Get your Brooklyn Boiler Ready for Winter

The weather has officially broken, making September the perfect time for homeowners to get their heating systems ready for winter. Before you know it, the holidays and the New York winter will be upon us, and you’ll be relying on your boiler to hum along, churning out that cozy warmth. When it comes to heating, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the cost of proactive maintenance and early detection of problems is far lower than that of a crisis at the height of the heating season. If you have one of the boilers common to older New York homes, we recommend annual or biannual service by a master plumber, ideally with professional inspections at the beginning and end of each heating season.

First year in an older home? 

If you recently bought an older home in Brooklyn or another New York neighborhood, now – while temperatures are moderate – is the best time to learn all you can about your heating system. Over the years, we’ve encountered too many buyers from outside the city who’ve run into unpleasant surprises in the boiler department. Many New York City residential properties, particularly from a certain period, use a water or steam boiler to transfer heat throughout the home by way of baseboard heaters or radiators. It may come as a surprise, but it’s a good thing! Boilers provide steady heat with superior temperature consistency, and they don’t spread dust or allergens through your home like forced air systems. Boilers are easy enough to maintain, provided you treat them right. When you don’t realize that your boiler needs a little attention – or even that you have one — that’s when problems can arise. 

Annual Essentials: A Professional Boiler Tune-Up

Whether you’re new to your home or scheduling your annual inspection for the umpteenth time, your boiler’s needs will depend mainly on its age and cleanliness. A yearly tune-up will prevent break-downs in the dead of winter, as well as costly emergency maintenance, time spent in the cold, or both. Just like with your vehicle, regular maintenance can extend the life of your existing heating equipment and improve its performance and efficiency. Keep in mind that you don’t want just anyone working on your combustion-related components. Since boilers incorporate both plumbing and heating, a licensed, trained, and qualified master plumber is the ideal person to conduct the annual tune-up.

What to Expect 

A legitimate boiler inspection isn’t just a once-over that takes a few minutes. In addition to rigorously inspecting all components of your heating system, your technician should also clean the furnace, change the filter, check for leaks and unhealthy gases, and ensure that everything is safe and operational. When we say “rigorous,” we mean it. An inspection by A Good Plumber includes careful cleaning and scrutiny of heat exchanges, flame sensors, the ignitor, and the burner assembly. We check wiring and connections for flaws. It’s essential that all pipe and joint connections be secure, so we analyze the whole venting system for corrosion, break-down, and obstructions. We’ll also take a look at your safety settings. The plumber will rectify small problems during the visit, and he or she will explain and estimate any significant issues before departing. Most importantly, they will leave you with the assurance that everything is functioning correctly and a circumspect understanding of the state of your heating system. 

Making the Best of your Boiler

As the homeowner, there’s plenty you can do to prevent breakdowns and keep your boiler running safely and reliably. During the heating season, it’s essential to drain a little water out of your steam boiler weekly. Next time you have a professional inspection, ask your plumber for advice on how to do this safely. Once a month, you should remove the boiler cover and check that the pilot flame and burner flames are healthy and that there’s no black soot building up near the burners. If your flames are petering out, carbon is accumulating, or you see any of the following warning signs, it’s time to call A Good Plumber. 

Signs you should call a professional:

  • Drips or water stains near the boiler
  • Corrosion or rust on piping
  • Gaps where the exhaust enters the chimney
  • Leaking steam, loud boiling noises, or hissing radiators
  • Over-feeding auto feed
  • Melted wires or burnt metal

A Diagnostic Approach

We love when homeowners accompany us during the boiler inspection. Doing so gives us the opportunity to fill you in about your furnace and ensures you’re able to see precisely what we see. Because we want to catch problems early, we do take a diagnostic approach, but we’ll never recommend services that aren’t necessary. We’ll help you understand any recommendations we do make, and it’s always your choice whether to have a service performed. 

The Time is Now

Heating season is right around the corner! Leverage your impeccable timing by scheduling your boiler inspection with A Good Plumber today. Whether you have a steam or hot-water boiler, our trusted team of licensed master plumbers will ensure your heating system is prepared for the hard work ahead. 

*If you have tenants, call now! You’re required by law to be ready to provide heat by October 1st!