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How Do Boilers Work?

A boiler is a versatile appliance that can be used to heat your premises and hot water for bathing, laundry, cleaning, and more. While the appliances themselves have been around for hundreds of years the technology has come a long way, and where they were once most commonly found in older homes and commercial applications, boilers have a number of benefits that make them a viable alternative to forced air systems in buildings of all ages.

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How Does a Boiler Work?

A boiler is classified as a hydronic system, which heats and pumps water on a continuous loop throughout each room and raises the temperature as needed. Although earlier versions typically relied on steam, most models today use hot water using the following process:

  1. Water in the main tank is heated using a gas burner or electric element.
  2. Heated water is then pumped from the tank through a system of pipes leading to radiators or baseboard heaters in each room.
  3. Heat energy is released radiating warmth and raising the temperature in the room.
  4. Once the water cools off it returns back to the boiler to be reheated, and the cycle continues.

How to Choose the Right Boiler

No type of heating system is designed to last forever, and when it comes time to replace your boiler, it’s important to know what to look for to maximize your comfort and investment. Factors to consider include:

  • Efficiency Rating: Around 15 years of age, you may notice a decline in efficiency as heating bills gradually rise. Modern boilers are more compact and energy efficient than their predecessors. Before you buy check the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of the appliance, which reflects how much of the energy used is converted to heat. A higher number is better.
  • Size: Boiler capacity is measured in British thermal units (BTUs) and the number of BTUs required is based on a number of factors including climate, building size, and insulation levels.
  • Venting Requirements: A licensed boiler technician will determine whether your new boiler will need to be vented through the chimney, roof, or walls depending on factors such as size and fuel type.

The Benefits of Routine Boiler Maintenance

When professionally installed and maintained by a reputable, licensed contractor a boiler will provide reliable, efficient service for years to come. Additional benefits include:

  • Uninterrupted service – During the course of a routine inspection your boiler is cleaned, all components are checked for wear, and the technician makes any minor repairs or adjustments as needed. This service helps prevent costly, major repairs and downtime while allowing you to schedule any work that is needed at your own convenience.
  • Increased efficiency – Reduce heating costs and lower your carbon footprint.
  • Comfort – In commercial applications or apartment buildings, discomfort due to a malfunctioning or inefficient boiler can cost you money in lost revenue and cause damage to your reputation.

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