A boiler is a closed pressure vessel where water or any liquid is heated resulting in steam and vapor. The steam and vapor are extremely hot and used for various applications and processes for commercial, residential, and utility industries. For example, heating your home, generating power, and processing commercial products and materials like paper, food, and more.

It is usually powered by gas or electricity. The size varies and depends on how you are going to use the boiler. Want to learn more about boilers? Read on!

How does Boiler work?

A boiler is a very efficient and powerful boiler heating system used both for commercial and residential purposes. Depending on your boilers, it can also effectively send hot water to your faucets and showerheads through your radiators. This provides not only hot water but also heating for your home.

How the boiler provides heating and hot water

  1. Your boiler and thermostat are connected. When the temperature drops, the thermostat will send a signal to your boiler to turn on.
  2. Depending on the type of boiler you are using, it will need oil, gas, and electricity to turn on and produce heat.
  3. It will start to heat the water inside the boiler.
  4. The heated steam or water is sent through the house, warming your home. Heated steam or water is sent through radiators or radiant floors (depending on what you use).
  5. When the water cools down or steam condenses, it will travel back to your boiler and go back to the heating process. After it is heated, it will go back to your house, warming the air again.
  6. This process will continue and repeat until the temperature inside your house reaches the set temperature. When it does, the thermostat will send a signal to your boiler to turn off.

Different types of Boiler

There are various types of boilers for different applications. Let’s talk about the main ones: conventional, condensing, and combi-boiler.

Conventional Boiler

Conventional boilers are also called heat-only boilers. They are commonly used in residential homes as a heater. A cold-water tank and a hot-water cylinder should be added with conventional boilers for water storage and to provide proper heating throughout the house. The cold water tank is connected to your house’s main water line. 

These units are designed with a feed and expansion tank that helps maintain the water level inside. The cold water enters the tank through the feed until the water level reaches the desired level. This tank helps deal with the expansion and pressure that happens inside the boiler when the water is heated. In addition, it also replaces the water lost when evaporation happens or if there is any leaking.

Conventional boilers can be fitted with a backup immersion heater. This addition to your boiler will provide hot water to your home. If you want to have this addition, I highly suggest calling professional boiler service providers to help you out.

Condensing Boiler

A condensing boiler is usually run by gas or oil. This type of boiler is known to be more energy-efficient compared to the conventional boiler.

When the thermostat sends the signal to the boiler to turn on, the burner will turn on, heating the water. The heat moves to your primary heat exchanger and stays there as long as possible to increase the temperature. The heat accumulated will be passed through the radiators.

Here is what makes condensing boilers more energy-efficient. The heat produced travels to a secondary condensing area and heats the cold water. What happens is warm air starts condensing resulting in droplets or vapor. These droplets or vapors are all collected and disposed of through a drain.

Condensing boilers are specifically designed to recover and recycle the heat produced before losing it rather than straight disposing of them. Which decreases the energy used to heat the cold water inside your tanks.

Combi Boiler

A combi boiler provides heating and hot water without the need for additional cylinders and tanks. This type of boiler has two independent heat exchangers, one for your radiators and another one for your hot water supply. 

Because combi boilers don’t have tanks or cylinders, they are always on standby. Meaning, they do not store any water and will provide heating and hot water on demand, just like your tankless water heaters. When the thermostat sends the signal or when your faucet turns on, the boiler will turn on and the burner will start. It will heat the water from your water pipes and instantly send it to your faucets. The main disadvantage of combi boilers is they cannot provide hot water and heating at the same time. 

If you are looking for an efficient water heater and home heating system, combi boilers are for you.

Key considerations when buying a boiler

Boilers are not cheap. They are expensive and need maintenance. However, they will provide the heating that your home needs. Some can even provide both heating and hot water. But how can you make sure the one you are buying is the right one for you and your home?

Here are 6 points you need to consider before buying that boiler:

  • \Type: There are various types of boilers in the market. Just choose the type that your family needs. For example, do you need a heating system only or would you like to add a hot water function as well?
  • \Capacity: The boiler you choose should be able to meet the demands of your household. If there are only 2 people in your household, it is best to go for a smaller boiler.
  • \Efficiency: If you are replacing your old boiler, there is a huge chance it will save you a lot when your monthly utility bills arrive. Newer models are designed to be more energy-efficient which will help you save a lot.
  • \Maintenance: Just like any equipment, boilers need proper maintenance. When you are choosing the boiler for your home, I highly suggest checking how it is maintained to have an idea.
  • \Size & Installation:Installing a boiler cannot be done by amateurs. DO NOT attempt to install them yourself. Hire a professional to properly install your boiler. A lot of manufacturers tend to claim that the installation was not done right to avoid damage claims. To avoid this from happening, hire an expert and licensed heating services like MidCity Plumbers.
  • \Price:There are times when the price of a product is directly proportional to the quality. So be sure to look for boilers with fair pricing and within your budget.

Helpful tips to maintain a boiler

Boilers are expensive and a big investment. That is why proper maintenance is needed. Here are some tips to help prolong the life expectancy and ensure your boiler works properly:

1. Bleed the radiators at least once a year

Over time, air can be trapped inside your radiators. These pockets of air prevent the radiator from fully heating up because of cold pockets of air. It is best to release or bleed your radiator at least once a year to release this trapped air.

2. Check the radiators

The common problem that radiators have is that the top part will get hot but the bottom is cold. The reason behind this is that there is debris and dirt accumulated at the bottom part hindering it from heating. Contact your heating specialist or engineer to help you flush out the dirt and debris stuck at the bottom.

3. Balance the radiators

It can greatly help heat the room or home evenly.

4. Get the boiler serviced every year

To ensure your boiler is always in its tip-top shape, it is best to have its services at least once a year. It can help increase its life expectancy, work properly, keep your monthly heating utility cost low, and ensure the boiler is still under the manufacturer’s warranty.

5. Do safety checks for your boiler

To make sure there are no problems with your boiler, you can do regular checking yourself. Do not touch electrical connections, flue, or the combustion system. Check if the fan is working properly and the seals are all intact.

FortisBC rebate

To qualify for the FortisBC rebates for your boiler, it should be an eligible ENERGY STAR boiler. Here are the following requirements:

  1. You must be a FortisBC customer.
  2. The home should be a primary residence for at least 12 months.
  3. Applications can only be sent within 6 months after the paid invoice date.
  4. The boiler should be installed by a professional and licensed contractor with a GST number and valid B.C. business license.
  5. Your existing natural gas heater should be at least 10 years old.
  6. Your boiler MUST be an eligible ENERGY STAR boiler with a two-pipe direct vent system.
  7. The system should undergo commissioning to make sure it is installed and operates according to best practices. A copy of the commission sheet should be available upon request.
  8. The boiler should be your main heat source.