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Boilers, Burners & Furnaces

Boilers, Burners and Furnaces: How Do They Work?

Knowing how your home is heated helps you understand what is going on if you need a boiler, burner or furnace repair. Also, by knowing how your system works, you’ll have better ideas about how you can increase your comfort and save money.

How your boiler works

If you have a hot water (hydronic) system, water circulates around your boiler’s combustion chamber. A circulator pumps the hot water through pipes to heat baseboards or radiators. Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again.

Steam systems work similarly except they generate steam, which rises up to radiators (no circulators are needed). A low water cut-off shuts down the boiler if water levels drop too low, preventing boiler damage.
With a boiler, you can cut your water heating costs and have as much hot water as you want by adding an indirect-fired oil water heater.

How your furnace works

A furnace is the heating unit in a warm air system (sometimes called a forced air system). After air is heated in the furnace, a blower forces it into a duct system and it is released through vents or registers on floors, walls or ceilings.

Besides heat, the ductwork that connects with your furnace can provide other kinds of conditioned air. For example, you can:

How your oil burner works

The burner is part of your boiler or furnace. Liquid oil must be mixed with air and turned into a vapor before it can burn. When the oil reaches the burner’s nozzle, it’s broken into small droplets. This process is called atomizing. The oil burner takes the droplets, vaporizes them and then mixes them with air.

How efficiently this is done depends on the design of the burner. The newest burners contain electronic prepurge and post-purge controls to ensure ultra-clean starts and stops. With a new burner, the oil in your system has the capability to burn 99.9 percent clean. New burners also have an efficiency level that’s 5-15 percent higher than older ones.

Note: Boilers, burners and furnaces all require regular maintenance to ensure proper operation. Contact us today to request your annual maintenance visit.