If your boiler is losing pressure you should identify the cause as soon as possible.
February 1, 2020
If you've got a boiler losing pressure, then it's important that you check every possible issue before trying to fix the problem.
Identifying the cause is almost as important as noticing the low-pressure boiler in the first place, especially when it comes to deciding if you need to contact an engineer for advice.
Low boiler pressure can be caused by two major problems, both of which occur in different ways. The first involves a water leak somewhere in the pipework: if left unchecked and unidentified, a leak can reduce the overall pressure of the water, as well as wear down the pipe and let extra air into the system. In worst-case scenarios, this might even result in a pipe starting to wear down faster, making the leaks bigger and causing more water to be wasted. This could even flow down onto other parts of the system or unrelated areas of your home, damaging key parts of your radiators or central heating system.
The other common cause of pressure loss is with the boiler itself. If there are no leaks and none of the other appliances are faulty, then your boiler may simply be too old, broken or damaged to move water through a certain pipe properly. Thankfully, there are ways to fix this, but it varies depending on the sort of boilers you have installed.
Low pressure, on its own, won't usually be dangerous, unlike high pressure. However, if your boiler suddenly loses pressure at a rapid rate, it could be a sign that water is leaking out somewhere in your home. This leak might damage electronics or break important appliances, and not having hot water can make it difficult to stay warm in cold weather. Even if you aren't in any danger, you'll need to pay for more fuel to get the same amount of heat, no matter how good your radiators may be.
Central heating is one of the most important uses of a boiler in any home. Many people in the UK use a combi boiler, due to them being the cheapest and most accessible option - this generally means that it will be connected directly to the house's heating. If you spot low pressure on boiler readings, you can expect the heating to get less efficient almost immediately.
If your pressure gauge doesn't find your boiler pressure low, then it's likely happening somewhere further in the system. A leak in pipes further in the system, past the boiler, won't appear on your pressure gauge, since it only checks a small section of your entire system. If this is happening, the issue isn't with the boiler, and might actually be with a radiator (or multiple radiators) elsewhere in the house.
Different boiler models have different limits, but most boilers are designed to be around 1 and 2 bar units. If it's too high, you can use a pressure relief valve to try and reduce it, but you can't do the same with boiler low-pressure issues. It might simply be a case of adjusting a certain valve to let more water through, filling the main pipe and increasing the amount of force it's putting on the system.
Always check your manual before you make an adjustment like this. Taking the pressure too high or low, even for a second, can waste fuel and might end up with you losing control entirely. If you leave it as an excessive amount for too long, you could even end up destroying a large part of your heating system, especially if the boiler relies on the constant movement of water to function properly.
Restoring the pressure to your boiler isn't usually that tricky, and you don't need to call out an engineer unless it starts leaking or a valve becomes too faulty to use anymore. As mentioned earlier, the pressure is generally directly related to the amount of water filling the system, which is why a leak will reduce it so much. The less air you have filling a radiator, the more efficient its heating will be.
First of all, make sure you check the manual to get important deals about each valve, as well as figure out if you're using a combi boiler or not. Switch your boiler off completely, and then attach a filling loop from the mains. Open both major valves so that water can start leaking in - you're essentially flooding the system with water directly. Once you reach your desired pressure (around 1.5 bar, in most cases), close the valves and turn the boiler back on, resetting it if necessary.
If the top-up didn't' fix your boiler pressure, something else is causing the pressure to leak out of the system instead. The more you're losing, the bigger the air or water leak, so you'll need to track it down quickly. These issues might include:
Certain electronic boiler models use error codes to tell you about major problems, such as a leak or sudden increase in the amount of air in the system. Using these codes can help you track down problems before they become more significant, and might even help you fix the system before it puts itself into a lockdown or shutdown mode.
Keep in mind that not all codes will apply to all boiler models, and some of them might only appear under certain circumstances. Always look in your manual for this documentation so that you don't make a mistake and try to solve the wrong problem.
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