Boiler maintenance: A breakdown of common boiler problems

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Showers, baths, hot water and heating – if there's one thing in your home that you don't want to break down, it's your boiler. Luckily, there's plenty you can do yourself to help avoid running into boiler problems. With the help of James from Plumber Parts, we’ve produced a series of videos that can help you keep your boiler and heating system in top condition.

1. Check your outside flue

The flue is the pipe on the outside of your property that lets gases from your boiler safely escape. If it's a balanced flue, it also draws air inside for combustion. Whatever type of flue you have, it's essential that you keep it clear and unobstructed. Make sure you don't block it with objects or lean anything up against it, and make sure there's no greenery or foliage growing around it. If you don't keep the flue clear and unobstructed, your boiler could stop working properly, your bills could go up, and it could even lead to dangerous gases (such as carbon monoxide) spilling into your home.

2. Protect any outside pipes

Lots of modern condensing boilers have a length of pipe that runs outside of the home, and these external pipes are vulnerable to freezing. Frozen pipes can crack and burst, and that means you need to properly protect them against low temperatures. You can find out how by taking a look at our handy guide to preventing frozen pipes.

3. Add an inhibitor to your heating system

One of the best ways to maintain your boiler is to use an inhibitor. This helps to stop the water in your heating system from reacting with the components inside your boiler and your radiators. Without it, you could end up with rust, sludge and air-locks clogging up your system. It's easy to add it into your radiators, and one tub of inhibitor should be enough to protect an average-sized home. You can take a look at the video above to find out exactly how to do it.

4. Respect your boiler

One easily overlooked part of boiler maintenance is simply keeping it clear and tidy. It needs to be accessible in case you have boiler problems, and if it's covered with household items, it could even be a fire hazard. You should also make sure you don't set it too high. If you do, you're putting your boiler at risk of a problem called ‘kettling’. When the boiler gets too hot, it starts to turn the water into steam, which can lead to corrosion and could cause your boiler to shut off when it reaches its high limit. As a general rule, it's usually a good idea to stick to a boiler setting of 75 degrees. This point is often marked on your boiler's controls, or it could be represented by an "e" for economy. But if in doubt, always refer to your manufacturer's instructions before you change any settings.

5. Use an in-line magnetic filter

Fitted into the return pipe that leads back into the boiler, an in-line magnetic filter removes many of the unwanted magnetites – such as iron oxide – that might be present in your heating system. By removing these chemicals before they get into your boiler, you can avoid problems further down the line, such as reduced efficiency. As well as being an important part of boiler maintenance in its own right, getting one of these filters installed also provides a convenient place where you can easily add inhibitor into your system.