Common Gas Boiler Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them
No Calgary resident needs much introduction to the harsh winter weather.
If you live here, you know. You also know the importance of a fully functioning gas boiler to your home. Hot water for heating is a basic requirement for many months of the year here. It’s essential that you have a good quality boiler that is serviced regularly to keep it in tip-top condition.
If it stops working in the middle of winter, the whole family starts to freeze.
Many breakdowns or malfunctions can be avoided with regular boiler maintenance but what do you do if you have a problem with your hot water right now?
Here we look at the most common gas boiler problems and what you can do to fix them.
Most require the intervention of a professional service technician but, in some cases, there may be a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your boiler.
What if my boiler produces no heat?
You get a gas boiler installed to do one main job: heat your water and your home. If it’s not doing that, it’s a problem that needs fixing quickly.
Producing no heat (as opposed to producing insufficient heat) is normally due to one of the following reasons:
- No power to the boiler – sometimes this can be something simple like a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. The problem can be resolved quite simply in this case by replacing the fuse or resetting the circuit breaker.
- The pilot light or electric ignition system not working – try relighting a gas pilot light; if it goes out again, this might point to another problem. An electric ignition problem probably needs to be diagnosed by a professional technician.
- The water level is not high enough – the water level in the boiler should be half full. Most gas boilers have a pressure-reducing valve that maintains correct pressure. If this is absent, manually refill the boiler by opening the water feed valve until boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.
- Malfunctioning thermostat – if you move the thermostat up or down a few degrees and nothing happens, you’ll need a professional boiler repair technician to take a look.
What if my boiler is not heating correctly?
Sometimes, boilers produce water that is heated but not to the required temperature.
Again, there are a few common causes that you can tick off when boiler troubleshooting:
- The water level is not high enough – your boiler should be half full. If the change in heating capacity is sudden it might be due to a lack of water. Check the pressure gauge to see if the water pressure is 12 psi or greater. If not, try manually refilling the boiler by opening the water feed valve until boiler pressure is back to around 12 psi.
- A build-up of mineral deposits in the boiler and heat exchanger – this is a possible reason for a problem with a lack of water heating capacity that gets gradually worse.
- An incorrect water level in the expansion tank - this may cause the water to boil to above the required temperature, which is another type of problem that will need professional assessment.
What if water leaks around my boiler?
Water leaking around your boiler is one of the more obvious signs of a problem with it. This is normally due to one of the following reasons:
- The boiler has a broken or leaking circulator pump – if you suspect this, it will require a licensed service technician to repair the pump or at least replace the pump seal.
- A faulty or leaking pressure-relief valve – the expansion tank may be full of water, the valve may be blocked by sediment (which prevents it from closing) or it may need replacing. If you are confident enough with the workings of a boiler, you can try turning it off, letting it cool down, and then manually discharging some water for a few seconds to see if the pressure is good and the water is clean.
- A leaking pipe – see the following question.
Why is my boiler leaking from the overflow pipe?
If water is leaking or dripping from a pipe, first identify where the leak is by following it back to the source.
Then, if you’re repairing the leak yourself, turn the water supply off to the house and drain the boiler system. However, most homeowners will not attempt this and should call a gas boiler professional.
What are the signs that my boiler needs to be replaced?
While most well-serviced, modern boilers have relatively long lives of 15 years or more, yours will eventually need to be replaced.
The tell-tale signs of this include:
- Increased energy bills for no apparent reason
- It starts leaking water
- The blue flame has turned yellow
- The boiler is taking longer to heat up than it used to
- Rooms in your home are not being heated evenly
- Your boiler or the radiators start making strange noises
- The boiler is emitting strange smells
- You have to call out plumbers for emergency repairs too often
- Parts are no longer available for your boiler
Some of these problems can be fixed by professional plumbers specializing in boiler repairs but when they occur frequently it may become more cost-effective, more convenient, and safer to simply replace your boiler.
Our team will provide an honest assessment and advise you when your boiler is reaching the end of its natural life.
Get your boiler repaired or serviced in Calgary
Ideally, you should get your gas boiler inspected and serviced once a year to avoid unexpected problems.
For boiler repairs, one of our technicians will visit your home to investigate and diagnose the problem.
We’ll provide a fixed-price quote for repair and, if there are several options available, your flat-rate options will be quoted in writing so that there are no surprises.
All work is covered by our one-year guarantee for parts and labour. The gas boiler professionals at Alpha Plumbing can repair your boiler if you’re in the southeast, southwest, or northwest of Calgary.