How Does a Heating Oil Boiler Work?

Written on: January 29, 2024

Get to Know Your Oilheat Boiler Better

boiler service hudson valley Many people who live in the Hudson Valley rely on a heating oil boiler to keep their home warm. If you’re one of them, did you ever wonder how this heating system generates enough heat to make your home toasty warm throughout our cold winter months?

Let’s start by looking at how heating oil boilers have evolved so you can understand the type of boiler you have in your home. Steam boilers can still be found in older homes here, usually ones built before the 1950s. If you have this type of system, your boiler stays true to its name because it needs to boil water to make steam before your heat can be distributed through your home.

In comparison, newer boilers do not need to boil the water to make steam. Instead, they use hot water to distribute heat through a home’s piping. The heat is distributed through your home by either radiators or baseboards.

Because a boiler is what’s known as a closed-loop system, water does not need to be constantly brought in or replaced, making it more efficient. Some of the key components of a boiler system include:

As far as the operation of a heating oil boiler, when your home needs heat, the thermostat sends a message to the oil burner to start working. Your system’s fuel pump will draw heating oil from the tank to the burner. From there, your heating oil is turned into a fine mist, mixed with air and ignited inside the combustion chamber. The heat that’s generated travels into your home.

Is a Boiler a Good Way to Heat My Home?

Yes. Many homeowners prefer hot water heating to warm air systems like furnaces because the heat that boilers create does not dry out the air as much as a warm-air system would. Plus, the heat generated by your hydronic heating system (another name for a boiler) can also be used to heat water in your home that you use for washing, cleaning, etc. This creates an efficient two-in-one space and water heating solution. Heated water is stored in a separate tank that’s connected to the boiler for later use.

What Is a Condensing Heating Oil Boiler?

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 ultra-modern heating oil systems.

How Do I Keep My Boiler Running Efficiently?

Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for 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 system tune-up allows your heating oil technician 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.

Your professional heating oil technician will conduct a series of tests to make sure your heating system is running at the best possible efficiency. Any adjustments and repairs can then be done after this initial evaluation.

How Do I Know When to Replace My Boiler?

While the average boiler will last about 20-25 years—assuming that a proper maintenance schedule has been followed—there are many home boilers still in use that are even older than that. And while they may still be keeping homes warm enough, their efficiency rate is much lower than a new hot water boiler, which means you are using more fuel to generate heat.

Besides age, other signs that your boiler may be wearing out include signs of corrosion, frequent breakdowns, and expensive repairs.

If you’re ready to explore new heating oil system options for your home, your local heating oil full-service company will be happy to help. Please remember to ask about current rebate opportunities for new heating oil equipment now available in the Hudson Valley.