HEATING WITH BOILERS
Hillestad Heating and Cooling installs and repairs boilers! Give us a call to find out if a boilers system is right for your home or business.
Excellence. Ingenuity. Efficiency. Three distinct qualities that have made Triangle Tube an industry leader. For over 60 years, we’ve provided innovative ideas to the North American heating and hot water industry; for residential, commercial and industrial applications. We proudly offer a complete line of stainless steel hot water heating products. Each of our carefully designed, peak performing products reflects an abiding concern for sustainability and low ownership cost.
You’ll enjoy all the benefits of heating with oil in addition to saving money with AFUEs of 87%. Buderus brings you an ingenious combination: a modern, environmentally-friendly oil boiler plus the ultra-efficiency of cutting-edge technology.
Hillestad specializes in assisting property owners with all heating and cooling needs. We offer 24/7 service for your peace of mind. We can offer preventative maintenance agreements or on an as-needed basis. We are perfect for owners and managers that travel or reside elsewhere. Let us take care of your guests or tenants to ensure proper air quality and comfort. Call us today for a free estimate or to discuss your HVACR property maintenance needs.
Information On Boilers
We’ll discuss this type of heat somewhat vaguely, because these systems can vary from one extreme to another. It would take up the size of a large book to describe these types of systems you wanted to get into the finer details.
Older systems (50 years old) that use radiators may be hot water or steam. Some people don’t know the difference, and the differences can be huge.
For residential situations, steam heating systems are no longer installed as new. So maintaining these systems is very important. Hillestad has a lot of existing customers who still use this form of heat, so we are very familiar with these systems. Customers often ask about high efficiency steamers. There are no high-efficiency replacement steam boilers on the market.
Since steam boilers have been around over 200 years they are commonly found in older homes. Steamers are simple, yet they are a little more finicky to operate. A steam boiler is similar to a hot water boiler in that, like a hot water boiler, the steam boiler also relies upon radiators in each room.
However, a steam boiler will usually use a large cast iron radiator instead of a steel or baseboard convection device.
Steam boilers operate like a boiling tea kettle or pressure cooker. As water heats to a boil it builds pressure as it reaches the state of steam. Unlike hot water boilers which rely upon a pump to circulate the hot water, steam boilers use this pressure to move the steam through the piping system.
The piping system of a steam boiler is usually a one-pipe or two-pipe system. One-pipe (or single-pipe) systems were historically most common due to simplicity and economy in construction. A single-pipe system uses the same piping to supply steam to a radiator and to collect return water as it condensates from a steam state after going through the radiator.
However, the one-pipe system has its limitations. You cannot control or close off steam to an individual radiator since that would trap condensate in the radiator, and the one-pipe system has limited ability to provide higher volumes of steam (and therefore heat).
One-pipe steam systems are vented (the vents or valves are found on the sides of the radiators) and their purpose is to allow cold air to be pushed out ahead of the steam through the radiator vents during a heating cycle.
This “breathing” provides the characteristic pipe banging and hissing sounds of a one-pipe steam boiler system.
The radiator vents for single-pipe systems come in different sizes to allow different amounts of air to escape from the radiator at different rates, necessary for the system to be balanced . Balancing the system involves adjusting the rate of steam flow provided to the radiators so steam reaches each radiator roughly at the same time. Larger vents are generally used at the end of long pipe runs (commonly known as mains) and in colder rooms. Smaller air vents are used nearer the steam boiler and in rooms which have a thermostat.
Two-pipe systems, more commonly found on hot water boilers and newer steam boiler systems have a separate supply piping line to the radiators and a separate return piping line back from the radiators to the boiler. Vents are only installed on the piping to and from the steam boiler, not the radiators. Steam rises from the supply side of the radiator (the radiator steam supply valve is on this side) and pushes air and condensate out through the return or condensate drain side of the radiator.
Hot Water Boilers
Water-based boilers are by far the most common boiler used. Recently they have had an upswing in popularity due to the increased use and installation of in-floor radiant heating systems. A simple way of thinking of how these systems work is to think of the system like a road map where water is being moved on a predetermined route. Like a city with roads, gas stations, cars, and stop signs, a boiler system has roads (piping), gas stations (the boiler), stop signs (zone valves and or pumps), and of course cars (water).
Water is a great piece of the system. It is readily available, non-toxic, and non-flammable, and has a great heat storage availability.
Many years ago, boilers were designed without electricity. These systems used the principal of hot water rising, allowing denser cooler water to travel back down to the boiler, usually in a basement, the lowest point of the system.
To explain how today’s hydronic systems work lets begin with the water. The boiler should be connected to the building’s water supply. Here it enters a backflow preventer. The purpose of this device is exactly what it sounds like. It allows water to enter the system but not re-enter the fresh water supply. Who wants to shower in or drink boiler water.
The next stage the water should traverse is a pressure reducing valve (PRV). When a system falls below its predetermined operating pressure, the PRV allows water to enter system. A boiler must have a little pressure on the system. Usually 15 psi for a single story house.
Once the water has entered the system, let’s start the heat cycle at the boiler. Here’s where the cooler water takes on the heat. Usually the pump is near the boiler. And it’s better to have the pump located so it’s pumping cooler water INTO the boiler. Almost all of today’s systems use pumps to transfer the fluid (heat), from the boiler to the heat emitter (usually a radiator). This is the scenario where homes with multiple thermostats will have multiple pumps or zone valves.
Other common items found on a boiler system:
Expansion tank: A place for water to move to once it is heated.
Air separator: All water contains entrained oxygen. This removes the air.
Relief valve: Prevents over-pressurizing a system.
Check valve: Allows water to flow only in one direction.
As stated earlier, there’s really too much to describe in this limited website format. If own a building with a boiler, our advice is to schedule a service technician to visit your house or business, and discuss your system. You should be familiar where shut-offs are in case of an emergency. And above all else, make sure the valves are in working order. There’s nothing worse than a frozen pipe bursting at 1 AM causing dirty boiler water to spray all over your new carpet, or worse yet flooding the basement. With this in mind, it is very important to know how to turn off the water to your boiler system BEFORE you have an emergency.