A Quick Guide to Central Heating Care

September is the month that we play dare with our central heating. As the temperatures fall in the evenings we try to tough it out. We put a jumper on, curl up in a hooded top or simply pretend that autumn is not coming.

What we are trying to avoid at all costs is switching on the central heating. It is not just the rising price of fuel that keeps us away from the thermostat and the boiler, it is a sheer battle of wills with the weather and the certain knowledge that we really shouldn’t turn the heating on before October. After all, what would our grandparents say?

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This period where we are struggling to avoid the impulse to luxuriate in 25, 26 or even 27 degrees of indoor heat is always a very good time to get your central heating tested and practice good central heating care and maintenance. As you can be sure you will be thankful of efficient radiators and boiler once the shopping malls are ringing with Christmas carols (which is usually around mid-October).

The costs of a central heating care check can vary, but you can expect to pay a Gas Safe engineer in the region of £70 to £100 for testing the boiler, making sure there is no risk of carbon monoxide leaking into your home and that all the radiators are working to their full potential. You may also use this opportunity to have a tradesman check other gas appliances such as fires or cookers.

Many energy providers and insurers offer a subscription service that includes such an annual check, although you may have to pay extra for any work that needs doing. Your tradesman should be able to spot minor leaks that could make the system inefficient, whether they are in your pipes or radiators. In most cases, your heating will be working well and the only maintenance that may need undertaking is bleeding the radiators so that they heat evenly all the way up and down.

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Your tradesman may also adjust the pressure on the boiler and ensure that the flue is not blocked, removing any leaves or debris as needed. In some cases you may need a switch or even a circuit board replacing on a boiler, but even this cost will be preferable to your heating breaking down during Christmas lunch.

If your radiators and heating are running inefficiently then your tradesman may suggest that you have the system power-flushed. This removes any debris and sludge from your central heating system that may have built up over time due to corrosion. This will cost from £200 to £400, depending how large your central heating system is and how long the flushing takes. It will, however, save you money and keep you warmer in the long-term, as your radiators will warm entirely. You won’t have to turn up the thermostat to make sure that they’re running at a temperature that’s warm enough for you.

Even if you don’t intend to have your heating serviced before the winter arrives it is still advisable to at least test it yourself. Switch the heating on and/or turn up the thermostat and feel all of the radiators. They should warm evenly all over. You should also have a peek at the pilot light on your boiler. This should show as a purple flame. If the flame is yellow then turn off the heating and call a Gas Safe-registered engineer immediately, as this indicates that the fuel is not burning fully.

Looking for a professional to service your central heating? Find a qualified, vetted and recommended heating engineer by posting your job on Rated People.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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