A broken down boiler in the summer would be an inconvenience, but losing it in the winter is a whole lot worse. It’s not just about not having a hot bath – you won’t be able to dry clothes on radiators, you’ll be washing in cold water, and if it’s particularly cold, an unheated house could actually be very serious for the old, the young and the infirm.
So don’t leave it to chance. Modern boilers are so reliable and efficient that it’s easy to forget it’s there. But unfortunately, even the best quality boilers have parts that wear out, and they’re much more likely to finally give up when they’re being used to their maximum – and that means in winter.
Preparing your boiler for winter is therefore very important. And the sooner you prep, the better. Don’t wait until the first frost to start following the instructions we’ve given below – mid-autumn is best, especially if you need to book a gas engineer to fix or service it. You know they’re like gold dust!
So here are your tips for getting your boiler ready for the big freeze, and a few helpful pieces of advice should something go wrong. We hope you’ll have a lovely warm winter in your home – and following these tips should go a long way to ensuring it.
Have Your Boiler Serviced
An annual service is important to ensure proper boiler function and a warm home during the winter months. If you haven’t had your boiler serviced yet this year, you can book an appointment using the Find an Installer section of our website or call our customer services team on 01482 498660.
During a boiler service, your engineer will clean all the parts and components in your boiler and check that they are all in good working order. Anything that’s looking worn will be replaced. You don’t have to wait till winter for a service – if you don’t think it’s had one in the past 12 months, book one today. Note also that with most boiler manufacturers, an annual service is also required to maintain your boiler’s warranty.
Defrost & Insulate Your Pipes
During the winter months, standing water in pipework can freeze. And because water expands when it freezes, it can actually burst your pipes in extreme cold. Also, if your boiler’s external condensate pipe freezes, it can cause your boiler to stop working. If this does happen, you can defrost it by pouring tepid (not boiling) water over it. You can watch how to defrost a frozen condensate pipe in the video below:
The best way to prevent frozen pipes is to insulate them. If your boiler is in a garage or outdoors, this is a must, but even kitchens can get pretty cold in winter.
Another tip is to keep the heating constantly on at a low temperature. Set your thermostat to low when you go to bed, and as long as your timer is set up to “constantly on”, the heating will come on overnight if the temperature plummets.
Check Your Pressure
If your boiler loses pressure, it can impact its efficiency. Topping up your boiler is quick and simple. You can refer to the manufacturer’s installation guide or watch our useful video below. It’s usually a simple case of turning on two taps and watching the pressure gauge until it reaches 1–1.5 bar. Aim for the lower end of the range, as pressure will rise a little when the heating comes on.
If the pressure is too high, you may need to speak to a Gas Safe registered engineer, but sometimes bleeding a radiator does the job.
Bleed Your Radiators
Bleeding your radiators will ensure that your central heating operates efficiently. Bleeding squeezes out air, which doesn’t heat up, and replaces it with water circulating around the system. Radiators which have colder parts towards the top indicate trapped air, and that’s a sure sign that they need bleeding. You can watch how to bleed your radiators below:
Remember to put a bit more water in the system once you’ve bled it, as the pressure will have dropped. If radiators are cold at the bottom, it’s more likely to be due to a build-up of sludge. Cleaning them out is more of a professional job.
Be Prepared in the Run-up to Winter
It’s a good idea to test your boiler and central heating system properly by running it for a few hours one evening before cold weather sets in. This will allow you to check your system is running correctly and ensure gas safety.
Keeping your boiler healthy, particularly over the winter, will help keep your home safe and warm. Regular maintenance will also make for a more cost-effective heating system as your boiler will be running more efficiently.
For help in finding a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area, click here.