If you have a hot water (hydronic) system, water circulates around your oil 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 boiler 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.
Like any piece of equipment, that boiler will eventually have to be replaced one day. Here are a few signs that will help you determine if a replacement system is in order.
If your boiler’s age is close to 20 years old–or older–you’ll save money on your annual heating costs by replacing it with a new, more efficient system. New oil boilers heat your home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment.
Just like your water heater, if you see outward signs of rust on your boiler, its time is running out. A professional inspection may also reveal damage to piping or other boiler components.
Is your old boiler keeping you warm enough? A properly working oil boiler should keep you comfortable even on the coldest Massachusetts nights, but a boiler’s operating performance diminishes with the passage of time.
Your boiler’s efficiency slowly degrades the older it gets. Lower efficiency means higher heating costs. Add in a higher number of repairs for an old system and this is another strong sign that you would do well to let go of your old oil boiler and upgrade to a new one.
If you depend on your boiler to heat your domestic hot water—and you’re not getting as much hot water as before–this could be a sign of a leaking or corroded coil on the boiler, a warning of potential boiler failure.
There are two types of boilers: a steam boiler, often found in older homes, and the modern, and more energy-efficient, hot water boiler. Steam boilers require special safety precautions because of the temperature of the steam (the water must be heated to 212°F). As a result, it is vitally important to follow a regular maintenance schedule.
Your boiler extracts heat from heating oil as it burns; this heats the water (or creates steam) that will run through the zones that are calling for heat. The heat is delivered through your radiators or baseboards.
The problem is that some heat (as much as 30% in some older boiler models) will be lost as exhaust, which means you are paying a lot of money for heat that will never reach your living space.
In a high-efficiency condensing boiler, heat loss is reduced dramatically. By recycling heat from the exhaust process – and by operating at lower temperatures overall – your condensing boiler can improve operating efficiency by 10-15% compared to a non-condensing boiler.
So why aren’t all boilers condensing, considering their obvious efficiency advantages? For one thing, condensing boilers cost more to manufacture. Plus, a condensing boiler is not practical for all homes. What’s more, installing a condensing boiler correctly requires highly trained technicians who know how to capitalize on the efficiency benefits of these sophisticated machines.
By upgrading to a new oil boiler, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the great benefits of oilheat—now and in the future.
In a continuing effort to be a partner in reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gas emissions, more than 300 heating oil industry leaders—many from Massachusetts—unanimously passed a resolution last year to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through the accelerated use of clean, renewable Bioheat® fuel blends in heating oil.
Those in the oilheat business are excited by opportunities that will positively influence the long-term future of the industry and the environment while improving the oil heat experience for millions of customers.
If you have questions about decreasing your energy use, reducing your heating costs or simply using energy around your home in smarter ways, make sure to contact your local heating oil company for advice.