How to prepare your central heating system for winter

It almost doesn't need to be said, but during winter in the UK, it's inevitable that your central heating system is going to be in use for months at a time.

No matter how much we complain about a 'terrible summer', the fact is your central  heating system won't have taken a pounding as much as it will during the year's coldest months.

For that reason, it's good to take some steps before the weather gets really cold to ensure that your heating is fully operational and won't let you down when you most need it.


1. BOILER SERVICING

Just like your car requires an MOT or a full service to ensure that it doesn't break down, the same applies to your boiler.

It's a fact of life that things wear out, particularly after heavy use (cold weather) or after a period of inactivity (hot weather), so it's definitely worth getting a plumber out once a year to give your boiler a service.

If your boiler decided to pack up one freezing cold night in January, not only are you going to have the inconvenience of being very cold, you also might find it difficult to get a plumber quickly, as they will be busy dealing with everyone else's emergencies.

Don't delay, book boiler maintenance today!


2. BLEEDING YOUR RADS

It's often the case that after a period of inactivity, radiators can struggle to get hot resulting in patchy heat whereby the rad is hot at the bottom but cold on top.

This is often the result of air getting trapped in the system and can easily be rectified by bleeding your radiators.

Bleeding a radiator is one of the easiest tasks that can be carried out on your heating system, yet many people don't realise they can do it. All you need is a radiator key, a cloth and a bucket to catch some excess water.

You can view how to do it in our video featuring Jimmy the professional plumber:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfmKPckA_HI

3. TOP UP YOUR CHEMICAL INHIBITOR

When you have water rushing through your heating system, coming into contact with the metal on the inside of your radiators, pipework and components in your boiler, there is a chemical reaction between the two.

Over time this chemical reaction can cause corrosion inside your heating system, leading to tiny pieces of metal breaking off inside your pipework and radiators.

These tiny metal fragments will slowly come to rest at the bottom of radiators or in certain areas of your pipework, narrowing the space the water has to flow around.

It means your boiler and water pump will have to work harder to pump hot water around your heating system, resulting in higher heating bills and increasing the chances of a breakdown.

(It can be compared to the human body, with blocked up arteries making the heart work harder eventually leading to a heart attack.)

The good news is that this corrosion can be prevented by ensuring that your chemical inhibitor levels are topped up at least once a year.

Chemical inhibitor is a solution that is added to your heating system to greatly reduce this process of corrosion within your radiators and pipework. It's cheap to purhcase, easy to add, yet makes a world of difference to the health of your heating system.

Here's an example of what happens if you ignore the issue of chemical inhibitor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVWY5q4X9mE

4. THERMOSTATIC RADIATOR VALVES

If you don't have thermostatic radiator valves on your radiators, adding them can be a great way of stabilising your heating levels and saving you money on your heating bills.

They're great for controlling the temperature of a room, but detecting the air temperature around them. TRVs are a great addition to your central heating system and mean that your radiators can be used as and when they need them during winter.

You can view more on how thermostatic radiator valves work here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPY0xONv-Kw

Article by Benjamin Clarke

RELATED ARTICLES

• The importance of annual heating system maintenance 7th Jul 2015 

• Encouraging the replacement of old inefficient boilers 22nd Jun 2016 

• Why it's time to upgrade your radiators if they're over 15 years old 13th Aug 2015 

10 October 2017