Feeling chills in the air? Winter is coming. Now is the best time to assess your heating system and replace any aging or malfunctioning components. The very first thing to look at is your boiler—the most common heating source in any water or steam-based system. Boilers use natural gas, oil, water, electricity, propane or wood to create hot water or steam that heat up your home through radiators, baseboard convectors, radiant floors or fan-forced coils. Boilers are an essential way to stay warm in the cold months of the year.
There are various types of boilers available, including high-efficiency units designed to help homeowners rein in high heating costs. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, you may be able to achieve substantial savings by switching to a newer model. Our professionals are trained to provide you the best guidance in choosing the right unit for your home or business. We can handle the entire process for you while answering questions that arise along the way.
There are central-heating boilers that produce hot water or steam for radiators, baseboard heaters and underfloor heating systems. The boilers eliminate the dry, forced air of traditional furnaces, replacing it with moist heat that won’t dry out your home and skin. Buying a boiler represents a major investment and requires careful consideration to ensure the system will operate as intended. Consider the solid brand names that we offer: leaders such as Burnham, Weil McLain and Buderus.
Size up your new boiler based on heat loss, not by square footage. When shopping for a boiler, ignore the old rule-of-thumb sizing, as this generally results in a boiler too large for the home.
Size your boiler to replace the heat lost from your home through walls, ceilings, windows and other surfaces, using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America's "Manual J" guidelines. For example, a small home with 60 square feet of double-pane windows could lose 2,500 BTUs of heat per hour just through the windows, plus another 13,000 through walls and ceilings. Add in the capacity to cover heat lost through air leakage, and the home could require a boiler rated at 25,000 BTUs or greater.
Choose the highest annual fuel utilization efficiency available. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel your boiler uses is actually converted into heat, versus being wasted during combustion. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas boilers have a minimum AFUE rating of 80 to 82 percent, while oil-powered units have a minimum AFUE of 82 to 84 percent. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient and eco-friendly the boiler.
Decide whether you want an oil or gas-powered boiler. Gas prices traditionally tend to fluctuate less than oil prices. If you have access to a municipal gas line, install a gas boiler to save money on heating bills.
Just like the gas boiler, the oil boiler evenly distributes the wanted temperature throughout your home with the help of tubes installed behind your walls. However, the big difference between these two systems lies in startup method. Gas boilers need fire in order to work, while oil boilers use an oil-fired boiler to heat your home.
The gas boiler is able to spread the heat throughout your home – through tubes installed within your walls – and evenly distribute it in every room, with just one flick of a match. Though it does need the help of a flame to start heating your surroundings, it comes in a very easy to use system. By simply pushing a red button (for one minute) and lighting the pilot light, your home will be heated in no time.
Ask about combination boilers. Combination boilers incorporate water heating as well as home heating into a single appliance. If you plan to upgrade your hot water heater, these units can save you space and maximize convenience.
Stick with boilers that incorporate sealed combustion chambers that exhaust fumes directly to the outdoors.
Another consideration when shopping for a new boiler is selecting a venting system that will work within your home. Chimney-vented boilers exhaust naturally through a chimney, while power and direct-vent boilers use fans to push exhaust through a roof or side wall vent. Since power-vent boilers use air from inside, they can be installed only in open rooms, not in tight closets or crawl spaces. Condensing boilers have special venting requirements due to the acidity of the condensation that they produce.
If you need additional help or advice, do consider calling TriState Home Services, where we will be more than happy to assist you. We want to help you save on costs and provide you with premium service. If you’re in Frederick MD or in the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to call 866-624-5970 or visit our contact page.