It’s finally here, for real this time, and it’s going to be a cold one! You’ve already had your boiler checked over and filled up with oil, so you’re all set on that front, right? However, it doesn’t stop there, as your boiler and oil tank will need some regular TLC if they’re to keep you snug until spring.
Prevention is better (and warmer) than cure
As many as one in five boilers break down over the winter, often when they’re fired up for the first time after a rest over the summer. Once the cold really sets in and it’s cranked up even more, your boiler can find it all just a bit too much. The average repair bill for a boiler is £350, but the worst aspect of a boiler breakdown is the wait, so whether it’s fired by gas or home heating oil, make sure your boiler is covered by a 24-hour home emergency insurance policy.
Do as the manufacturer says
If there is a problem, or a complete breakdown, it’s tempting to save money and time by trying to fix it yourself. Unless you’re a certified technician, just don’t do it! Not only is it dangerous to attempt to fix a boiler yourself, but you could invalidate your insurance and any warranty the boiler carries.
Keep the old girl ticking over
If you’re out of the house during the day, or you’re away for a few days, it’s always worthwhile setting a timer so that the boiler comes on for 15-30 minutes each day. If you’re gone for a few days, ask a friend or neighbour to drop in and turn the heating on while they feed the cat.
Insulate the water tank
You need to lighten the load on your boiler in the winter months, so make sure you keep hold of the heat generated by insulating your water tank if you haven’t done so already. You should also insulate any pipes that carry hot water, too.
Don’t forget the condensate pipe
If you have a condensing boiler, you should insulate the condensate pipe too, as this pipe carries away the condensed water and if it freezes, you have one of the most common reasons for a cold-weather breakdown right there! You can pick up pipe lagging at any DIY shop. Pay attention to this pipe – if the boiler isn’t firing up and you’re getting error messages, it may have frozen, in which case you need to thaw it with a hot water bottle before you do anything else.
Bleed the radiators
If your radiators have cold patches, you might be tempted to just turn the thermostat up to get warm. This won’t work, it’ll just stress your boiler out! Bleed your radiators to get rid of the trapped air – you’ll feel the difference almost immediately.
If in any doubt, get the technician in
Having your boiler serviced at least once a year is essential, but even if you had a service in autumn, you can always book another service or a check if your boiler’s making funny noises. You could head off a minor issue before it becomes a major problem and you’ll have that all-important peace of mind.