If you've always lived in a home with forced air and just moved into a home with boiler heating, you have a little learning and adjusting to do. It's important that you learn a bit about the most common issues with boilers so you can watch out for them and know when to call a heating contractor. Here's a look.
Boilers can sometimes start leaking water, most often from a valve. You may notice drops of water around the boiler or a larger amount of water pooling on the basement floor. Sometimes, this is a sign that the pressure inside the boiler is too high; once your heating contractor adjusts the boiler, it will stop leaking. They may also need to adjust or replace a valve, which is a minor repair that should only take a few minutes. Other times, a leak may originate from a crack in the boiler itself. Typically, a boiler does not crack until it is quite old, and this is a sign it needs to be replaced.
Broken Pilot Light
As in a forced air furnace or hot water heater, the pilot light stays lit continually. When the boiler is turned on, the pilot light lights the main burner. A pilot light that goes out or does not stay lit will prevent your boiler from heating up at all. If you don't have heat, this is one of the first things your heating contractor will check. Sometimes, they may need to replace the pilot light or adjust it. Other times, the issue may be with the gas line; it may not be supplying the pilot with enough fuel and may need to be cleaned or replaced.
Especially if you have hard water with a lot of dissolved minerals suspended in it, you should be on the lookout for signs of limescale buildup in your boiler and the pipes that lead to it. The most obvious sign is a banging, clanging noise when the boiler turns on. Known as kettling, this happens because the boiler tank expands and contracts at different rates due to the presence of mineral buildup. You may also notice that the system is slow to heat up or that certain radiators don't get warm. This is because mineral buildup is blocking some of the system's pipes.
To learn more about the most common issues with boilers, talk to a heating contractor in your area.