A boiler heats water for use in a hydronic heating system. This is the type of heating system that runs hot water or a hot liquid through a tubing system underneath the floor for home or building heating. The boiler heats the water or liquid to be circulated underneath the floor, and when the boiler fails, the heating system will no longer function. If boiler repairs are needed, is it possible for the property owner to do the repairs him or herself? Do-it-yourself repairs are possible, and this article will provide an introduction to the process.
The boiler is a rather intricate device, containing a number of components which must function together in order for the boiler to continue heating. A boiler is generally more complicated than a furnace, in that it has more parts and valves. Anyone considering attempting boiler repairs is advised to find a detailed diagram of the boiler to be repaired so that components can be identified by name, location, and connection.
There are two parts to the boiler, being the Hot Water Supply Side and the Hot Water Return Side. Components are contained in these parts, but the list of components is extensive. This includes the aquastat, gas valve and burners, the air vent, the expansion tank, and many others. With a good diagram, though, the components will be viewable and identifiable, and their connection points known
Boiler problems are fairly few and their effects are quite obvious. When the boiler stops working, so does the heat! In winter, that can be an urgent matter.
The boiler may fail completely, and produce no heat at all, and even though this is the most serious possible problem, fortunately its cause may also be the simplest to diagnose. It is possible that if the boiler has stopped working completely it is because it is getting no power. Check the outlet with some other device. If that device also fails to get power, then the cause of the boiler problem is known. If that device does get power, however, then the problem lies in between the outlet and the boiler itself, and that may be more difficult to diagnose or correct. Past that, consider a fuse or circuit breaker, water level (which should be at approximately half), a problem with the pilot light or starter, or a malfunctioning thermostat.
The boiler may be producing insufficient heat or heating inconsistently or irregularly. The cause of this may, again, be a low water level. The water level should be maintained at about half full. This problem, however, may also result from improper or excessive deposits in the system. The system may need to be flushed, and this may require professional service. The cause of improper heating may also be in the expansion tank. There are two types of expansion tanks still in use, including the older oversized steel expansion tank, normally kept apart from the boiler, and the newer diaphragm tank which will be attached. With both, though, it is necessary to maintain a proper level of air in the tank to prevent water from boiling inside the system and exceeding maximum pressure. If there is a problem with the expansion tank, then professional service will almost surely be needed.
Other possible problems include water leakage, failure in only some heat outlets, and noise. Commonly these all result from the same cause, being either a circulatory problem or water trapped inside the lines. Unfortunately, too, professional service will probably be required to correct these problems and new parts may be needed.
Boiler repair is one of the more challenging home repairs that one can encounter. Self-repair is possible, but may prove difficult or even impossible. There is also risk in attempting to repair a boiler, in that if the repairs are done incorrectly, the damage may be worsened or compounded.