The first of October is traditionally the time that many people in England (or at least in the South Eastern part where I live) turn on the central heating. There is a chill in the air and especially so, it seems this year as the weather has been fairly bleak for most of the summer. Cricket matches have not been played (you cannot play cricket in the rain) and the blog statistics show that lots of people are reading http://robertkyriakides.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/common-problems-with-gas-boilers-%E2%80%93-why-you-may-suddenly-lose-hot-water-or-space-heat/ and other blogs that I have written about condensing boilers, whose design seems to be perhaps a shade too technical.
Now is a good time to give your central heating a quick check and here are some tips that you might find helpful.
- Get your boiler serviced now, before the really cold weather sets it.
- Before the service engineer calls check each radiator, especially where the pipework runs into it and runs out of it. Is there any sign of corrosion? Does a radiator need to be replaced?
- Again, before the engineer calls have you got any thermostatic valves fitted to your radiators? If not now would be a good time to fit them, so that you can control the temperature in each room more perfectly. There are usually some rooms which need less heat from radiators than others (such as rooms where there is a lot of activity and rooms where there is almost no activity, so it will save you money if you have thermostatic radiator valves fitted so that you can adjust the temperature in each room.
- Loft insulation is a no brainer; if you do not have 270 mm of insulation in the loft you will be paying considerable sums each winter to heat up the loft space and leak heat through the roof. This is bad for the environment and bad for your wallet.
- Check that the boiler controls are working properly and giving you proper control over the heat in your home. If not, get the controls replaced.
- Sometimes, when you turn your central heating after a long period of not using it sometimes the pump may seize. To check, turn off the heating, and then carefully (it may be full of steam and dirty hot water) turn the large silver coloured steel screw (a 20p piece is ideal) a half turn. If you hear a slight hiss of escaping air and have a small escape of water, turn back the screw and turn on the heating. You may find you have freed the pump. If the pump is working properly you should be able to feel a small vibration in it. If nothing happens then it is usually a job for the expert, sometimes requiring a replacement pump.
Getting your heating in tip top order now, before the frosts start, will cost you some money now but will almost inevitably save you much later. It is easy to forget just how unpleasant it is to be without heat in very cold weather when you are used to heat.