Summer Central Heating Tips for a Winter-Ready Boiler

So many emergency heating and plumbing repairs are preventative. If instruction manuals for boilers were written by plumbers, manufacturers would not be selling as many parts as people go through.

The best time to do preventative maintenance on your central heating system is in the summer. Some things are universal to all combi boilers, while other chores are dependent on the parts installed, like Thermostatic Radiator Valves.

Discover the simplest tips that’ll save you the hassle and cost of emergency plumbing and heating repairs this winter.

5 Tips to Ensure Your Central Heating System is Winter-Ready

Prep steps before turning the heating off in late spring

Know how it seems common knowledge on the ‘net to turn your heating off when you don’t need it (so says Captain Obvious), well, there’s a couple of things to know before you do…

From a budget standpoint, it makes sense to turn your heaters off because you don’t need them to heat your home when it’s already warm. It’s partly a false economy though because you still need to tick your system over to prevent parts seizing up.

When you turn it off for the summer, make it a point to run your heating to all your radiators for at least a quarter-hour once per month. That’ll prevent parts from seizing up.

A note on TRVs

TRVs are Thermostatic Radiator Valves. These are tremendous energy savers when they work. They’re prone to sticking though.

Self-regulating TRVs will expand and contract based on internal temperatures. If you don’t manually alter these before switching your heating off, it’s likely to be in the same position for months. Leave it on low until the Autumn, there’s a good chance it’ll become stuck.

When a TRV gets stuck in the off position, the radiator will not heat. When it’s stuck in the max position, it won’t cool down.

Under the TRV is a single pin that enables it to work. That pin (or piston as it’s often known) usually just needs loosening, a little lubricant added and the TRV reattached.

A plumber can fix this in a matter of minutes so if you find your radiator is broken when you turn your system back on, do not go removing your heater from the wall risking flooding your property when all that could be needed is a simple adjustment to the TRV.

The best precaution is to NOT leave the valve in the same position for months. Summer or Winter, turn radiator valves occasionally to prevent them seizing up, and run your system periodically to keep all the parts in your boiler moving.

While it is a smart move to turn your heaters off over the summer, not so smart is to leave it off for months without ever starting it up until Autumn.

2) Summer is when to arrange your annual boiler service

Every boiler needs annual service. The summer is the best time to get it done. It helps plumbers balance their workload because, in the winter, you’ll be hard-pressed to book a plumber for a routine maintenance check. The most allocated slots for annual boiler services are the ones that were installed as part of an emergency boiler replacement service. The majority of these are done in late winter when boilers are prone to packing in.

Since regulations stipulate boilers are serviced with a maximum 12-month interval, it means every emergency boiler replacement done in winter needs serviced every winter after that.

Winter is the busiest period for plumbers and heating engineers. Speak with your heating technician about summer annual servicing because it will be more convenient. Depending on the circumstances (distance to travel, age and condition of boiler), discounts could be applied when it makes economical sense for a heating engineer to shift a service plan from November to May, as examples. It would cost the customer more in the first year, but longer term, it’s likely to save money.

Edgware Plumbers provide annual boiler serving on all leading combi-boiler brands including Glow-Worm, Vokera, Vaillant, Buderus, Heatline, Ideal, and Worcester-Bosch. Our Annual Boiler Servicing package is available to residents within ten miles of Edgware, North London. (See here for details)

3) Treating Radiators with Chemical Inhibitors

Do you know how many contaminants are in the water supply around Edgware?

Some estimates put the water hardiness levels at 335 ppm (parts per millions). Those parts are hard deposits like magnesium, calcium, aluminium and chromium. All chemicals that cause corrosion in water systems.

Chemical inhibitors are used to prevent corrosion. Applying it is easy for a plumber, but not as straightforward for a homeowner without sufficient knowledge of plumbing systems.

To treat radiators (and heated towel rails connected to a boiler) with a chemical inhibitor, the appliances need to be shut off from the TRV first, the air vent opened to let air escape, then water drained from the radiator, but only enough to refill with the same amount of a chemical inhibitor. Think of it as a water softener for your heating appliances.

This is beneficial for most heating systems and since you’re not modifying any plumbing pipes, it is a DIY job that’s (usually) safe to do, provided you know what you’re doing.

This is a fast maintenance job that Edgware Plumbers are happy to let you watch over our shoulders and get your questions answered so you know what we’re doing and why. That’s if you’re interested. We can include the application of chemical inhibitors in our annual boiler servicing to give you a completely hands-off boiler maintenance plan.

Chemical inhibitors are important in North London properties because of the water hardiness. Failing to treat systems to prevent corrosion will lead to hard deposits accumulating to the extent that heating appliances don’t entirely heat up. They end up costing more to run, and even more to fix.

Due to having extremely hard water in Edgware and nearby areas, scale reducers are also beneficial to reduce limescale. This is the most prominent natural mineral known in our trade for its destructive effects on various boiler parts including the thermostat, heat exchanger, radiators and every pipe throughout your home.

Without chemical inhibitors being added, (and in North London, a scale reducer too) a power flush is likely…

4) Power Flushing Central Heating Systems

This is what’s going to be needed when chemical inhibitors aren’t used. Too many deposits accumulate in the radiator. When that happens, the bottom of your heater is colder than the top. Airlocks (fixed by bleeding) cause the reverse – cooler at the top than it is at the bottom.

The only way to get rid of heavy particles built up inside heaters is to power flush them out. Depending on the extent of work involved, it could require a half-day to a full day of work by a plumber. It’s far more time consuming than the five minutes it’d take to add an inhibitor into the system once a year.

Signs your system needs power flushed is when you find yourself bleeding your radiators more than usual (once or twice annually is the most this will need to be done), radiators are colder at the base than they are at the top, or when the pipes leading to your heater are hot but the radiators themselves aren’t. There’s probably too much sludge in the heater for the water to effectively warm.

If you’ve noticed those signs, then speak with your heating engineer because the summer is when this type of job should be booked in. When this is needed, it definitely shouldn’t be put off until the winter, because that’s likely going to be too much for your boiler to handle resulting in a breakdown requiring an emergency heating system repair.

5) Summer is Perfect Upgrading Your Boiler

Do you know the age of your boiler? How much water, sludge, and debris that’s been run through it? The amount of work every small part has had to endure? They don’t last forever. Boilers tend to last 15-years before they start piling up repair bills. One that’s has been poorly maintained will usually be in bad shape past ten years of use.

Even on the blink, some systems can tick over on life support for a few extra years. You’ll save yourself in the long run by biting the bullet, talking your options through with a Gas Safe Heating Technician who’s knowledgeable on the most valuable brands that tend to last the longest in North London where hard water is prone to causing boiler breakdowns.
Some brands are better than others.

About Us

Edgware Plumbers has years of experience in servicing leading brands of combi-boilers in North London and Hertfordshire properties. We serve residential and commercial properties (including private landlords) within ten miles of Edgware, including Elstree and Camden. Our annual boiler service plans can be tailored to your requirements or boiler needs. Click here to book a service call with an experienced and Gas Safe Registered heating technician at Edgware Plumbing.