So, you're a new homeowner and for the first time in your life, you own a boiler. If you're like many people, you don't know the first thing about boilers--what they are, what their purpose is or how they're different from other home heat sources. These frequently asked questions and answers will help you understand what your boiler does and why it's such a great appliance.

Q: What is a boiler?

A: A boiler is a home heating system that turns water into steam for different purposes in the house. Boilers can use steam to push heat through radiant heat systems, forced air heating, and the hot water that runs through the hot water pipes of your house.

Q: What's the difference between a boiler and a furnace? What's the difference between a boiler and a water heater?

A: A boiler serves more functions than either a furnace or a water heater--in fact, a boiler can be both systems at once. Having one boiler effectively eliminates the need to have two separate heating systems to provide warm water and warm air to the house. 

Q: The boiler in my new home is getting up there in years. How will I know when it needs to be replaced?

A: Boilers can last about 15 years (give or take). When your boiler nears the end of its lifespan, you'll notice problems like:

  • Strange noises
  • Humidity in the house
  • Uneven distribution of heat in the house
  • Frequent breakdowns or need for repair

If your boiler is older but still runs perfectly well, schedule normal maintenance for your boiler and assume everything is well unless your HVAC professional tells you otherwise.

Q: What should I do to maintain my boiler?

A: Your boiler will require only two things from you, its owner:

  1. Bleed the radiators on an annual basis. To bleed the radiators, place a bucket directly beneath the bleed valve. Next, open the bleed valve using a special key (called a "bleed key"). As you do this, you'll hear a hiss of air as it escapes from inside the radiator. When water begins to run out of the radiator and into the bucket, the bleed is done. Turn the bleed key to close the valve and throw out the water in the bucket. 
  2. Schedule annual tuneups with an experienced HVAC professional. This is especially important for older boilers, but all boilers need annual maintenance. 

For more information, contact Boiler Services, Inc. or a similar company.