As a plumbing and heating company, winter is a busy time of year for us. Many households across the UK will experience heating problems over the next few weeks. Having been relatively inactive over the summer, boilers are prone to suffering from breakdowns when they are forced back to life over the long winter period. Customers can hope to avoid unexpected (and expensive!) breakdowns by servicing their boilers annually. Like people, boilers require regular maintenance to function to the best of their ability. Now that we’re on the other side of Christmas, we’ve come up with a list of common problems that can lead to boiler problems over winter. While certain problems can be resolved with some handy DIY, most heating related issues require the expertise of a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Boiler problems: Frozen condensate pipes
If you live in the UK, frozen condensate pipes are a problem that is almost exclusive to the winter period. Modern, condensing boilers have a pipe which transports acidic water away from the boiler itself. This pipe usually runs outside into a drain, so it has a high risk of freezing over the winter period. Luckily, condensate pipes are easy to identify. You will see several pipes that enter and exit the main body of your boiler. Look for a plastic pipe that leads outside of your property, into a drain. You can then defrost the pipe yourself by pouring warm water over it.
Some heating issues are not necessarily due to boiler problems. A faulty thermostat, for example, can really throw your heating off. While it may be that your thermostat has simply malfunctioned or lost accuracy over time, it’s always worth double checking whether this is the case. For instance, it’s possible that your thermostat has been physically knocked to the wrong time or schedule. It’s also worth considering whether your home is simply warmer than you think. Your thermostat won’t allow the boiler to heat your home higher than the temperature it has been set to. If this is the case, you should increase the temperature in small increments until you find the right temperature for your home.
Boiler problems: Strange noises
If you can hear your boiler making markedly strange noises, it’s generally a sign of boiler problems. Air in the system and low water pressure are common causes of this. Another example is kettling, which is a strange, rumbling noise that sounds like a boiling kettle. This occurs when lime scale builds up on your boiler’s heat exchanger. When sludge builds up in your boiler, it can restrict the flow of water within the heat exchanger, causing it to steam and boil. Kettling means that your boiler must work harder to operate efficiently. This shortens the lifespan of the systems and makes it more expensive to run. If your central heating system makes banging, whistling or gurgling noises, it’s always worth calling out a Gas Safe registered engineer to resolve the problem.