In these cold winter months, it’s important you keep homes warm. A significant part of doing this is ensuring that your boiler is in the best shape possible. An inefficient boiler can cause an increase in your household bills, leave you with insufficient heating from your radiators, and may cause your boiler to eventually breakdown altogether. Luckily there are tips and checks you can make at home to make sure your system is working well again and stays in top shape for as long as possible.

1. Arrange an annual service

Treat your boiler like your car. Regular servicing keeps it running safely and smoothly which really makes sense in the long term.

An annual check by a Gas Safe registered engineer should prevent your boiler from seizing up in the winter and help you detect any minor issues before they become major problems.

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2. Keep your boiler clean

Not an obvious cleaning job – but keeping your boiler dust-free pays dividends in the long run. You’ll prevent its tubes and pipes from getting clogged up, hampering its performance and causing higher heating bills.

To prevent dust settling on your boiler, give its outer housing a once-over whenever you clean the house. The interior can be taken care of during servicing – another reason to have your boiler serviced regularly by a Gas Safe engineer. Never attempt to clean your boiler’s interior yourself.

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3. Bleed your radiators

Along with the obvious perk of improving your radiators’ heat efficiency, this minor maintenance task should lead to cheaper bills too. To work out if your radiators need bleeding, fire up the heating and see if any take a while to warm up or have cold spots at the top. A handy video guide to bleeding your radiators can be found here.

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4. Top up the pressure

A pressure drop will really hinder your boiler’s efficiency but it’s easy to correct. Check the gauge on your boiler. It should read around 1.5 bar if the pressure is healthy. If it doesn’t, it’s time to tweak it. See our step-by-step guide to fixing boiler pressure.

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5. Use a Powerflush

So you’ve bled your radiators but they’re still not getting hot? “Sludge” might be to blame. Deposits in your pipes and radiators can build up over time to such an extent that your boiler can’t heat your home efficiently. Eventually your central heating may suffer corrosion – a much bigger (and more expensive) issue to put right.

So if your radiators have cold spots, some aren’t working, or your heating is very slow to take effect, it might be time to Powerflush. A Gas Safe registered engineer can do this for you. A Powerflushing unit sends water through your central heating system at high speed, dislodging any build-ups of sludge, rust and debris. Your boiler and central heating will be far more efficient afterwards and should last longer.

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6. Insulate your pipes

Your boiler won’t have to work so hard and you’ll save money heating your home, if you lag your central heating pipes with simple, easy-fit, foam tubes. They reduce heat loss, keeping water hotter for longer. Lagging is available at most DIY stores. Just make sure you know the correct size for your pipes.

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7. Turn the heating on

Like a car that hasn’t started for a while, your boiler can seize up if it’s left off for prolonged periods, leading to expensive breakdowns. So switch your heating on once a week during the warmer months – just 15 minutes will do – to keep it ticking over.

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8. If all else fails… consider a high efficiency boiler

If you’ve tried all these tips and tricks above and you’re still struggling to heat your home and water efficiently, it might be time to get a new boiler. Modern A-rated condensing boilers are the most efficient on the market and so are the most economical to run.

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