Residential Steam Boiler Maintenance

If you are unfamiliar with any of the devices or procedures listed here and would like a tutorial, we would gladly provide one for a single hour fee. If your boiler was installed by Pipelines, the tutorial is free. Please call to schedule an appointment.

During the heating season:

Check the boiler water level weekly. The water line in the glass tube (gauge glass) should rest between ⅔ and ¾ up when the boiler is cool.

Check the low water cutoff monthly. When the boiler is firing, drain water from the low water cutoff into a bucket until the gauge glass appears empty. The burner should shut off. If the burner continues to run, shut it off with the service switch or thermostat or place the gas valve in “pilot” setting. Do not allow the burner to run without sufficient boiler water. The low water cutoff must be serviced as soon as possible if the burner runs at low water condition. Slowly refill the boiler to proper level – too much cold water on hot metal can crack the boiler. Be patient. Do not refill the boiler or leave the fill valve open when unattended. For float type cutoffs, use the monthly check to flush out the float chamber. Place a bucket under the chamber drain, open the valve and allow the water to run until it is clear of sediment. You may have to refill the boiler several times to get clear water, if this flushing has not been done regularly. Leave the water at the proper level before returning the burner to service.

Be aware of system leaks. The system should recycle its water, going from steam to condensate and back to the boiler to be made into steam again. If vents or radiator connections are expelling water (like a teething baby), or live steam (like a tea kettle), they should be repaired or replaced. If you are adding water to the system more than once a month in the heating season, you have a problem which needs to be addressed. Adding a lot of fresh water to the boiler shortens its life, adding oxygen-induced corrosion to the system, producing more sludge and debris and reducing the boiler’s efficiency.