When you rely on your boiler to keep your house warm, it's easy to get frustrated when something goes awry. Some issues are minor and can be addressed by the avid DIYer. But if you're a new homeowner or you've never dealt with appliance issues, you may not know if the situation warrants a call to the professionals. Here are four common signs that your boiler may be in need of a repair.
For the most part, your boiler shouldn't be making noise, and any of the following sounds should be investigated quickly:
- Banging sound as the boiler turns on: could indicate an ignition or oil pump problem. More than likely, what's happening is an excessive amount of fuel is being ignited inside the combustion chamber, which is highly dangerous and should be addressed right away.
- Rumbling as it turns off: oil may be leaking into the chamber and failing to extinguish as the boiler shuts off.
- Bubbling: air could be trapped inside the pipes. Resolving is fairly easy and requires draining the radiators.
- Grinding: you could have a problem with adequate lubrication on the ball bearings. This should also be addressed quickly to prevent permanent damage to the moving parts.
Most homeowners know to call for a diagnosis and repair if they smell gas. But there are other subtle odors that you may wonder about.
Odors that resemble sulfur or rotten eggs are indicative of gas leaks, too. Most gas companies add these odors in so that homeowners can easily know if there's a problem. If you have an open flame or if your boiler is running, the flame should be immediately extinguished and the possible leak addressed.
If you've been gone for a while and notice something that smells like singed dust, more than likely, dust has collected in the boiler chamber, and the pilot is burning it off. If the smell goes away after several minutes, you can be relatively certain it was just temporary. But if you continue to notice the odor, your boiler should be inspected for other problems.
Lastly, your boiler may give off an "overheated" odor. This typically smells like burning metal or iron, and it could mean that wires have become exposed or frayed or the elements are overheating. You might also notice a metallic or plastic smell. Either way, this problem should be diagnosed ASAP.
It's never fun to discover water around your appliance, but there are several things that can cause a boiler to leak.
Quite commonly, the water pressure is set too high. When this happens, water will drip from the valve as a protective measure, keeping that pressure from backing up inside the tank. If your water pressure exceeds 21 PSI, turn it down so that it's between 18 and 21.
A faulty temperature probe can also cause leaks from the temperature valve. And other problems like corrosion, poorly installed pipe fittings, and faulty seals and pumps are all common issues that lead to leaks. Fortunately, these can all be resolved by a plumber who has boiler repair experience.
Extinguished Pilot Light
The pilot light should stay lit 24/7, and it's used to light the burners when your boiler turns on. So if it goes out, you won't have heat. It could be an isolated incident, so try re-lighting it and see if it stays on. If it doesn't, you could have a problem with your thermocouple, which works as a heat sensor and keeps the gas valve open at all times. If it doesn't work as it should, the gas valve will close and the pilot light loses its supply of fuel.
Additionally, hard water deposits can clog the pipes, blocking the flow of water. When this happens, the boiler shuts down to prevent the dangerous buildup of water pressure.
No matter what, if your boiler isn't working as it should, it's time to call in a professional for boiler repair.