Boiler Service

Servicing a boiler

People are often puzzled when it comes to boiler servicing. Various aspects of boiler servicing will be discussed here, but let's start of by explaining what it is. When you hear about a boiler, it usually means a gas boiler.

Due to the nature of boilers they do need servicing from time to time. Servicing a boiler means checking, testing, cleaning and pre-emptive fault spotting. The goal is to make sure all the different parts of the boiler are functioning properly and that there are no stoppages or leakages.

Sadly there are companies out there that are not as professional as they ought to be in servicing a boiler. Some may deem it sufficient to just put a probe in the flue outlet to analyse the flue gas contents.

When you make use of the services of a boiler company be aware of the wording in their offering. If they offer an "annual safety check", you may think that they will provide a full annual service, but don't be mistaken. This may simply be a shortcut.

On the other hand you may encounter a service provider that will take apart the whole system down to the very last part, checking, cleaning and testing every part and function - and charge you for it. It may be a good thing actually, provided you are willing to pay for it.

Having a proper job done is very important, because a leaking system that, for instance, releases carbon monoxide into the house is definitely not desired. Modern systems also draws clean air from outside, which means no particles inside the house, like pet hairs and the like can accumulate and cause a problem. With an older system this should be given attention.

You may have considered taking out a boiler maintenance contract. For some people it gives peace of mind and others feel it is better value for money, but if you consider how long it may take for a problem to actually happen, it may be cheaper to only call out an independent boiler engineer when the problem occurs.

A boiler may sometimes seem to be functioning well, but hidden faults may have developed, such as when the device which turns off the gas when the pilot flame is extinguished, is not doing what it's supposed to do. This will result in gas leaking into the house - something you wouldn't want to happen. With a comprehensive service these problems will usually be taken care of.

If you intend on doing the servicing yourself, there are some technical hurdles to overcome. There are some regulations you have to keep in mind when planning to do it yourself. You should consult these regulations before you attempt to fix or service a boiler, because if something goes wrong, there may be serious consequences.

In most parts of the world you would probably have to get a certified engineer to fix or service your boiler. There are some problems that are not so difficult or dangerous to fix yourself, which will be discussed below.

What to do if the boiler furnace burner will not ignite:

In the case of a Hot Surface Ignition system, when the gas keeps flowing for up to 10 seconds - you can tell from the hissing sound - and the igniter doesn't work, the furnace should lock automatically.

You can reset by turning the power switch on the furnace off and back on again and test to see if it works after that. You may find this switch on the side of the furnace and on the solid state controller you may locate the reset button.

If it still doesn't work then switch off the power and turn off the gas. Very carefully remove and check the hot surface igniter and steer clear of the heat element. If the igniter is cracked or damaged, replace it.

When the furnace works for about 10 seconds and stops, you can do the following:

Switch off the power serving the furnace and turn off the gas. Then remove the flame sensor and - with a fine emery cloth - carefully clean the surface and replace the sensor.

You may also check to see if all wiring is still in order by testing for bad ground or reversed wires (Black and white wires swapped around) at the box or outlet servicing the furnace. If no fault could be found there and the furnace keeps turning off, then check for the bad ground.

If you measure with a volt-ohm meter between the white wire and the ground there must be no voltage. If the furnace still keeps cutting out then replace the electronic flame sensor. If in doubt as to how to do it, it is best to consult or make use of the services of an expert.