Last week, a homeowner in Poole contacted me for his annual boiler service. I asked if there were any problems he had experienced that I should be privy to. He mentioned that it was taking much longer than usual to get hot water and after running a test, some radiators were not warming up a room sufficiently. I assured him that I would be at his property within the hour to conduct the service and attend to any faults.
I got to the client’s home in 45 minutes despite some light traffic. I started by running the boiler to pinpoint any issues and the first thing that struck me was the noise being produced. It was not very loud and might have even gone unnoticed but it was an indicator of a common problem for boilers.
I also opened up the boiler to check the fan air pressure and the gas pressure. The fan air pressure was quite low and this might have been the cause of the sub-optimal operation. I looked closely at the spark electrodes and realized they had oxidized thus cleaning them would not help much. The best option would be a replacement. When I looked at the heat exchanger, I noticed there was limescale buildup which is why the fan air pressure had dropped significantly. Boiler repairs in Dorset often entail sludge or limescale removal due to the hard water in the area. I connected the boiler to a power flush machine which helped clear the limescale from the primary heat exchanger. The limescale in the plate heat exchanger was cleared using a chemical cleaning solution. After 3 hours, the entire process was complete and we fired up the boiler for a test. Not only had the “kettling” subsided, but adequate heat was coming from all the radiators in the property.
Whether you are looking to soak up some sun during the summer or escape the debilitating winter cold, holiday time is exciting, especially given that most of us are only just getting the opportunity to travel post covid. Holidays also come with a lot of preparation beforehand such as packing, travel plans and ensuring the home is left in the best condition. Homeowners often wonder what to do with their central heating systems especially if they are traveling during the winter. We will be answering a popular question asked by many homeowners “Should I turn my boiler off when I go on holiday?”
Summer holidays vs winter holidays
The season in which you are travelling determines if you should turn your boiler off or leave it on. If you plan to travel during the summer, then you might get away with switching off your boiler.
During the winter, however, it is recommended you do not completely switch off your boiler. While there might be some cost-saving benefits to having the boiler off, the risks involved far outweigh the reward and you might spend a lot more on damaged pipes or the boiler. Here are some of the benefits of leaving your boiler on when you leave for a holiday:
Prevent Frozen Indoor Pipes
During the winter, temperatures in the UK and many other countries drop below zero degrees at which point, water starts to freeze and expand. Pipes in insulated areas or along the exterior walls of your house are susceptible to cracks or bursts from the expansion of frozen water. Leaving your boiler on while on holiday keeps the water moving and above the freezing point.
Cracked or busted pipes result in leaks and could you imagine returning home from a holiday to a flooded house?
Cracked or busted pipes can also be very expensive to repair. There have been instances of homeowners spending upwards of £7,000 on repairs. This cost could add up from the damaged items and the inconvenience of searching for accommodation elsewhere as the plumbers conduct repairs. For cabinets that house plumbing pipes, it is advisable to leave this open such that heat can reach them to prevent freezing.
Avoid the Risk of a Damaged Boiler
Leaving your boiler off can result in the internal pipes getting frozen and damaged. Switching off your boiler can also result in internal leaks and the risk of irreversible damage is very high. Even if your boiler does not get to the point of replacement, there is a likelihood of its efficiency being compromised even after a repair. Aside from the damaged pipes, the valves and pumps could also seize up which potentially leads to central heating problems down the road.
Return home to a warm house
Getting back from holiday to an ice-cold house can be a huge downer especially if you had travelled to a warm area. Other than preventing leaks and property damage, leaving your boiler on also ensures you return home to a warm house and you can settle back in quicker. As a bonus, you enjoy your holiday much more knowing everything back home is well taken care of.
Best Practices to Leaving Your Boiler On
Realistically, you should not leave your boiler on 24/7 or at high temperatures since there is nobody home. So, how do you ensure your home has sufficient warmth without wasting energy and piling up your energy bills?
Establish a Schedule
You should establish a routine where you switch on your boiler for a few hours every day you are on holiday. In the UK, the coldest hours of the day during the winter range between 2 A.M and 5 A.M. It is especially important to have your boiler on during these cold hours. You could also run the boiler a few other times during the day to keep everything flowing.
Utilize your thermostat
A thermostat is an invaluable device you should invest and the beauty of thermostats is they can now be operated remotely through an app. A programmable thermostat enables you to regulate the hours your central heating is on and you can also regulate the temperature of your home. When you are away on holiday, a temperature of 15 – 18 degrees Celsius is ideal to keep the pipes and the boiler warm. Unless you live in a very cold area, avoid pushing the temperature beyond 20 degrees as this could increase your energy bills unnecessarily. These thermostats are an absolute must-have nowadays, which is why we install them with almost all of out boiler installations in Bournemouth or Poole.
Prioritize rooms that need the most heat
Thermostats enable you to control the temperature of a room independently. Spaces such as the basement tend to house sump pumps which can freeze up and result in mould growth. If your boiler is in a cold room such as the loft or the basement, then you should prioritize heating these areas to keep the pipes around the boiler in optimal temperature.
COST-SAVING TIPS WHILE ON HOLIDAY
The majority of homeowners switch off their boilers while away as they are concerned about their energy bills. There are some tips you can implement to save on costs while your boiler is routinely on during the winter. The biggest cost you will save on, however, is the expensive repairs and replacements from completely switching your boiler off.
Close all Windows and Doors before leaving
Other than preventing burglars from visiting your property, closing all windows and doors ensures cold air does not rush into your home. The rooms also retain more heat and your boiler does not have to work extra hard or long to heat up a room. Additionally, properly sealing the doors and windows also retains more heat in your home.
