Why is the maintenance of a central heating system important?
We can’t say it often enough: it is highly recommended to carry out the maintenance of your central heating system for many reasons. The main reasons are:
- To ensure the integrity of the heating system, in other words, to ensure that all components are fully functional;
- To ensure that the central system reaches its maximum performance;
- For prevention of premature wear of parts and execution of necessary repairs or replacements to avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown and replacement during critical heating periods. When it's -25°C, you need your system to work perfectly.
Exactly what should be done during the maintenance of your central heating system?
The required steps of a complete maintenance depend on the type of system and it’s power source.
Electric central heating system maintenance
- Checking all electrical components of the heating system
- Checking the motor and the blower’s squirrel cage
- Filter replacement
- Checking the air conditioning/heating coil if your central system includes an air conditioner unit or heat pump
Gas central heating system maintenance
With a gas system, all the above mentioned steps are required, in addition to these:
- Complete check of the gas gear, including gas valve, burner, ignition system, etc.;
- Checking the gas exhaust system: exhaust vents must be kept clear at all times. They are often blocked by nests or spider webs formed at the entrance or inside the vents.
In all cases, regardless of the type of central system, you should never neglect the inspection and cleaning of ventilation ducts: they must be clean and airtight. Air leaks can have a significant impact on the comfort of occupants, and could lead us to think that the discomfort is due to the heating system itself. Dirty ducts will certainly cause air quality problems which can even affect people's health.
Hydronic central heating system maintenance
In a hydronic central heating system, the boiler is the equipment which needs checking, and the required steps are different for gas boilers vs electric boilers.
Gas boiler maintenance
Annual maintenance of your gas boiler must be conducted by a certified professional. This contractor should execute the following steps:
- Inspection of burners and state of ignition system componants
- Checking power consumption
- Replacement of air intake filter if there is one
- Inspection of pumps
- Inspection of air vents
- In the case of a glycol system, verification of the pressurizing pump and pH of fluid
Also ask the contractor for a combustion test report.
Electric boiler maintenance
- Inspection of electric componants
People who have a hydronic central heating system often wonder if it is necessary to purge the system at each new heating season. The answer is simple: no, you should never purge the system, except for a major renovation. Air is a hydronic system’s worst enemy! Fresh water is filled with oxygen which decreases significantly the system’s efficiency. The old water circulating in the system is oxygen free, and by extension, very effective. Also, never purge the system yourself. A professional technician will know how to proceed without damaging the system.
How often is the maintenance of a central heating system required?
We recommend an inspection by a certified contractor on an annual basis at spring or summer time, before the peak heating season begins. Of course we are not inclined to schedule the inspection of our heating system when its 30°C in the shade, but it's still the best time to make an appointment with a heating specialist.
Should I call a heating specialist or can I do it myself?
Equipment must be inspected by a certified professional. Each central heating maintenance step described above must absolutely be handled by a heating contractor. One cannot improvise when it comes to heating, not even the experienced handyman, the consequences could be very costly for both your budget and your personal safety. And here's why:
- Incorrect adjustments can damage the unit and cause unexpected costly repairs
- You could encounter difficulties with your home insurance in case of damages or an accident
- The greatest risk concerns your safety: all heating equipments operate at a very high voltage, representing an actual danger for electrocution. Natural gas equipments are very safe, however incorrect adjustments by non-professionals can have serious consequences, such as carbon monoxide poisoning or even explosions.
To save a few dollars, consumers occasionally buy parts online: this is not recommended if you do not know the origin of the product and don’t have quality assurance of the product.
Final tip: Ask your heating specialist for a full report of everything that has been inspected to ensure that every maintenance step has been covered. If some parts have been replaced, ask to see them.