Home Inspector Picture of Radiator Newmarket and Oackville

Radiators: Steam versus Water A Home Inspector Perspective

APR 12, 2020

Overview of Boilers Both older and newer homes I have found boiler heating in use. The term boiler is generally applied to systems that transfer radiant heat throughout a home using water/steam as opposed to circulating forced air convection heat like a furnace. The name is left over from the days when all in home radiant heating systems used steam.

Both steam and hot water boilers are commonly found in older and newer homes and require similar care to other home heating systems. Boilers using steam are an older technology and date back to before household electricity was widely distributed. Because steam rises and distributes itself without the need of a pump heat could be spread throughout a home simply by having a network of pipes and radiators setup for the steam to go to. Once the steam condenses to water, releasing its heat to the target room the water uses gravity to flow back down to the boiler. With pumps, pressure controls and thermostats boilers no longer need to rely on steam for heat distribution in a home and instead use hot water.

Radiant Heating with Water in Your Home Modern boilers are more sophisticated and efficient and encompass a range of methods and applications for home climate control. Some key advances in technology include: -controlled burning environment to get higher heat transfer from fuel -pumps, valves and pressure controls to accurately monitor and distribute heat with hot water -smart thermostats to anticipate set point approach, reduce temperature when you aren’t home and give you more control -development of parallel monitored distribution systems which allow unique applications such as heating a driveway in the winter and putting heating in garage or household floors

Another added benefit to hot water systems over other forms of heating is the ability to create truly separate controlled heating zones in a home. The size of ductwork on a forced air system makes it very challenging to run parallel systems while maintaining pressure, whereas radiant heating lines can be branched off from each other near the source and control valves linked to thermostats to allow you more precise control over the heat in your home and improve your home’s overall efficiency.

Steam vs. Hot Water Boilers in Your Home Inspection Both steam and hot water boilers can be efficient methods to heat your home. Your General Home Inspection Report will describe the heating system in your home. Our home inspectors are educated and experienced with both steam and hot water systems and we will help guide you to understand the system in your home. Your report will include the make, model, year and type of your system. It will also include the location of the thermostat and the system performance given normal operating conditions.

As with any home climate control systems, components have a lifecycle and regular maintenance and inspection is recommended. Steam or hot water boilers may have failures in their burners, sensors or control components. If there is a problem with heat distribution in the home there may be an air bubble or flow problem in a line or radiator. If that is the case have a it professionally serviced, the may need to simply bleed the line.

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