Frost Protection Thermostats
Modern boilers often come with an anti-freeze/anti-frost component that protects the internal pipework of the boiler. For boilers that might not have this component, investing in a frost protection thermostat is advisable. Frost protection basically works by keeping the water in your boiler above 5 Degrees Celsius. When the sensor detects water temperature has dropped below 5 Degrees, the boiler heats the water back up to 10 Degrees Celsius then goes off. At Senior Plumbing, we are specialists in Viessman boilers which have built-in frost protection thermostats.
Insulate your home
Insulating your home is a great way to retain heat in your property and prevent cold air from seeping through the cold walls of the house. You could insulate your home using thermal paper or spray foam. The additional benefit of insulating your property is the savings extend beyond your holiday period.
If you are looking for something more temporary, you could insulate indoor pipes to prevent exposure to the cold. If you have a regular or system boiler, you could insulate your hot water tank since the water starts to cool down rapidly. Insulating your hot water tank slows
down the cooling rate and prevents the boiler from reheating the water again.
Leaving your boiler switched on while you are on holiday is a good idea and with most modern boilers there should be no risks involved. For your peace of mind, we recommend servicing your boiler before you leave if you haven’t done so within the last year or so.
Tackle Sludge and Sedimentation Build Up in Boilers with Magna Cleanse in Bournemouth
Has your boiler been acting up lately? Do you find cold spots in your radiator or hear banging noises? If so, chances are that your boiler has sedimentation or sludge build-up that is affecting its ability to heat your home.
Now, you might instantly think that the best solution to get rid of this issue is to replace your old boiler and get a new boiler installation. If your boiler is old and hence it is acting up like this, you should certainly consider replacing the boiler. However, if your boiler is relatively new, you don’t need to replace it. Instead, you can most likely fix it through a getting your boiler Magna Cleansed.
Firstly, what is Magna Cleanse and what are the exact signs you need Magna Cleanse?
What is Magna Cleanse?
During Magna Cleanse, chemically treated water is pumped through the pipes and radiators using a purpose-built machine. This chemical-treated water is meant to break down the sludge and sediment deposits in your boiler and radiators. This process is referred to as a power flush.
This process is quite effective in removing dirt and sludge built up. An average Magna Cleanse treatment costs about ₤300-₤950. The costs also depend on the number of radiators you have in your home. At Senior Plumbing and Heating you can find our prices here, but if you are short on time we do a power flush at around £45 per radiator.
Signs that Indicate you Need Magna Cleanse
Reduced heat transfer from the radiators
Sludge and sediment build up at the bottom of radiators resulting in cold spots that tend to get bigger over time.
Noticeably discoloured water during bleeding of radiators.
Radiator pipes are always hot whether the system stays warm or cool.
To heat the home, your boiler is working extra hard
Banging or knocking noise coming from your boilers, radiators, or pipes
Whistling of the boiler due to overheating parts
If you have a combi boiler, sludge or sediment build-up can result in warm water in the taps.
Consequences of ignoring the problem
If you neglect this sludge or sediment build-up, it can cause further problems in your system.
It will be expensive to run and maintain the boiler and radiator system.
The system will struggle to heat the home
‘Wet’ parts of the boiler might get damaged by the loose debris
Due to heat exchanger blocks, the water will be warm instead of hot from your combi boiler
If your system is corroded, it might cause a leak
You might require a complete replacement of radiators and pipework.
Moreover, you may also need to replace your boiler and get a new boiler installation for your home. And this can be a hefty investment you might not be willing to make.
Alternative Options to Magna Cleanse
Magna Cleanse is certainly the best way to clean the sludge and sedimentation build-up in your boiler, radiators, and pipes. But the costs of Magna Cleanse might deter you from opting for this treatment.
If you don’t want to use Magna Cleanse as the treatment process, you can also go for a chemical cleanse or magnetic filter.
Chemical cleanse includes putting a chemical in the boiler or radiator and leaving it for a few hours or days. This removes any mild sludge or sediment build-up in the boiler. The remains can be washed out by putting water through the system. You can do such cleanse regularly to avoid excessive build-up.
A magnetic filter is also a great option to tackle loose or mild debris in the radiator. This is something we often insist on installing when completing a customer annual boiler service.
Yes, these two alternatives are cheap but are not as effective as Magna Cleanse in the long term. Though it is costly, it will help you keep your boiler or radiator clean and working efficiently.
Tips to Book a Professional Magna Cleanse Services
Most machine manufacturers give a certificate to the engineer. Make sure you ask to see that.
Choose a Magna Cleanse engineer that has received training from the machine manufacturer company. This will ensure high-quality services.
If you have been looking for effective Magna Cleanse service in Poole or Bournemouth, you can get in touch with Senior Plumbing and heating. We provide Magna Cleanse services but also provide a wide range of boiler, gas and heating services.
We provide Magna Cleanse services during the installation process along with any time you need to tackle the sludge build-up in your boiler and radiator.
Customer story, central heating service – BH14 in Parkstone
One of my regular customers from BH14 in Parkstone called in about a problem with their underfloor heating. They noticed that in certain areas, their floors were not heating up as they would like. We made an appointment to come and take a look at their heating system and boiler for the next day.
It turns out that their thermostat heads were leaking.
When I got to the property, it was obvious that this leak had caused a lack of pressure, which created failures to the underflooring heating system. I found the source of the leak by testing out each zone separately. When doing this, I discovered that there were quite a few areas that were leaking. Luckily, we got to the case before a more serious leak occurred and changed all the leaking thermostat heads.
After the job was completed, I carried out a safety check to double-check that all parts of the thermostat were working efficiently.