How Does a Steam Heat System Work?
As indicated by the term itself, a steam heat system is a method of providing heating to a house or building through the use of steam. Although steam heating was once widespread, many other newer systems have cropped up over the years. Still, it cannot be denied that steam heating systems are more reliable and easier to maintain than any of the more heating systems prevalent today.
Moreover, upgrading a heating system can be very expensive and complex. If you own a building that uses a steam heating system and you have no plans to upgrade, you just have to understand its basic operations and how to fix it.
Understanding the Steam Heat System
A water boiler, a burner, radiators/convectors and pipes are the major components of a steam heating system. The system works in a pretty straightforward manner. By applying heat to the water, the boiler turns it into steam. The steam then makes its way through the pipes and into the radiators and/or convectors in each room. This is the way stem heat is distributed all over a building. With energy spreading, the temperature of the steam goes down, converting it back to water, which will now be heated by the boiler all over again.
Heating the Boiler
There are different ways the burner can heat the boiler. Usually, oil, electricity or natural gas is used. In general, boilers heated by electricity are more expensive to operate than those heated by oil or gas. However, they are much easier to maintain and don’t has as much as damage when they do break compared to the other two. Electrically heated boilers are usually found in bigger buildings, while gas and oil-heated boilers are more commonly used in smaller buildings and residential properties.
Radiators versus Convectors
In a steam heating system, radiators work to transfer heat via completely exposed pipes. Convectors, on the other hand, are heating devices that work in a setup in which pipes that transfer heat are partially covered. Convectors and radiators are of several shapes and sizes; and because they are cooler than radiators, convectors are generally safer to touch. Still, both must be handled carefully.
Steam Heating System Maintenance
Although steam heat systems are relatively easy to maintain, they do require regular maintenance to remain in good condition. The system must be thoroughly checked by a qualified professional at least once per year.
The daily care needs of the system can be handled by the user. This includes, for example, watching the boiler’s water level and pressure gauges. If the water level dips too low, the boiler will only keep getting hotter and hotter without actually heating the building. Water has to be added the soonest. With a very high pressure reading, the boiler could actually explode. To make the pressure drop back to normal, the air valves can be temporarily loosened. Finally, air valves should as well be oiled on a regular basis.
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