If you've recently invested in a new boiler, you want to do all you can to make sure it lasts a lifetime. Furnaces actually beat heat pumps and central air conditioning when it comes to longevity; they can last up to 20 years when properly cared for. Here are five tips for maintaining your new boiler so it lives for years to come.
Clean out the Boiler
Like any other appliance in your home, a boiler collects dirt and dust over time. It's recommended to have your boiler professionally serviced every year, and cleaning can be a part of that agreement. However, if you wish to clean it yourself, you can do so as long as you allow the boiler to cool before getting started. If your health is poor (there's a lot of dust involved) or the boiler hasn't been cleaned in a long time, you should leave it to the professionals.
Once it's cool, you'll need to change the oil filter, then vacuum the motor and draft regulator with a soft attachment. Once vacuumed, wipe the components down with a soft, clean cloth to remove oil buildup. Be sure to gently clean the thermostat covers so the boiler continues to run efficiently.
A boiler should be cleaned at the end of winter so it's ready to go the following year. But if you live in a cold climate and run the heat frequently, you may need to clean it mid-winter as well. It's better to clean it too much than too little.
Check the Pressure
A boiler can build up and lose pressure over time. Either way, when the pressure is off, it won't work as efficiently. But when the pressure gets too high, it can lead to carbon monoxide leaks in the home as well as possible explosions if it the relief valve malfunctions. So it's important to check the gauge often.
If you're not sure what the normal pressures should be, check your owner's manual for the numbers. If the pressure drops, follow the manual's instructions for bringing it back up if you're comfortable doing so. If the pressure is high, call a professional right away for service.
Bleed the Radiators
If your radiators get air trapped inside, it can keep your home from heating up efficiently. You can usually tell if this happens because the radiator will be warm on the bottom and cooler on the top.
Bleeding the radiators of air is a very simple task. First, turn off your heating system to allow everything to cool. Then find the valve key that came with the system as well as the bleed valve on the radiator that matches the key. Turn the valve counterclockwise until you hear air escaping. Keep it open until a small amount of water begins to drip out, then turn it off. Be sure to have a rag or small bowl handy to catch the water.
Power Flush the System
Dirt and sludge can build up in the boiler and decrease the efficiency of your heating system. This happens because water that circulates through the pipes only run in one direction, allowing oil, iron flecks, sludge, and grease to collect. With a power flushing, water moves through the system in different directions which helps to loosen the gunk. Certain chemicals can also be used to help break down the sludge so it flushes out easier.
One of the telltale signs that you need to have your boiler flushed is a noisy system and baseboards and radiators that aren't very warm. You can arrange to have your system flushed on a regular basis or as part of your maintenance contract.
Keep the Area Clean
The area around your boiler should be kept clean. Avoid storing items around the system since it needs to remain well ventilated. Without adequate ventilation, it can stop working altogether. Make it a habit to check the area frequently to ensure you've got a clear path to the system and nothing is preventing it from "breathing."
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