Oil fired central heating boilers have an excellent service record – typically they can last for 15 to 20 years with a regular maintenance and inspection program. However, boilers do occasionally break down due to wear-and-tear, and not surprisingly more often in the cold of winter when they’re working hard and putting more strain on components. And let’s face it, no-one wants to be left without heating in the cold winter months. So oil boiler maintenance is important - even when it's running well. In this blog we're going to look at why you should have your boiler serviced each year, and what you can do to keep it in tip-top condition.
1. Service your boiler annually
When your boiler's running fine and dandy, a boiler service might not be the first thing on your mind. But your oil fired central heating boiler works hard, especially in the colder months when it will be in regular use. A broken-down boiler is not only inconvenient, but can be an expensive problem to fix. Our first top tip is to prevent issues in advance by maintaining your boiler with an annual service - the best way to ensure it doesn’t break down unexpectedly. What's more it can also save you money by ensuring it runs to its maximum efficiency. We would always recommend you use an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer, who will ensure your oil fired central heating system and boiler work safely and efficiently as well as checking for wear and tear, and will also check the overall condition of your heating oil tank. Not only that, they’ll also check the system to make sure you and your family aren’t being exposed to dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.
Servicing in the summer months make sense. Winter months are busy ones for oil heating engineers, and it can often be difficult to get one quickly, whereas in summer there are more engineers available. Also, having work carried out on your boiler means it will need to be turned off, so it makes sense to have your boiler serviced in summer when you’re not needing your home heating on. Getting your oil central heating boiler serviced in summer ahead of winter will give you real peace of mind that your boiler is in tip-top condition before it’s tested by freezing temperatures ahead - helping to prevent potentially costly and inconvenient breakdowns. Can heating oil freeze? Read our recent blog post for the full answer, and tips on how to prevent it.
It’s always worth remembering that having your boiler serviced annually may be a condition of your boiler warranty. Most manufacturers will withdraw a boiler’s warranty if you do not get it serviced once a year, or if you get it serviced by someone other than a professional.
2. Keep topped up!
When your heating oil tank runs dry, your boiler shuts down, so our 2nd top tip is to ensure you keep your tank topped up. No one wants to run out of heating oil at any time of the year and be left without heating and hot water. And in busy winter periods when demand is high, it can often take some domestic heating oil suppliers days to get to you. Plus it's likely you will have to pay more for a heating oil emergency fill.
So check the level of your heating oil tank on a regular basis – even if there’s just a little bit of oil in the bottom of the tank, it might not be enough to fire up the system.
There is a quick fix though to running out of heating oil with our Northern Energy Automatic Refilling Service, one of the valuable benefits of our Premium Package*. It provides convenience and peace of mind – no need to go down the garden to check your tank on those cold winter days, and priority deliveries means you’ll never run out of home heating oil. To find out more, give us a call on 01423 770 666.
In addition, there's our OilFox smart monitor which is a heating oil tank gauge and a great way to keep an eye on your oil level 24/7. It’s easy to install and comes with a simple-to-use app for your smartphone which will send a low level alert to avoid you running out of heating oil again.
3. Check your boiler pressure
Your boiler needs to be set at the right pressure to be able to circulate hot water around your pipes and radiators. Our 3rd top tip is to check your pressure gauge on a regular basis and make sure it’s working to the correct level as advised in your manufacturer’s manual. If the pressure is too low, or even too high, you can safely adjust this yourself. Take a look at our guide to boiler lockout for advice.
4. Bleed your radiators
Our 4th top tip is to bleed your radiators each year. Over time, air can become trapped in your radiators, and this will prevent them heating up fully. You may find that your radiator is hot at the top but remains cold at the bottom – a sure sign that your radiator needs bleeding. Or if the radiator isn’t heating up at all, it may need replacing.
5. Check your boiler flame is blue
Boilers should always burn with a strong blue flame. Our 5th top tip is to check the colour of the flame on a regular basis. If the flame is orange or yellow, it could mean there is a risk of a carbon monoxide leak and you should contact an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer immediately. Of course, we always recommend you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted to keep you and your family safe.
What do I do if my boiler is locked out?
Boilers do break down, and if yours does, firstly you need to identify what’s gone wrong. Most modern boilers have a reset button on the display panel but without fixing the underlying problem, resetting your heating oil boiler won’t do anything. The good news is that you might not need to call a qualified oil heating engineer to fix the problem if it’s just a minor fault.
You can check if your domestic heating oil boiler has locked out as you may see an error or fault code flash up on the display panel or a coloured flashing light. Consult your boiler manual to find out what your boiler is telling you, and if you have misplaced the manual, enter the boiler model name and error code into an internet search engine. Chances are you won’t be the first person to have a problem, and there will be a wealth of information online on what to do to fix the boiler lockout issue.
Once you’ve fixed the problem, you can reset your heating oil boiler by simply pressing and holding the reset button for up to 10 seconds. If the reset has worked, the error code should disappear, the flame ignite and a ‘burner’ light will come on, and you should hear your oil heating system firing up again.
If you’ve tried fixing the problem and resetting a couple of times but your boiler isn’t playing ball, it could be time to call out a professional. We would always recommend you get in touch with an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer who will diagnose and fix the boiler lockout problem, getting you back up and running, and as snug as a bug.
Oil heating engineers are busy people - especially in the winter months! At Northern Energy, we can take away the worry of finding an engineer if you have a breakdown. We provide emergency boiler breakdown cover as one of the valuable benefits of our Premium Package*. Two call-outs by our OFTEC registered oil heating engineers are included within a 12 month membership period, and the cover provides emergency assistance when an unforeseen and unexpected breakdown of your oil central heating system occurs, leaving you without heating and/or hot water. To find out more, give us a call on 01423 770 666
Get in touch today. Call us on 01423 770 666 or find out more about our Premium Package* and how we can help you look after your boiler and oil fired central heating system. It even comes with a free upgrade to our Premium Heating oil which is cleaner burning and makes your boiler up to 15% more efficient.
*Terms and conditions apply