Boilers are the most common heating system used in homes and businesses, and we all know that without water, they can’t produce heat. So, let’s say there’s a leakage in the main water supply, and you have forgotten to turn off the heating system. Can a boiler still work without water?
A boiler can work without water, but when there is no water, the pressure in the boiler drops and can lead to dry-firing. If your boiler doesn’t come with sensors or controls, and you turn the heater on without water, it could further damage your central heating system.
In this article, I’ve detailed what happens when a boiler runs low on water and the measures you can take to avoid damaging your boiler, so read on.
What Happens When a Boiler Runs Low on Water?
A boiler is a water-based heating system that uses heat from fuel combustion to produce hot water.
Water is used to create steam, which drives the boiler’s engine.
A boiler requires a certain amount of water to function properly. T
he steam moves through a machine to generate heat or hot water for use in a building or home.
A dry firing of the boiler is when it is turned off but still in the same position as if it was running.
Dry firing is when the boiler is fired without the feed water being introduced, forcing the boiler to compensate by increasing its internal temperature.
If dry-firing continues for a long time, it can cause irreparable damage to the boiler and increases the risk of an explosion.
That’s why a low water cut-off capacity is enabled in boilers to prevent accidents.
The boiler may be operated with minimal water in the steam pipe and the condenser or, in some cases, maybe dry-fired.
In dry firing, the liquid level in these components is not specified and varies depending on how long it has been since the unit was the last run.
A low water cut-off (LWCO) is when no liquid is in any of these components.
How To Fix a Boiler That Won’t Work Without Water?
There are many ways to fix a boiler without water, but some require more time and effort than others.
If you have a boiler that won’t work without water, there are a few things you can do to fix it:
- Check the water level in the tank if your boiler is not heating up. If it’s too low, add more water and rerun the system. If you can’t get it working with enough water, there could be something wrong with the pressure switch or thermostat. Then turn the power back on. If that doesn’t work, see if there are any leaks and ensure they’re fixed before trying to restart your boiler again.
- Check the pilot light and make sure it’s lit. If not, the problem may be in the gas valve or the burner assembly.
- Install a new pressure gauge or use a different heating method. A common problem with boilers is low pressure.
- Check for leaks in pipes or wires. If your boiler is gas-powered, turn off the gas and use an outdoor thermometer to check for leaks in your piping. If your furnace is electric, turn off power to your furnace and use an outdoor thermometer to check for leaks in your wiring.
- Check the boiler settings and reset it. Sometimes the central heating works, but not the boiler. If it still doesn’t get resolved, there’s probably a bigger problem waiting.
If the pilot light is on, there’s a chance that the boiler isn’t getting enough water to work.
If there’s no water, it could be due to a frozen pipe or a diverter valve failure.
If the thermostat is faulty or has too little pressure in your system, your boiler won’t function correctly.
If neither of these fixes works, you’ll need to call a professional plumber or heating contractor who will likely charge a fee for their services.
To get a clearer picture of what causes to look for when there’s no hot water coming from the boiler and how to fix it, watch this short 3-minute YouTube video:
A boiler can work without water in a process called dry-firing, where the boiler responds to the lack of steam by raising its internal temperature.
This can be dangerous, even causing explosions.
If your boiler is not working, the first thing to do is to turn off the power.
If a pilot light doesn’t work, check for any signs of water damage, such as frozen pipes or a broken thermostat.
If your boiler has a diverter valve failure, you will need to turn off the gas supply and use an electric heater until you can get a repair person out.
Cheers, tools owners!
- Can The Furnace And Water Heater Share Vent?
- How Long Do Heating Elements Last In Water Heaters?
- Do Dishwashers Heat the Water Or Use Hot Water?