How To Look After Commercial Boilers This Winter

With the festive season just around the corner, it’s more important than ever for heating contractors to help their customers look after their heating system. It’s vital to make sure they have all the information they need to ensure their heating system remains functional and efficient throughout the colder winter months. 

In this blog, Ideal Commercial shares the best ways to help your customers look after their commercial boilers this winter. 

Commercial Settings Have Unique Demand

In commercial settings such as hotels, heating systems are in constant use, which means the system is rarely shut down. As such, there is a risk of downtime if optimisation of the system has not been carried out before the winter, bringing a host of potential challenges and problems for businesses.

In other settings, such as offices or schools, it’s possible that demand may not be as great during the full course of the year. As such, many businesses will soon be flicking the switch on their heating systems for the first time since spring. For those who have not had the foresight of fine tuning their boiler for the cold winter months (more on that later!) there may be an unwanted surprise in the form of leaking pipes, or worse, a complete breakdown. 

It’s important to ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum this winter by optimising the building’s heating system and ensuring all boilers are well maintained. 

What Can Go Wrong During the Winter Season? 

As all heating engineers will know, boilers have to work harder during the colder months. With an increased demand, there’s a higher chance of a boiler experiencing issues or breaking down. 

Of course, as more businesses run into boiler trouble, more engineers are called out to work their magic. This means that it could take longer to fix any boiler issues during the winter months, too. 

How To Prepare Your Commercial Boiler For The Winter 

There are a number of ways your customers can look after their boilers to keep them in the best shape ahead of the winter months. 

From servicing a boiler annually to replacing the boiler with an upgraded model, there are many ways to safeguard your customers’ heating system this festive season. 

Treat Your Boiler

A key treatment for any system is a combination of chemical water treatment and filtration. For example, magnetic system filters are a great way to optimise the boiler’s efficiency by removing dirt and sludge from the system ahead of the tougher winter months. 

In the same light, it’s counterproductive to install a new boiler into an existing system that contains debris or dirt. This can quickly lead to breakdowns or failure. Contractors and customers are reminded that lack of water treatment could even invalidate a manufacturer’s warranty. 

Look After Your Central Heating System’s Pipes

Customers should also be advised to insulate their pipes to ensure any standing water won’t cause problems or contribute to the freezing (and, potentially, bursting) of external pipes. Pipe insulation will help to mitigate this problem but, if your customer’s pipes do freeze in the cold weather make sure to advise them on how to defrost their pipes safely. 

Check The Boiler Pressure

The gauge on a boiler should read between 1 and 2 bars for maximum efficiency. If the gauge is reading too low, the business owner may need to raise the pressure. If they’re comfortable doing this themselves, they should always refer to the manufacturer’s installation manual. However, if the boiler’s pressure gauge is reading too high they will need your assistance to diagnose the issue and lower the pressure. 

Bleeding The Radiators

Depending on the size of the commercial property, it could be a good idea to ensure all radiators are bled in advance of the winter season really kicking in. Bleeding radiators will help to ensure the heating system is operating efficiently, removing any air trapped in the appliance. Your customer should be able to bleed radiators themselves, but it’s a good idea to make sure they understand the importance of checking their radiators regularly to ensure an even distribution of heat across the whole appliance. 

Check The Condition of The Boiler Room

Commercial properties may house a boiler in a plant room, kitchen or other storage space. If employees have access to this space, it may quickly become cluttered with storage, rubbish or debris. Your customers should regularly check the boiler, visually inspecting the space around it to ensure the system is receiving adequate ventilation and can be easily accessed. 

Any cracks on the boiler or leaks around it can be a serious red flag. Business owners should regularly check their boiler for any visual signs something might be wrong and contact you to discuss any obvious problems. 

Stay One Step Ahead

Your customers should ease their boiler into the winter months by running their heating system for fifteen minutes or so regularly before the cold weather hits. Keeping the boiler active could help to prevent the boiler losing pressure. 

Running the heating system will also help to identify any potential problems with the system - after all, it’s an essential part of a business’s winter survival kit. 

The Importance of Servicing Your Boiler In Time For Winter

It’s recommended that all boilers are serviced once a year to ensure they remain fully functional, minimising the chance of issues arising later down the line. It’s particularly important that boilers are inspected by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer in advance of the colder months. Here are just some of the benefits of servicing your boiler: 

Reduced Downtime

Downtime due to a boiler breakdown is a risk factor that could ultimately lead to a loss of earnings for several days. Freezing temperatures can cause boiler issues or even boiler breakdown, as well as extra costs (such as callout fees, replacement heating parts or even the installation of new boilers) and lost sales. 

Lack of heating could have a particular impact on hospitality and retail sections - after all, would you want to visit a business that doesn’t have heating during the coldest time of the year? 

Less Likelihood of Engineer Callout

Demand for service engineer callouts increases during the winter months, and no business wants to be left at the back of the queue. By getting a service booked before the winter sets in, your customers will be significantly less likely to need to call an engineer during the busiest months of the year. This will save time and money. 

Long-Term Energy Savings

As a service engineer, you will understand better than most the long-term energy savings that can be gained by a regular service. Many businesses will only contact a contractor once they notice a problem, but some issues may be invisible to the untrained eye. Spotting a blocked flue or ensuring that the boiler is firing up correctly can ensure that emissions are kept to a minimum and reduce the company’s carbon footprint in the long run.

Maintaining Your Customers’ Warranties

Regular servicing is a requirement to maintain the warranty of most boilers on the market, so it’s important your customers don’t forget to get their service booked in! 

Many heating contractors help to remind customers of upcoming service dates, and it’s a good idea to keep track of when your customers need their service. Touching base to remind your customers about this provides the perfect opportunity for you to stress the importance of annual servicing. 

When To Get Your Boiler Serviced

You should aim to book your service during the summer months, which might seem odd given that putting the heating on will be the last thing on your mind! However, to prepare a business for the winter months it’s important to get a boiler service booked early. This will help to avoid the last-minute rush that normally happens towards the beginning of winter when other business owners start to think about turning their heating on for the first time in months. 

When To Replace An Old Commercial Boiler

Many businesses will jostle with the decision between repairing and replacing an old boiler. However, with older heating systems, there are concerns regarding gas consumption and emissions, regardless of how effective the boiler is. 

There is a real argument for ensuring that customers replace an older boiler, even if they believe it to be working adequately. A new boiler may not only help to save on running costs due to a lower gas consumption, it’s better for the environment too.

Replacing older boilers with new condensing boilers will help enormously when it comes to productivity and energy-cost savings. Modulating the boiler output to match the heating needs can also improve the efficiency of the heating system, greatly reducing utility and operating costs, which may help operations managers to justify the costs of a new heating system. 

Choosing The Most Suitable Commercial Boiler

Businesses should always do their research to ensure the commercial boiler they choose is suitable for their needs all year round - including throughout the winter months when demand will be at its highest. 

Boilers such as the Evomax 2 offer both efficiency and a greener carbon footprint. With seasonal efficiencies of up to 97.2%, each boiler also boasts low NOX emissions of less than 40mg/kWh which qualifies for maximum BREEAM points. 

For more information about Ideal Commercial’s range of boilers, take a look at our products or visit our Case Studies to explore real examples of our boilers in action. 

Note: the original version of this article first appeared in HVR magazine, August 2018 and October 2018