Fall and winter are fast approaching: ushering in cold weather, ice, and snow. Heating and hot water are especially important during these months. A malfunctioning boiler can mean being without both. August, September and October are ideal months to have your boiler system serviced to insure a safe warm winter! Here is our recommended boiler maintenance guide.
How does a boiler operate?
The purpose of a steam boiler, hot water boiler, low and high pressure boiler, gas boiler, and electric boiler is to heat water to be used for heating, washing, cooking, etc. Some newer homes today have in-floor heat or radiators to circulate the water throughout. Larger, more advanced systems, may have driveway heaters to melt snow.
How do I know my boiler needs maintenance?
Is the boiler making noises? Does it sound like it is gurgling or like a percolating coffee maker? Then it’s time to get it checked out! If you see water beneath the boiler this is also a sign something is wrong. Another warning sign is if the boiler has difficulty delivering hot water to different parts of the house.
People often ask how long they can expect their boiler to last. A cast iron boilers can run up to 30 to 50 years. Modern high efficiency residential boilers should last about 15 to 20 years.
If you have a boiler that you suspect is nearing its life expectancy it’s especially important to call before it malfunctions or fails. Regular maintenance can help to extend the life expectancy and reduce energy costs.
Why is boiler maintenance necessary?
A malfunctioning boiler can be dangerous for everyone involved. If someone’s boiler stops working, cold frozen pipes could result. The chance of having a fire or explosion increases dramatically if there is a gas leak or other issue with the boiler set up. There are also health risks such as deadly flue gas leaking into your home.
Boilers produce flue gas as a byproduct of combustion. If this gets blocked or is in-operational, the emissions can stay in the home. This is especially dangerous as carbon monoxide is a common component in the emissions and dangerous or even deadly levels can result. We recommend CO levels below 35 ppm (parts per million); at Abel we are happy to test CO levels if this is a concern for you or your family.
Gas leaks can start a fire. If there are rodents in the house they love to move insulation close to the gas light. This means that when the homeowner goes to start their boiler a house fire could result.
What if my boiler quits?
If a boiler quits unexpectedly during a period of time that is dangerously cold, the homeowners could be out heat and hot water. This increases the chance that the pipes freeze and cause significantly more damage. At Abel we can set you up with an emergency system and emergency service, but earlier maintenance will be less stress and cost for everyone involved.
Larger boilers (often commercial boilers) run the risk of explosion. Because a boiler has so much pressure built up inside, when a pressure release valve isn’t working, or there are other issues, the pressure could increase until the boiler explodes. This means that the boiler could also take the surrounding walls down with it, creating an unsafe building and causing significant costs in damage repair.
Buildup of sediment or rust inside a steam boiler or hot water boiler can drastically reduce the efficiency. Boilers are one of the largest energy users in the modern home so a reduction in the efficiency of the system can have noticeable financial effects.
This sounds scary! Do boilers have any safety features?
Yes, they do. These safety features include; the gas valve; the pressure relief valve releases 30 pounds of pressure so the boiler doesn’t run the risk of explosion; the high limit control (to stop the boiler from overheating steam); and a low water cut off so the boiler doesn’t heat itself when there is no water inside.
These safety features need to be tested frequently in commercial boiler systems so there isn’t danger to the building or people inside. According to the Minnesota Statutes after initial install a boiler must be inspected. After that, the owner of a boiler must insure it is inspected at least annually.
I want to schedule maintenance, what should I expect?
The first thing a tech will do is check water level and pressure. The tech will also make sure all the pumps are working. If you suspect you have water quality issues bring it up with the technician so they can pay extra attention to signs of corrosion or sediment buildup.
At Abel we care about your health. We are happy to perform maintenance on boilers so you and your family stay safe. For more information about boiler maintenance, repairs, replacements, and installs, please call us at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us.
For more information on Minnesota inspection laws: Click Here