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Did You Know Your Boiler Doesn’t Actually Boil?

boiler-residentialThe boiler isn’t the most common type of home heating system—that’s the natural gas furnace—but it remains a popular way to provide heat thanks to advantages like energy-efficient performance and long service lives. Boilers offer fast heat distributed evenly through rooms and they help reduce the amount of dust and other debris blown around in the air.

If you have a boiler in your home, you probably already know about these advantages. But here’s something you may not know: your boiler doesn’t actually boil anything.

So Why Is It Called a “Boiler”?

Because boilers used to boil. When using hydronic heating—i.e. heating up water and distributing it through pipes to provide warmth for a building—first started being used almost two centuries ago, the only way to provide sufficient heat was to boil the water and then send the high-temperature steam through the pipes. The pressure of the steam was what provided the motion to distribute the heat to all parts of the house. People often have this image of boilers in their head from movies, where radiators whistle and busted boilers start shooting out plumes of steam (usually during an action scene).

Boilers that run from steam are still in use, but they’re mostly found in industrial buildings that require high heat levels. Steam boilers are occasionally found in older homes, but they’re less efficient than current boilers and run from large cast-iron radiators.

So How Does My Boiler Actually Work?

The modern boiler heats up the water inside it, but it doesn’t need to boil it. The construction of today’s boiler allows for the easy transfer of heat through radiators, baseboard heaters, and in-floor tubing into rooms without needing to raise the water temperature to the point where it changes to steam. Instead of relying on steam pressure to move the heated water, modern boilers use powered circulator pumps.

For a standard forced hot water system, the water temperature should be around 180°F, although it can be raised as high as 210°F in extreme cold weather. You can control the temperature using a device on the boiler called an aquastat. We strongly recommend you don’t fiddle around with the aquastat and keep it set on 180°F for most of the winter.

Is There a Danger of My Boiler Overheating?

Yes, this is a concern—but it’s unlikely to occur if you have the boiler regularly maintained and don’t place the aquastat too high. Overheating can happen because of limescale developing on the inside of the tank or a spike in pressure. If you hear odd rumbling sounds from your boiler, please don’t panic! Shut off the boiler and then call on boiler repair professionals to come take a look at the system.

No matter what sort of services you need for the best home heating in Clifton, NJ, you’ll find it when you call on our professionals. Not all local heating contractors offer service on boilers, but we do! We offer repairs, installations, and more for boilers throughout the Tri-State Area.

Advanced Mechanical Services has more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC field and we look forward to many more.

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