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There is no good time of year to have an issue with your heating system, but if there is one time you don’t want a problem, it’s in those cold winter months. So we have compiled this list of 10 checks you should make to try and avoid any unexpected nasty surprises this winter!
- Safety first! Make sure that if you’re using a gas boiler to heat your home, you have a carbon monoxide detector set up and working. Most carbon monoxide detectors have a fixed lifespan and will have a date indicating when they need replacing. Carbon monoxide is formed by incomplete combustion of carbon; it is an invisible, odourless toxic gas that can kill when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm.
- Most major heating appliances like boilers or unvented hot water cylinders require some annual maintenance or servicing and this should be recorded in a logbook or service record. So double check that all of your equipment have received any required maintenance to keep it in good working order and operating safely. Note, all servicing/maintenance must be completed by a suitably qualified installer.
- Bleed your radiators. Over the year air can get into your heating system and become trapped at the top of your radiators, particularly if they have been idle over the summer. This results in your radiators being cold at the top and hot at the bottom, causing you to use more energy to heat your home. To fix this it’s a straightforward job. All you need is the radiator key and a towel – just go around your home releasing the trapped air from each radiator.
- As you bleed each radiator, you should also check every radiator valve, by fully closing and opening it, before returning to your preferred position. This will help prevent the valves from sticking due to lack of adjustment.
- Check your heating controls to ensure they are set appropriately. Modern controls provide the option of setting different temperatures for different periods of the day and if you have that type of controls, it is best to set the thermostat to a low heat for the periods the house is unoccupied as opposed to being fully off.
- Modern boilers operate at a specific system pressure; this can usually be seen on a pressure gauge on your boiler. Re-pressurisation of this type of boiler is often something you can do yourself, without the need for a plumber. Check your boiler manual to see if you are able to re-pressurise the boiler yourself – you may find instructions for this on the rear of the control panel. Please note that if your boiler panel needs any tools to remove it, you must NOT touch it and will need to book a service engineer if you want to have it re-pressurised.
- If you’re lucky enough to live in a property that still has an open roaring fire that can be enjoyed on those special occasions for that real winter atmosphere, it’s important to ensure the chimney has been swept.
- Make sure everyone knows where your stop cocks are! In the event of a burst pipe or another emergency, you will need to turn the water off fast to minimise any damage. And in that moment of panic it’s easy to forget or lose your head. The natural reaction is to run towards the leak and the source of the problem whereas the important thing is to get that water turned off. Depending on where the leak is this could require you to turn off the water from the stop cock in your home or even using the main stop cock outside on the water main coming into your house.
- Once you have located your stop cocks, it’s worth to check that they have not seized up from lack of use. Do this by fully closing and opening the valve. Once you’re satisfied that it’s working correctly, it is a good idea to slightly close the valve as this will help prevent it from seizing up in future.
- And finally be ready should the worst happen and dig out the insurance paperwork, making sure you know the numbers to call should your policy provide emergency cover for your heating system.
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