Getting your boiler ready for winter
Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, our friends at British Gas have been tracking how we’ve been using energy. Unsurprisingly, with more and more people working from home, consumption is up.
And looking ahead, this new normal is going to place additional demands on our homes. So, with winter not far away, it’s time to make sure everything’s working as it should – beginning with your boiler.
What the data’s already telling us
By analysing energy usage this year and comparing it with 2019 the results – though not surprising – are interesting. And arguably paint a picture of the months to come.
We first went into lockdown on March 16th, 10 days later home energy usage at midday was up 38% on the exact same day in 2019.
Home energy usage has continued to be higher and consumption isn’t just up during the day, it’s way up during the night too – no doubt reflecting the fact that, right now, more of us are staying in more of the time.
Home energy consumption has increased significantly as more people stay home, from both work and recreation
As the winter months draw in, we’re going to see this upward curve of home energy consumption continue as more people stay in more often with the heating on. So it’s time to be as efficient as possible.
Tips for getting your boiler back in action
Check the pressure
If your boiler’s been out of action for a while, the pressure should be around 1 – 1.5 bar. If it’s showing less than 0.5 bar, you’ll need to repressurise the system.
- Find the filling loop and pressure gauge. (The filling loop handles should be at a 90° angle to the flow of the pipe)
- Turn off the boiler
- Turn both filling loop handles to match the direction of the pipe. (You should hear water flowing)
- The pressure should turn up. Keep an eye on the gauge and close the handles when you reach the right pressure
- Turn the boiler back on
If you’re unsure on this process, contact a Local Hero who can help you get the job done.
Note: Worcester Bosch boilers may follow a different repressurising process.
Bleed your radiators
This is a really simple and surprisingly satisfying job. The only tool you’ll need is a radiator key, which should be available at any hardware shop for under £1.
- Turn the central heating on
- Check the radiators to see which ones aren’t heating up
- Turn the central heating off
- Put a towel under a radiator that wasn’t heating up
- Put the key into the radiator valve
- Turn it anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing sound
- Watch out for water!
- Wait for the hissing to stop then turn the key back again
All done? Onto the next one!
Insulate your boiler condensate pipe
The boiler condensate pipe channels excess water from your heating system into your household wastewater.
If you have one on the outside of your home, it may be susceptible to freezing. The same goes if it’s in a chilly attic.
So before the weather gets really cold, double-check it’s well insulated. You can pick up condensate pipe insulation in a local hardware store and install it yourself pretty easily or find a Local Heroes handyman to do it for you.
What to spot if your boiler’s not working
Hopefully your boiler’s raring to go. But if you spot any of the following problems, you might need a professional’s help.
Radiators are taking ages to heat up
If your radiators are taking too long to warm up, there could be sludge in your system – or, if your boiler is quite old, it could be on its way out of service.
Your boiler smells bad
If your boiler’s emitting any kind of odour, that’s a bad sign. In the worst case scenario, it could be a carbon monoxide leak and should be addressed immediately by a Gas Safe engineer.
Any kind of smell coming from your boiler should be investigated as soon as possible.
The gas itself is odourless (which makes it even more dangerous) but stops the boiler burning properly. And that creates the bad smell. If you suspect a gas leak, get help immediately.
Bills are going up
The older a boiler gets, the less efficient it becomes. So it could be time for a new one. When you’re looking at boiler types, find one with a modern condensing system. They tend to be the most efficient.
Puddles are appearing
If your boiler’s leaking, internal parts may be disintegrating. Or it could be loose piping. Either way get it looked at quickly. With Local Heroes, it’s easy to find a boiler engineer near you.
It just doesn’t sound right
Whirring, clanging, clicking and clacking are not sounds you want to hear from your boiler. It could be any number of things from a broken valve to general wear and tear. Again, get it looked at as soon as you can.
If the worst comes to the worst, don’t worry
There’s a lot of dramatic talk around broken boilers. But buying a new one and installing it might not be as expensive as you think.
At Local Heroes, we do everything we can to find people the right boilers at the best possible prices. We offer top, high-quality boiler brands, including Worcester Bosch, Ideal and Vaillant, and we have some very cost-effective deals up our sleeve. Like getting a brand-new Glow-worm Essential Combi 28kW from just £1,099 or an Ideal Logic Combi 30kW from £1,199 (both with a two year warranty).
And one more thing. More often than not you won’t just be paying for a boiler, you’ll also being paying for installation. Not with us. When you buy a boiler from Local Heroes, the installation isn’t just a pain-free process. All new boilers come with free installation.