How Does a Boiler Work?

January 17, 2023
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How boilers work depends on the type of boiler you have. The function of a boiler is to transfer heat to water. Most boiler systems (again, it depends on the type) heat water to produce steam and this steam is used to heat your home.

In this article, we will explore the different types of boilers and how they work to keep your home comfortable all year round.

How a Boiler Works: A Quick Summary

If you don’t want to spend five minutes reading this article, we totally get it. Not everyone is as excited about boilers as we are and that’s okay. But you still want to know how a boiler works. So, here’s a quick summary of how your boiler works:

  • Typically, if it’s set-up correctly, your home’s thermostat will sense a drop in temperature and this triggers your boiler to turn on. 
  • When your boiler powers on, it either uses oil, gas, or electricity to heat water. Once heated, this water is either distributed around your home or it is heated past boiling point and turned into steam.
  • Once heated, this water and or steam travels via pipes throughout your home to deliver heat where it’s needed (radiators, heated floor systems, hot water taps, showers, baths, etc).
  • The water or steam will travel throughout your home until it cools, at which point it travels back to the boiler to be reheated.
  • Your boiler will continue this process until your home reaches the set temperature on your thermostat, at which point your boiler will turn itself off.

Boilers provide heating and hot water to your home in one of two ways; via hot water or steam. Boiler systems that heat hot water use an electric pump to push that hot water around your home - feeding it through your central heating pipes and out your taps. While steam boilers heat water past its boiling point to produce steam which is then distributed around your home to keep it warm.

Simple, right? Like we said, those are just the highlights of how boilers work. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty because the exact details depend on the type of boiler system you have.

The Types of Boiler Systems

There are many different types of boilers and they all suit different properties. The boiler system you have will depend on the type of property you live in, the number of occupants, as well as your heating and hot water needs. The most common and popular boilers are:

  • Regular boilers
  • System boilers
  • Combi boilers

What boiler do I have?

How Do Regular Boilers Work?

Regular or standard boilers use different tanks to heat and store water. The cold water tank collects water from the mains supply and stores it until hot water is needed. When the boiler turns on, the cold water tank sends water to the hot water tank, where it is heated before being distributed around your home. If you don’t use all the hot water available, what’s leftover is sent to the expansion tank where it is stored for later use.

How Do System Boilers Work?

System boilers require a boiler system and a hot water cylinder to work. If you have a system boiler, it provides heating and hot water to your home by heating water directly from the mains. This heated water is used to warm your radiators. It is also used to fill a water cylinder (often found in your loft) so that hot water can be supplied to your taps and shower.

How Do Combi Boilers Work?

Combi boilers, otherwise known as combination boilers, provide hot water on demand. This means there is no need for hot or cold water storage tanks - saving you space in your loft. Combi boilers heat water directly from the mains whenever you need, providing you with hot water on-demand. It’s a very energy-efficient and cost-efficient way of heating your home.

What Do Thermostats Do?

You probably have a central heating thermostat in your home. There are several types to choose from - some with more whistles and bells than others. However, the most basic thermostats are controlled manually. In other words, you can turn them on or off when you feel too cold or too warm. 

Thermostats are used to control the temperature in your home. Some thermostats can be programmed to turn the boiler on or off at certain times of day, maintaining a comfortable temperature. You can also set your thermostat to your preferred temperature so that when the room becomes colder than the set temperature, your boiler will switch on automatically and bring the heating back up again. Thermostats are a great way to take control of your energy usage and save money on your bills. 

Considering a New Boiler?

Are you considering a new boiler for your home? We hope this article has provided a little more insight into different boilers and how they work. If you would like to discuss the best boiler for your property and budget, we’d be happy to help. Get in touch with us or request your free new boiler quote today.

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