How to prepare your boiler for the winter months
Flooding from burst pipes can spell serious trouble for landlords and tenants alike. And it happens more often than you’d think. In fact, escape of water claims caused by frozen pipes are our number one source of insurance claim.
The best way to protect your property from this kind of damage is to take good care of your boiler. A healthy boiler, used regularly, can prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. It can also help prevent damp, mould and condensation from causing damage to your property.
Landlords are obliged by law to get their boiler serviced on an annual basis. But it’s recommended for landlords to check their boiler every autumn to ensure that everything is in working order. After all, you don’t want to be caught out by a defective boiler in the middle of a cold spell.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing your boiler for winter conditions. We also recommend passing on this advice to your tenants.
Carry out an informal boiler inspection
Formal boiler inspections should be handled by professionals once a year. You can however give your boiler the once-over yourself to look for any warning signs as well, but need to arrange a convenient time with the tenant to carry out the inspection with adequate notice.
Look for cracks and signs of leaks
Start with a visual inspection. Look for any cracks or signs of leaking. Rusting or oxidisation of the pipes is a sign of water escape. Puddles or evidence of evaporated water on the inside of the boiler shell is another. If the boiler is showing significant signs of leaking, it’s worth calling a plumber.
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Check the pressure gauge
Check that the water pressure gauge is working and that the pressure is at the right level. Most boilers operate between 1 – 1.5 bar.
Anything above or below this is an issue. Low pressure will prevent you from properly heating your home and make energy bills higher.
You can use the filling loop on your boiler to increase the pressure. If you’re unsure how to do this, take a look at the operator’s manual for your boiler. If the problem persists, you may have a leak in your plumbing.
If the pressure is above 1.5 bar, you may need to bleed your radiators. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you’ll probably want to speak to a professional.
“On a combination boiler and pressurised system boiler, the pressure can maintain the correct level all the way through the summer whilst in hot water mode, but can drop significantly when you first use your heating. Therefore please check your boiler pressure gauge, and please see our video on how to re-pressurise your boiler. Simply type into YouTube “how to top up your boiler pressure”
Test your radiators
Central heating systems often sit idle over the summer months and this can cause air to build up in the radiators. As you approach winter, wake your central heating back up by switching it on for around 20 minutes every other day, or as long as it takes for the radiators to reach their full temperature.
When it starts to get cold again, set the central heating temperature on the boiler to about 15.5 °C /60° F rather than on maximum. Having the heating on for longer but at a lower temperature will give you a much more enjoyable heat.
It will also prevent your boiler from going from very cold to very hot, putting less of a strain on your boiler.