Running a boiler can require more maintenance and diligence than some other home heating options. Older boilers develop problems which can sometimes be quite complicated, and depending up the different types of boiler, a water leak which would cause concern in one type of hot water system can be very little to worry about in another. If you find a lot of water around the base of your boiler when you examine it, there may be a number of causes, some serious, some very easy to fix.
Boiler Pressure Issues
All boilers are fitted with a special pressure outlet pipe. This looks like a small pipe connection point in the side of your boiler, but with no fittings, and this outlet will occasionally drip water. People sometimes worry that this excess piece of pipe has developed a leak, and actually cap it off, but this is completely the wrong thing to do. The purpose of this device is to allow pressure inside the boiler to escape. Without this outlet pipe, your boiler could explode or collapse. If you find water directly below the boiler on a daily basis, this may suggest that you need to reduce the pressure inside the tank. Check the pressure gauge on the side of the tank to make sure that this is the problem.
Damage to the Boiler Seals
Another cause of water leaks around the boiler can be damage to the boiler seals. This can allow water to escape, and the boiler pump may also be pushing water out through the seals. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to replace both seals and pump in order to correct the problem. Examine the sides and bottom of the tank to see if water is actually leaking from the seal.
Cracks in the Body
As your boiler ages, the metal may develop stress fatigues and damage. Repeated warming and cooling will expand and contract the metal pieces, much like they do on an airplane, and this will eventually lead to a failure such as a crack or split. A crack in one of these sections is a serious problem, and the repair can be expensive. If your boiler is old, consider replacing it with a completely new one, rather than repairing a section of a boiler that might need to be scrapped in a year or two.
A problem which is easier to fix is a loose connection. This can often cause a leak around the boiler during hot and cold contraction and expansion, so you should check all the fittings of the boiler and all the pipes and tubes which go into and out of the boiler. While you are checking this, look at the blowdown valve, and ensure that this is not loose or damaged. This can cause quite a pool of water to build up.
If you still cannot find a cause for your water leak, then you should call your boiler supplier. Arrange for one of their engineers to come and examine your hot water system.
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