Boiler Maintenance and Repair 101

Boiler Maintenance and Repair 101

Boilers are a closed vessel in which water is heated. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various heating applications, such as water heating, central heating, boiler-based power generation, sanitation, and cooking. Boilers are essential in every building because we use heat every day. Whether it’s winter and your house requires heat to warm up your surroundings, or you enjoy cooking and need heat to prepare your meals, we all use heat to some degree in our day-to-day activities. 

Today’s boilers are better than ever because they’re sleeker-looking, produce more heat, and help reduce your energy bills. According to the Department of Energy, modern-day boilers are 98.5% efficient, which means new boilers waste less fuel than boilers from a decade ago. An efficient boiler uses less energy, which lowers your monthly energy bill and reduces your impact on the environment. Even though boilers do so much for us, most homeowners are stumped when it comes to basic boiler maintenance and repairs. Some homeowners don’t know they have to inspect their boiler each month. 

If you’re one of these clueless homeowners, don’t worry, it’s not too late for you to catch up on your boiler’s maintenance. These simple steps to tune-up your boiler adds years of service to your unit, and increases the interval between professional boiler inspections. Continue reading to learn more about keeping your boiler in top shape.

1. Perform a Test Run

The first step to conducting boiler maintenance is to switch your system to determine if it’s in proper working order. Run your boiler for 20-30 minutes and make sure your boiler is doing the following:

  • Producing heat
  • The boiler has an even heat output to the vents and radiator
  • The boiler isn’t leaking
  • Boiler pipes aren’t making unusual noises
  • Wait for your boiler to cool down before you proceed with the rest of the maintenance steps. 

2. Check Your Boiler’s Pressure Readings

Most boilers come with a pressure gauge that usually stays between 12-15 psi. The boiler’s pressure is controlled by the expansion tank and the pressure relief valve. Additionally, boiler systems typically have a set of temperature gauges that monitor a room’s thermostat, boiler water temperature, temperature safety limits, and a circulating pump’s temperature. Check your boiler’s manual to learn all about your boiler’s control settings and troubleshooting signs. 

3. Replace Your Oil Filter

Oil-fired units require annual oil filter replacement. Use the boiler’s oil shut-off valve to turn off your boiler’s oil supply. Look for the oil filter and remove the filter’s housing cover. Replace the old filter and install a new one. Read your boiler’s manual to make this maintenance task safer and easier. 

4. Lubricate Your Circulating Pump

Some boilers perform better after a few drops of pump lubricant, which helps your system’s water circulation and prevents other boiler failures. 

5. Inspect Your Expansion Tank

Check your expansion tank’s water level. A healthy expansion tank should be about half-way full. If your expansion tank is more than half-way full, you’ll need to use a drain valve to return the tank to its natural water level. However, if your expansion tank is overflowing, your tank might have an air leak or needs to be recharged. There’s nothing you can do to fix a troubled expansion tank, and you’ll need to call a professional.

6. Examine Your Water Softener

Unless you live in a city where the water is already soft, you’ll have to soften your boiler’s water now and then. Open your boiler’s brine tank and examine your water’s salt levels. Manually break up any large chunks of salt and rebalance your boiler’s salt and water levels. Clean out your brine tank if it’s dirty. 

7. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A potentially deadly consequence of a malfunctioning boiler system is the emission and build-up of carbon monoxide gas. Make sure you have multiple carbon monoxide systems installed in your home. Perform routine safety checks on all of your detectors and change their batteries each year. 

8. Common Boiler Problems and Repairs

Familiarize yourself with the top three most common boiler problems:

Kettling

Kettling occurs when your boiler produces loud, unpleasant noises that come from the boiler’s heating unit. The only solution is to replace your boiler entirely, which will cost a lot of money. Alternately, you can call a technician to flush out the system for you. 

Leaking

Boiler leaks indicate your boiler is having significant problems, and they’re usually a sign your boiler is corroding. Replace your pressure relief valve and boiler’s pump. 

Lack of Heat

Perhaps the most challenging boiler problem to handle is when the boiler stops producing heat. While the problem might have to do with your boiler’s ignition, there are many potential problems to consider. Some of the issues range from having a broken thermostat to dealing with a fractured pump. Don’t attempt to pinpoint the problem on your own. You’re better off calling a technician instead. 

Providing your boiler with monthly maintenance can keep a host of problems at bay. However, boiler problems sometimes arise without any rhyme or reason, and your only hope is to work with an experienced technician. 

Roberts Mechanical is your go-to expert on all things boiler related. Whether you’re in the market for a replacement boiler, need a boiler repair, or need to schedule routine boiler maintenance, Roberts Mechanical is here to help you. We boast over 30 years of experience, and each of our technicians has completed the training required for NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification. Contact Roberts Mechanical today, and one of our technicians will assist you with your boiler needs.