Boiler Repair and Maintenance

boiler maintenance and repair

Boiler Servicing: Warning Signs You Need to Know

Is your boiler safe and in need of maintenance or repair? When it comes to your family home or commercial property, one thing everyone can agree on is that it needs to stay warm during the winter to prevent uneven temperatures, moisture and even mold. In addition to that, your boiler may also be heating your hot water and avoiding unwanted interruptions to your hot water gives peace of mind and happy people.

If your boiler or furnace is in poor repair, it’s more than likely going to break down during the time you need it most (ie. the cold winter months and surprise cold snaps.)

Generally speaking, boilers use fewer mechanical parts than furnaces or heat pumps, so it’s going to accumulate less wear and tear over time. That doesn’t mean your boiler shouldn’t be assessed by a professional technician regularly, however, to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency.

Whether it’s a wood, natural gas, propane, electric, combi, condensing, non-condensing, or tankless boiler, it’s important to always watch for warning signs that something is not quite right with your boiler.

To know what to watch for, you’ll need to know how boilers work. Here, we’ve included some common boiler repair and maintenance questions.

How do Boilers Work?

Instead of utilizing forced air like a furnace, boilers will heat water to produce steam or hot water.

This is then channeled through various types of heating devices and not limited to in-floor heating (in slab or in joist) cast iron rads, perimeter radiators, and fan coils are some of the heat emitting products out there. By harnessing the energy efficiency of hot water, this will keep your home or commercial space warm and the water at the desired temperature.

What are the Benefits of Boilers?

While a boiler is a complex piece of equipment, it’s also extremely durable. This tends to require little maintenance, as long as you keep on top of any potential issues and call in a professional if things go awry.

As mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of boilers (besides durability and when it comes to space heating) is its high energy efficiency. After all, water is a much better medium for thermal transfer than air is. This makes it much more efficient than furnaces, which force hot air through ductwork. The superior, even heat distribution from a boiler will ensure your home or property stays warmer, longer. Warmth will radiate into every room from a baseboard heater or radiator and travel much more efficiently than hot air being blown out through vents.

How Long do Boilers Usually Last?

Boilers can last approximately 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance, outlasting most of the other heating systems out there. Combined with its energy efficiency, you’ll save more money on energy costs over the long lifespan of your boiler.

Add to this that boilers don’t have many moving parts that can wear down/out, so they really don’t need a whole lot of major maintenance or repairs.

Can Boilers be Repaired?

Absolutely they can.  They are like any other heating appliance. Parts are generally local and can be repaired fairly quickly. As a boiler ages, our professionals will be able to evaluate your boiler and let you know what your best options are.  In other words, is it worth repairing or does it need replacing?

Why is the Boiler Overflow Pipe Dripping?

One of the more common issues with boilers is leaking or dripping. If the leak is coming from the boiler heat exchanger, it’s most likely begun to corrode and will require either a new heat exchanger or boiler replacement.

However, if a leak is coming from a pressure relief valve or a pump, these can easily be repaired. If your pressure relief valve isn’t sealed correctly, this can cause your boiler’s pressure relief pipe to begin dripping. This is typically caused by excessive pressure build-up caused by the failure of the expansion tank.

Sometimes upon inspection, a suspected leak may only be condensation.

Can a leaking boiler explode? Probably not. A boiler would have to be neglected and left in extremely poor condition for that to happen.

What Happens if a Boiler Runs Out of Water?

If your boiler were to run out of water, this could pose a serious hazard to your home and family. Without water to regulate the high temperatures, this can weaken the steel. This can cause it to overheat, warp, and crack at the welds.

Do Boilers Need to be Serviced Every Year?

Yes. When you service your boiler every year, a technician will be able to spot any safety issues and potential repairs before they become a major problem in the future.

But what are more of the common warning signs for boilers that you can look out for?

Does Your Boiler Need Servicing? Warning Signs To Watch For

Besides leaking and dripping, sometimes the warning signs may not be that obvious.

If you start to notice a spike in your energy bills, not enough domestic hot water and short run times, that could be a sign your boiler is working too hard. Over half of a home’s energy usage comes from heating and cooling, so it’s important to make sure your boiler is running at peak efficiency.

Other warning signs can include:

  • Rumbling, banging, whistling, or gurgling sounds
  • Delays in room heating
  • Odd smells around the boiler
  • Worn-out seals or rusting
  • Reduced water flow
  • Malfunctioning radiators
  • Malfunctioning thermostat causing the boiler to turn on and off
  • Inconsistent temperature

When it comes to electric boilers, the contactors could be failing due to pitting and high usage. Failing contactors become a real issue.  Some of the signs are not enough heat or much longer run times which equals high energy bills.

In reference to gas boilers, One of the biggest warning signs to look out for is discolouration. The fuel may not be burning properly if you see black soot or yellow flames on the burners.

This can lead to a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If this is happening, shut off the gas immediately. You may need to contact your gas company before you call for boiler repair.

To keep your family safe, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

What Maintenance Does a Boiler Need?

If you have encountered warning signs for your boiler, it’s time to call in the professionals to come and service your boiler.

You can expect your technician to inspect the internal parts of your boiler such as the:

  • Gas valve
  • Ignitor
  • Burners
  • Heat exchanger
  • Contactors
  • Set points
  • Electric elements
  • Low water cut off
  • Flow switch
  • Gas pressures
  • Venting
  • Relays
  • Condensate drains

Your technician will also service external parts that include:

  • Pressure relief valve
  • Backflow devices
  • Pump controllers
  • Expansion tanks
  • Zone valves
  • Boiler feed regulators (Boiler make up water)
  • Thermostats
  • Mixing valves

Finally, your safety devices on the boiler will be checked as well. These devices include the fuel train, emergency shutoff switch, and operating switch. By having your safety devices checked every year, your boiler will continue to run safely and efficiently.

Avoid Boiler Breakdown

What happens if you don’t service your boiler? Ultimately, this will shorten the lifespan of your boiler. This can also pose a safety issue for your home and most importantly your family.

If you don’t service your boiler it can also become less energy efficient, raise your energy costs, and increase the risk of costly failure.

With most things home-related, prevention is key. By scheduling a yearly service, you’ll always save money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs in the future.

Here at South Island Mechanical, we have over 20 years of experience and our professionally trained HVAC technicians are ready to service your home or property.

Contact us today for yearly boiler maintenance, and so much more.