Have you ever used a hot water bottle to heat up your bed before climbing in for the night? Hot water is a tremendous heat source—because water takes so much energy to heat, it can carry a ton of heat to wherever it is needed. This is the principle that hydronic heating systems run on. The most common type of hydronic heating is a boiler system—an appliance that quickly heats water in order to warm your home as a whole. How exactly does this type of heating work and why are they so popular, particularly with older homes and larger facilities? Our blog has the answers you should know and can even help you determine if this type of heating is right for you.
How Boilers Heat Your Home
Think of your boiler sort of like your hot water heater: it’s an appliance that heats water and then sends it through a series of pipes. However, instead of going to taps or faucets, the water simply returns back to the boiler when it is done. However, all along the way, the heat in the water radiates into your home, keeping you warm. Boilers use devices like radiators, floor heating systems, and heated floorboards to radiate heat out into your home. These are essentially coils of metal pipes that are uninsulated, thus allowing heat to escape from them quickly and easily. This heat warms the air in your home, and thus increases the indoor temperature.
Once the water travels through the heating pipeline, it will lose a considerable amount of heat. From there, it will cycle back through return pipes where it re-enters your boiler, is brought back up to temperature, and then heads back out through your heating pipes once again to provide more warmth to your home.
Where Do Boilers Work Best?
Boilers and hydronic heating systems are particularly popular in older homes and buildings because they don’t require a lot of space. Boilers are fairly large units, but beyond that, the heat is transferred through a pipeline that’s generally at most about 1” thick. That means homes that generally can’t support forced air systems because of not enough space in walls and between floors still usually have more than enough space to carry a boiler pipeline. And because these pipes are usually better insulated and properly routed, you don’t have to worry about nearly the same amount of heat loss as you would with a typical furnace or heat pump.
The other huge benefit to boiler systems is that they are generally tremendously durable. Because the pipes that carry the hot water around your home are generally constructed of a durable metal, these heating systems can last for decades with few to no problems. Even the boiler unit itself has an expected lifespan of 15 to 20 years, exceeding that of a traditional forced-air system.
Finally, boilers tend to do extremely well in very cold climates. Heat pumps have a glaring weakness: when it gets too cold outside, there isn’t enough heat to collect in order to heat your home. Once the temperature drops a little below freezing, they start losing efficiency before they stop working entirely. With a boiler, you don’t have to worry about this. Boilers use natural gas to heat the water they use, meaning they provide a ton of reliable heat through the coldest temperatures you’re ever going to see around the Bay Area.
Boilers Can Do Double-Duty
Boilers have another unique benefit: they can perform the function of two home appliances at once. A boiler can serve as both your HVAC heater and a water heater. Because boilers are creating hot water, they can be set up to feed hot water into your home’s water supply, where your taps and appliances can then take advantage of it. Of course, this water would likely need to be at a different temperature, but advanced boiler systems can handle this with ease. In this same way, boilers are tremendously easy to zone, giving you precise control over what temperature you want your home to be in what areas, even turning off the heat in rooms you aren’t using.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of a boiler-based heating system? Talk to the experts at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical about your heating needs! Dial (909) 253-0664 today to schedule a consultation.