Summer is officially here, which likely means your heating boiler, if you have one, is probably the last household appliance on your mind right now.
But all winter long, it kept you warm and cozy, and chances are good that you’re hoping it will deliver the same five-star performance in the winter season yet ahead!
Spring is actually the perfect time of year to perform heating boiler preventative maintenance. Your heating boiler is about to receive a nice rest from its labours and you likely won’t think about it again until the cool season returns.
In this article, we talk about the important maintenance steps to take to give your heating boiler some timely preventative care so you can start it up again problem-free this fall!
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Don’t Turn Your Boiler Off Completely
This may feel counterintuitive during a season of the year when you really don’t need your heating boiler’s services.
However, unless you have an old model heating boiler that still uses a pilot light, there really isn’t any need to completely power down your boiler when it isn’t in use.
For old-school pilot light boilers, you do want to turn your boiler off for the warm season to save money on gas as well as for safety reasons.
But if you have a newer, digital system with a standby mode or the type that has a switch toggling between “winter” and “summer” modes, you can just allow your boiler to rest in standby or summer mode until the temperatures cool down again.
Why leave your heating boiler on during the warm season?
This prevents the internal mechanisms from “freezing” or seizing due to an extended period of inactivity. If you do want to turn off your heating boiler until fall, make sure to set calendar alerts every month or so to turn it back on briefly.
Adjust Your Boiler’s Thermostat Setting
Of course, if you decide to power down your boiler for the summer, this isn’t so critical. But if you plan to leave it on in standby or summer mode, you will want to take the precautionary step of adjusting the thermostat.
This will prevent your boiler from inadvertently going back to work if a rogue cool front or lower evening temperatures arrive.
Some of the new energy efficient heating boilers also have advanced thermostat settings that can regulate temperature for different time periods and days just like central A/C and furnace systems. This can be a neat feature to use in transitional weather periods like spring and fall.
Install a Leak Detector
A leaking heating boiler can quickly become a home safety issue. This applies to both fuel and water.
A heating boiler that gets low on water can burn itself out or worse. If the pressure increases to an unsafe level, the boiler can even explode!
A heating boiler that is leaking fuel can quickly turn into a home fire hazard as well as an expensive appliance to run.
Switch Your Boiler Back On Before You Actually Need It
Whether your boiler is on standby/summer mode or off entirely, be sure to set a calendar alert to power it back on before summer ends.
It is not uncommon for trapped sediment, particulate matter or dirt to clog the inner mechanisms during an extended period of down time. In the same way, you may find that an inactive boiler develops pressure problems when powered up that relate to maintenance needs.
If either of these occurs, you want to get your request for maintenance and repairs in before the high demand fall season forces you to wait for service!
Check and Clean the Air Vents and Valves
Your heating boiler relies on the air vents or valves to automatically release trapped air within the system.
But over time, dust, debris and sometimes water scale (from hard water areas) can cause clogging at or near these valves. When this happens, the vents may not work properly to release trapped air as needed.
You can prevent a dangerous high-pressure situation by simply checking and cleaning these valves and, if necessary, bleeding the air out of them manually when you do the cleaning.
Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this work yourself, it is always wise to hire a professional to inspect and maintain your heating boiler for you.
Descale Your Boiler
If you live in an area where the water is hard (more mineral-rich), mineral scale can build up inside your tank and pipes over time.
The buildup of mineral scale can reduce your heating boiler’s operational efficiency, cause leaks and tube ruptures, create corrosion and worse. If this has not yet occurred with your heating boiler, there are ways to treat the water to reduce its mineral content. Opting for this route can reduce your annual maintenance chores to descale your boiler equipment.
But if you already have (or suspect that you have) scale build-up, you will need to give your heating boiler a good cleaning.
Typically this is something you might want to hire a professional to do because it requires working with cleaning chemicals and it often takes several cycles before your whole boiler is clean.
But it is certainly possible to learn to do it yourself if you wish. You may want to hire a professional the first time you descale your boiler so you can watch and learn the technique.
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