Practical tips for your home to help you through the colder months in the most economical and cost-effective way.
Bleed your radiators
Getting air out of the radiators is often overlooked. If the radiator is hot at the bottom but cold at the top then air is the prime candidate. A cheap bleed valve key is all you need, let the air out gently until a drip or two of water appears and tighten back up.
You may also have trapped air within the system which leads to poor circulation and therefore a decline in the effectiveness of the heating. Look for a small Automatic Air Valve perhaps by your hot water tank which will have a black or maybe a red thumbscrew on the top. Loosen it slowly, let the air hiss out and then do it back up again.
If you have an immersion cylinder, it’s worth turning on the immersion to see if it works. Wait until you’ve used most of the hot water (after a bath for instance) turn the boiler off so that it’s not heating the water and turn the immersion on. You can sometimes hear it working, a bit like a kettle, but if nothing has heated up after an hour then it’s probably time for a new one.
It’s worth finding out where your mains stopcock is before winter takes a grip… it’s the surest way of controlling any leaks or burst pipes should the worst happen. Find it… and try shutting it off.
Is there something dripping?
It could be an overflow – if it freezes on a frosty night you could have the drip coming through the ceiling instead! Get things checked out and renewed before the problem gets bigger.
Lag external pipes
If you have an external condense pipe running from the boiler to a gulley or drain it’s worth lagging it in cold spells. If it freezes completely it can cause the boiler to stop.
The simplest way to prevent the pipe freezing is to get it lagged but in the coldest weather, even this may not be enough. If your external pipe has frozen, you usually just need to pour a kettle of hot water over it. If the frozen pipe caused your boiler to stop working, try pushing the ‘reset’ button – or turn it off and on at the mains.
Does your system need to be re-pressurized?
Do you know how to re-pressurise a sealed system such as a combi boiler? If the pressure drops below 1 bar it’s likely the boiler will stop working properly. At 0 – 0.5 bar it will stop completely. Have a look in your manual or check it out online for guidance for your system.