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How to Troubleshoot Hot Water Boilers

September 21, 2015 by

You need a functional boiler to provide your family with hot water and keep the home warm during the cold season. It is the core of all hot water and central heating needs in your home; so when it gets damaged, things can get very uncomfortable.

Troubleshoot Hot Water Boilers

If you have a damaged hot water boiler that is not generating heat, losing too much heat, leaking, producing odors, smoke, or noises, or resulting in high heating costs, you can learn how to identify and diagnose the problem using the following steps.

Step 1: Identify the type of heating system installed

It is easy to distinguish between a heating furnace, hot water boiler, and a steam boiler, because they use different equipment. A furnace heats the building by blowing hot air into the rooms, while a boiler requires a heat exchanger to heat surrounding air, which then spreads to the entire room through convection. You can identify a steam boiler if opening the valves at the heating radiator is accompanied by a hissing sound – indicating that the pipes are carrying steam and not hot water.

Step 2: Don’t assume you know the cause of the problem

There are certain things that are likely to be the cause of boiler problems, like malfunctioning regulators or broke valves. However, it is important that you don’t jump to conclusions, causing you to spend money on unnecessary replacement parts.

Step 3: Troubleshoot Systematically

This involves solving the problem in a logical and organized manner by following a certain order. This step requires you to identify the sequence of boiler operation from the beginning. This should include checking both the fuel system and the water system for optimal performance. You should also check for leakages, gas pressure at the boiler, boiler controls and thermostats, fuel supply, power light, electronic programmers, condensate pipe, and the radiator valve, among others.

Step 4: Consider the Likely Causes of the Problem

Troubleshooting is mainly an elimination process where you check each and every component for optimal performance. At the same time, you should be thinking about the likely cause of the problem. For instance, what could be causing the noise? What could be causing the heat loss? At what point does the system lose pressure? Etc.

Step 5: Optimize Boiler Efficiency

After identifying the problem and getting it fixed, you should think about ways to optimize the boiler. This requires you to examine the flow rate (in gallons per minute), Btus, and the system’s Delta-T and input the values in a simple formula that helps you match water flow with boiler firing rate to prevent the system from short cycling and improving its efficiency.

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