Servicing can save money

In a bid to meet the country's 2050 carbon reduction objectives, the possibility of using alternative fuels - or at least a different quality of gas - is becoming more likely. As many of these solutions involve changing the chemical properties of the gas that we use., inevitably this will have an impact on the performance of our appliances, making the need for regular checking and servicing of a heating system imperative. 

1) Check the water

Most homeowners regard the content of the pipework in their heating system as out of sight, out of mind; and don't pay much attention to keeping it in good condition. However, research has proven that heating systems heavily contaminated with magnetite, sludge and various other corrosion impurities can be up to 6 per cent less efficient - which can make a big impact on the efficiency of a boiler. 

For homeowners with little regard for the inside of their heating system, gas engineers can show them exactly what is inside the pipes by using a turbidity tube. Not only is this a useful comparative device to monitor that the discharge (dump) water has successfully cleared during the power-flushing process, but we are using the tool more often to demonstrate the level of clarity of water in their customers' heating systems. 

Because an older heating system is likely to have been connected to four or five different boilers in its lifetime, our first priority should always be to ensure the water in the system is clean and contains corrosion inhibitor. Ideally, this should be an annual check to make sure the system is not corroding an has enough inhibitor to stay protected.

If a customer is looking to invest in further protection for their heating system, adding a system filter will complement the cleansing process; ensuring the long-term protection of an appliance by collecting any contaminants that may not have been removed at the time or that may build up afterwards.

2) Check the appliance

With the pipework clean, the next step is to look at the boiler itself. We should make sure that its combustion efficiency reads as per the manufacturer's instructions. This should ideally be carried out once a year: any excess air or insufficient air going into the boiler will affect the efficiency of the burner. Measure the CO/CO2 ratio of the flue gasses and adjust the appliance accordingly. any manufacturers ask for an air pressure test to be taken, generally on a test point on the fan and on the exhaust outlet. The measured pressure indicates the cleanliness of the heat exchanger and whether it needs cleaning.

3) Check the controls

Once we have checked that the boiler and the water in it are clean and healthy, it then falls to accessories such as heating controls to make any additional efficiency gains. Any control system should obviously time the on/off periods of the system, with a room thermostat to turn off the boiler and pump when the desired room temperature has been achieved. 

Smart Controls can offer a large efficiency uplift even without any human interaction, by enabling the boiler to adapt its behaviour according to how a homeowner uses their heating system. his makes smart controls well suited to people who are keen to save energy.

The use of weather compensation, where the control can access live weather data to influence the boiler output, and load compensation, which adjusts the boiler's output in line with the actual room temperature, will have a real impact on bills.

4) Check the parts

In addition to the general servicing steps that should be carried out on every heating system, there will be some specific requirements that vary. Manufacturers use a range of different components in their appliances, all of which have different parameters - a bit like the servicing requirements of two different car manufacturers. 

With that in mind, we should be on the lookout for any 'anniversary part changes', as the proactive replacement of ageing components will keep the boiler ticking along nicely. This could involved changing anything from a seal to an electrode every year or two, and can be determined by referring to the manufacturer's guidelines.

Although annual boiler servicing is currently not a legal requirement, the benefits of maintaining an efficient and effective heating system are plain to see. We all must continue to take every opportunity to reap the rewards of greater heating efficiency.