If your old gas boiler isn't performing the way it should, it can leave you out in the cold this winter – especially if it doesn't produce enough hot water for your family. Your home's chimney can also affect how well your boiler works to heat your water supplies. Until heating and cooling specialists take a look at your boiler, you can do some simple things at home to keep it working. The information and tips below may help you do so.
How Does a Dirty Chimney Affect Your Boiler?
If your gas boiler uses an exhaust system to release steam out of your chimney's flue, you must keep the entire chimney clean and free of debris like soot and grime. This may become critical if you use your fireplace during the cold season. Fireplaces can produce a great of soot over time.
Every time you use the fireplace, the soot travels upward and sticks to the insides of the chimney's walls and flue. If you don't clean your chimney after each cold season, the blockages can become large enough to restrict heated air like steam. Steam emitted by your boiler won't be able to pass through or around the blockages. Instead, it backs up inside your boiler until it affects the condition of your water supplies.
The water in your boiler may have problems heating up, or it may develop a substance called lime. Lime is a buildup of calcium deposits and other minerals that inhabit your home's water. Lime can also break apart and sink to the bottom of the boiler. This creates large settlements that eventually travel through your boiler's water lines and into the bathroom, kitchen and laundry rooms of your home.
Any lime particles that enter the faucets and drains of your home can turn into blockages of their own. These blockages may reduce the amount of hot water you have readily available to wash clothes, cook or bathe.
If the blockages become really bad, you may end up with damaged plumbing pipes that may freeze or collapse during the season's coldest days. These problems occur when excess lime prevents water from leaving your home's plumbing lines and out to the city's sewer lines. With nowhere to go, the water freezes and eventually breaks open the home's pipelines.
But you can reduce the contaminants inside your chimney to help your boiler work better until the specialists arrive. You can start with these cleaning tips below.
How Can Cleaning Your Chimney's Inner Walls Help the Boiler Work Better?
Although this may not seem like much, cleaning as much of your chimney's inner walls as you can may reduce the amount of debris and soot that blocks your chimney's flue. As a result, it may help your boiler release steam through the flue.
Get Your Supplies
You need to purchase or get a few supplies to clean your chimney's walls. You can find most of your supplies right in your utility closet or at a local retailer. When you're ready to begin, be sure to get these items:
- Large sheet or plastic tarp
- Utility gloves for your hands and goggles for your eyes
- Large bucket filled with warm water and a safe cleaning solution – try to use a cleaning solution that doesn't contain harsh chemicals or odors that may irritate your nose and skin
- Small hard-bristled brush – you need this to clean the inside walls of the chimney
- Large cleaning brush with firm bristles – a regular broom with nylon bristles may work fine
Now, it's time to clean your chimney.
Clean the Chimney's Walls
You can use the sheet or tarp to cover the area around the chimney. This protects your furnishings, flooring and other valuables from soot stains. Once you do this, follow the steps below:
- Put on your utility gloves and eye goggles
- Use the large cleaning brush or broom to remove as much dirt and grime as you can from the chimney – only remove as much as you can reach or see without overstretching your arms or hurting your back
- Wet the small utility brush with the cleaning solution and warm water, then proceed to scrub as much soot as you can from the inner walls of the chimney
- Use a large cleaning rag to dry the water from the chimney's walls
After cleaning your chimney's walls, your boiler may produce hotter water. However, keep in mind that this cleaning is only a temporary measure. You should still contact your HVAC specialists to examine and repair your boiler. They may also take steps to clean your chimney's flue, which prevents future problems with your boiler.
If you need additional advice on how to keep your boiler operational, contact your HVAC specialists immediately for a detailed inspection. Click here for more information.