Home & Garden Maintenance & Repairs

How Does a Boiler Operate?

    Main Features

    • Most boilers operate through the use of some kind of fuel, whether it be natural gas, oil or wood pellets. Boilers convert these fuels into energy that dispenses heat throughout a room or home. But the actual operation of a boiler is a very complex system that not only requires knowledge of correct usage but also of proper maintenance to ensure the boiler's efficiency. Operating a boiler incorrectly can decrease its efficiency and can also create potentially lethal problems.


    • Boilers operate in two stages. The first stage is the simplest. This is when the actual fuel is supplied to the boiler. There are different ways in which this is done, depending on the type of fuel being used. For instance, natural gas is supplied through gas pipes, while oil is supplied from outside the home in a pressurized tank. Wood pellets are placed in the actual burner, either by being blown or screwed into it. The second phase in operating a boiler is igniting the fuel. This is done when the air is mixed with the fuel and lit. For a boiler to work correctly, the right amount of air must be introduced into the boiler. Too much air creates an excess of oxygen that won't combust, thus decreasing the boiler's productivity and allowing heat to escape through the chimney. But an incomplete combustion of fuel can happen if too little air is introduced into the boiler, releasing dangerous carbon monoxide gases. So creating the right balance of fuel and air is extremely important in operating a boiler.

    Distribution and Efficiency

    • Once the fuel is ignited, the flames and the gases fill the boiler, heating the water circulating in the boiler. The water consumes the heat and combustible gases, converting it into energy that spreads throughout the house's radiators and heaters. If the boiler is in a good working condition, the gases will safely escape through a chimney or vent.

      Of course, a boiler is efficient if it is in good operating condition. Boilers are greatly affected and won't operate as well if they are cluttered with dirt and soot. The design of the boiler, the ratio of air and fuel introduced into boiler at time of ignition, the boiler's cleanliness and effective, clean, well-sealed insulation will also affect is operation.

      Thus, maintaining a clean boiler (which might require having it serviced by professionals) is extremely important and could also be life saving. Maintaining the correct temperature in the boiler is also important. While extremely hot temperatures will heat the water in the heat exchanger faster, thus distributing heat to radiators at a faster rate, it can also decrease efficiency.

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