Your home's boiler is normally a silent partner when it comes to heating your home. However, it'll quickly make itself heard in the event of a malfunction. Odd noises originating from your boiler can point to a wide range of problems, which means you should stand up and take notice whenever your boiler wants to cause a racket.
Tackling Mineral Deposits
Mineral deposits are a common issue when it comes to boiler maintenance, especially if you live in areas where hard water is prevalent. As the water temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, lime scale from dissolved calcium salts can accumulate on the boiler's heat exchange tubes.
A thick layer of lime scale can cause hot spots that heat the water beyond its boiling point, causing air bubbles to form within the boiler. When these bubbles collapse, it creates noises similar to water boiling in a tea kettle. These deposits also cause excess fuel consumption while reducing the boiler's overall performance.
You can solve your boiler's lime scale issues with the help of a descaling chemical. Simply add the chemical to your boiler as instructed and allow it to work for a few days. Afterwards, it's only a matter of flushing and refilling the boiler with fresh water.
If hard water is common in your area, you may want to consider installing a water softener. This tool "softens" the water by extracting the calcium and magnesium salts within before the water reaches your other appliances and faucets.
If your boiler thermostat is set too high or if it's not working properly, it can provoke rapid kettling within the boiler. The thermostat temperature shouldn't be set any higher than 180 degrees, otherwise boiling could occur.
During the summer, you can save money by reducing boiler thermostat temperatures to around 140 degrees (or 120 degrees if you have a condensing boiler). According to the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, this step can help you cut back fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent. During the winter, you can set your thermostat to 160 – 180 degrees to maintain your home's comfort.
If your thermostat is set correctly but kettling still occurs, you might want to have your contractor take a look at your boiler. There's a good chance that it may be suffering from a defect that requires complete replacement of the thermostat itself.
Clearing the Air
Defective valves and minor breaches in boiler pipes and connections can allow air to infiltrate and cause pressure differentials within the boiler system. Air that gets trapped in the boiler can cause quite a ruckus, usually in the form of constant banging noises throughout the system piping.
Purging the system of excess air is the only way to immediately solve this problem. Afterwards, you should have your contractor perform a careful inspection of your boiler's valves, piping and connections.
Big Burner, Small Boiler
Believe it or not, the size of your boiler's burner can have plenty to do with its kettling issues. Many homeowners make the mistake of installing a burner that's too powerful for their boiler. Using an oversized burner eventually leads to centralized overheating, which in turn causes kettling problems.
Another size-related issue involves the circulating pump for the boiler. An undersized pump creates a flow rate that's simply too slow to properly dissipate the burner's heat, which also causes kettling.
To prevent the above problems from happening, always make sure your burner and circulating pump are both properly rated for your boiler's size. If you're having problems finding the correct burner or pump, your contractor may be able to find the appropriate components that work best for your burner.
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