Boiler Maintenance

When it comes to looking after a central heating boiler, there are just three pillars of wisdom. These are cleaning, checking and adjusting. These three actions, carried out annually, should ensure that a boiler would function correctly and give its optimum return on the investment of the fuel that was fed into it. Now that might sound like common sense, but it has often been ignored. What perhaps isn't so well known, particularly amongst the english-speaking community, is that the annual maintenance of a boiler is obligatory and has been since 1978.

The wording of the law (Réglementation Sanitaire Départemental - JO du 13/09/78) is unequivocal in that it is the legal obligation of the user occupier, whether it be the owner or renter, to ensure that the equipment and its connection to the flue system is checked annually. There are three good reasons for this regulation.

servicing and repairs

The first is that an out-of-date or badly adjusted boiler, or a blocked flue, can give off highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO) fumes. This gas is far more attractive to the haemoglobin in the blood than oxygen and is therefore readily taken up by the human body with possibly fatal effects. The Ministry of the Interior records that each year in France there are 6000 intoxications and 300 deaths due to CO poisoning.

The second reason is that ADEME (l'Agence De l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie, the government body charged with, among other things, the conservation of energy) estimates that a properly maintained boiler would consume 8-12% less fuel than a non-maintained one. The final reason is that it would extend the life of a boiler by 2 or 3 times and a breakdown would be 5 times less likely.

The view of ADEME is that the solution to ensuring that a boiler is looked after is to take out a maintenance contract with a professional enterprise and this view is backed up by insurance companies, many of whom insist on it. The professional who carries out the maintenance must be properly equipped and trained to do the job and will provide an attestation showing the work has been done, the condition of the boiler and, particularly, the percentage of CO and carbon dioxide in the fumes. The user of the boiler is obliged to keep this attestation for a minimum of two years.

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