ANSWERS FROM THE EXPERTS
All You Need to Know About Servicing Oil Boilers
All oil boilers should be serviced annually to save money on potentially expensive repairs, prevent untimely boiler breakdowns, ensure your home is safe, and to keep the boiler running fuel efficiently. In many cases a regular service by an OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association) registered heating engineer is required by the manufacturer if your boiler is under warranty (check the terms and conditions on your warranty document). Regular servicing is part of good maintenance that helps extend the life of your boiler to the maximum.
According to the Checkatrade consumer website, The cost of a full oil boiler service including replacement of the oil nozzle varies between £130 and £180, depending on a number of factors such as the location of the property, type and size of the boiler and whether any parts need replacing during the service.
Whether you have a combi, system or regular oil boiler you can expect it to have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. Good maintenance, regular servicing and cleaning will ensure you get the maximum life from your oil boiler. Most people have a boiler replaced for a modern version after about 15 years. Newer boilers are more fuel efficient than older models.
A thorough oil boiler service should start with a visual inspection of the boiler, flue, tank and piping. The service engineer should then follow the official OFTEC service checklist, which generally covers checking all the working parts, testing the safety of the system, analysing the efficiency of the oil boiler and checking the oil storage tank and piping for leaks or water contamination. Particular attention will be paid to the pressure release valve and burner lockout, and an analyser will be used to analyse the emissions from the flue. The oil nozzle will be replaced during the service, and components cleaned of soot and the filters and oil hose checked.
A neglected heating system is inefficient, and inefficiency costs money. Oil boilers are the cheapest form of heating for off-grid rural properties, but unless they are regularly serviced and cleaned by a qualified engineer they will burn through increasing quantities of heating oil as they age, and finally break down under the strain of sludge build up, corrosion and blocked filters. The result is big fuel and repair bills. If your oil boiler is old and faulty, replacing it with a new one can deliver significant savings on energy bills. Modern oil boilers have a fuel efficiency of over 90%, whereas some older ones run at efficiency levels of 60%.
Oil boilers are one of the safest ways to heat your home, even though they are fuelled by flammable oil. The biggest danger is an oil leak from somewhere in the system, or in the oil storage tank. Oil could ignite if it comes into contact with a direct flame, and a leak into the soil in your garden could cause pollution and ground water contamination. Carbon monoxide poisoning associated with oil boilers is dangerous, having a carbon monoxide alarm in the vicinity of the boiler can give you peace of mind, but the best safeguard is to keep your oil boiler regularly serviced and maintained
Unlike with gas appliances, landlords are not legally required to obtain safety certificates for oil-fired heating equipment in a property which they let out but they do have a duty of care to the tenants renting their property. There is, also, a requirement under BS 5410: Part 1, which covers installations combusting liquid fuels for domestic heating and hot water purposes, to have equipment serviced annually according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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