During winter, there are always cold snaps when the temperature drops lower than usual, which lasts from several days to a few weeks. When this happens, you need to make sure that your home stays warm and cosy. Check if your boiler is ready for winter by following this guide.

Insulate the condensate pipe

Since boiler condensate pipes are typically mounted outdoors, the water flowing inside can freeze when exposed to the lowest winter temperatures and cause boiler failure. To prevent an outdoor condensate pipe from freezing, make sure that it’s fully clad with waterproof cladding. Avoid altering the pipe itself on your own. Although the pipe is made of plastic, it’s still part of your gas system and only a Gas Safe engineer can safely make the necessary alterations.

Bleed the radiators

Occasionally bleeding your radiators is necessary to remove bubbles of air that have been trapped inside the heating system. These bubbles rise, so the air tends to collect and steadily gather at the top of radiators, gradually cooling your system. This is a common problem if you don’t run your heating during summer and spring.

To bleed the radiators, you only need your radiator key. Turn the heating on to identify the radiators that need bleeding, then turn off the central heating. Prepare the area before opening up the bleed valve and then bleed the radiator. Repeat this on all the radiators you’ve identified, then check the pressure of your heating system.

Boiler

Check your boiler pressure

The ideal boiler pressure is normally around 1-1.5 bar during cold weather. If the pressure gauge is showing 0.5 bar or less, you need to repressurise the system. Check your manual first to ensure the safety of the procedure.
Locate the filling loop and pressure gauge. Whilst accessing the filling loop, keep your eyes on the pressure gauge, before turning off the boiler. Turn both handles of the filling loop to match the direction of the pipe. If done right, you should hear water flowing. Be careful not to over-pressurise the boiler and keep sight of the pressure gauge at all times. Once the gauge reaches the correct pressure, close the handles fully, then turn the boiler back on to observe the pressure.

Service your boiler

A great way to optimise your boiler for winter is to make sure it receives an up to date service by a trained engineer. This is especially necessary if you find yourself repressurising your boiler more than twice a year. A boiler service keeps it in the best possible condition and keeps it running reliably and efficiently throughout the winter.

The engineer will check the condition of parts and replace any worn or damaged ones long before they become a risk. They will also clean the components as needed, which will effectively optimise the safety and performance of your boiler. To find the best engineer for your system, you may contact a local boiler service or the company that did the heating installation service for your home.

Winter is coming very soon and you have the remainder of autumn to prepare for it. Before the last leaf falls, you should have completed all the necessary preparations to keep your family warm, safe and comfortable during the coldest time of the year.