Everyone needs access to a reliable source of heat during our long New England winters. Many homes use hot water to supply heat through boilers or radiant heating systems. If heating technologies were royalty, your boiler would be king. Studies estimate that boilers are responsible for about 60% of home energy use, so it’s important that your boiler is working as efficiently as possible.
Boiler systems require proper, regular maintenance to run efficiently and provide continuous water-based heat to your home or business. We recommend having it serviced at least once a year by a licensed technician such as Gem Plumbing. Our skilled technicians can make the checks and adjustments needed to ensure your system continues running efficiently. If your system uses oil as its fuel source, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year.
In between professional service calls, we also recommend that you help maintain your system by taking the following steps:
- Bleed your radiators:
- If your radiators don’t heat evenly or sufficiently, you may want to try bleeding them.
- Place a soft, absorbent cloth on the floor and use a radiator key to open the radiator valve.
- You should hear a hissing sound as warm air comes out of the radiator.
- When the hissing stops and water starts flowing out of the radiator, close the valve and mop up any leaked water.
- This should help your radiator heat more evenly.
- Check the water level:
- If your boiler does not have enough water to operate properly, it can quickly become damaged beyond repair.
- If the water level is below the manufacturer’s suggested level, you may also want to check for any plumbing leaks that need to be repaired.
- Check the air vents and flues:
- Blocked air vents and flues can prevent your boiler from operating efficiently by trapping air inside your home and creating pressure in your heating system.
- If you find any blockage in your vents or flues, clear it away to allow the free flow of air.
- Check the overflow pipe for dripping water:
- Is your overflow pipe is dripping?
- This could indicate that your pressure release valve is defective and needs to be replaced by a skilled technician.
- Give your boiler room to breathe:
- Piling up boxes, bags, and other stored items in front of your system can impact its efficiency.
- Clear the space around to allow your boiler room to breathe.
- Check your pilot light:
- The flame of your pilot light should be blue if your boiler is functioning properly.
- If the flame is orange or yellow instead, call a technician - this may indicate a faulty system and is a warning sign of a potential carbon monoxide leak.
If your boiler does need service or a repair, your local Gem Plumber is here to help. We recommend contacting Gem for service at (877) 436-6684 if you are experiencing any of the following issues:
- Your home is unevenly or inadequately heated
- You notice a yellow or orange flame instead of a blue flame
- There is water leaking from or in the area around your system
- Your energy bill has increased dramatically
Call Gem Plumbing today at 877-436-6684 if you are experiencing any of these issues or if you’d like to have your boiler checked out.
Boiler Installations and Replacements
You should consider replacing your boiler if you notice any of the following signs:
- Your boiler needs frequent repairs:
- Frequent repairs means that your boiler needs service more than twice a year.
- In this case, you are probably spending more money trying to fix it than you would if you bought a new one!
- As boilers experience wear and tear, all components of your boiler are more prone to breaking down.
- If your boiler needs more and more repairs, ask yourself whether it's worth pouring so much money into a dying machine.
- Your fuel bills are higher than they used to be:
- As boilers age, they have to work harder to produce the same amount of heat.
- They use more fuel to heat your home - and drive up your heating bills.
- Over the years, boilers accumulate a layer of scale on their heat transfer surfaces from dissolved minerals in the water.
- This scale acts as insulation and reduces the amount of heat that can be transferred.
- Your boiler has to use more fuel than it used to, just to keep your comfortable.
- You see yellow flames:
- This means that your boiler’s fuel is not burning properly. You should call Gem Plumbing ASAP as your boiler could be generating unhealthy carbon monoxide (CO).
- CO is a colorless, odorless gas that is lethal at certain levels.
- Even at lower levels, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and chest pain.
- How does this happen? Over time, dirt and soot can clog up your boiler burners, which won’t allow the proper mixture of gas and oxygen, leading to “incomplete combustion” - the yellow flames.
- You have frequent leaks:
- As your boiler ages, it will likely start leaking water at some point.
- Eventually, small leaks can turn into bigger leaks that can cause costly water damage.
- Aging boilers develop leaks from cracks in the body, damaged seals, or too much pressure.
- If you have even a small leak, you should consider replacing your boiler. If the metal is weak enough to leak once, it’s likely to spring more leaks!
Don’t wait for a complete breakdown to replace your boiler. Call Gem Plumbing today and let us help you determine the right timeline and options for replacing your boiler.
Gem can also help increase your system’s efficiency by installing programmable thermostats, upgrading ductwork, checking your home for heat loss, and adding zone control. Take a look at our HVAC options for more information about keeping your home warm in an efficient way.
Steam heat systems are one of the oldest heating technologies. Steam heat uses gas or oil to heat water that then turns into steam that flows into radiators or convectors to heat your home.
Once the steam cools and condenses back into water, it returns to the boiler to go through the same cycle again. If you are sensitive to dust or other allergens, this is a good option as these systems produce clean, dust-free heat.
If you have a steam heat system at home, don’t forget to schedule your yearly maintenance to insure maximum efficiency.