Many people today think boilers are an archaic and old form of heating, but this is not true. These beasts will work for 15 years or more, so there are still many homes in this country that use them. There can be a variety of issues that cause a boiler to stop working in the winter, and many of them are a simple fix that any homeowner can accomplish. This will prevent the temperatures from dropping in your house while you wait for a professional technician to come and fix your boiler. But, there are some problems that are best left for the professionals to handle. Keep reading to learn how you can troubleshoot problems with your boiler to keep your family warm this winter:
1. Examine The Thermostat
One of the easiest and most common problems to fix on a boiler is the thermostat. Check the thermostat in your home and set it above the actual room temperature. This should make the furnace start running to warm up your house. If it's not working, then the obvious fix is to replace the thermostat. You should replace it with a digital thermostat. If the thermostat isn't the problem, then continue reading.
2. Check The Circulator Pump
The next step to troubleshooting your boiler is to carefully feel the motor to see if it's hot. Do you hear the circulator pump running?
If the motor is cool and the pump isn't running, then that is a sign that there's no power. Look at the circuit breaker and flip the tripped switch back on. If the power is on, then the issue probably lies with the circulatory relay or the thermostat. You can easily replace the thermostat yourself, but if the problem is the circulatory replay, then you'll need to call a professional boiler repair service to fix this problem.
If the motor on the boiler is very hot, than it's a sign that there is a problem with the pump, motor, or the run capacitor. Homeowners unfamiliar with boiler systems typically find these parts complicated, so it's in your best interest to call a repair technician to fix any of these issues.
If none of these situations seem to be the problem with your boiler, then keep reading.
3. Look At The Temperature/Pressure Gauge
The next step is to take a look at the temperature/pressure gauge. The gauge will have a red line on it. The needle on the gauge should be below the red line, but above zero. A normal gauge reading is right around 12 pounds per square inch (psi).
If your gauge is showing a normal reading, then there is probably air in the system. This is a common problem in older boilers with manual air eliminators. To fix this, simply run to your closest home improvement center and buy a new automatic float-type air eliminator. You can easily install this by following the manufacturer's instructions.
If the gauge is showing a low reading, check to see if the vent damper is open and that the inducer fan is operating. If neither one of these are on, turn the breaker for the boiler off. Then wait a few minutes and turn it back on. If the inducer doesn't come on and the damper doesn't open, then there is most likely a problem with the aquastat or boiler control. Both of these problems are best handled by a professional repair technician.
4. Inspect The Pilot Light
Take a look and see if the pilot light is lit on the boiler. If the pilot light isn't igniting, but the inducer fan is running and/or the vent is open, then there may be a blockage in the vent pipe. If the light ignites but doesn't stay lit, then that usually means there's an issue with the thermocouple, pilot assembly, boiler control, or the flame sensor is dirty.
A thermocouple can be easily replaced by a homeowner. You can buy a universal thermocouple at your local home improvement center, which will include all the adapters needed to fit any boiler. Simply follow the instructions on the package to install it.
You can also easily clean the flame sensor and pilot assembly yourself. Since the method of cleaning these parts varies by brand and model, consult your owner's manual for the best cleaning method for your type of boiler.
If you've run through all the troubleshooting topics discussed above and you still can't find the problem with your boiler, then it's time to call a licensed technician. A professional repair person from a company like StateWide Mechanical II Inc. can be at your home in a matter of hours, sometimes even minutes, to get your boiler up and running again so your family won't freeze during the cold winter months.