OK, so maybe forever is a bit of a stretch, all good things must come to an end after all – but there are definitely ways to prolong the life of your boiler.
A new boiler leaves a hefty dent in any household budget, even if you go for a company that offers monthly finance. Combi boilers have an average lifespan of around 15 years depending on the make, amount of usage it’s had and how well it’s been cared for.
So it would make sense to try and prolong the life of your boiler right? Right! With that in mind, we’re going to look at 7 ways to help your boiler live its best life and provide warmth for you and your family for as long as it can.
Not only will these top tips help you to save money by prolonging the life of your boiler but they will also save you money on expensive repair costs.
Most people only pay any attention to their boiler when it breaks down. However, the fact you’re reading this article means that you are much savvier than that. You’re the kind of person that knows you can head problems off before they even become problems by being pro-active. Your boiler is going to appreciate it!
1. Get your boiler serviced annually
Getting your boiler serviced annually is perhaps the most efficient way of ensuring you get the most out of your boiler. Faults can be picked up early and parts replaced before they start to compromise other parts in the boiler and general operating efficiency.
An annual service needs to be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered company, you can check whether your engineer is Gas Safe Registered on the Gas Safe website. Whilst servicing your boiler they will perform safety and efficiency tests to ensure your boiler is operating within safe parameters. They will check your system for faults and leaks, this can help identify smaller issues before they become expensive, major issues.
Many boiler manufacturers will have a caveat in their warranty stating that you must ensure your boiler receives an annual service from a gas safe registered engineer. Failing to keep up with your annual servicing could void your warranty if anything should go wrong with your boiler.
The main things that are carried out on a boiler service are as follows:
- Visual inspection
- Check for corrosion and leaks
- Safety devices
- Water & gas pipework
- Check boiler seals are intact and in good condition
- Check gas/oil pressure flow
- Clean boiler parts if required
- Test appliance to ensure the rate that the gas/oil is being burned is safe
- Combustion analysis
- Ensure correct operation of components and controls
Servicing costs anything between £70 – £150 depending on your area and the make and type of boiler you have. It’s a small price to pay for the ongoing safety of your family.
2. Bleed your radiators
This is an easy job that you can do yourself by using a radiator bleed key. Over time air can get into your heating system, this can form air pockets in your radiator. These air pockets will stop your radiators from working at optimum efficiency, meaning your boiler will have to work harder to heat your home to the desired temperature.
Fire up your heating system – if it takes a long time for your radiators to heat up or if they are cold to the touch at the top but hot at the bottom it’s likely they need to be bled.
Bleeding your radiators involves opening the valve using your bleed key located on every radiator which releases any built-up air. The bleed key costs as little as £1, so there’s no reason why you can’t keep on top of this potential issue.
3. Install a magnetic filter
Magnetic or system filters have become increasingly popular as an easy way of keeping your boiler free of sludge that can hamper efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your boiler.
A system filter is fitted on the return pipework of your heating system and works by employing strong magnets to catch any metallic waste before it gets into the boiler.
Over time the metal pipes and radiators in your heating system can rust, this rust is collected by the water running through your system and returned to the boiler where it can collect. Your system filter will be cleaned out as part of your annual boiler service.
A system filter with installation will cost anything between £150 – £250 depending on the make you opt for and your installer prices. Some boiler manufacturers now offer an additional warranty period if you install their system filter.
4. Add a central heating inhibitor to your system
A central heating inhibitor can help to prolong the life of your central heating system by protecting your heating system against sludge build-up, scale, and corrosion.
Inhibitor works by preventing metal from rusting, by adding a protective coating.
Many modern boilers have switched to expensive aluminium heat exchangers, inhibitor is a great way of making sure these heat exchangers are kept safe from sludge and keep you safe from needless expenses.
You can add inhibitor to your heating system yourself, it’s a fairly easy job and inhibitor is fairly inexpensive, costing between £7-£20.
If you think you have the DIY prowess to add inhibitor to your system then here is a handy video to guide you through the process…
5. Install a powerflush
Remember that nasty sludge we talked about earlier? If you haven’t adopted the preventative measures we’ve mentioned so far (inhibitor, system filters) then this sludge can settle in your system and seriously affect the heating performance of your boiler.
To dislodge this sludge it might be time to get a powerflush. This is a highly pressurised unit that sends water through your system at high flow rates to flush out the nasties. This will reduce the strain on your boiler and allow your radiators to work more efficiently.
If you have a newer central heating system then it’s unlikely you’ll need a powerflush and if you have used inhibitor and employ a system filter then it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to. Powerflushing is ideal for older systems that haven’t been maintained and aren’t working as efficiently as they should be.
A powerflush costs over £500, so it’s not the cheapest solution out there, especially if your boiler is getting on a bit. You may decide it’s better to put that money towards a new boiler instead.
6. Give it a summer run
You may think your boiler is enjoying a well-earned rest during the summer and saving you money in the process. However, a boiler is like any piece of complex machinery – it benefits from being used fairly regularly to stop parts seizing up.
The heating industry goes crazy with boiler breakdowns when people start switching their boilers back on after the summer, not during the coldest period of the year as you might expect. Grit can build up in the pump of your boiler if it isn’t used for long periods of time.
Think of your boiler like a car, if you leave it in the garage for a year then start it up, you’re more likely to have issues. So do your boiler a favour and turn it on every now and then during the summer months just to keep it ticking over.
7. Insulate your pipes
Again, this is one you can do yourself with relatively low expense. Pipe lagging is readily available in all hardware stores for as little as £5 per roll.
The pipes located in your loft, garage and outside areas are the most important pipes to insulate as they are most prone to freezing or suffering damage from sudden temperature changes.
A common boiler call-out is regarding a frozen condensate pipe (the waste pipe leading from your boiler through an external wall of your property). By putting pipe insulation on the condensate pipe you can stop it from freezing when the weather gets cold, saving you money on a needless call-out.
In addition to preventing your pipes from freezing the insulation will also improve the heat retention, meaning once again, your boiler won’t have to work so hard to heat your home.
Though most combi boilers have an average lifespan of 10-15 years, by following some, or all of the tips above, not only can you ensure your boiler lasts for the maximum amount of years, but you will also have less ongoing maintenance issues.
Many of the solutions above are inexpensive and are easily implemented with very little DIY knowledge. If you aren’t comfortable working on a job, as always, call in a professional.
We applaud your pro-active approach to maintaining your heating system, prevention is always better than cure – and less expensive! Let us know if you’ve tried some or all of the methods above and how you got on in the comments below.