How do boilers work, and are they right for your home?

In this blog post, we’re going to answer some commonly asked questions about how boilers work. We’ll also address some misconceptions about these heating systems, and explain why they’re a popular choice for many homes here in the Buffalo area.

heating-and-cooling-buffalo-ny-filter-checksBoilers are not water heaters

These two terms get thrown around interchangeably, but boilers are not water heaters.

Boilers heat water for radiant heating, and all of the water stays within a closed-loop system. In contrast, your water heater heats water for household use. The entire point is for water to exit the system through your faucets, shower heads, and dishwasher line.

Moving water to bring you heat

Boilers start with a furnace-type system, which heats the water within the closed circuit. A motor then pushes this water through pipes to radiators. Most of these radiators are floor-mounted, although they can be in other places in a room.

As the hot water runs through the radiator, the heat energy from the water is transferred to the surrounding air, warming the room. The water then travels through the pipe to its next stop in another room.

Finally, after losing so much heat energy to the air in different rooms, the water returns to the furnace, where it’s reheated. The process then starts over again.

What are the advantages of using a boiler for heating?

Hot air rises

Since many boiler radiators are in the floor or near the floor, they’re more effective at heating you and the room than a forced-air system.

Hot air rises: when a forced-air system emits heated air through vents near the ceiling, all that heat is just staying there, not really warming a majority of the room.

In contrast, heat emitted near the floor rises through the room to the ceiling, warming you all that more efficiently and effectively.

Heat your feet

Those water pipes that make up the closed-circuit system we mentioned earlier? In many homes, they’re placed under the floors, which means that homeowners have warmed floors during the coldest months of winter.

Save money

Radiant heating is more energy-efficient than forced-air heating. It’s just physics: water is a much better conduit of heat than air is, so there’s less energy lost as the water travels through the pipes than the same process of air moving through ducts.

The result is that your home heats the same, but with far less energy burned by the furnace.

Is a boiler right for your home?

Many homes here in the Buffalo area have built-in boiler systems, or at least the setup for them, which includes the aforementioned piping and radiators. If that’s the case, a boiler is perfect for your home.

If your home has no boiler setup, it’s something that you can have installed if you’re looking to improve your energy-efficiency or get the heated floors feature.

For more on how boilers work, call Reimer

Reimer is the top choice for heating, cooling, and plumbing work here in Buffalo. For more on boilers, installation, and to get a free in-home estimate on a new system, contact us online.

Don’t do it yourself: the dangers of DIY plumbing repair

The Internet has profoundly changed our lives. Of its many impacts, one of the most significant is that millions of people now have instant access to tutorials, videos, and instructions on how to do or build things themselves.

Don’t pour boiling water on your pipes to unfreeze them.

From building your own coffee table to “lifehacks” that turn old bike handles into in-style wall decor, “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) is more popular than ever. Here’s where you should draw a line, though: unlike bottles recycled into planters, DIY plumbing repair is never a good idea.

In this blog, we’ll go over why you should only trust your plumbing repair needs to a professional plumber who has the right equipment, training, and more to get the job done.

Situation #1: Frozen pipes

Every winter here in Buffalo, frozen pipes pop up all across the city. And, every winter, homeowners decide that they want to take matters into their own hands. In one of our previous posts, we addressed why this is bad idea. Put down the hairdryer or—especially—the blowtorch and call Reimer, instead.

Seriously: no blowtorches.

Any kind of “hack” for unfreezing your pipes could make the situation a lot worse. Frozen pipes are very volatile: the expanding ice has placed the pipe material under immense pressure.

A professional plumber has the equipment and finesse to gently thaw the ice and relieve this pressure with no further damage to the structure. Other methods, however, risk the pressure building further and the pipe bursting. Not good!

Situation #2: Drain cleaning

As plumbers, we believe that it’s important to know what you’re getting into before each and every project. Drain cleaning is a good example: we use equipment to figure out what is down the drain before we attempt to remove it.

Many homeowners resort to using store-bought chemicals. Here’s the thing, though. If these chemicals are harsh enough to eat through whatever’s down there, aren’t they harsh enough to also damage your pipes? The answer is yes, which is why we think drain cleaning chemicals should be rarely used, and only as a last resort.

Instead, call Reimer. Our plumbers have a variety of professional snake tools that we use to clear drains, depending on what the obstruction is.

Situation #3: Re-piping

The popularity of home renovation shows on TV has prompted a number of homeowners to try to give their own property a makeover. That’s great: as long as you enlist the help of some professionals, opening up that kitchen will really bring your home up-to-date.

However, there’s two areas where you should really call in a specialist: plumbing and electrical. Reimer can help with the former. Moving pipes, sealing pipes, and any kind of re-piping should really be left to the experts.

The last thing you want is to get everything the way you want it, go to turn on the water supply to your home again, and disaster strikes. It’s just going to ruin everything you worked so hard for, and it can be prevented by calling in an expert.

DIY some things, call experts for others

Sure, there are some things that homeowners should try taking on themselves. However, we recommend calling Reimer if you get in over your head, or if you’re tackling something big, potentially dangerous, or technically complex.

To schedule service, contact us online, or give us a call at (716) 694-8524.