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A boiler is a critical element of a home comfort system, but to be sure it keeps working effectively for years to come, you must take good care of it. To help you do that, here are some tips for optimal boiler operation year after year, not just to keep your system running, but to save you money.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the insulation standards for homes were raised throughout the country. That means that most homes now have higher quality insulation that promotes energy efficiency. If you purchased a home built in the last 20 years or so, your home is probably well insulated. However, if your home is older and has not been remodeled any time recently, it may lack the insulation needed to retain heat generated by your boiler.
Keep in mind that the heat from your radiators or baseboards will escape your attic or roof if they aren’t properly insulated. Not only does this cost you more money in gas, oil or electricity (depending on the type of boiler you have); your boiler is forced to work much harder and as a result, the cost of maintaining it increases. Maintenance must be done more often and you’ll need to replace it much sooner.
Hard Water Levels in Your Boiler
A common problem in boilers is hard water. While it may not be an immediate problem for your fixtures or drinking water, hard water will have negative impacts on your boiler since it has so much water in it at all times. When water is hard, it means there are higher levels of certain minerals that lead to scale build up in the pipes and parts of your boiler. When this happens, heat transfer is diminished and the system is forced to work harder, putting undue stress on your boiler. This costs you more money and makes your boiler less effective during extreme weather.
Scale should be removed each year during boiler maintenance, but to ensure the problem doesn’t persist, you may also want to have a water softener installed at the main water line to your home. Water filtration and softening are major parts of maintaining the quality of your heating system.
Because a boiler is not used during the summer months, it should be checked each year before the cold sets in for specific issues that might make it less effective.
There are a few things involved in this process. First, you can have a computer system installed on your boiler to measure efficiency. This will keep track of boiler efficiency, fuel consumption, burning temperatures and scale build up. Not only will it tell you when there is a problem; it will ensure that optimum efficiency is maintained throughout the winter to save you money.
Beyond monitoring, regular maintenance should also include checking the gas lines, condensate temperatures, boiler/burner operation, and pipes that carry heated water to radiators, baseboard heaters or radiant floor heating networks.
The purpose of regular boiler maintenance is to ensure the system lasts the full 30+ years they are designed to last. Without this maintenance, the system will degrade rapidly, forcing early replacement and increased repair costs.