How Does a Boiler Heat Your Home?

Written on: December 27, 2022

Be Better Prepared to Identify Boiler Problems

boiler service new york With winter off to a fast and furious start, it’s a good idea to review the basics of how a boiler (also known as a hydronic system) keeps a home warm. That way, if you run into heating issues over the next few months, you’ll be better prepared to discuss the situation with your heating service contractor.

How Boilers Work

While the majority of new homes built in the Hudson Valley rely on a warm-air furnace for central heat, there are many other homes here that rely instead on a boiler for heat.

There are two main types of boilers found in Hudson Valley homes: a steam boiler, commonly found in the oldest homes, and the modern, and more energy-efficient, hot water boiler. Steam boilers require special safety precautions because of the temperature of the steam (the water must be heated to 212°F). As a result, it is vitally important to follow a regular maintenance schedule.

Your boiler extracts heat from heating oil as it burns; it can also be powered by propane gas, natural gas, or wood pellet. This heats the water (or creates steam) that will run through the zones that are calling for heat. The heat is delivered into your living space through either radiators or baseboards.

The problem is that some heat (as much as 30% in some older boiler models) will be lost as exhaust, which means you are paying a lot of money for heat that will never reach your living space. See how much you can benefit from a new boiler installation.

Condensing Boilers

A more efficient version of the hot water boiler is the condensing boiler, which is designed to keep heat loss to a minimum. By recycling heat from the exhaust process – and by operating at lower temperatures overall – your condensing boiler can improve operating efficiency by 10-15% compared to a non-condensing boiler.

However, a condensing boiler is not practical for all homes. Plus, condensing boilers cost more to manufacture. Installing a condensing boiler correctly requires highly trained technicians who know how to capitalize on the efficiency benefits of these sophisticated heating systems.

Maintaining Your Boiler

Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for home heating systems– not just because it can keep your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency, but also because four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.

A professional tune-up and safety check allows your heating service contractor to fix minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, etc.). Regular tune-ups can also help you conserve heating fuel over the winter.

3 Self-Maintenance Tips for Boilers

  1. Check the damper. When you check the baseboard, are you getting heat? If not, give the damper a check. Make sure it’s clear at the bottom of the unit, and there are no obstructions in the way, like carpeting or toys.
  2. Give your radiator valve regular checks. You always want your radiator valve to be set to “on” or “off.” It should not be in between the two positions, as this will make it unable to keep the temperature regulated. A radiator valve that is not in the proper position will also strain your pipes, causing an annoying hammering sound.
  3. If you have an older steam boiler, monitor the water gauge. More often than not, boiler shut-downs are the result of low-water levels. If the water in your gauge looks rusty, then it’s time to “flush” your steam boiler. Your heating service contractor can help you out and let you know what to do if you need assistance with this.

Contact your local Hudson Valley heating oil equipment service contractor for further information.