It’s that time of year again! Halloween and fireworks night are behind us and we’re starting to think about where we’re putting our Christmas trees!
But, have you thought about your heating and plumbing? To keep your house happy and warm during these cold winter months ADI Leak Detection are going to give you a few tips to get your home “winter ready”.
So where to start? I, myself, never seem to be warm, so let’s start with your heating!
The Annual Basics
Just like your car periodically has an MOT, your boiler needs servicing too. Always contact a registered Gas Safe Engineer to perform this for you. Only a Gas Safe Engineer can service and repair your boiler, and you can check if a Boiler Engineer is Gas Safe Registered through the Gas Safe website: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/.
Too much air can prohibit water from filling the radiator causing your Central Heating to stop working efficiently. Without bleeding the air you may find your radiators not heating up completely and in some cases, not at all. It’s easy to tell the different between air in radiators and sludge build up.
If you have sludge in your system, sludge is obviously heavier than water. The sludge in your system is usually made up of iron oxides which is metal that’s dissolved in your system through oxidisation. This oxidised sludge sits at the bottom of your radiators, and therefore the bottom of your radiators do not heat up but the top does.
The course of action for removing the sludge is to either get a professional power flushing service to clean your heating system or you can introduce system cleaning chemicals such as Fernox F3 or Camco Hyperflush (Other brands are available. We recommend this process is carried out by a qualified plumber.)
On the other hand if you have air in your radiators, the air, being lighter than water will always rise to the top of the radiators. With this in mind it’s obvious that the bottom of the radiators will get hot but the top of radiators will be cold.
Bleeding your radiators requires a special radiator bleed valve key. It’s a very simple operation. Just put the key on the small hexagon bolt head which is positioned at the top of the radiator at the side. Turn the small hexagon bolt a couple of turns to allow the air out of the radiator. Once water starts to escape, tighten the bolt again to seal it. Job complete! Now repeat the process until all the radiators on your heating system have been bled.
Just remember, if you’re on a sealed or combi boiler system you will probably need to top up the boiler pressure from the filling loop until the pressure reaches approx. 1.5 bar after bleeding each radiator.
A good tip is to bleed your radiators when your system is cold, otherwise you might end up with burnt fingers!
The pressure gauge on your boiler will tell you if the pressure is low. If this happens from time to time, it should be easy to re-pressurize via your filling loop (please see manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this correctly, as some boilers have integrated filling loops).
A large portion of heating breakdowns are due to loss of pressure so it pays to check this before you reach for your thermals.
If you find this happens more than once and your boiler keeps losing pressure, then this may mean you have a leak, so seek professional help from someone like us 🙂 You can read more about boiler pressure loss in our other blog here: https://www.adileakdetection.co.uk/boiler-losing-pressure/.
Most boiler breakdowns during winter are due to a blocked condensate pipe. This pipe is made of plastic and takes away the condensation that’s created in the heat exchanger of modern boilers. As the gas burns, natural gas has a water content so during combustion of these gases, the water vapour is turned into condensation.
Because modern boilers are designed to use the latent heat, unlike the old fashioned boiler, where most of the heat just escaped out of the top mounted flue, the flue is normally mounted below the heat exchanger.
This condensation has nowhere to go so the condensate pipe provides a means of escape for the condensation. The pH level of this condensate is the same as a tomato i.e. acidic and highly corrosive if left for long period of time.
Without getting too technical, this is why the pipework is made of plastic. In most cases, this pipework terminates externally to the property, maybe into a drain and this will usually be only a slow drip when the boiler’s being used.
In cold temperatures this slow drip of water is at risk of freezing and creating an ice plug within the pipe. If the condensation has nowhere to go, your heat exchanger will fill with water. The end product is your boiler will not be able to function properly.
To prevent the condensate from freezing, it needs to be protected, just like any other pipework. Boiler manufacturers recommend that any 20mm condensate pipework is upgraded to 40mm pipework on the external part of the building. If this is not possible, then lagging the pipework may save you a lot of money in plumber’s fees.
So, I think we’ve covered heating. This is of course directly related to your plumbing. But after putting the heating on and getting our wellies out, I think people tend to forget the inconspicuous plumbing we all rely on so much.
Keep your plumbing happy with a few checks we have advised below.
Everyone needs a jacket in winter… Even my dog has a jacket these days! So remember your pipes, which are at risk of freezing also need a jacket! If the mercury is struggling to rise on your thermometer, the water inside your pipes can easily freeze. It’s an easy job to do but if you don’t feel confident always call your local plumber for assistance.
The leaves are falling, the trees are turning pretty colours and some of us have the leaf blower out. But, leaves can cause a wealth of problems if they end up clogging up your gutters. Not only are they obstructing water from filtering into the gutter, which can result in overflow, but when the leaves freeze this can cause the gutter to split, and that’s not a cost you want on top of your Christmas shopping!
I hope we have helped, all the points we have covered today are not expensive and shouldn’t take too long, but neglecting them can cause you to spend a pretty penny.