Depending on the age of your home, you may rely on a boiler system to keep it warm. Generally speaking, older homes in the Boston area are those that are most likely to rely on this type of heating.
A boiler is a specially designed water heater that distributes heat in hot water and passes it through radiators placed throughout a home. From there, the cooler water makes its way back to the boiler, where it’s heated once again.[i]
Note: steam boilers are not as common, but you may also find these in older homes. With these, water is boiled and steam is carried throughout the house to warm it.
If you have a boiler system, you may not know the first thing about how it works. However, it never hurts to gain some common knowledge. These details are important:
There is No Fan or Ductwork
With a traditional HVAC system, a fan and ductwork distribute air to warm and cool your home. But with a boiler system, there’s neither.
Instead, boilers use a pump to circulate water through a piping system to radiators that are placed throughout the home.
There are Many Parts
Even though a boiler system doesn’t seem as complex as a conventional furnace, there are many parts. These include but are not limited to:
- Valves to regulate water temperature and circulation
There is More than One Type
Just the same as conventional furnaces, there is more than one type of boiler. The most common are condensing gas-fired boilers. These are more common for many reasons, including the fact that they’re more efficient than other options.
On the other side of the spectrum you’ll find oil-fired condensing boilers. These are few and far between in the United States, due to their inefficiency and risks associated with use.
Are You Buying a Home with a Boiler System?
Boston is known for its diverse real estate market, with many older homes coveted by buyers. If you’re in the market for one of these properties, don’t let a boiler system scare you away.
Even if you’re not familiar with how it works, you’ll eventually catch on. After all, as long as everything is going as planned, all you have to do is adjust the thermostat to suit your needs.
Tip: hire an HVAC professional to inspect the boiler system. Even if you have some working knowledge of these systems, it’s important to dig around for potential issues.
Final Thoughts on Boiler Systems
If you’re building a new home, you’re not likely to choose a boiler system to heat it. However, if you’re buying a home, you may come across one of these systems in a property that’s on your shortlist.