How Does a Boiler WorkThough furnaces are more popular, there’s no doubt boilers are the most efficient way to heat your home. To understand how a boiler works, you need to know a little about radiant heating. Radiant heat is what powers the Earth. Conduction transfers heat directly from one object to another, like cooking on a stove. Convection transfers heat indirectly, by circulating warm air or water.

By contrast, radiant heat transfers energy by emitting photons. If an object is hotter than its surroundings, it radiates heat. If it’s less hot, it absorbs it. When you step outside, the warmth you feel is radiant heat from the sun. Boilers harness this same type of heat to warm your home.

How Does a Boiler Work?

A boiler is similar to a furnace in many ways. When you turn up your thermostat, it activates the gas valve in your boiler. (Most boilers use natural gas, though some use electricity. A small number still use oil.) At the same time, the igniter switch begins to spark, which lights the burners as the gas is released. Then the flames are drawn into the heat exchanger by the induction fan, which also blows exhaust fumes out through the chimney.

At this point, in a furnace, the fan would begin circulating air through the exchanger. In a boiler, a water pump activates instead. Boilers work by pumping hot water through your home. First, the water absorbs energy as it passes through the heat exchanger. Then it travels through your pipes to radiators and baseboard heaters, where the accumulated heat radiates out into the room.

Loops of copper piping inside the radiator ensure the water discharges all its heat before returning to the boiler to begin the journey all over again. Instead of radiators, some boiler systems install piping under the floor. This spreads heat evenly throughout the room, eliminating hot and cold zones produced by radiators.

Electric boilers  have no gas valves, ignition switches, or burners. Instead, electricity flows through a heating coil, which warms the water in the exchanger before it’s pumped out into your home.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Boiler?

Because water absorbs four times as much heat as air, boilers heat your home faster. In this instance, speed also produces savings. The less time your heating system runs, the less you pay in energy costs. Boilers are also healthier and easier to maintain. They don’t blow dust and dander around your home and have fewer moving parts, which reduces mechanical stress.

On the other hand, boiler systems are expensive to install, which is why so few homes have them. Builders prefer furnaces, which have fewer upfront costs. There’s also a danger the pipes could freeze and burst in cold climates. Burst pipes can cause extensive water damage and are difficult to repair, especially if they’re located underneath your floorboards.

Protecting Your Boiler

Heating systems often fail when you need them most. Don’t let a breakdown keep you from staying warm this winter. Make sure you’re covered with a HomesentialTM warranty. Every boiler wears down eventually, and while homeowners insurance doesn’t cover these types of failures, we do. There are no service fees or deductibles. Just reliable support to get your systems back up and running as soon as possible. Start shopping for coverage today!