DIY Gas Boiler Maintenance
I just called some of the HVAC companies in my area for general boiler maintenace and they all see a little out of my price range for a fully functional, very effient running boiler.
My problem is, it is hard for me to find information on how to perform general DIY maintenance on a boiler.
My first question is how often should the expansion tank be recharged? It is a steel horizonal style one. I got information on how to do it here: http://homerepair.about.com/od/heati...exp_tank_2.htm
Second question is how often and what type of lubricating oil should I use for this boiler? I had a friend tell me to oil it before I turned it on next, and I found where the oil goes, but have no idea what type and how often?
As a rule of thumb I will eventually get a professional to come out and ensure the unit is safely operating. What would you suggest, like, every 5 years?
Thanks guys, I appreciate the help!
Re: DIY Gas Boiler Maintenance
Expansion tank can be checked with a simple tire gauge. Usually tanks are set to 12 or 15 psi. you can see it on the label on the tank what its rated for. To check the pressure in the tank simply take the cover of the valve and use tire pressure gauge to get the reading. If the pressure is normal don't do anything.
To lubricate, it depends what part you are trying to lubricate. I'm not sure on how to lubricate circulator pump. To lubricate blower motor use 3-in-1 oil. it is rated for electrical motors.
Re: DIY Gas Boiler Maintenance
It's really false economy to rely on your own maintenance efforts, especially during the first few years of your house ownership, especially if you live in an area that has sub-freezing winter temps, for your first few years of caring for the boiler/heating system.
It would be a wise choice to consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating System Maintenance" or "Boiler Service", or even "Fuel Oil Dealers" or "Oil Burner Maintenance"---despite the fact that many companies deal in oil, they also have a crew of technicians that also work on gas-fired boilers as well, and if you call enough of them, you will eventually find someone who will do it for a reasonable price; for the initial 2 or 3 years this should be an annual service & may or may not involve a service contract----once you gain experience in watching the service routine of the tech (they always follow a very predictable routine), you can rely more & more on yourself to do some of the routine maintenance each fall.
The expansion tank you have is an older model, but doesn't have to be drained or serviced at all unless excess pressure builds up in the boiler system water pressure----these older types of tank DO occasionally get "water logged" and the procedure you noted in the web site is the correct way of draining the tank & recharging it with a charge of air----the expansion tank needs RECHARGING when the water pressure in the boiler/piping exceeds 30 psi (per square inch); check the gauge on the boiler; there are 2 needles on the gauge; one indicates boiler temperature, & one indicates boiler pressure---there is a PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE at the near-boiler piping that will automatically open at 30 psi and spill approx 1/3 gallon of water on the cellar floor next to the boiler (this is merely a safety device & is harmless)---when this happens, it's time to drain & recharge the expansion tank (typical boiler gauge water pressure is 15 psi when the boiler is cold or not heating, and 20-25 psi when the boiler is firing or heating).
Fatherer is correct in describing the newer model pre-charged expansion tanks by Extrol and others, but this is not the type of tank you have in your cellar---if you have a lot of problems with the older style expansion tank, it would be a good idea to have it replaced with the type of pre-charged tank described by fatherer.
It sounds like you also have an older type circulating pump---these almost always have one or two little circular spring-loaded caps approx 1/8" in diameter at the top of the pump that you can lift open with your finger, an ounce or two of 3 in 1 oil is all you need at the start of the heating season.
There is a safety issue and maintenance issue with the boiler gas valve and manifolds inside the boiler combustion chamber that should not be serviced by the homeowner and should be checked for proper flame color & height and cleaned annually---there is also the obvious issue of the real possibility of the boiler breaking down at the worst time (often because of a broken gas valve)---when it is very cold out, late at night and the house is freezing and the heating pipes begin to freeze and burst---this is why most people need an annual service contract that specifies that the heating tech will come out & get the heat working before serious problems like this occur---this is especially true of a forced hot water system, which is what you have---some type of properly vented emergency heat, such as a thru the wall gas heater, a wood burning stove, electric heaters, portable propane heaters, etc. is a good idea (leave a few windows cracked open if you use non-vented propane/gas heaters).
For the first 3 years of your service contract, you can watch the heating tech go thru his service routine---he may even volunteer to show you how things work; after that time you can decide if you want to get thru a winter without a service contract---there are a number of independent service techs who will come out no matter what time of the nite you call them (without a contract, providing they're not swamped with calls), usually for a $50 service call plus parts---but if you live in a very cold area with sub-freezing temperatures, there's no guarantee that the tech can get to your house within a few hours.
Google "'gas boiler servicing", or "residential gas-fired boiler servicing", or residential gas boiler service" for more info.
Last edited by Pelton; 12-05-2011 at 08:27 PM.
Re: DIY Gas Boiler Maintenance
If the link posted is for the tank being used it's not a bladder tank so there would be no where to use a tire gauge. This type expansion tank needs to be drained when it becomes water logged.
Originally Posted by fatherer