Different Types of Boilers
Whether you are in the market to have a boiler installed in your home, need to know what kind of boiler is installed in a home you’re looking to purchase, or simply want to find out more about your own boiler, Hot Point Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help. Boilers in many different categories and varieties, each with distinguishing characteristics best suited for unique purposes.
Hot water and steam boilers use a heat exchanger as a tool to heat water and distribute it to a piped system connected to radiators around the home. Steam boilers work by utilizing pressure and gravity to deliver hot steam to radiators and cycle cooled condensation back into the boiler to be reheated. The process works as such:
- The boiler is partially filled with water.
- The water is heated and turns to steam.
- The pressure within the system increases.
- The steam rises through the pipes up into the radiators.
- As the pressure increases, an air vent within the radiator(s) opens.
- When the steam reaches the vent, the vent closes.
- The head of the radiator radiates heat into the room.
- The steam cools and condenses into water.
- The cooled water flows back to the boiler to be reheated.
Steam boilers need a pressure relief valve and a low water cutoff. The majority of steam boilers have a manual valve to allow for adding water to the system when necessary. Keep an eye on the water level gauge to keep the water level at its appropriate level. Always keep close attention to your boiler heating system and perform keep it in good working order. A “knocking” noise could indicate a malfunction within the system. Contact our boiler repair experts if you have any problems with your steam boiler.
Hot Water Boiler
Water boiler heating systems rely on pressure, volume and temperature to provide efficient and safe heating to the radiators in your home. It uses one or a series of pumps to circulate heated water through your home. Here’s how water boilers work:
- The thermostat calls for heat.
- An oil or gas burner is activated, heating the water in the boiler.
- The pumps will either begin pumping water through the system, or wait for the water to pre-heat to the desired temperature.
- The heated water expands. Extra volume is sent into an expansion tank.
- The heat radiates from the hot water in the radiator(s).
- The water cools.
- Cooled water returns to the boiler via gravity or a separate pump.
- The cooled water flows back to the boiler to be reheated.
It should be noted that hot water boilers are not the same as hot water heaters. Water heaters heat the water for your shower, dishwasher or tap water. Hot water boilers can be used to heat tap water in a separate tank, but the water for heating the radiators and for heating tap water are kept separate.
Natural Gas Boiler
Gas boilers are fueled by natural gas, pumped through a gas line running beneath the house via a pipeline from an adjacent road. Rural gas boilers sometimes use propane gas from a large tank placed outside the home, as there is no main line for natural gas in most rural areas.
Natural gas is regulated by a temperature gauge and a thermocouple to minimize fuel usage. The gas is used to keep a pilot light lit, which warms the heating coils in the boiler, passing the heat along to the water in the tank.
Electric boilers do not rely on fossil fuels such as gas or oil to bring heat to your home. Electric boilers remain highly popular because they are extremely efficient and environmentally friendly. There are no exhaust fumes carrying away valuable heat and into the atmosphere. They have no need for a main gas or fuel supply, benefitting rural users. Installation costs are lower, and electric boilers are quieter and more space efficient.
But it’s not all gravy. Electric boilers have the following disadvantages:
- Electricity is largely fueled by coal, gas and oil power plants, partially negating the immediate “green” appeal
- The cost of electricity is higher than natural gas or oil
- May not have a big enough tank for larger properties
- Power outages mean you have no heat!
Oil boilers (sometimes called oil fired boilers) are water based heating systems fueled by oil. These are more common in rural areas in the country with more limited access to natural gas. A separate oil tank, often containing heating oil blended with domestic biodiesel, pumps the mixture into your oil boiler to heat the water within and send hot air or water through the piping in your home.
Older oil boilers can be very energy inefficient. If your oil boiler has a natural draft, continuous pilot light or a heavy heat exchanger, it’s probably not very environmentally friendly. While retrofitting is an option, you’ll need to consider replacing the unit entirely. If you need help deciding what’s more cost-efficient for you, the boiler repair professionals at Hot Point Heating & Cooling are always available to answer your questions.
Condensing boilers utilize two separate heat exchangers: one to heat the water before it goes out to the radiators, and another to reheat water returning from the piping in the home. Condensing boilers use the energy potential in exhaust gases to preheat the return water to the boiler. The result is vastly increased energy efficiency over its non-condensing counterpart.
JC Heating & Cooling Are The Boiler Experts, Providing 24/7 Emergency Service to the Chicagoland Area
Boiler repair professionals at JC Heating & Air Conditioning know your boiler system and how it works. No matter what suspicious knocking, banging or leaking you detect, trust in our HVAC technicians to be on the scene quickly and provide timely repairs.
Our flat rate pricing guarantees you won’t pay a dime past what you’re quoted. You won’t find a more trustworthy HVAC service in Illinois.
Boiler Repair and New Boiler Installation
Whether your boiler needs repair or you’re looking to install a new one, you can count on JC’s. Our plumbers are experienced in all kinds of boiler repair and installation including steam boilers, fire tube boilers, cast iron boilers and water tube boilers. Not sure what type of boiler you have? No worry, JC’s trained technicians will fully inspect your boiler before making any repair. JC is a fully licensed and insured HVAC company you can trust.
Is your boiler making strange noises?
Producing a yellow, weak, flame or soft heating? Boilers have been known to last for 30 years or more, but aren’t immune to problems. With regular maintenance you’re boiler could last for years to come, avoiding a costly replacement or more expensive repair.
Have you had any of the following problems with your boiler?
Is the Boiler Heating not producing the same level of heat as normal?
Uneven heating; Are some radiators hotter than others? Are some not turning on?
Noises from your pipes or boiler; Have you noticed banging, knocking or similar noises coming from your boiler or pipes?
Leaking/dripping – Have you noticed any leaks coming from your pipes?
System turns on and off constantly – Is your boiler coming on and off unexpectedly?
Unexpected energy bill increase – If you notice an unexpected rise in your heating bill, don’t ignore it! Your heater could be overworking and costing you more money.
Yellow or orange flame – A working gas boiler should always present a constant blue light. If you notice a yellow or orange flame this is a common sign that something is wrong. A yellow flame can also indicate that carbon monoxide is being produced and should not be ignored!
Don’t ignore routine maintenance, a well-maintained boiler can run over at 95% efficiency, for years, saving you far more than the cost of maintenance. Getting the problem fixed sooner will prevent more costly repairs in the future.