If you notice that your boiler is leaking, it can be tempting to ignore it and hope the problems go away. But a leaking boiler will need the urgent attention of a heating engineer since it could cause serious damage.
It is important to get it checked out immediately to prevent potentially serious damage to the boiler, your property, or even worse, your health. It is also important to ensure you have hot water and heating when you really need it.
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Don’t try to fix it yourself
Although it is tempting to get on Google and attempt to fix a leaking boiler yourself. This is an area that requires an expert, given that boilers use water, electricity, and often gas, as there are lots of things that can go wrong which are dangerous when not handled by a qualified professional.
If you find your boiler leaking you need to call out a gas safe engineer immediately to assess the problem.
DO NOT attempt to repair it yourself; you could endanger yourself and others and you could damage the boiler.
Is a leaking Boiler an emergency?
The short answer is Yes.
While there are many reasons why a boiler leaks, we always advice you to be cautious, regardless of the situation. A leaking boiler should be considered an emergency and have it inspected by a qualified heating engineer as soon as possible.
It might be a simple problem that could be easily fixed, but leaks can often be indicative of more concerning issues caused either by an acute fault, a poor installation, or general wear and tear that will need solving for the good of your property and the health and safety of you and your loved ones.
What to do if you find a leak?
If you do spot something amiss with your boiler, call out a heating engineer. In the meantime, there are several things you can do yourself.
1. Turn off the water supply to the boiler; this can be done either at the isolation valve to the boiler (if you know where that is) or simply by turning off the main supply.
2. Switch off the heater/boiler; only do this if it is safe to do so and no water has infiltrated the power switch/plug
3. Clean up the leak or excess water, but only after you have turned off electrical power to the boiler.
4. Call a qualified heating engineer.
What causes boiler leaks?
Most leaks are caused by rust and corrosion, excessively high pressure, or loose joints and connections. The root cause can often be determined by the source of the leak.
Corroded pipes are found in old boilers: oxidisation of the pipes from the oxygen in the water can cause weakness and rust over time. From there it is simple enough for leaks to occur, given the high pressure required to power the system.
Loose joints: When in use boilers repeatedly heat and cool the water which leads to the pipes expanding and contracting repeatedly as a result. This constant cyclical change can loosen fittings and could result in leaks.
Pump seal: As the name suggests this houses the pump which ensures the hot water travels throughout your house and radiators. It needs to be very powerful, so if this breaks or gets damaged the leak is often aggressive. If this gets damaged it must be replaced immediately.
Pressure relief valve: This is a common fault and simple to fix. The valve leaks when the pressure in the system is too high and water needs to be removed. The system is designed to do this to ensure the pressure stays within safe parameters. Normally pressure in the system should be between 1-2 bar. Anything higher and the system will try to reduce pressure via the pressure relief valve to allow water to leave.
Fill valve left open: If this valve is left open it can let too much water enter the system and raise the pressure too high. Check it and close it if it is open.
How to prevent the boiler from leaking
Have a regular boiler service:
The best way to prevent a leaking boiler and potential damage is to have an annual boiler service by a professionally trained heating engineer. This will ensure that any instances of wear and tear can be maintained and mitigated with repairs or good practice, keeping your boiler in great working condition.
Alternatives that are also useful include a Powerflush:
This jetting of the system uses a chemical cleaner that helps remove limescale and debris which can help prevent erosion and blockages that cause a build-up of pressure and any related leaks which can occur.
Fit a magnetic filter:
Although this is a more expensive option it offers a long-term method of removing debris from the system which prevents many of the problems that wear and tear can cause.
If you aren’t particularly technically inclined, or concerned about damaging your boiler, always get a trained professional in for an inspection to ensure your boiler is working as efficiently and safely as possible.
Here at Harman Heating, we have been helping local customers in Northampton with their boiler and heating services for a long time. We’re gas-safe registered heating engineers, contact us today for your boiler and heating services by calling 07771 956641, our team is here to help.