Why You Shouldn't Ignore A Gurgling, Bubbling, And Rumbling Boiler

Construction & Contractors Blog

Boilers are a great option for heating large structures, and many smaller homes use them for the cozy, even heating that radiators can provide. Of course, boilers are no more perfect than any other home appliance. One common complaint from boiler owners is a sound often described as "kettling."  If it sounds like your boiler is trying to make a nice cup of tea, then you may be suffering from this issue. Kettling can also sound like a loud, low rumbling or gurgling sound. While the specifics may vary, the sound is often loud enough that there is no mistaking that a problem exists.

Why Good Boilers Start Kettling

Your boiler was fine a few days ago, so what changed to cause this sudden and disconcerting sound? To fully understand why your boiler is kettling, it's essential to understand how your boiler functions. Like any gas appliance, your boiler needs a way to provide energy while also directing dangerous combustion gases safely outside of your home. Your boiler accomplishes this trick through a part known as a heat exchanger. Combustion gases travel through the heat exchanger, which transfers heat to the water in the boiler. The gases are contained, but the heat is transferred out of the system.

This system relies on water being able to move freely around the heat exchanger. In buildings with hard water problems, however, scale can develop on the exterior of the heat exchanger. Over time, this restricts the flow of water. It may seem as though this would result in water remaining too cold, but it instead causes the water to heat up too much. Since water cannot flow freely, it stays close to the heat exchanger, absorbing more and more heat. Ultimately, this causes increased internal pressure as the water boils. The sound that you hear is a combination of boiling water and stressed pipes.

What Happens When Your Boiler Kettles?

A kettling boiler should never be ignored. Although your heating system has relief valves that allow excess pressure to escape, a boiler that is kettling will not function efficiently. The buildup of scale and additional pressure can also place wear on your boiler and plumbing, resulting in leaks or other failures in the future. In a worst-case scenario, the heat exchanger itself can fail, resulting in a repair that will quickly boil over into the four-figure range.

Dealing With Kettling

A plumber or a boiler repair services will be able to quickly determine the underlying cause of the problem so that it can be repaired before causing additional damage. In most cases, this will involve cleaning the scale from the heat exchanger and dealing with the underlying hard water problem. Remember that the cost of fixing a kettling boiler will always be less than the potential damage that the problem can cause over the long-term, so scheduling a checkup early on will always be the most cost-effective course of action.


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