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How Does a Residential Boiler Actually Work?

In the U.S., roughly 9 million homes have boiler heating systems. More than half of the homes with boilers are in the Northeast.

Even though boilers are rare in American homes, those who do have them become major fans. Boilers offer radiant heat that can't be beat in cold climates.

But, how does a boiler heat a home?

The good news is, it's not as complicated as you might think. Read on to learn what a residential boiler is and how it works.

Boiler vs Furnace: What's the Difference?

A boiler and a furnace are both types of central heating systems, but boilers use water and furnaces use air.

Boilers use hot water or steam to warm your house. The water or steam travels through pipes or radiators and warms the objects in your home.

Furnaces blow hot air through a duct system, which warms the air in your home.

How Does a Boiler Work?

A fuel source such as natural gas enters your home and travels to the boiler. The gas comes out through small jets where it's ignited and turned into a heat source. The heat from the ignited gas goes through the heat exchanger, which warms a water pipe or tank of water.

If you have a hot water boiler, the hot water will travel through the pipes in your floor radiators with the help of a motorized pump. Once the water has heated the room, it travels back to the boiler to get reheated.

If you have a steam boiler, the heat exchanger will continue heating the water until it turns to steam. The steam will rise to the radiators in your home. Once it's heated the room, the steam turns back into water and returns to the boiler to start the process again.

If you can't visualize the cycle, a how a boiler works diagram might help.

The burning fuel produces combustion gases which the venting system takes out of your home. Without this vent, you'd have a buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.

Types of Residential Boilers

While the application of boilers in your home is always the same—they all provide central heat—there are three types of boilers.

Gas fired boilers use natural gas or propane, but are not an option if you don't have access to natural gas. Oil fired boilers require a regular supply of oil which you'll need delivered to your home. Electric boilers are very efficient, but are expensive given the high cost of electricity.

There are also three types of radiators, which bring heat into each room. Steam radiators are larger metal units you might've noticed in older homes.

Hot water radiators are small and sit along the baseboard of each room. Hydronic radiant floor heating uses a network of coils to warm the floor of each room.

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Is Your Residential Boiler Acting Up? Call 1-800-PLUMBER Today

If you have a residential boiler in your home, you probably don't give it much thought. When it goes out in the winter, your boiler is all you can think about.

Now that you know how boilers work, you'll understand what kind of repairs your plumber might have to make. If you're having issues with your boiler, find a 1-800-Plumber near you.

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First plumber we called wanted $3500.00 to replace everything. Emanuel came out and suggested we change one part and less than $300.00 later we was up and running again. From Mark, to Taylor, and then on to Emanuel the whole experience was professional and I will be a customer for life. Hopefully not often though. Great working with you guys!.

Brian

Jeff did a great job and let us know what was going on continually. He is a very personable technician.

Theresa D.

Kyle came when he said he would. He stayed in touch through out the day. Was very quick and efficient. If you need a plumber call Kyle.

Ashley C.

Thanks for getting here so quickly and finding the issue. Also thanks for suggesting the locking caps - Hopefully this will prevent theft of the freon.

David P.

did a excellent job on repiping my house n clean n very please with the work they done.

Willie W.

I had Kyle U as my plumbing tech. He did a great job and worked really hard to get to the bottom of things (like roots). He was also polite and honest.

Linda D.

Detailed orientated and honest inspection. Chad took his time and explained everything that was going on very well. The service fee was fair for the small issues he fixed, and he was able to make a referral for water restoration for us, I would use his service again and plan to when our water heater goes out.

Katie D.

Wow wow wow, Paul was excellent. Fair price, honest, did everything he said he would do and more. Fixed a line not slopped and 2 breaks at the tap. I recommend this business any day of the week. Excellent. I will use them for all my plumbing needs. He let me use my online coupon.

Debra's Passion Boutique

Kyle was efficient and professional when handling my faucet water leak. He was an expert problem solver to my numerous problems. Success!

Cheryl S.

Plugged drain outside of house. Came out the next day, showed us the video of the tree branches in our line, gave me a quote over the phone and I had them start work. Finished in a few hours and left with our system drain restored.

Craig C.

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