Skip to Content

Hydronic Heating Basics: Getting to Know Your Boiler Heating System


Sponsored Content

Do you have a boiler heating system in your home for hydronic heating? Or, are you considering installing a boiler to replace your existing heating system? While boilers are often thought of as an old-fashioned heating method to those who live in the average suburban home with gas or electric furnaces, they are actually still in use today, particularly in the northeast United States and the mountain towns of Colorado. Many builders have the option to install central boiler systems in new models, as well as hydronic heating systems for floors, ceilings and more.

If you have a boiler, or are planning to replace your forced air furnace with hydro heat, this mini primer will provide you with the basics you need to make the most of the system and keep it in great condition.

What is a Boiler? How Does it Work?

A boiler is a type of heating system that uses steam heat or heated water that runs through enclosed pipes installed throughout the home. Hydronic piping is strong and designed to withstand the heat and pressure of the water or steam that runs through it.

  1. Water or steam is heated in the central boiler by running it through the boiler heat exchanger. This enclosed system heats the water safely before sending it out into the home. This method is the same whether you own a propane boiler, natural gas boiler or electric boiler.
  2. The water or steam is sent out into the piping that runs throughout your home.
  3. This water or steam is pumped to radiators located in various locations in the home. Some homeowners choose boiler baseboard heat instead of radiators. Others may choose to have the systems run hot water or steam through pipes in the floor, which is known as hydronic radiant floor heating.
  4. The water is circulated back through the boiler to begin its journey once again.

    If you have a boiler, or are planning to replace your forced air furnace with hydro heat, this mini primer will provide you with the basics you need to make the most of the system and keep it in great condition.

    Like any established heating system, there are both pros and cons to owning a boiler. We’ve broken down some of the most common praise and complaints that boiler owners have shared over the years during boiler installations and boiler replacement projects.
    Pro: Humidity – Boiler systems provide much-needed humidity in Colorado homes. It’s worth noting that humidity can make your home feel warmer in the winter than dry air, making it a double bonus.
    Con: Leaks – While leaks are incredibly rare, it is a potential issue for homeowners to consider. Fortunately, leaks typically occur around valves and seals, where they can be spotted and repaired.
    Pro: Energy efficient – Whether you choose a gas boiler service or an electric boiler heating system, you will find your energy bill is lower than forced air furnaces or electric space heaters. Forced air cools as it is distributed to the vents, as opposed to continuously heated water or steam, which heats the air around them throughout the home.
    Con: More difficult to install in existing homes – Anytime you want to add a new system to a home designed for a different system, you may incur additional expenses. Some homes are easier to transition than others, but all will require some adjustments.
    Pro: Low maintenance – A boiler system is fairly low maintenance due to the hot water boiler heating system piping being tightly enclosed.
    Con: When a boiler does break down, hydronic heating system components can be more expensive. When it comes to finding parts in a boiler vs. furnace scenario, furnace parts are more accessible because furnaces are more common.
    Pro: Radiant heat – Radiant heat creates lasting warmth. As long as the radiator is running, the temperature is steady. Radiant ceiling heaters, radiant heat floor panels and radiators themselves all create conditions that keep your home pleasantly warm.
    Con: Takes time to warm up and cool down – Boilers do take some time to warm up and reach that perfect temperature. Boiler owners know that the wait is worth it.

    How Do I Maintain My Boiler?

    One of the most common fears that customers express about installing a boiler or maintaining a radiant heat boiler is that the boiler will somehow explode, break or create dangerous conditions in the home. These perceptions are largely influenced by television, books and movies, where boilers break or cause damage with a frequency that is not in line with real boilers. Extolling the virtues of a boiler system really only works in episodes of This Old House, so most people won’t have the best perceptions of boilers if they’ve never owned one.

    Modern boilers are incredibly safe — no one has to run to the basement to release any pressure valves or monitor the system nonstop to prevent an issue. In fact, you can be a great boiler owner by following these simple steps:

    1. Bi-Annual Boiler Tune-Ups:
    Every homeowner knows that an ounce of prevention is far more affordable than a pound of cure. Paying for a licensed HVAC technician to inspect and maintain the boiler each year can save you thousands of dollars. A technician will examine the fittings, heating mechanisms, pressure and many other components and systems to ensure your boiler is running properly. If nothing is wrong, you’ve given yourself peace of mind that your boiler has a clean bill of health to begin another Colorado winter.

    2. Keep your boiler room clean and well-ventilated:
    Give your boiler room to work and breathe by not cluttering the space around it. Don’t create a space that traps moisture or damages the boiler from the outside in.

    3. Do not let problems with the boiler linger:
    If you notice leaking, low heat output or any other problems with your boiler, call a professional to troubleshoot the problem immediately. A simple, affordable issue can rapidly become expensive and damaging if left unattended. This is especially true for leaks and low pressure problems.

    Call Flow Right for All Your Boiler Needs

    Do you have an existing boiler you would like inspected or serviced? Are you interested in an estimate for installing a whole-home boiler system or a minor system, such as heated deck floors? Would you like to replace your existing hydro heat system with a high efficiency boiler? Our expert HVAC and Hydronic Heating professionals are here to help. Call Flow Right today to discuss your needs and learn more about your options.
Article Topic Follows: House & Home

KRDO Administrator


KRDO NewsChannel 13 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content