Heating systems require regular maintenance, inspections, and repairs in order to continue working correctly. Homeowners should hire a professional to perform annual maintenance on their boiler and heating system, which includes tasks such as cleaning the system, inspecting the components, and checking for leaks or other issues. This annual maintenance often covers most of the inspection, repair, and maintenance needs for the system. Some homeowners prefer to handle parts of their heater maintenance on their own to save money. If you want to handle maintenance tasks for yourself, be aware that some jobs are easier than others, and you need to educate yourself so that you won’t risk damaging your unit or injuring yourself.
Clean or Replace Air Filters
You should clean or replace the air filters in your heaters and air conditioner systems regularly to ensure proper airflow and prevent the accumulation of dust and debris. Some filters are better quality than others, and some need replaced more often. Visually inspect filters to see if they need to be changed. Thinner filters should be changed every 1-3 months, while some thicker ones can go up to a year between changes. The exact length of time between filter changes will vary based on how often your heater runs, how dusty your environment and ducts are, and the quality of your filters.
Clean Boiler Components
Boilers need to be cleaned and flushed regularly to keep them free of mineral build-up and make sure they are working efficiently. You can clean the components of your boilers, such as the burners, heat exchangers, and ignition systems, or you can leave this task up to professionals. Generally, it is recommended that your heating system be inspected and maintained annually by a professional company. Cleaning and repairing boiler components is usually done during annual boiler inspections.
Check Your Thermostat
You should check the thermostat on your heaters or boilers to ensure it is functioning properly. This involves verifying that the temperature is set correctly and the heating system is responding appropriately. You can do this by comparing it with a thermometer nearby in the room if you feel that your home is not maintaining the correct temperature. However, this is often done as a part of your yearly HVAC maintenance and inspection, so unless you feel there is a problem that needs to be addressed, you should let the professionals handle it.
Monitor Your Energy Bills
You should monitor your energy bills to watch for any sudden change in the amount of energy you are using. Many changes can be attributed to sudden drops in temperature causing your heater to be used more, but changes could also point to problems like a thermostat issue, inefficient heating, or a gas or water leak. If you are concerned about a sudden or gradual and continuing change in your utility bills, contact your HVAC professional.
Check Boiler Pressure and Temperature
Check to see what your boiler pressure should be. You should regularly check the pressure and temperature gauges on your boilers to ensure they are operating within safe and efficient parameters. If the pressure or temperature is too high, you should hire a professional to adjust it. Make sure that you have your HVAC professional explain the gauges to you so that you understand what levels are normal, when you should be concerned, and what to do when you see a problem.
Inspect the Flue
You should inspect the flue on your boiler to ensure it is clear of any obstructions, such as bird nests or debris. Your flue should be checked at least once a year unless you sense a problem, in which case it can be done as needed. Yearly flue inspections are usually done during the annual maintenance visit by your HVAC company, so most homeowners won’t need to worry about this job unless they feel something isn’t working correctly or they missed their yearly HVAC inspection.
Your inspector will look over your boiler and its components to check for leaks during your annual maintenance visit. However, occasionally leaks develop quickly. If you notice any leaks in your boilers, you should call your HVAC company to repair them immediately. Leaks can lead to water damage in other areas of your house, as well as contribute to further damage to your heating unit, such as corroded parts and electrical malfunctions. If you have a boiler leak, you will probably want to hire a professional and not attempt this repair on your own.
Check for Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, and invisible gas that is produced from incompletely burned fuel. This gas can make people sick or even kill them. You should install carbon monoxide detectors near your heating systems to alert you to any dangerous levels of gas. Experts recommend also having carbon monoxide alarms placed near each bedroom door, in or close to the garage, and make sure that there is at least one on each level of the house.
Clean Ducts and Vents
If your ducts are dirty, dusty, or smelly, it might be time to get them cleaned. Many professionals debate the need to have the ducts cleaned at all, but if you have visible dust or lint, you have allergy problems, live in a dusty environment, or suspect that dirty ducts are contributing to breathing problems, you might benefit from cleaner ducts. Professional duct cleaning companies often recommend that you do this every 1-3 years.
Keeping on top of these and other regular maintenance and inspection tasks can be a challenge for people. To make it easier, many of these jobs can be done during regular professional maintenance visits. If homeowners aren’t sure they are up to the task or if they don’t want to worry about forgetting anything, it makes sense to have a professional handle this. If the homeowner feels confident about their skills, doing regular maintenance tasks themselves can save money for the homeowner. No matter who does annual inspections and maintenance tasks, it’s important that they be done thoroughly, regularly, and properly, as improperly maintained systems won’t last as long and can even become dangerous.