(DIY) How to Troubleshoot Boiler Problems

Do it Yourself concept

If your home uses a hot water boiler as your source of heat then having some basic DIY knowledge as to how they work can help you if trouble should arise. With winter just around the corner here in CT, knowing how to diagnose and fix simple problems, or how to relay that information to a professional, can help save you both time and money.

First, follow these quick inspection steps for the physical locations of your boiler’s components:

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the basic parts, apparatus and definitions that pertain to your boiler. The attached diagram shows a complete breakdown of all the exterior parts of on an oil-fired hot water heating boiler.

Step 2: Identify your specific boiler’s fuel source. Follow the supply piping to the source to establish what heating-fuel your boiler uses to heat your home, e.g. oil or water. This information can help you when doing some troubleshooting research.

Step 3: Establish the boilers heat distribution and follow the unit’s delivery of heat as it leaves the boiler and then returns to it. Having a tight system that follows logical paths can reduce potential, simple problems like adequate return, adding years to its life, and removing sources of heat loss like splits or cracks.

Step 4: Make observation of the unit’s controls at the source. These controls located around the boiler are designed for use by the homeowner (meters, gauges, etc.), as well as being a source of information by an inspector. Other issues related to the temperature/pressure release valve can originate here. Check your unit’s manual for adequate PSI.

Once you have made your basic observations of the unit, it’s then time to diagnose why you have no, or little heat. There are typically four possible causes that can be quickly assessed and fixed without much aid:
  • No power to boiler: Check the circuit breaker associated to the unit. Reset the breaker, or replace the fuse as needed. Believe it or not, this problem is very common and a quick check can save so much trouble.boiler problems
  • Low water level: The water level should remain around half-full at all times. The boiler pressure relief valve should be around 12-15 psi.
  • Pilot or electronic burner ignition malfunction: Check to see if the boiler burner is closed via the control valve. Additionally, verify that the pilot light is lit. If your boiler has no standing pilot light, consult the manual for your specific unit as to how to relight it. Don’t be afraid to call a professional if you are insecure about the process.
  • Thermostat error: Establish your thermostat is set to heating mode. Then, move the temperature setting up and down. If you hear that familiar click, and nothing happens, you’re problem may need servicing.

Once you have exhausted all of your resources, and you still can’t find a solution, it might be time to call a professional. The problem may be something far greater and going without heat is definitely not an option.

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Michelle Manter Giglietti

Owner~Realtor at Manter Realty Group of Keller Williams
Top Producing Realtor and recognized blogger. In her free time you can hear her screaming fore at the local golf course,or catch her at home enjoying fresh cooking and a glass of wine with her husband and favorite 6 pound Morkie named Pedro.
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