How to Maintain Radiant Heat Boilers
Radiant heat boilers are often top-of-the-line systems which are easy to use and have a high degree of reliability. Maintaining your radiant heat boiler is often a job for an expert plumber, as there are many flaws and problems which could be developing inside the boiler without an amateur knowing. However, some keen home improvement fans might want to take the chance of maintaining their own radiant heat boilers, and basic care of your system is possible if you follow a few simple guidelines to caring for your boiler.
Step 1 - Keep Your Boiler Clean
Cleaning is the most basic maintenance step, and yet also one of the most essential when it comes to caring for a boiler. Radiant heat boilers attract dust and debris, and it is easy for them develop blockages if you don't clean this way. In addition, a radiant heat boiler is very much like any other form, in that the flame inside can sometimes be damaged by debris. Using a cheap household cleaner, wipe down the front and sides of the boiler, taking particular note of the solder where the pipes have been added. Cleaning is a good time to look for corrosion or cracking in the solder around the boiler.
Step 2 - Check the Boiler Flame
If you are using a gas flame, then you should check inside the boiler for signs of carbon monoxide burning. This will often show up as a dark, triangular-shaped stain on the metal surround of the flame. If you see this, or have concerns about the condition of the flame, then you should seek a professional gas engineer to test for signs of carbon monoxide. You should also check that the flame is burning evenly, and that there are no blockages or cracks across the surface of the gas pipes.
Step 3 - Run the Water
While you are checking the boiler, it is a good time to heat up a little water and see how the boiler processes and moves it along the pipes. While the water is heating, listen out for any unusual noises or smells. A low booming noise at the beginning of the process can indicate carbon monoxide again. Once the water is heated, run it through all the pipes, and back into the boiler. You can, if you wish, check to see how hot the water is at this point. If the amount water which returns to the tank is significantly lower, then you may have a blockage or leak somewhere in the system.
Step 4 - Check Your Glycol
If your radiant heat boiler uses glycol in its system, you should check that its pH acidity has not fallen below the regulated level. This is particularly the case in older boilers, where the glycol inhibitors will brake down. If your pH is low, add more inhibitors, perhaps including a complete flush and re-installation of both glycol and inhibitors.
Step 5 - Check the Pressure
Once you have run the water, it is a good idea to check the water pressure in the pipes. Do this by examining the pressure gauge at the top of the loop. Loss of pressure can mean a leak within the system.