For a lot of years, wood-burning stoves were the primary heat source, but eventually, many homes that relied on wood for heat were fitted with a boiler system. A boiler system uses pressurized steam and heated water to provide warmth for the home and often doubles as a hot water heater as well, which makes it an efficient home heating appliance. Even though boiler systems have since been replaced by more modern heat systems in most homes, they are still hanging around in a lot of older houses. If you have an outdated boiler system in your home, it is a good idea to get to know some of the common problems that can come up.
Problem: Water is not circulating through the radiators.
Cause and Solution: Most older gas-fired boiler systems are fitted with a water circulating pump that pushes the heated water through to the radiators. Carefully check to ensure the circulator pump is running by placing your hand on its motor to feel for vibrations. Additionally, the lines leading from the pump should be warm due to the flow of water. If the pump seems to be not running and there is still electrical power to it, you may have to replace the pump.
Problem: The circulator pump is running but there is no water circulating.
Cause and Solution: If you still have no water running through the radiators and the pump is running fine, you could be facing an air pressure issue. Air pressure issues can be caused by faulty air regulators or even clogged pressure valves. Check the air pressure gauge on the boiler to see if you have any pressure at all. If you don't, the lack of pressure will prevent the water from flowing through to the radiators as it should. Call HVAC services to repair air pressure issues, as these can be dangerous to mess with if you have no experience.
Problem: The boiler seems to be functioning, but there is no heat from the radiator lines.
Cause and Solution: The boiler heats water and sends it through to the radiators in your home. So if water is being delivered but no heat, it does indicate a problem. In some cases, little warmth just points to lack of insulation around the boiler lines, which is an easy fix. However, if the water is consistently cold, it is a sure-fire indicator that the heating elements inside the boiler are bad. These elements can be replaced, but the boiler's water holding tank will have to be drained completely and power should be disconnected, whether it is electrical or gas.