Problems With a Boiler


Boilers are prone to problems, many of which are managed without professional help. Most boiler problems depend largely on the condition of the boiler in use. An older boiler causes more trouble and requires regular maintenance than a newer boiler. The quality and manufacturing characteristics of a boiler also affect its performance. Poorly manufactured boilers start causing trouble soon after purchase. It is imperative to inspect and routinely service boilers to maintain their longevity.

Pressure Loss

  • Boilers work effectively only when the water pressure is stabilized and remains constant. They come equipped with a gauge that denotes the water pressure. Water pressure varies when a problem forms in a boiler, affecting its performance. According to Carson Dunlop in the book "Principles of Home Inspection," the main causes of fluctuating water pressure include an excess of steam pressure (high boiler output) and a buildup of dirt within the boiler. The first thing to do if a problem is suspected is to observe the pressure gauge. If it fluctuates wildly, a professional servicing is in order.

Leaking Water

  • The expansion and contraction of boiler metal causes cracks to appear in the boiler body. These cracks affect the performance of the boiler and require immediate repair or replacement of the boiler metal. A reduced pressure reading on the gauge denotes a fissure or leak. It is necessary to appropriately detect the location of the crack before repairing it. Small cracks are hard to find because the water seeping through them quickly evaporates, leaving no trace behind. Track and repair these cracks as soon as they are suspected to prevent them from widening.

    According to Mohammad A. Malek in the "Heating Boiler Operator's Manual," condensation may occur in pipelines and within a boiler when it is turned on from a cold condition. Depending on the extent of the cold, the condensed water may spill over, inaccurately denoting a leak in the boiler.

Inadequate Heat Generated

  • A boiler that generates an inadequate amount of steam denotes an underlying problem. According to Carson Dunlop, the main reasons that contribute to ineffective boiler heating include under-size burners, heat exchange problems, under-size boilers, mechanical fault in the burner, poor arrangement of pipes and a flooded boiler. Boilers that generate inadequate heat typically show a zero reading on the pressure gauge.


  • Blockages in boilers affect their performance and cause significant problems. A boiler loses heat and temperature when there is a blockage. It is advisable to let an expert deal with blockages as the consequences are devastating in case of an accident.

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  • "Principles of Home Inspection"; Carson Dunlop; 2003 (Pg 29)
  • "Energy Management Handbook"; Wayne C. Turner and Steve Doty; 2009 (Pg 118)
  • "Heating Boiler Operator's Manual"; Mohammad A. Malek; 2006 (Pg 247)
  • Photo Credit boilers image by JCVStock from
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