Many homes in Chicago use radiant heat to keep their homes warm during the cold Illinois winters. When boilers malfunction, they are not just an inconvenience, but they can also cause major problems for the home until the problem is fixed. Boilers use a combination of high heat and hot water to heat the home. When they malfunction, they need to be repaired by HVAC professionals. Any attempt by the homeowner can result in damage to the boiler and potential injury.
The Boiler Is Not Producing Heat
There could be several reasons for a boiler not heating properly. Some of these issues are simple flaws that you can easily adjust. However, others will require more detailed troubleshooting and repair by an HVAC professional.
First, ensure that you have turned on the boiler. It might sound like an obvious suggestion, but surprisingly, many customers pay for an HVAC technician to check their boiler and thermostat only to find out that the boiler has been off the entire time. Even if you haven’t turned off the boiler, a power cut could lead to it switching off and not automatically turning back on. It’s also possible that someone else in your home has been adjusting the boiler switches.
Next, check the batteries in your thermostat. If you have a wireless thermostat, you’ll need to replace the batteries frequently. Most modern thermostats will signal when the batteries need changing by displaying a digital message on the screen or flashing a light. When the batteries in your thermostat die, the display will go black, and your thermostat will stop working. But even if the batteries are not completely drained but are very low, it could impact how well your thermostat functions.
For your thermostat and boiler to work correctly, they need to be able to communicate with each other. If your thermostat is located near a particularly hot or drafty part of your home, the temperature readings can be inaccurate, causing your boiler to run too much or too little. Relocating a wireless thermostat is relatively easy, but you’ll need the help of a professional to move a wired thermostat.
Fuse Box or Circuit Panel
Faulty elements within the boiler can draw too much power and trip your fuse box. This includes issues with the thermostat, pressure relief valves, heat pumps, and faulty wiring inside the boiler.
A faulty thermostat can lead to your boiler overheating because of sending faulty temperature readings. This creates an electrical surge, causing your fuse box to trip. Additionally, a faulty thermostat can interrupt the power supply, damaging boiler components.
The pressure relief valve is another key component. Once it malfunctions, it leads to increased pressure in the boiler. As the pressure increases, it triggers the fuse box to trip as a safety.
A malfunctioning central heating pump can overload the boiler. This can cause it to trip the fuse box. Additionally, this can disrupt the heating flow throughout the house and cause major damage to the boiler.
Your boiler might also trip the fuse box when the boiler’s wiring gets damaged and worn, leading to an electrical fault and disconnecting the power supply to the boiler. A leak is also a common source of tripped circuits. The best way to address this issue is to identify the root cause of the leak, which could be wear and tear, corrosion, or improper installation. Steps need to be taken to prevent water from coming into contact with the boiler’s electrical components, and this will rectify short circuits and tripping.
If your boiler uses a standing pilot light, turn it on. If not, you can attempt to light it manually, but a common cause of the issue is a malfunction in the thermocouple, the component that automatically shuts off the gas. A defective seal may also extinguish the pilot with air.
Examine the circulator pump to determine if it is operating. If the pump feels cool and you cannot sense any function, there may be a blown fuse. If the pump is hot, the malfunction could be related to the motor, pump, or the run capacitor.
Some of the Home’s Radiators Are Not Heating
If some of the radiators in your home aren’t working and they are hot at the top but warm at the bottom, it’s likely due to air pockets. When there’s an air pocket in your radiator, it occupies the space where hot water should circulate, hindering the proper functioning of your radiator system. The most effective way to resolve this issue is to have an HVAC professional bleed your radiator. This process involves releasing the trapped air inside the radiator. Most radiators have a bleed screw that can be opened to allow excess air to escape.
Another potential challenge could be a leak at the radiator hose or hose connection. Radiator leaks commonly result from corrosion or rusting within the radiator. However, poor maintenance or issues with your thermostat can also contribute to these leaks. Radiator leaks won’t improve on their own. Some may result from rust and decay and can be resolved with minor maintenance, while others may necessitate a complete radiator replacement. To determine the appropriate course of action, it’s advisable to have an HVAC professional inspect the situation.
Another reason your boiler may not be heating your radiator is because of a blockage in the system. Trapped debris, sludge, or blockage can prevent the water from circulating properly. Fixing this will require a power flush by an HVAC professional.
The Water Level Is Low
The water level in your boiler should be filled to the appropriate point. The boiler has an automatic feeding system regulated by the pressure-reducing valve. The pressure level should be between 12 and 15 psi. If the boiler does not have a pressure-reducing valve, water may need to be manually fed into the boiler until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi. If water levels are allowed to drop too low, the boiler will not function as it should.
Water Leaks Around the Boiler
If there are leaks along the boiler, several issues could be at play.
Leaking Pressure Relief Valve
This can be caused by the expansion tank being filled with water. Otherwise, the valve may have sediment preventing it from closing. To check this, turn the boiler off and let it cool. Lift the manual pressure-relief lever, discharge water for three seconds, and let it snap back into the closed position. The water should discharge and be relatively clean. If the valve leaks slightly afterward, this could be due to trapped sediment. Open the valve again and discharge a second time.
Leaking Water Pipe Connection
It’s usually easy to identify a leaking water pipe connection. It requires following the leak back to the source and repairing the connection.
Plumbing and HVAC Services That Are Second to None
At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we are proud to have licensed and experienced plumbers and HVAC technicians who have been working in the greater Chicago area since 2008. We are a family-owned company with generations of experience behind us.
Our services include HVAC repair, installation, and maintenance. We install water heaters, sump pumps, and tankless water heaters and do toilet repairs and replacements. We perform indoor air quality testing and drain cleaning. Contact TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today and see what it’s like to work with trusted professionals.