Boiler maintenance tips: flue issues, losing pressure

Boiler maintenance tips

Boiler breakdown can be costly and inconvenient, especially when it’s cold! Taking care of your boiler and central heating pays off through better efficiency and a longer lifetime. Below, we find out what you should keep an eye on when it comes to flues, pressure issues and the like.


Flue & ventilation

Gas boiler and flue diagram

If flues are not visible, you should contact a Gas Safe registered technician who can easily put in an access point. This is not only so that your home complies with recent regulations, introduced in 2013, but more importantly for your safety.

Flues can corrode or develop leaks over time and this increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to leaks. Households with flues that go through ceiling gaps or other spaces are particularly vulnerable. Primarily, you will find this type of set up in flats or apartment buildings.

For homes with boilers located on external walls or structures, the good news is you are unlikely to have a hidden flue and all the associated issues. However, flue corrosion remains a problem that affects all boilers, no matter where they are located. For this reason, a flue inspection is still necessary to guarantee that your boiler runs smoothly.

Don’t forget to check for clutter around your boiler. The space around the boiler is not bonus storage space and if you stuff your spare clothes and knick-knacks the consequences could be dire. Bottom line: Don’t suffocate your boiler! Check the manual for minimum clearance around it.

Boiler pressure

The easiest way to see if your boiler is operating at correct pressure levels is to check the pressure gauge and refer to the manual to see if its within manufacturer tolerances.

White radiator with thermostat

If you find that pressure is low, the most common solution will be top off your boiler. Here at Selectra, we advise caution when doing so because it can easily damage a key component, the release valve that regulates pressure for the boiler.

A Word On Water PressureKeeping an eye on water level every two weeks or so is a good habit to keep your boiler in tip-top shape, generally around that 1 or 1.5 bar mark. Having said that, boilers now have an auto-fill safety feature to bring more water to balance it out or shut it off if water is not available. This is definitely better than the alternative - your boiler catching on fire!

Radiators & Leaks

Serious boiler faults are often caused by leaks which is why being able to do a quick check can help you identify the issue before it gets much worse AND much more costly.

  • Steam boiler: Find the leak by turning up the thermostat.
  • Boiler Overflow pipe: Water leaking out of this external pipe presages boiler issues.
  • Temperature valve leak: often caused by a faulty probe letting temperatures increase out of hand.
  • Corrosion: the primary culprit when it comes to older boilers. Both pipes and tanks from this suffer and according to the extent of the damage, can completely write off a boiler.
  • Don’t forget to check on the floor around the boiler and around the radiators too!

Radiators can also be a hassle, especially if you live in an older home. Here are three common issues we’ve noticed:

White radiator with thermostat
  • Radiator is not warming up:Check that the radiator valve is open. If not turn it clockwise to open up the flow of hot water. If it’s still cold, then a valve replacement is in order.
  • The valve has been painted on: It might not be easy to adjust because the paint acts like glue. In that case, your best friend is some lubricant spray, like WD40, and a little elbow grease to get the valve unstuck.
  • Radiator does not heat up all the way to the bottom: this is caused by debris or sludge that has built up. In such cases, we recommend a Power Flush.

Pipes & Power flush benefits

Pipes should always be lagged so that they can winter comfortably along with your boiler. The good news is that conveniently-sized lagging is sold by the meter for less than a regular latte from Costa.

British Gas and 24/7 Home Rescue are massive fans of power flushing. To be fair so are we for homes with central heating because it is the only surefire way to blast away rust, debris and gunk that builds up over time.

Power flushing - How often?We recommend you get your boiler comprehensively flushed twice a year. A power flush is essential for homes in hard water areas because it will help to maintain boiler parts in good nick and overall energy efficiency.

Annual boiler check & breakdown cover

Gas safe engineer repair

Being vigilant when it comes to your boiler health is all well and good. However, it does not replace an annual boiler check by a qualified technician. Just like with everything else in life, having the right person check up your home heating and boiler system gives you peace of mind and saves you money.

We all lead busy lives and it’s easy for preventative maintenance to go by the wayside. An easy way to keep up is boiler breakdown cover. It generally includes the annual boiler check but you also get cover for some parts and labour costs if something needs to get fixed. Knowing that you won’t have to bear the brunt of repair costs alone is its own kind of serenity.