Imagine you wake up on Saturday morning in January…and you seeing your breath — what in the world is happening?
“Well the power isn’t out,” your spouse flips a light switch on and off.
Your bare feet feel like they could freeze to the floor like a kid’s tongue to a flagpole.
“Has the heat been off all night?” You go to check on your kids and you feel the real pangs of anxiety. You know you can handle the cold—can they?
Your boiler just went belly-up at the worst possible time. Every year, we respond to tons of homeowners whose boilers die—on the first truly cold day of the year. Read on to learn more about boilers and why a yearly inspection can keep you from experiencing this frosty emergency.
What is a Boiler
While some basic knowledge isn’t a substitute for heat, some understanding can help you prevent a dead boiler in the first place.
A boiler heats your home by warming water and pumping that water throughout the house. While the water remains in the piping system, the temperature is so high that it produces enough ambient heat for the home. Radiators and baseboard project the heat in individual rooms while the boiler units themselves are often found in a home’s basement or garage.
Oftentimes when people think of boilers, they imagine gargantuan metal tanks, dominating a dank room. Modern boilers can be smaller than a hot water heater.
Boiler vs Furnace
What’s the difference between these two systems? Simply put: boilers heat and pump water whereas furnaces heat and blow air.
Danger of a Cold House
When your boiler breaks, every hour without heat sinks the temperature lower and lower. After the first day, you’ll start to see your breath when you talk. In the following week without heat, things get downright strange. For example, your toothpaste freezes solid (yes really.)
Sound dangerous? It is. Many people die each winter from exposure to cold temperatures inside their homes.
While freezing to death inside your home is possible, in-home death can also occur from the cold triggering a secondary medical condition such as:
- Heart Attack
- Respiratory Illness/Asthma
If you have one of these conditions your doctor has probably already warned you about the danger of prolonged exposure to the cold.
Those deaths are not necessarily attributable to a dead boiler—many people with working heat choose not to run it for financial reasons. However, a non-functional boiler can create deadly conditions equivalent to the outside.
Generally when boilers die, they simply cease to produce heat. A subtle, but frustrating death. That leaves you and your spouse compulsively checking the kids for signs of hypothermia.
Sometimes though, they exit dramatically.
Every year, some boilers explode. SERIOUSLY. The danger of boiler explosion has been compared to the force of a bomb.
A boiler explosion most often occurs from the failure of a safety valve or corrosion of critical components. This causes the pressure inside the boiler to exceed what the tank can handle. Especially in the case of an old-style gargantuan metal boiler, this is deadly.
Given the importance of my boiler to the livability of my house, homeowners insurance will surely cover the cost of replacement. Right?
Unless you upgrade your plan to specifically include it. When your boiler breaks you get no help from insurance.
Your best – and only — bet is to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.
It’s no coincidence that winter’s first cold day bumps off so many boilers. After three seasons of inactivity, raising the temperature to contend with the cold takes its toll.
Your best chance to protect against a boiler breakdown —or explosion— is an inspection from the licensed plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Pleasantville.
During an inspection, our plumbers, examine your boiler system piece by piece. During an inspection, our plumber will:
- Check and clean the heat exchanger.
- Inspect the blowdown control system.
- Adjust boiler controls, which helps regulate air and water temperatures.
- Take a thorough look at the chemical feed system.
- Check the boiler’s vent connection pipe and chimney for potential deterioration.
- Review the monitoring equipment and review the feed water.
- Perform tests to assess combustion efficiency.
- Conduct a fireside inspection.
Best time of the year
So, why are we talking about boilers now?
Because getting your boiler inspected now prevents problems later. If you wait, preventative maintenance may turn into emergency repair.
Contact us at (609) 604-8364 to talk about scheduling a boiler inspection now to prevent emergencies later.