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Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog

Northern Virginia Boiler FAQ: How Do Boilers Work?

Here at Polar Bear, we advise our customers to place boilers on their list of potential heating systems to install in their homes. Modern boilers provide some tremendous advantages: low cost installation, energy-efficient performance, even heating, quiet operation, improved air quality, durability, and longevity. In Northern Virginia, a boiler is one of your best options for a comfortable and cozy home all the way through to spring.

But how exactly does a boiler work? Here’s something you probably didn’t know: there are few boilers today that do any “boiling.” Older models operate from steam, but the modern ones use hot water to heat your home. We’ll give you a rundown on how these boilers work, and this information will help you understand better why boilers are good heating options.

Boilers can run off a variety of fuel sources: natural gas, electricity, and oil are the most common. We’re going to focus on the type we see the most often in homes, the gas-powered boiler, in this post.

A boiler uses a tank full of water that it heats up and then sends into your house to raise the temperature in your living space. A pilot light ignites gas jets in a combustion chamber located underneath the water tank. These jets raise the temperature of the water—although not to the point of boiling into steam the way old systems used to do. A pump them moves the hot water through pipes.

The hot water eventually reaches an end point, usually a radiator or a baseboard heater, where heat then radiates into your home. (This is why boilers won’t lower the air quality in your house: they use radiant heat instead of forced air moved through ducts that can become dirty.) The cooled-down water from the terminal point then returns to the tank, where the process of heating it starts again.

We recommend homeowners look into gas-powered boilers—especially if they already have a natural gas supply hooked to their house—because they are among the most efficient and energy-friendly heating options available today. Our heating experts at Polar Bear also perform oil-to-gas conversions to help you get the highest efficiency from your current boiler. When you need help with your boiler, the Northern Virginia specialists at Polar Bear are ready to give you the assistance you need.

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