Keeping Your Heating System Running Through the Winter, by Evelyn Robinson
The one time of year that we all really rely on our home heating system is during the chilly winter months, and when they stop working during this time of year it can be a real headache, not to mention uncomfortable and inconvenient. Unfortunately, plenty of things can go wrong with a central heating system during particularly cold snaps, at a time when heating your home is needed the most. With the seasonal colder weather setting in fast, it is well worth carrying out a few checks, doing a spot of maintenance, and taking advantage of a few tips to ensure your heating system keeps running smoothly this winter. Doing these things now before it gets even colder and a problem occurs will really be worth it in the long run, and lots of them you can do yourself.
Insulate Those Pipes
All the water pipes that run through your home may or may not be covered with foam pipe insulation, but if they are not, do it now. Not only will this make your home heating system more efficient, but it will also make it much less likely that your pipes freeze and burst open. A burst pipe can ruin a boiler, so it is well worth the effort. The condensate pipe on your boiler needs to be protected from the cold too, as even a brand new boiler will struggle to work if its condensate pipe freezes, so measure it up and cover that with foam insulation too.
Put a Jacket on Your Hot Water Cylinder
Give your boiler a break by wrapping up your hot water cylinder, which many homes do still have, in a nice warm insulation jacket. This will increase efficiency and put less stress on your boiler when the temperature plummets. You might even have water tanks up in the roof cavity, and if you do make sure you give them the same treatment so they don’t freeze over.
Don’t Turn off Your Boiler
To stay on the safe side, it really is worth keeping your boiler on continuously to avoid any pipes freezing, and so that it does not have to work so hard once you turn it back on. You do not have to keep it on at a high temperature, gentle heating on a low temperature it fine, as long as it is enough to keep pipes warm enough to stop freezing. This is worth remembering if you plan on leaving your home for a short holiday, even if it is just for the weekend. You might be tempted to switch it off if no-one will be in the house, but paying for the fuel will be cheaper than paying for a plumber to come out and fix burst pipes.
Turn Your Boiler’s Thermostat Up
When the mercury really drops, match the fall by notching up your boiler’s thermostat. This is not the thermostat that controls your room temperature, but the thermostat that is found directly on your boiler. Doing this will make sure the entire heating system is running at a higher temperature, and make sure that a sudden drop in temperature does not put it under any excess stress. Once the abnormal cold spell is over, change the thermostat back to its normal setting.
Give Your Boiler a Check-Up
Ok, this may seem obvious but it is probably one of the most important things you can do, unless you have a brand new boiler of course. It is the best way to prevent any problems actually happening during the winter and you being left inside in the cold. Getting it checked and services, if needed, by a qualified boiler technician is defiantly worth the money.
If it’s Old, Give it a Power Flush
Old central heating systems may have become less efficient because of black sludge building up in the radiators, which results in cold spots. Power flushing pumps a specialised cleaner at high pressure through your radiators will remove this build-up of sludge and dirt, to the benefit of your entire central heating system. At the worst it will make your central heating more efficient, at the best it will save you the money needed to pay for costly repairs if your heating system breaks down over the winter.