What is a Boiler?
Most people immediately think of furnaces when opting to heat their homes. However, boilers provide a highly effective heat option, have a long life, can reach high heating efficiencies, and some types require little or no pumping energy. Boilers are an important part of a central heating system. They’re a continuous closed loop of pipes carrying heated water (or steam) throughout your home. As the water runs through the pipes, running through radiators, the hot water cools on its path as it gives off its heat, heating your rooms, then returns back to the boiler to be reheated again. The boiler keeps firing, to continuously reheat the returned cool water, and then sends it on its way again throughout your home.
How Does a Boiler Work?
The boiler is controlled/turned on with an electric switch, which when turned on, opens a valve where the gas enters a combustion chamber. There is a continuous stream of natural gas via a pipe attached to the home’s gas main, usually from the street, that feeds a fire inside this chamber. Its electric ignition system is what lights these small jets of gas. The gas jets fire onto a heat exchanger connected to the water pipe carrying the cold water. The heat exchanger takes the gas-generated heat and heats the water, typically to around 140ºF (60ºC). The now-hot water is pushed throughout the home. An electric pump inside or very near the boiler keeps the water flowing through the loop of pipes and radiators.
Is a Boiler Right for My Home?
Typically, boilers are categorized into different types based on their fuel type, working pressure and temperature, size and capacity, draft method, and whether or not they condense the water vapor in the combustion gases. Sometimes boilers are described by some by their key components, such as heat exchanger materials or tube design.
The two main types of boilers are Firetube and Watertube boilers. In the former, the Firetube boiler, combustion hot gases flow through a system of tubes surrounded by water. In the latter, the Watertube boiler, water flows in the inside of the tubes, and the combustion hot gases flow around the outside of the tubes.
As mentioned above, boilers have some wonderful advantages (long life, highly effective, high heat efficiency), but they do need to be maintained on a regular basis to keep these advantages. If neglected, boilers’ repairs can be costly and fuel bills can add up quickly. If you currently have a boiler and it's been awhile since you’ve had maintenance performed on it, or if you’re thinking of installing a boiler, call Field Plumbing & Heating. Our technicians would be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.