- Anthony Ragno
Is Your Boiler Ready for Winter?
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
While we enjoy the heat of summer and the crispness of fall, we also take these milder months to perform maintenance on our property.
There is no better time to ensure that your building systems are in suitable working order than before a potential cold snap.
But, if you are one of many people that did not get around to getting your property ready before the winter, there is still time to get your building systems, including your boiler, ready for winter.
With a little maintenance, you too can ensure that your boiler is properly functional and prepared to take on the winter temperatures.
Boilers are a popular choice for heating buildings because one boiler can effectively heat a large building at a potentially lower cost than electric heat or a furnace.
It is vital to keep your boiler equipment working correctly so that your property’s heat is distributed and keeps its occupants comfortable and safe.
Completing a series of proactive measures to prepare your boiler for usage during the colder weather will help you avoid expensive equipment repairs and keep your building warm.
What Steps Can You Take to Make Your Boiler Ready for Winter?
If you are starting your winter boiler preparation early or waiting until it is time to turn your heating system on for the season, the following steps will ensure that your boiler is ready to work.
Turn the heat on to evaluate the boiler’s condition. If you perform your maintenance in the summer or early fall, it might seem counterintuitive to turn on the boiler.
A quick assessment will determine if your boiler is ready for typical cold weather (winter) operation. If your boiler fails to heat the building properly, call your boiler professional to repair or replace your ailing boiler.
Remove Any Objects or Debris Surrounding the Boiler
It is essential to monitor this piece of maintenance when your boiler is in use and clear debris before seasonal usage of your boiler.
The floor space around your boiler should be free and clear so that your boiler can breathe through the air intake on the unit.
Avoid storing any flammable objects, such as papers, cardboard, or anything that can ignite.
Check Your Filters
Before switching your boiler on, it is a good idea to check your filters. A dirty filter can cause your boiler to overheat, so it and cleaning any debris or dust build-up will help your boiler perform at its optimal level.
If you have disposable filters in your boiler, you will need to replace them altogether. Electrostatic filters can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner and wiped down.
If you are not comfortable with performing this maintenance, your boiler professional can determine the type of filter your unit uses and replace or clean the filter to ensure that your boiler works properly.
Check The Fuel Source
This tip may be more geared for maintenance before the winter weather forces you to turn on your boiler but should also be looked at to ensure there are no issues with the boiler’s fuel source.
Whether your boiler uses propane, oil, or natural gas, it is critical to inspect for any leaks in the unit’s piping or valves and examine the fuel level to be well-prepared for your boiler in the winter.
Inspect The Burner
Checking your burner and its components for damaged parts or parts needing replacement will alert you to any damaged or worn-down areas. Replace any overheated, misshapen, or cracked pieces. There should be special attention paid to the burner shutter, damper, diffuser, and nozzle.
Carbon Monoxide Monitor
For safety purposes, you should ensure that you have ample carbon monoxide monitors in your building. A carbon monoxide alarm that will alert you to any leaks and is especially crucial if you have an older boiler.
Carbon monoxide leaks are colorless with no smell, so for the safety of all of the occupants of your building, a working carbon monoxide monitor is essential.
Insulate The Pipes
If you can get to them, insulating your boiler’s pipes can prevent freezing in cold snaps. Cold weather climates leave water supply, or heating pipes, exposed to outer walls or cold spaces susceptible to freezing.
Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes and flooding in your building. Not only will frozen pipes leave your building cold and uncomfortable, but you also risk significant damage to the boiler or your property and belongings.
While it might be easier to complete this maintenance when the weather is warmer, there are ways to insulate your pipes when it is colder.
A professional boiler technician will be able to determine the type and amount of insulation you need and will complete the work for you. It may be advisable to contact your local boiler company.
Survey for Blockages
As crucial as maintenance is to keep your building warm and comfortable, it is also imperative for keeping your building safe for its occupants.
Check your boiler’s flue to ensure that it is free of any blockages. The flue must be clear of any obstructions for it to draw noxious fumes out and fresh air in. Any stoppage in the flue can cause boiler exhaust gases to collect, which can be dangerous and cause the boiler to malfunction.
Check Your Boiler’s Pressure
Your boiler should have a pressure gauge. It will be evident from just looking at the gauge if your pressure is at the correct level. Your gauge should be between the numbers 1 and 1.5 and in the green (instead of the red).
If your boiler pressure is too high, it may be a sign that you need to bleed your radiators. If your boiler pressure is too low, you may need to use your refilling loop to increase the pressure. A reduction in boiler pressure may affect hot water from traveling through the boiler system to heat your house effectively.
If you are at all uncomfortable with this step, or your boiler pressure fluctuates regularly, bring in a boiler professional.
Examine Your Radiator(s):
Part of the heat test maintenance should include a radiator check. Once you have turned the heat on, feel your radiators for any hot or cold spots.
If your radiator stays cool while the heat is turned on, especially if you find it cooler toward the bottom of the radiator can indicate that there is trapped air in your radiator. Bleeding your radiator should resolve the issue. You can do this by following these steps:
Turn off the heat
Wait until the radiators are cool
Locate the bleed valve
Unfasten the bleed screw
Listen for hissing
Wait for the hissing to stop altogether
Re-tighten the valve
Check for any leaked spills and clean up
Turn on the heat
Bleeding your radiator should fix any cold spots, but you may have a more severe problem like sludge build-up if the issue continues. Sludge build-up presents a more significant problem that requires some skill and more work to fix.
Cleaning your radiator or a power flush may be the answer to your problem, and a quick call to a boiler maintenance professional will help determine a fix.
A Winter-Ready Boiler
Your boiler is essential to keep your building warm in cold weather. A working boiler can mean the difference between a comfortable winter and an expensive and cold winter.
It is a good idea to test your boiler and its components properly by letting it run for some time before the frigid weather makes its appearance.
Your boiler’s health is vital over the winter—it will make for a boiler that runs more efficiently, which translates to a more cost-effective way to heat your building.
Completing small maintenance or having a boiler professional attend to your boiler will help keep your building warm and safe.
You should check your air filters regularly, and you should remove dirt, debris, and household articles from blocking the space surrounding your boiler, inhibiting it from working correctly. You should also analyze other components for worthiness.
When you are proactive with preparing your boiler for winter, either completing some items yourself or by enlisting a boiler professional’s help, you can rest easy knowing that your boiler should run smoothly and produce the heat needed to keep your building warm.
Even if you can complete one or two of the items on your maintenance checklist by yourself, it is a good idea to bring in a professional to complete the more difficult and potentially dangerous tasks.
Add these maintenance items into your regularly scheduled annual checkup with your boiler maintenance professional.
Ragno Boiler Maintenance Inc.
A neglected boiler that does not receive yearly maintenance can operate poorly or even present a safety issue.
Ragno Boiler Maintenance Inc. has been providing expert heating system maintenance in the Bronx for over 87 years.
523 Bruckner Blvd
Contact us today for any of your boiler needs or to book an appointment for boiler maintenance that can help your unit run at an optimal level all winter long.