Taking Care of Your Central Heating System

Boiler maintenance is more important than ever during winter, when we’re all looking to stay warm and cosy in the comfort of our homes. So how can we make sure our heating systems stay in tip-top condition, and what should we do if something goes wrong?

To help you out, we’ve put together a brief guide that explains how to take care of your boiler and central heating system as the cold nights draw in. In this handy blog we’ll cover everything from dealing with leaks and frozen pipes to describing how to bleed your radiators.

My Boiler is Supplying Hot Water But No Heating (Or Vice Versa)

If your home has a heat only or system boiler, it’s important to know they cannot tell the difference between a demand for heating hot water and a demand for central heating like a combi boiler can. 

If you do have this problem with a system or heat only model you need to contact a plumber, not your boiler manufacturer. This is because a system or heat boiler only works off one demand and that is to heat up water — it’s the controls that do the rest.

What Should I Do If I Think I Can Smell Gas?

If you can smell gas or think there is a gas leak in your property you need to act straight away. First, turn the gas off at the meter if you can safely do so  (it’s normally found under the stairs or outside your home). 

Open all windows and doors to the property and if you have children or pets, evacuate them from the house. This is because carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so if there is a leak they will breathe in more of the gas because it‘s lower to the ground.

Do not use anything that has a source of ignition, and do not smoke or use anything that can cause a naked flame. Leave any electronics as they are —  don’t switch anything on or off.

As soon as you have the chance, call the emergency gas service on 0800 111 999. They will arrange for someone to visit your property within three hours to make the area safe. If an engineer has attended to work on your gas appliance within the past seven days, please make the business responsible for the work aware of this.

Gas leaks can happen to any poorly maintained appliance, such as a gas cooker, gas fire or boiler. This highlights the importance of having your appliances serviced at least once a year.

We recommend having a carbon monoxide alarm fitted as an early warning sign in case you experience a leak. Have a good read through of the manufacturer’s instructions and British Standards for the most appropriate place to store your alarm. 

What If I’m Going on Holiday?

If you’re spending some time away from home this winter and aren’t sure what to do with your boiler, we’ve got you covered.

This most common question we hear on this topic is ‘should I leave my boiler on or off’?

The simple answer is to always keep your boiler running when you’re away, because in the event of very cold temperatures your pipes can freeze up outside. The best thing to do is to lower the temperature on your thermostat so that there won’t be as much of a demand. 

There’s no need to worry about the boiler operating unattended. Any boiler installed after 1996 must be fitted with a safety mechanism that shuts down if there are any major faults with the boiler. Leaving your boiler on standby mode can also reduce the risk of parts seizing up inside it, which is another reason why you shouldn’t simply switch it off.

If you have a Halo Lite thermostat, you can access an easy-to-use holiday mode which allows you to switch off your preset heating schedule for however long you’ll be away from home.

What Should I Do If My Halo Lite Isn’t Paired to My Boiler?

If for any reason your boiler becomes disconnected from your Halo Lite thermostat, it’s a really simple procedure to pair them back up. Simply follow the on-screen guide to select your boiler and number of zones, then the Halo screen will show “Pairing in Progress”, “Synchronisation in Progress” and finally “Pairing Complete” when it has connected to the Smart Interface.

For a full list of questions and answers about how to get the most out of the Halo Lite, head across to our FAQ page

How Do I Bleed a Radiator?

If you’re feeling the cold in your home, it could be because you have air in your radiator system. You can check your radiators by carefully touching them while they are on to see if they are cold in places, particularly near the top, which will mean that they need bleeding. 

Here’s what you should do:

  • After switching the heating off and waiting for the system is cool, make sure you have a radiator vent key and towel at the ready. 
  • Use the radiator vent key by turning it anti-clockwise to open the valve, making sure the towel is behind the radiator just in case it sprays hot water. 
  • Once you’ve finished, turn the key clockwise to close the valve.

The next step is to check the pressure gauge on your system and make sure it is between 1-1.5 bar. If it’s not within this range, fill the boiler up with the filling loop, which is usually located under the boiler (if you have a heat or system boiler, it may be near your cylinder).

If you have too much pressure in your system, you can reduce the pressure by bleeding the radiators with a bucket to reduce the amount of water in the system. This is important because it prevents the pressure relief valve blowing open due to an excess amount of built-up pressure.   

How Should I Deal with a Frozen Condensate Pipe?

As temperatures reach below freezing it is important to have pipe insulation around all pipes, especially those that are hard to reach. If your boiler registers a L2 fault code because of a frozen pipe that is safe to reach (below the waist), here’s what you can do:

Lightly tap the condensate pipe outside to see if you can locate where the blockage is. When you find it:

  • Boil a kettle full of water
  • Carefully add cold water and the water from the kettle into a watering can or jug, so that the water is warm but not hot. Pour over the frozen area to start defrosting the blockage — this can be time consuming, but it will defrost.
  • Alternatively, place a warm hot water bottle on the condensate pipe to help defrost it. Please be aware that if it is freezing temperature when you pour water on the pipe, this water can ice over and cause slippery surfaces.

Please click the following link for a video demonstration: How to defrost a frozen condensate pipe.

If you have the message L2 – Ignition Lockout on your boiler during the winter period, it’s vital to check that the above issues are not causing the fault. The cold weather can be fatal to vulnerable people and a major percentage of callouts at that time of year are due to issues that can be fixed without an engineer. As a first point of call, please try and fix the issue yourself with the tips and advice above. 

Visit our fault code page to find out more about potential issues with your Ideal boiler.

What Should I Do If I Think My Boiler is Leaking Water?

In the rare event that you find water is dripping from your boiler, do not be alarmed. It could be that a frozen condensate pipe has filled, and the water is backed-up. 

If you’ve ruled out the leak being related to a condensate pipe, here’s what you should do:

  1. If the leak is small you may not have to isolate the boiler. Simply put a container down to catch the water (making sure it’s checked regularly so it doesn't overflow) and call an engineer. If the leak is causing damage and there is a lot of water, you will then need to isolate your boiler. Please check your manual on how to do this or contact Ideal Heating. If the boiler is inundated with water, it may be best to use the stop tap and call an engineer.
  2. If you have a leak coming from external pipework or a radiator, this is not a boiler fault but rather a plumbing issue. In this case, try to contain the leak if it’s small. If the leak is causing damage and there is a lot of water, you’ll need to isolate your boiler. If the pipe is burst and flooding with water, it may be best to use the stopcock and call an engineer. It’s very important that every household member knows where the stopcock is in case of an emergency.


Check out our FAQ section for a range of answers to commonly asked questions, or head to our Tips and Advice section for the latest articles and information.