A boiler that stops working without warning is a disaster, especially if your boiler is not working in cold weather. If you and your family are without heating or hot water, you can take steps to protect yourself and your property while you try to fix the problem. If you are in the Washington, DC area, call 301.701.3296 for boiler service in Washington DC from Mission Comfort.
We are offering these tips to help you get through a boiler failure and help you identify the problem. If these simple steps don’t work, don’t try to fix the boiler yourself.
Make a note of anything out of the ordinary you have noticed with your boiler and bring it to the attention of the repair company when you make the call for emergency service and when your repair technician arrives. Any information could help the technician narrow down the list of potential heating problems that would cause your boiler to stop working in cold weather. It will also ensure that they have the right equipment on hand to do the job.
Step 1: Make Sure You and Your Family are Safe
If your boiler is not working in cold weather, temperatures in the house can drop quickly. Check on everyone in the house, especially elderly relatives, children, and pets, to ensure they are not in any danger from the cold. If the problem with the boiler does not resolve quickly, you may need to relocate to a relative’s house or a hotel.
Step 2: Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing
Freezing temperatures can cause ice to freeze within pipes. As water freezes, it expands, which can cause your pipes to burst and cause expensive leaks. Run a trickle of water through the faucet to keep water moving through the pipes. With the boiler out, the water won’t be hot, but it will be liquid, and it should move fast enough to keep from freezing until you have a chance to fix the boiler.
Step 3: Check Your Boiler for Leaks or Damage
One reason for the loss of hot water is a leak in the boiler. If water leaks out of the boiler, cold water from the water intake will replace it in the boiler, so the water will never get hot. Look around the boiler’s base for any signs of pooling water, stains, or rust.
Step 4: Check Your Boiler’s Water Pressure
If your boiler loses water pressure, your boiler will not be able to function properly and might overheat, or it could cause your boiler to stop working in cold weather. Even if you haven’t found a visible leak, water could be leaking somewhere.
Step 5: Find an Error Code on Your Boiler’s Display
Your boiler might display an error code that identifies the problem. Look up the error code in the troubleshooting section of the manufacturer’s manual to determine the cause of the problem. If you can’t find an error code, don’t worry. Heating and Air Conditioning professionals will have other diagnostic tools on hand to identify issues with your central heating system.
Step 6: Look at the Pilot Light
If the pilot light is not lit, it could indicate a problem with the light itself or a sign that the boiler has shut down as a safety measure. A professional repair technician will be able to tell more about the condition of the boiler from the pilot light.
Step 7: Check for Signs of a Bad Heat Exchanger
When working normally, the heat exchanger warms the air that circulates through your home but keeps it separate from the flue gasses that come out of the furnace. If there is a crack in the heat exchanger, toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide can enter your home. Look for the following signs and call a professional:
- If the furnace is making rattling or gurgling sounds
- If unusual smells are coming from your heating vents.
- If the pilot light looks orange or yellow instead of the normal blue
- If your carbon monoxide detector is beeping
A professional Heating & Air Conditioning technician should fix a broken heat exchanger, and you and your family should not remain in the house until the heat exchanger is fixed.
Step 8: Check Whether the Condensate Pipe Is Frozen
One common reason for a boiler to shut down in cold weather is a frozen condensate pipe. The condensate pipe travels outside the house, so it is prone to freezing on cold days. If the condensate pipe freezes, you can try to thaw it by slowly pouring hot water over it using a jug or water bottle.
Step 9: Try Resetting the Boiler
Sometimes, a boiler can shut down even if it is otherwise working fine due to some minor glitch that resolves itself. If there doesn’t seem to be any obvious problem with the boiler, try resetting it. If your heat does not return, call a professional Heating and AC company.
Preventative Steps You Can Take
In many cases, preventative maintenance can avoid the hassle of a boiler failure before it starts. A professional boiler repair company, like Mission Comfort, can help you look after your water supply and boiler to reduce the risk of sudden disruption to heat and hot water.
Insulate the Condensate Pipe
The condensate pipe is prone to freezing because it is exposed to the outside air. Providing insulation for the condensate pipe will reduce the risk of freezing in the future.
Bleed the Radiators
Bleeding the radiators releases trapped air that can interfere with heat circulation through the radiator.
Don’t Set the Heat on Too Low
Other pipes can freeze if the temperature is too low. If you set your thermostat to sixty-eight degrees, it should help prevent your pipes from freezing. Setting a faucet to run at a trickle also moves warm water through the pipes.
Of course, these measures will not work after the boiler fails. However, they should buy you some time because the warmer water in the pipes will take longer to freeze, and the water already in the tank will take longer to cool down.
Keep Things Tidy Around the Boiler
If your boiler area is clear of clutter and debris, you will have an easier time identifying leaks, rust, and other signs of damage sooner, enabling you to fix problems before they result in boiler failure.
Schedule Regular Boiler Maintenance
Even if your boiler seems to be working fine, it is always a good idea to have the boiler and the rest of your heating system checked out in the fall. If you need a replacement boiler or extensive repairs, it is better to carry them out while the weather is warm and you can do without the boiler for a day or two if necessary.
Regular maintenance can also head off a situation where your boiler shuts down in cold weather or in the middle of a winter storm when calls for Heating and Air Conditioning service swamp every repair contractor in the area.
Call Mission Comfort
If you need emergency furnace repair services in the Washington D.C. area, there’s no better choice than Mission Comfort. We have the efficiency, professionalism, and experience you can trust. We fix boilers and furnaces for residential and commercial customers in the Washington, D.C. area.
Do you need furnace maintenance that won’t break your budget? Is your boiler not working in cold weather? Are you interested in a condensing boiler that runs on gas or oil and is designed to improve energy efficiency? Check our website for the latest deals and financing information. To schedule an appointment with the experts at Mission Comfort, call 301.701.3296 or send us a message on our website.