Like it or not, WINTER IS COMING. And just like you need to be prepared for the colder temps and the inclement weather, so does your boiler. Don’t winterize it, and you’re setting yourself up for expensive repairs and a lot of downtime.
Why Preparing Your Boiler Matters
Boilers are incredibly well-oiled machines, but the trouble comes when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And the reason is easy enough to guess: boilers use water, and when water freezes, it expands. This can lead to busted pipes, a boiler that can’t operate correctly, and a potentially large bill.
And not only can your boiler’s pipes freeze -- the controls can freeze as well, even when your boiler is running. This can cause the controls to give a false signals that the boiler has either satisfied or not satisfied its pressure, causing it to shut off too soon or run for too long.
The good news? Prepping your boiler for the winter is simpler than it may sound.
Lines start to freeze when there isn’t water flowing through them. To prevent them from freezing, there are a couple of methods that work.
Insulation is effective when the area around the line is already warm enough to allow water flow easily, and it’s important to make sure that heat is being kept in the system. But while insulation is great for maintaining heat that’s already there, on its own it’s not enough to prepare your boiler for winter temps. If your boiler goes down, and there’s no heat source to keep the water above freezing, the water will still freeze and bust the pipe.
That’s where heat tracing plays a critical role.
Heat tracing is a method that involves running heated tubing or electrical heat trace around piping. The pipes are then insulated to keep the heat in. The heat from the tubing keeps the pipes above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the insulation works in tandem with the tubes to keep the water inside from freezing.
In general, we opt for using electric tracing where possible. However, steam tracing can be a viable option if a boiler isn’t your only source of steam. If the boiler is your only source of steam, this method won’t work because if your boiler goes down, you ultimately lose the same heat that’s allowing it to keep going.
The bottom line? Preparing your boiler for winter can save you a lot of stress and problems down the line.
Just remember that any line that does not have water flowing through it will freeze up.
And prepare by making sure those lines are heat-traced and insulated to keep the water in them from freezing. Making sure your boiler is taken care of leaves you to focus on the things in winter you want to enjoy -- like candy canes, snow days and hot chocolate -- and not on the costly bills of a broken boiler.
For more tips on preventing freeze-up on rental boilers, check out this video from Steven Taylor, Director of Rental and Equipment Sales: