Having your commercial boiler breakdown during the winter months is every business’s worst nightmare. Getting it up and running again can be costly and time consuming, and trying to run a business without heat and hot water is inconvenient and bad for the morale of staff, not to mention customers. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so putting the effort in to prevent a breakdown in the first place is much better than neglecting your boiler and having to fix it when it goes wrong.
Here are seven simple steps you can take all year round to make sure your boiler is in tip top shape to tackle even the coldest of winters.
1. Insulate or heat water pipes
One of the most common problems with commercial boilers is the pipes freezing when cold weather hits, just like the ones in your home can. Frozen pipes are expensive to repair and can even burst, which can lead to water flooding your commercial property, causing even more damage and expense. This is a particular risk if you have condensate pipes that run outside of your building. Pipe insulation comes in many forms and is generally quick, easy and inexpensive to fit.
2. Turn the heating on during the summer
If you only use your boiler for heating you should turn it on for 15 minutes every few days during the summer months. This keeps the boiler working smoothly and prevents it seizing up or developing issues that could be problematic when the weather turns colder. It also allows you to identify any problems and have them fixed before you come to turn the heating on when you really need it.
3. Bleed radiators on a regular basis
Radiators that are cold at the bottom but warm at the top have air trapped in them. The air needs to be released or you could end up with bigger problems on your hands. Once it has been released the heat within the radiator will be more evenly distributed, which will heat your space more efficiently and save you money in the long run. Most radiators are easy to bleed and there are plenty of online tutorials available to show you how to do it.
4. Keep an eye on the boiler pressure
Loss of pressure within your boiler is a fairly common occurrence and usually happens due to either a small leak in the system or bleeding your radiators. If your boiler loses too much pressure, your system will run efficiently or stop working altogether. Pressure problems are easy to diagnose by keeping an eye on the pressure gauge that will usually be visible on the front of your boiler system. In some cases it can be relatively easy to re-pressurise it yourself, so check your boiler manual for instructions. However, if you are in any way unsure about what you’re doing, call in an engineer to do it for you.
5. Be aware of the colour of the pilot flame
Regularly checking how the pilot light flame in your boiler looks is a quick and easy way of testing the health of your system. Your pilot light should be a crisp blue colour; this is the most energy efficient as it uses a small amount of gas to produce a lot of heat. If your pilot light is yellow or orange then you have cause for concern: the gas-to-air mixture in your boiler is incorrect and there is too much air getting into the system. This means that carbon monoxide may be present in your premises, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, a dangerous condition that causes symptoms including headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, unconsciousness and death. Call an engineer immediately to come and assess the situation.
6. General housekeeping
Boilers are often located in out of the way areas that end up being used for storage. Ventilation is crucial for the efficient operation of a boiler, so make sure the area around it is free from clutter and ensure it can be easily accessed at all times. This is also important for external vents: check regularly to make sure they haven’t been accidentally covered up or blocked by debris such as leaf litter or rubbish.
General housekeeping should also include doing a regular visual check on your boiler for obvious warning signs that something is wrong. Look out for cracks, leaks, drips, strange noises and black soot marks. You should also dust the exterior of your boiler every now and then: preventing dust from settling prevents its tubes and pipes from getting clogged up, which can stop it performing efficiently and cause higher heating bills. Never attempt to clean the inside of your boiler – this must be done by a registered professional.
7. Have your boiler serviced
Even if your boiler seems to be in good condition you should have it serviced at least once a year. It will give you the peace of mind of knowing that everything is in good working order, and be able to pick up potential problems before they become worse. A boiler service is usually performed during the autumn and ensures the boiler is cleaned, inspected and running properly, ready to take on the strains of keeping your commercial property heated throughout the winter.
Having your commercial boiler breakdown during the working day is not only stressful and inconvenient, but could cost you thousands of pounds in lost work hours and revenue if you have to shut your business down for a period of time. Insulating pipes, keeping an eye on your boiler, performing regular housekeeping tasks and having your boiler serviced every year will prevent problems from happening, or enable you to act quickly to rectify them when they do occur. Putting in a small amount of effort on a regular basis will ensure you don’t end up in a big crisis at the worst possible time, and will ensure that your commercial boiler works smoothly and efficiently all winter.
If you need commercial boiler maintenance or are looking to install a new system altogether, then give us a call today and we’ll run through what’s involved. Alternatively drop us an email via our contact form.