How to prepare your boiler for winter 

You’ve probably already switched the heating on to warm your house against the first frosts of winter. If you’re lucky, your boiler fired up the first time. But to ensure it continues working hard for you, there are some things you can do to prepare for winter. 

In this blog, we look at how to get your boiler winter-ready.

Why do boilers fail in winter? 

Boilers are at their busiest in winter (just like Gas Engineers). The extra pressure we put on our boilers during the coldest months of the year can really take its toll, particularly on older boilers. 

This can lead to poor performance, wasted energy, and, in some cases, the complete failure of your central heating system.

Did you know that the two busiest days of the year for gas heating engineers are 11 and 12 December? If you don’t want to wait for an engineer’s appointment, preparing your boiler for winter before the cold snap is better. 

Tips to make sure your boiler is ready for winter 

Follow these top tips to ensure your boiler operates at peak performance over the winter. 

  1. Turn your boiler on over the summer. 

Most experts agree that turning on your heating periodically over the summer is a good idea. It keeps things ticking over and prevents issues such as corrosion, which can occur if the system is left unused for an extended period. 

What’s more, if there’s a problem, it’s better to find out early. Summer is the best time to get your central heating system repaired – when you’re less reliant on it! 

  1. Check your boiler pressure. 

Your boiler pressure should be somewhere between 1.5 and 2 bars. You can check this on the gauge on the front of your boiler. High or low pressure needs to be addressed, or you risk the failure of your system when you need it the most.  

Find out how to fix common boiler pressure issues in this guide. 

  1. Insulate your pipes against the cold. 

Frozen pipes are a common problem in winter. The water left standing in your pipes is susceptible to freezing when the temperature drops. 

Heat and insulation are the two best ways to ward against frost. As tempting as it is to turn off your central heating when you don’t need it, leaving it on a low heat overnight can stop frost from forming. 

Additionally, pipe lagging can prevent frost. Lagging (pipe insulation) helps maintain the temperature of the fluid inside the pipes so it can’t freeze. This is particularly important on your external condensing pipe. 

  1. Have your boiler serviced annually. 

Servicing your boiler annually is the best way to keep it in top condition. It ensures that your boiler runs efficiently, saving you money on your energy bills. 

Picking up on minor issues before they become bigger problems can save you money on expensive repairs further down the line. 

Scheduling your boiler servicing in summer ensures that your boiler is in the best possible condition to cope with the cold months ahead. 

Book a boiler service with a heating engineer  (CTA strip)

  1. Add a magnetic filter to your boiler. 

Over time, debris builds up in your central heating system, creating a sludge-like substance capable of causing a blockage. 

A magnetic boiler filter is designed to attract metal particles (the result of corrosion and rust) and remove them from the water. 

Retrofitting a magnetic filter to your boiler will prevent the type of blockage that can cause expensive repair bills. It will also reduce your energy consumption and extend the life of your boiler. 

What temperature should my boiler be in winter? 

Your boiler temperature is not the temperature you set your thermostat to heat your home. It refers to the temperature of the water inside the boiler itself.

The recommended temperature for combi boilers in winter is between 60 and 70 degrees. 

Conventional boiler systems have a separate temperature setting on the water tank. This should be set to a minimum of 60 degrees – any lower, and you increase the risk of bacteria growing in the water.

Boiler temperature is crucial because it determines how hot the water will be when it enters the distribution system (your pipes and radiators). The higher your boiler temperature is set, the quicker it will heat your home. 

Though it’s tempting to crank up the temperature in cold weather, this will inevitably lead to higher energy bills and lots more CO² emissions. 

Does turning your boiler temp down save money? 

By default, combi boilers (a type of condensing boiler) are set to a higher temperature than is needed. 

Most boilers are set to around 75-80 degrees, but lowering that temperature so it’s closer to 60-65 degrees (or slightly higher in winter) can save you money. Naturally, the lower the temperature, the less gas your boiler will use, which is better for the environment and your pocket! 

According to one study from the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) quoted in Which? magazine, you can save between six and eight per cent on your heating bills by lowering the flow temperature on your boiler. 

Preparing your boiler for winter – the key takeaway 

We all look forward to coming home to a toasty, warm house when the temperature outside is plummeting on a cold winter’s day. Now imagine coming home to a cold house with no hot water because your boiler is acting up again! 

Preparing your boiler for winter is critical to prevent it from conking out when you need it the most. The best way to do this is to have your boiler serviced annually. Doing it in the summer is ideal so any problems can be resolved before the cold snap hits. 

Checking your boiler pressure, insulating your pipes, and adding a magnetic water filter can all help to keep your boiler in top condition! 

If you found this post useful, you might also enjoy reading our piece on the future of home heating and the gas boiler ban

Post author

Lee Wenham

Date of post

December 11, 2023

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