lubrication
    Without appropriate lubrication, the mechanical systems will not work properly. Lubricating on a regular basis is essential for the smooth operation of any residential boiler as lubrication supports the working capacity of most mechanical systems in the boiler. You’ll have to make sure that the boiler parts that are frequently in motion, such as the fan and pumps, are also routinely lubricated.

Two Things You Have to do Routinely

  1. Clear all Dust
    Because dust easily and quickly collects in boiler rooms, you will have to check the boiler room regularly. The boiler operations allow the dust to accumulate easily and you’ll have to clear any dust in sight regularly. Also, remember to inspect all the boiler parts thoroughly as any dust accumulation will affect the system and prevent it from working well. Hence, to ensure optimal efficiency, be sure to clean all areas that are prone to developing dust build-up, including fans.
  2. Flushing
    To remove dirt, grit and lime-scale that accumulate in the interior of the boiler, you will have to clear all the water from the boiler a couple of times per year by flushing out all water from the boiler. This will make cleaning the interior of the boiler easier.

In addition to checking these parts, it is important to follow a regular maintenance schedule to minimize the risks of breakdowns. Below is a schedule you can follow:

Annual Maintenance

The below items need to be inspected, cleaned and/or recalibrated by a heating contractor at least once a year, generally June and September:

  1. Fireside surfaces
  2. Burner refractory material
  3. Manhole gaskets – to check for leaks
  4. All system and safety valves
  5. Low water cut-off
  6. All operating controls
  7. Feedwater pumps
  8. Condensate receiver
  9. Electrical terminals
  10. Fuel oil levels

Periodic Maintenance

The following items need to be monitored and maintained either continuously or on a more regular basis:

  1. The oil level in the compressor lube tank
  2. Oil filters
  3. Sight glasses
  4. Air filters
  5. Flush drain low water cut-offs/sidearm oil pre-heater and water-line heater
  6. Clear sludge and sediment, and control chemical treatment concentrations
  7. Smoke alarm
  8. Combustion
  9. Burner controls
  10. Burner operation
  11. Traps
  12. Pipe inspection

Air Conditioning Maintenance: Top Dos and Don’ts to Keep Them Running Efficiently

The benefits of following the tips outlined below are twofold: these tips will not only keep your air conditioning unit running efficiently all summer, but they will also help lower your utility bills by maximizing efficiency and saving energy.

Things You Should Do:

1. Regular Maintenance

For an air conditioning unit to stay in good condition, it is necessary to have regular maintenance scheduled. In addition to cleaning the unit, licensed, bonded and insured HVAC professional will also:

  • Inspect the bearing for wear and lubricate as needed
  • Check air filter, indoor coil and condenser coil
  • Measure amperage and voltage of the blower motor and compressor for proper operation
  • Test, calibrate and level the thermostat for proper operation
  • Inspect the electrical disconnect box for proper rating and safe installation
  • Inspect and tighten electrical wiring connections
  • Check and test capacitors
  • Check the air conditioner unit for time delay relay and isolation pads
  • Ensure the service valves are operating properly
  • Ensure there is no energy loss because of damaged ductwork
  • Inspect suction line, all fittings and blower belt

2. Checking the Filters

Because of all the dust and allergen in the air during the summer, checking the air filters is almost indispensable. You can check them once per month and replace them if they become clogged. This is especially important if you want to lower your electricity bills. The more dirt there is in the filters, the harder will your system have to work to supply the same amount of cool air to your house.

3. Ensuring the air conditioning unit is not exposed to constant sunlight

Unless the air conditioner is installed in a place that has proper shade, chances are your electricity bills are going to get ridiculously high. Since shaded spaces tend to be cooler than the surrounding air, the A/C unit is less likely to work hard to cool air and is more likely to run efficiently. So, instead of placing that bulky HVAC in just any unused corner, find a shady spot. It is one of the best of conserving energy.

Things to Avoid at All Costs

1. Improperly sized systems

When buying a new A/C unit, ensure a complete load calculation is done before the purchase to determine exactly how much cooling capacity your home needs. While bigger is not necessarily better, neither is smaller. If the air conditioner is oversized, it will constantly cycle on and off, resulting in uncomfortable temperature changes. An undersized air conditioner, on the other hand, will not have enough cooling capacity and will eventually wear itself out faster. Both oversized and undersized A/C can lead to overconsumption of energy.

Hence, you want an experienced contractor to take the measurements. Generally, he or she will do that by considering square footage, layout, insulation and load-generating appliances. The HVAC professional will then be able to recommend a perfectly sized A/C unit that will meet the cooling need of the room.

2. Keeping the air conditioning on 24/7

You may be tempted to leave the A/C unit running during the while you are off to work but having the air conditioner run full blast all day long is wasteful and will significantly blow up your electricity bill. Even if you want to come home to a cooler temperature on sticky, humid summer days, remember that a well-maintained aircon needs only a few minutes to cool your home.

Also, consider turning your air conditioner off overnight or setting a timer so it shuts off automatically during the night. This not only prevents you from wasting energy but also enables you to not sacrifice much of your comfort since your body can tolerate higher temperatures when asleep than when awake. It also means you will not wake up the next morning to freezing temperatures (temperature falls during the night).

3. Not Switching the A/C on for a long period

You should indeed avoid keeping you’re A/C running 24/7, but conversely, you don’t want to shut it down for long stretches of time. A unit that sits idle accumulates dust and mould, hence causing the condition of the A/C unit to deteriorate. While you want to save on electricity bills, you certainly do not want to pony up a huge amount of cash to have the whole unit repaired – it beats the whole purpose of trying to be cost-effective.

What you can try doing instead is having the air conditioner running for only a few minutes every other day. If you plan on going on vacation and know that your home is going to be vacant for a long period of time, consider upgrading to a WiFi thermostat. It is an innovative control device that allows homeowners to remotely control the air conditioning from long distance. No matter where you are in the world, you will be able to turn the air conditioning on and off at any time.