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Keep your boiler and heating in shape ready for winter

When the sun is shining in the height of summer the last thing people think about is their heating system, however the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) are reminding homeowners to plan ahead to book in boiler maintenance and look after their boiler and heating system throughout the summer months to avoid breakdowns and problems when the cold weather returns.

Recent research by APHC found that 30% of 1,000 homeowners questioned in England and Wales have not had their boiler serviced in the last 12 months and 14% have not have their boiler checked for over 2 years. With the Department of Health estimating that 40 deaths per year are from carbon monoxide poisoning this lack of maintenance is putting householders lives at risk. Regular servicing by a qualified heating engineer can detect potential leaks and defects plus engineers will check that all CO2 alarms are in good working order to offer an early warning should the boiler become faulty.

Timing a boiler service in the summer not only ensures that your system is safe and more likely to work throughout winter; an annual service can check that the boiler is working to its maximum efficiency. Any dirt and deposits within the system can be cleared plus any small problems can be fixed without living in a house or flat with no heating or hot water during a cold snap. Planning a summer service could also cost 20% less than at peak periods when engineers are in less demand for emergency breakdowns and prices are lower.

John Thompson, Chief Executive of APHC, advises: “It’s understandable that many people turn off the heating and forget about it for a few months during the summer but a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the stress and inconvenience of the heating not working when it gets colder.

“As well as ensuring the system is on good working order, in many cases householders will see energy savings from achieving maximum efficiency from their heating as well as reducing emergency call out fees in the event of a breakdown.”

By taking some basic precautions consumers can reduce the risk of boiler breakdowns when they turn on the heating in autumn, which is traditionally a peak time for engineers responding to emergency call-outs. Historically there are twice as many boiler breakdowns mid-October when everyone switches on the heating than a normal week in winter.

It is recommended that the boiler be run at least once a month during the summer to reduce any build up of dust or grit in the system. This can accumulate to cause a blockage or interfere with the functioning of the boiler pump when it’s switched on plus any problems that have developed over a shut-down period can be fixed while homeowners are not as reliant on the boiler for essential heating.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) can also become stuck if left off for too long, leaving them immovable when they need to be turned on in a cold snap. Although radiator valves can remain in working order six months after being closed, its safer to be confident that they will continue to work when they are needed.

To find a local qualified and reputable heating engineer for an annual service consumers can use the APHC’s search facility at www.FindAQualityPlumber.co.uk. The online database allows consumers to search via a number of criteria including postcode, town or by specific business name if already known. The results are displayed to clearly show the suppliers full contact and website details, map location and areas of specialism, such as heating systems; renewables; hot water; plumbing and electrical. All APHC members are checked for up-to-date Gas Safe registration for gas appliances and OFTEC registration for oil systems.

APHC has also released a series of free, impartial consumer guides to educate and provide background information on a host of plumbing and heating topics, with the aim of arming homeowners with the understanding of works required and being discussed. The guides range from advice on how to select and employ the right installer, preparing for cold weather, dealing with emergencies and guides to conventional heating systems. In addition new technologies are also demystified with information on solar thermal hot water and biomass boilers.

1 Comment to Keep your boiler and heating in shape ready for winter

  1. November 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Great article. It is always best to prevent winter plumbing problems developing than leave them until the damage has already occurred. Scheduling an annual boiler service can ensuring potential issues are detected and dealt with before the colder weather sets in.

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