Before the winter weather hits Monroe, it’s a good time to review some common boiler issues and how to address them. Even with annual maintenance, problems can arise with a boiler – and usually during a period of extended use. Nobody wants their heating unit compromised during a harsh Michigan winter. While there are a few things that a homeowner can do to repair these issues on their own, most problems associated with residential boilers need to be addressed by plumbing professionals.
The plumbing experts at Iceberg Heating & Cooling can help with all of your boiler needs. Review the common boiler issues below – and if you find that they require the oversight of a professional, don’t hesitate in giving us a call!
If your boiler is not generating heat, the first thing to check is the power supply (the breaker switch.) Make sure that a breaker hasn’t tripped and that the direct power source is working. If your boiler is an older model, the pilot light may have gone out. If your boiler was installed before 1992, it most likely has a pilot light.
The lifespan of a typical boiler is 10 – 15 years, so if your unit has a pilot light you should consider replacing it. While its performance might seem fine, it can be a drain on your utilities. Some cast iron boilers can last up to 50 years or more – but the energy they use to keep a home comfortable is extremely inefficient. Older boiler systems had efficiency rates in the range of 56% – 70%, while modern units can achieve efficiencies as high as 98.5%.
A leaking boiler can be both dangerous and destructive. If you notice water collecting around your unit, investigate where the water is coming from immediately. If the leak is originating from the drain valve, then a simple replacement is probably the remedy. However, if the leak is coming from the tank, then the problem is more extensive – and might require a complete replacement. If your boiler is leaking, stop the water supply and call a professional plumber to fully assess the problem.
Is your boiler hissing or knocking? Any noise that emanates from a boiler is generally called kettling, a description that can allude to either chemical or mechanical factors. A hissing noise might indicate an uneven distribution of water due to iron or lime deposits. In areas that have hard water, lime can build up in the heat exchanger (the hottest area). There are safe chemical cleaners on the market that can help get rid of these deposits.
Mechanical problems can range from a defective thermostat to gas burner pressure. Often, a faulty thermostat is the cause for a noisy boiler, which is easily remedied by replacing it with a new one. If you think there might be a mechanical issue with your noisy unit, have it assessed by a plumber.
If you suddenly notice an unusual odor emanating from your boiler, open a window close to the unit and turn off the control valve. A professional technician should be called immediately to check out the source. There is a possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause sickness and even death if not detected early. If you own any gas-operated appliances in your home, make sure that you have CO2 detectors placed throughout.
Frozen Condensate Pipe
A boiler’s condensate pipe serves an important function: to get rid of the acidic water that is generated by waste gas. The mechanism is exposed on the outside where it releases the water into the drain. Because the pipe is exposed to the elements, it can freeze during the winter. A frozen condensate pipe can affect the performance of a boiler, so finding a way to thaw it out is essential.
Pouring hot water (not boiling water – which can damage the pipe) on it and melting the ice is the quickest way to thaw the (usually plastic) component. You should also consider wrapping the pipe with foam insulation, which can be found at any hardware or home improvement store.
Staying on top of your boiler issues will help ensure a safe and comfortable winter. If you come across any of the listed problems, don’t hesitate to contact the boiler experts at Iceberg Heating & Cooling. If you begin to hear noises or notice leakage – call us at (734) 375-1119and we’ll schedule an appointment today!