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Boiler FAQs

Is Water Needed in a Boiler System?

The most common heating medium for a boiler is water. However, with full cast iron constructed systems and newer closed systems, antifreeze coolant can be used instead of water. Of course, the actual coolant used in your boiler will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the current condition of your boiler. Your technician can help you determine if this is a necessary step to take and if your boiler can handle the added pressure of antifreeze in the system.

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How Hot Does a Boiler Get?

While it’s called a “boiler”, your heating system doesn’t actually heat the water to boiling temperature. The average supply temperature for a baseboard or radiator based heating system is around 180°F. In some cases, however, you can safely lower the supply temperature to save money in heating costs. You should discuss the implications of changing the temperature of your boiler with your technician.

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I’d Like to Change the Fuel Type for My Boiler – Is that Possible?

This is a very common question and most of the time the answer is no. There are a select few brands that are capable of conversion between gas and oil heat if necessary, however the general cost of these systems is significantly higher than for most other boilers – therefore making them unattractive as a realistic replacement for your current system.

The reason you cannot switch is due to the necessities of each fuel source. Gas in particular is a very volatile fuel and requires careful controls for safe operation. Additionally, gas is a vapor and oil is a liquid – that means they each burn in different ways. Avoid any systems or suggestions that claim you can convert your current boiler to another fuel source. Such modifications are not considered safe and are never approved of by the manufacturers.

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Should I Worry About CO?

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas that results in hundreds of deaths each year, often due to a lack of safety precautions. It is produced by the burning of fuel in your boiler, therefore you need to monitor constantly to make sure the exhaust stays in the exhaust pipes. A small leak can release enough CO to potentially harm you and your family.

To make sure you are safe, you should have a carbon monoxide detector installed both in your boiler room and on each floor of your home. You should also check the batteries on a monthly basis to make sure your system is working.

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How Big Does My Boiler Need to Be?

There are a number of factors to consider when sizing a boiler for your home, but mostly it depends on the total number of square feet you need to heat and the quality of your home’s insulation. To determine these factors, a qualified technician needs to perform a heat load calculation. This involves calculating the effect of your insulation, square footage, windows, distribution system and other factors into your overall heating needs. The age, output and efficiency of your current boiler may also be taken into account.

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Will a New Boiler Be Louder?

This depends on a number of factors. Extremely old boilers will be much louder, but if your previous boiler is only 15-20 years old, you may notice small increases in noise with a brand new model due to faster internal operation (designed to reduce fuel use and improve efficiency). In general, even if your system is slightly louder, the trade off in reduced fuel consumption is well worth it.

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