Boilers work hard to keep your home heated properly. However, boilers often get the short end of the stick. Either they’re referred to as a furnace, ignored until they break, or forgotten about until the first snow of the year.
Boilers are one home appliance that shouldn’t be neglected, especially since most of their problems don’t occur suddenly. Boiler repairs are also often pricey and can be prevented with the right care. The following 6 facts show the importance of regular boiler maintenance.
1. The boiler accounts for almost half of the energy bill. Energy consumption varies based on location. The U.S. Department of Energy found that 48 percent of the average home’s energy went to heating and cooling. While seasonal usage tends to move this number around throughout the year, it’s primarily the boiler. The Department also found that up to 35 percent of the heat generated in your home is wasted if the unit isn’t working efficiently.
2. Boiler maintenance changes based on season. During spring and summer, you’re probably not concerned about the boiler. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep the boiler in mind even during its downtime.
In the spring or summer, perform the following boiler maintenance tips to avoid a major breakdown when the system is back up and running:
- Check for any leaks
- Repair or replace the heating tubes
- Check-up on the gaskets
- Run the boiler periodically to avoid rusting
When you start to feel a fall breeze, have a technician perform another cleaning. By doing so, you’re ensuring another successful winter by bringing any problems to light before it gets too cold.
If you decide to have the boiler serviced only once a year, it’s best to have it done during autumn.
3. Most boilers don’t actually boil water. Many people are surprised to learn that their boiler probably doesn’t boil water. If your home was built after 1950, then the boiler more than likely doesn’t boil water to create heat. Even if your home was built after 1950, the heating unit may be upgraded to remove the steam producing boiler.
In a radiant boiler system, heated water is distributed throughout your home to keep it warm. As the water passes through tubes under the floor, it releases heat to the surrounding area and then the water is sent back to the boiler to repeat the process.
This is a highly effective form of central heating because hot air rises. The heat from the water is released from the floor, and then rises up so the entire room is evenly heated. In a steam based central heating unit, rooms can be heated unevenly and the heating is much less efficient.
4. Boilers don’t waste water. Boilers work in a closed loop system. This means the water used to heat your home is reused in the system. The boiler burns fuel in order to heat the heat exchanger that’s connected to a pipe carrying cold water.
The heat exchanger warms this cold water, and then sends it through piping in your home. Because the water is in a continuous loop, the boiler must constantly be working within this cycle, thus it’s never truly wasted.
If this was not a closed loop cycle, it’d be highly inefficient, as you’d have to constantly refill the boiler with water whenever you wanted heat.
5. Upgrading the boiler can improve efficiency, save money, and help the environment. As Warner Service mentioned earlier, your home could be wasting as much as 35 percent of generated heat. By upgrading to a high-efficiency boiler, you can reduce wasted heat and cut fuel costs.
This a two-fold benefit. Your home gets more heat, and you save money. Some homeowners found that upgrading their boiler cut their bill by as much as 50 percent.
High-efficiency boilers preheat the cold water before it enters the system, limiting the amount of fuel being wasted and increasing overall efficiency.
Another benefit to high-efficiency boilers is the greener energy they produce. One example of this can be found in the piping. Traditional boilers require a chimney to release fuel exhaust. Modern, high efficiency boilers use PVC pipes in order to limit necessary resources and remove the exhaust. High-efficiency boilers also take up less space.
6. The color of the pilot light matters. If working properly, the boiler’s flame should be a clear blue color. If the boiler’s flame is a different color, it shouldn’t be ignored.
- A yellow or orange color is a sign of inefficient fuel or carbon monoxide.
- A red color is a sign of tar, oil, or dust in the HVAC system.
If you notice the pilot light isn’t blue, immediately call a technician.
Now that you know a little more about boilers, see how yours is doing. Giving the unit a quick check-up can save you time, money, and headaches down the road.