How Does Winter Affect My Boiler?


In the winter months in Great Britain, it’s all about hunkering down and keeping as warm as possible. But if your boiler cuts out and stops heating your home, it can be a miserable and cold time. Perhaps you’re wondering how does winter affect my boiler? And why does it break down during winter?

Even with regular maintenance, a big drop in temperature can affect the efficiency of any boiler. In this article, we’ll look at the impact of winter on your boiler and how you can help reduce or prepare for that impact at home.

How Can Winter Impact My Boiler?

If your boiler stops working in winter, there could be a variety of reasons. A good place to start is with the condensate pipe.

Frozen Condensate Pipe

If part of your condensate pipework is outside and does freeze, you might hear a gurgling noise coming from the boiler. Additionally, if your boiler has a digital display, you may see an error message too.

Your condensate pipe runs from the boiler, it’s usually white plastic and connects to an external drain. If safe to do so, pour warm water along the pipe (not boiling water). Next, reset your boiler. If the pipe had defrosted, it should all be working again.

To minimise the risk of a frozen condensate pipe, you could install a drain cover to protect the pipe end. Or you could insulate the external pipework.

Frozen Pipes

Aside from your condensate pipe, your regular water pipes may also freeze up in the winter. Which in turn, means water does not reach your boiler and will leave you without heating.

If you can see which pipes are frozen, you could try to sort out the problem yourself. Firstly, use the mains stop cock to turn off the water supply. Secondly, turn on all the cold taps. Next, use a hairdryer on a low setting on the pipe nearest the tap. Alternatively, use a hot water bottle with a tea towel wrapped around it.

Finally, once the pipes are thawed, check that there are no leaks before turning the water back on.

Radiators not working

Using tin foil on the back of your radiators can help to trap the heat they generate. This can be particularly useful on an external wall. This is due to the amount of heat lost through an external wall.

You can use a good standard of kitchen foil, or some companies sell already cut out foil which is designed for this very purpose.

Boiler Light is Out

The boiler’s pilot light can go out at any time of year, but because you use the boiler more in winter, it’s likely to go out then. It could be due to a blockage or an issue with the ignition system.

However, pilot lights can also go out when there is a build up of gas as a preventative measure. If your boiler light is out and you smell gas, call an expert right away.

Loss of Boiler Pressure

Check the pressure gauge on your boiler. If the pressure is low, you can top it up yourself. Firstly, identify what sort of filling system you have. It could be an internal loop or external loop filling system.

Depending on the type, follow the instructions in your manual. Watch the pressure rise and stop once the bar reaches about one.

How to Keep Your Boiler Working

During the summer months, we’re often lulled into a false sense of security and leave essential boiler maintenance until later. However, by the time it’s winter and the temperatures drop, it could be too late and a serious problem arises.

Ideally, to keep your boiler working during the winter months, there are things you can do from home to help.

Even if it’s not cold right now, it’s a good idea to keep your heating running, perhaps a few times a month. This is simply to check it is still working properly and helps to prevent any build ups of pressure in the winter.

Check your radiators for cold patches. If you find any, you may need to bleed the radiators. It’s usually caused by trapped air and once released, your radiators will heat up the rooms evenly again.

Additionally, check your pipes to see if they are frozen, preventing water from reaching your boiler. Then, check your pressure gauge. If your pressure is low, you need to top it up, using the methods described above.

Who to Call In Your Time of Need

If you’ve made as many checks as possible and it’s still not working, now’s the time to call an expert. At Greener Homes, our engineers are all gas safe registered and will be able to carry out work safely in your home.

In the first instance, call us at Greener Homes on 01179 898 230 or visit our website and we’ll be happy to discuss your situation.

When your boiler breaks down, your home can quickly become unsafe. Though most boilers come with safety precautions such as pressure valves that can switch the boiler off automatically, not all do.

Be aware of the danger signs, such as scorching, black marks, or soot around your appliances.

It’s worth emphasising here that if you do smell gas, turn off your boiler and then call Gas Emergency Services immediately.

To Conclude: How Does Winter Affect My Boiler?

In conclusion, hopefully, this article helps to answer the question of how does winter affect my boiler?

The best way to look after your boiler is with regular boiler maintenance which helps to keep it working all year round.

Falling temperatures can put additional pressure on your boiler and heating system. Especially if it’s used a lot suddenly after not being used all summer. As winter approaches, the pressure on the boiler is just going to increase.

Running your system at very high temperatures during the winter months can also put a lot of pressure on the boiler’s parts. Sticking to a normal setting and running the boiler at times through the summer will help a lot with keeping your boiler in good shape during the winter.

To sum up, if you need further advice or a gas safe registered engineer to help you, call us or get in touch at Greener Homes.