Central heating and air is a modern convenience often taken for granted. When was the last time you looked at your central heating boiler, let alone thought about how lucky you are not to have had problems with it? Chances are you're here because you have a problem. And if you're like most people, your boiler has bit the dust in the dead of winter. The three most common problems include:
- Loss of heat.
- Heat that won't turn on or off.
- Noises while running.
Step #1: Check the Thermostat
A problem with the thermostat can be behind the loss of heat or contribute to the heat not turning on or off. If you have a zoned heating system, there will be numerous thermostats throughout the house. Find the main thermostat that all others tie into and check it.
If the room temperature is colder than the thermostat's setting, adjust it higher. If the unit does not turn on or allows the temperature to fall noticeably below the set temp, the thermostat may need to be replaced.
Step #2: Check the Boiler Gauges
A heating boiler has temperature and pressure gauges. Most have a red line, and the reading should be below the line but above zero. If the gauge reads normal, the problem is likely air in the system.
Air in the system is a common problem for old boilers. If yours has an old manual air eliminator, upgrading to a modern automatic one is recommended.
Step #3: Inspect the Circulator Pump
Is it running? Place your hand on it and you should feel it running. It should be warm. If it's cold, check the breaker that powers the boiler. If it flipped, power was cut off to the circulator pump and could cause the unit to stop running. If it feels really hot, the pump, motor, or run capacitor could be failing.
Step #4: Inspect the Burners
If steps one through three haven't been useful, check to see if the pilot ignites. If it doesn't, the vent pipe could be obstructed. If it flickers, the pilot assembly might need to be cleaned, or the flame sensor could be gritty. Alternatively, the thermocouple or boiler control could be bad.
A boiler problem can be difficult to diagnose. If these four steps for troubleshooting the most common problems don't produce results, check to see if the boiler is still under warranty. Contact the manufacturer or a local repair person from a company like Always On Call Mountain Mechanical for assistance.