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The Ultimate Guide to Residential Boilers

When most people think of boilers, they often think of the old-time, fire using, copper boilers that existed in a basement. However, modern boilers are what causes heat for your home, and once you learn about them, you can better answer ‘What is a residential boiler?’

A boiler is a heating system that uses water to move heat around your home. The boiler requires only water to carry heat and has some benefits over a traditional heater.

What Does A Boiler Do?

Boilers act as a central heating system for your home and provide radiant heat. This means that they don’t directly heat the air, but instead they warm objects like the radiator. Then that heat from the radiator flows through the room.

A lot of people really like boilers because the radiant heat makes the room feel warmer than the temperature they set. This allows homeowners to save money and still feel just as warm, and that’s always a good feeling!

How Does A Boiler Work?

Boilers power on and create heat whenever the thermostat in your home senses a drop in your temperature. The heat is created by the boilers’ fuel, and the water inside the boiler is heated up and then turns into steam.

That steam travels through pipes up into the vents or radiators inside of your home, where the heat helps to warm the air. Once the steam going through the pipes is cooled down and turned back into water, then the water flows back into the boiler.

This cycle goes on until your home’s temperature matches the temperature on the thermostat. Then the boiler is turned off until you need it again. If you understand how a furnace works, then you might see a lot of similarities, but there are differences.

Boilers vs Furnaces

While both boilers and furnaces heat up your home, they do so in different ways. Boilers send the heat to vents or radiators, while not requiring any ducts to do so. Instead, the heat of the radiator starts to heat up the surrounding area.

Furnaces create heat and then send all that heated air through vents. This helps to circulate it through your house, but it does so through the ducts.

Neither one is better than the other, but if you have allergies or trouble breathing, then furnaces do have the risk of circulating allergens inside your home.

The Different Types Of Boilers

There are several different types of boilers that can work for you, and while they all work in the same way to provide heat for your house, they make that heat in different ways. Here are some of the types of boilers you might find in your home.

Hot Water Boiler

A hot water boiler generates heat by boiling water with either an oil or gas burner. Once the water is preheated to the desired temperature, then the heat from that water flows into the radiators. The heat from the radiators gradually reheats the room, and then once the desired temperature is met, the boiler turns off.

Natural Gas Boiler

These gas boilers have an additional gas line that connects to a natural gas pipeline. Whenever your temperature needs to be changed, then a pilot light is lit, and that is what heats up the water.

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers are powered and fueled by electricity, and they are some of the most efficient boilers out there. Especially if you live in a rural area without access to oil or gas. Additionally, these boilers are smaller and tend to be quieter as well.

Although the electric boilers have advantages, if you live on a bigger property the tank might not be big enough. If you live in an area with frequent power outages, then you can also lose heat access as well.

Oil or Natural Gas?

Since both types of boilers use fossil fuels, there has been a lot of talk about the debate of natural gas vs oil boilers. If you live in a rural area, then natural gas might be better for your home. Even if you don’t have access to a natural gas pipeline, you can still power your boiler with propane.

Oil boilers do require access to oil, which means that as the price of oil fluctuates in the world market, then your prices change as well. Plus, the oil for your furnace must be delivered to you, and there’s also a lot of maintenance involved.

We’d suggest going for natural gas if you are looking for a stable power source for your boiler, and most homeowners agree with us.

What is the Best Type of Boiler?

While the boiler that you will consider the best will be different based on your own heating needs, we recommend a hot water or steam boiler. These boilers don’t rely on outside elements to make heat, and instead, use oil or gas to power a burner.

Most of these boilers are going to be combi boilers, which are very compact and they will only turn on whenever you need them. So you won’t be wasting money whenever you turn the boilers off. Combi boilers are also great whenever you only need a few small rooms heated, and not a large piece of property.

Maintaining Your Residential Boiler

Finally, once you have selected and installed your residential boiler, then you just need to keep it maintained. Maintaining a boiler is actually quite easy and you only need to do it annually. Make sure to keep an eye on the radiators, the parts of your boiler affected by wear and tear, and replacing the gaskets and parts.