How Do Home Boiler Systems Work?

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Homeowners have diverse options when installing central heating in the home. All central heating systems generate heat in a centralised place and then must distribute that heat throughout the home. Water can serve as one medium for heat transfer as an alternative to air. However, the water's job is ultimately to transfer heat to the air in the radiators.


Boilers rely on water to heat up homes and transfer heat energy. Boilers have heating elements that are powered by either propane, natural gas, electricity or oil. When the thermostat tells the boiler to come on, a valve opens up and lets the fuel into the combustion chamber with the help of jets. An ignition system ignites the fuel and generates the heat needed to warm up the water. With the electric systems, electricity passes through the heating element, raising the temperature of the element and the water surrounding the element. The boiler continually reheats water so that the home stays warm. Some heating elements, mostly those that use oil or propane fuel, have the heating element outside of the transfer medium. Other boilers, especially electric ones, have the heating element submerged in the transfer medium.

Heat Circulation

Boilers are either hot water or steam. The hot water boilers do not take up as much space in the home, require little maintenance and produce heat more efficiently. These boilers heat up the water and then pumps circulate this water throughout the home. The heated water warms up the radiators, which release heated air into the home, raising the temperature. The condensing boilers are the most energy efficient because they can recover the majority of the heat generated by the boiler.

Steam Boilers

Due to concerns over energy efficiency, fewer homes use steam boilers. Also, these boilers have more complex parts, so they are more likely to break down. The heating element turns the water into steam and the water then travels through pipes. As the steam heats up the home, the steam turns back into water and travels down to the boiler where the boiler heated the water up again. These boilers are not as precise when maintaining the temperature of the home, compared to the hot water boilers.


The thermostat that regulates the boiler acts as a thermometer with a switch. When the thermometer detects that the temperature has dropped below a certain point, the thermometer activates the boiler to raise the temperature of the home. You can also install thermostats on your radiators that allow you to control the individual temperatures of each room. When one radiator switches off, the other radiators heat up faster, allowing the boiler to shut off sooner, which saves energy.


Homeowners can turn the radiators on or off if they do not want a particular home area of the home heated up. When switched off, the radiator simply does not allow water to pass through the pipes. The radiators usually have screws that you can turn up or down.

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