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How Does a Boiler Work?

A comprehensive explainer on how a boiler heats your home

boilers massachusetts Have you recently moved into a home with radiators? Is this your first time living in a place without a furnace and ductwork? If so, you might feel less than confident around your boiler. As we enter the heating season here in the MetroWest region, you’ll want to gain some familiarity with your heating system, especially if you need to call for boiler maintenance or repairs.

At Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling, we can help you understand how your boiler works and the process it uses to warm your house.

How a boiler keeps you warm

A boiler is like the heart of your heating system. It works with your home’s plumbing, supplying either steam or hot water to pipes and radiators in your spaces.

Here’s how a boiler works:

  1. The thermostat in your home detects that temperatures have dropped below your set levels. It signals your boiler to turn on.
  2. The boiler’s burner turns on, burning gas or oil.
  3. The burner starts heating water in the boiler’s tank.
  4. Depending on your boiler type, either hot water or steam travels into your pipes and radiators.
  5. As your pipes and radiators warm up, they radiate heat into your living spaces.
  6. The water or steam cools, condenses and redirects through pipes back to the boiler’s tank.
  7. The boiler continues to heat and circulate water until your home is at the desired temperature.
  8. Your thermostat signals the boiler to turn off.

Different types of boilers

Steam boiler — As the name suggests, these boilers create steam that heats your pipes and radiators.

Hot water boiler — These boilers heat water to roughly 180 to 200 degrees, then circulate it throughout your home to heat it.

Combi boilers — Popular in smaller residences, these efficient units produce both central heat and hot water.

Pros & cons of boiler systems

There are benefits and drawbacks to having a boiler system in your home.

Boiler Pros

  • Boilers operate quieter than forced air systems.
  • They produce a strong, consistent heat.
  • Since boilers don’t circulate air, they won’t spread air pollutants.
  • Boilers humidify the air, which makes it feel warmer.

Boiler Cons

  • Boiler systems don’t use ducts, so they aren’t compatible with central air conditioning.
  • They take longer to heat a room after being signaled by a thermostat.
  • Installing a boiler is more complicated than a furnace.
  • Replacing a boiler system with a forced air system is incredibly complex.

Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling — your first choice for boilers

If your boiler is nearing the end of its lifespan — generally around 15 years — then the Needham team is ready to help. We sell, install and service high-efficiency boilers that will improve your home comfort and substantially lower your heating expenses.

We will talk to you to determine the right product for your home. Then, we will complete your boiler installation with as little disruption to your daily life as possible. We also have service plans to keep your system running efficiently for years to come!

Contact us today to receive a free estimate.