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Is Your Boiler Prepared for the Colder Weather Ahead?

How Professional Boiler Services Can Keep the Home Warm This Winter

With autumn halfway gone, Vancouver is already experiencing its fair share of chilly weather - but it’s only going to get colder in the coming months. So for homes that use boilers as their primary heating system, there’s no better time to ensure the boiler is up to the task of keeping the house nice and toasty. This article will give homeowners everything they need to know about boilers, including how they work, how to tell when they need repairs, and how best to maintain them. 

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Boilers work by a similar principle as other central heating systems. Except, instead of heating and circulating air throughout the home, they heat and distribute water. This is typically done via gas burners or electric heating elements. Once the water is heated (in some cases, to the point that it converts into steam), a central pump circulates it through a network of pipes running to every room in the house. 

These pipes may connect to terminals such as radiators or baseboard heaters or simply zig-zag under the floor (the latter is known as radiant flooring). The hot water radiates heat into the room before traveling back to the boiler to be heated and pumped again until the temperature in the home matches the thermostat setting. 

This design gives a boiler heating system several advantages over other central heating systems. Firstly, water is a more efficient thermal conductor than air, meaning that it can be heated faster and retain its heat longer. This makes boilers a much more energy-efficient option. It also allows for more even heating throughout the home since less heat is lost on the way from the unit to the various rooms in the house. And since they have fewer moving parts, boilers also tend to last longer than furnaces or heat pumps.

Common Boiler Problems to Watch Out For

As valuable as it is to have a basic understanding of boilers and how they function, it’s even more important to understand the warning signs of a malfunctioning boiler. This can help homeowners catch and address problems before they get worse. Here are a few signs of common boiler problems every homeowner should be aware of:

  • Strange noises - If the boiler makes a banging noise, it usually indicates a dirty heat exchanger or a faulty thermostat. Whistling, rumbling, or popping noises can be caused by a broken pump, the air in the system, or a buildup of mineral scales inside the boiler. 
  • The boiler is leaking water - Boiler leaks are often caused by a loose connection, faulty pressure valve, or worn pump seal, but in some cases, they are caused by corrosion.
  • The boiler isn’t producing heat - Causes of this include air in the system, low water level, valve failure, a faulty thermostat, or an issue with the circulation pump.
  • Boiler turns itself off - This may indicate that the boiler is overheating and triggering a safety shutoff mechanism such as a thermocouple or temperature limit switch. It may also be caused by an electrical fault.
  • Strange smells from the boiler - Odors of burning plastic, metal, or oil can indicate overheating or short-circuiting inside the unit. A rotten-egg smell indicates a gas leak. If homeowners notice any of these smells, they should immediately turn off the power to the boiler and call a professional.

When homeowners notice any of these signs, they must call a qualified HVAC company to diagnose and fix the issue. A professional boiler repair technician can pinpoint the root cause of the problem and recommend appropriate solutions. This may involve replacing faulty components, flushing the system to remove mineral deposits, or making adjustments and minor repairs. If the damage is too severe or the boiler is particularly old, they may recommend boiler replacement.


Ways to Keep the Boiler Running Efficiently

While some boilers don’t require as much maintenance as other central heating systems, they still need to be serviced annually by a professional to minimize wear & tear, ensure proper function, and improve the unit’s performance and efficiency. Professional boiler maintenance involves various tasks, including flushing the boiler, checking pH levels, inspecting the boiler and the gas exhaust vent for leaks, ensuring electrical connections are secure, and cleaning components like gas burners, flame sensors, ignitors, and the heat exchanger.

Between professional boiler service visits, homeowners can do a bit of basic maintenance on their own. This generally entails checking for evidence of leaks, making sure there are no obstructions around the unit, inspecting air/exhaust vents for blockages, and routinely checking temperature and pressure gauges to ensure they’re within the manufacturer’s recommended levels.

About Lambert Plumbing & Heating, LTD

Lambert Plumbing & Heating, LTD has proudly served the greater Vancouver area since 1977. Their personalized customer service, unbeatable workmanship, community involvement, and 100% satisfaction guarantee have earned them an A+ rating with the BBB, multiple awards, and countless 5-star reviews. Their licensed, insured, and bonded technicians are available 24/7 for emergency service, so call them today for boiler services in Vancouver, BC!