Boilers, Hot Water Heaters and How They Work

When homeowners think of a heater, a reliable furnace is probably the first thing you think of. But plumbing appliances like your hot water heater and even boilers are just as useful. Your hot water heater is vital for washing clothes or dishes, while boilers can be efficient solutions for residential heating. With an expert team of installers and service technicians, UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbingcan help make the most of these appliances.

Let’s review how these two systems work. You can make a well-informed decision when you’re ready to schedule boiler installation of your own. And when you need any sort of boiler repair, give us a call at 877-960-0731.

How Does Home Heating with a Boiler Work?

While furnaces are often the go-to heating system these days, boilers are highly popular options too. You can still find them in older homes by way of standing or baseboard radiators. Modern boilers are making a return thanks to technological innovations.

When the temperature falls beneath your current settings, the boiler begins heating water for distribution throughout the house. Different zone valves direct the water to each radiator thanks to a powerful circulating pump. But now, boilers can also work with contemporary HVAC ductwork. A hot water coil is fixed into the air ducts, heating the air by convection before it circulates through the rest of the ductwork.

Most boilers have hot water limits ranging between 180 to 200 degrees (F). To keep the entire supply at useable temperatures, the circulator will keep pumping water until the coldest water has returned to the system. You’ll want to keep the internal pressure at about 30 pounds per square inch (psi). A gauge found on the boiler allows you to check both the pressure and the water’s temperature.

Other important parts of a boiler are the air scoop, water feeder, expansion tank and relief valve:

  • The air scoop, also called an air separator or air purge, clears out the air bubbles trapped in the water. Clearing the air bubbles reduces noise and prevents air-bound radiation from affecting the system’s efficiency.
  • Automatic water feeders continue to add water when needed to keep the system full, minimizing potential problems.
  • The expansion tank removes and stores excess water generated throughout the heating process.
  • Lastly, a relief valve keeps the water pressure at safe/efficient levels. If it isn’t working right, you risk overheating the system or overloading it with water.

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First Up: How Do Traditional Water Heaters Work?

In general, a hot water heater is comprised of a large storage tank with electric or natural gas heating elements. Water kept inside the tank is kept hot until you need hot water somewhere else in the house. The water is heated to your preferred temperature before being sent to the faucet or appliance that needs it. For best results, the water heater’s thermostat should be set between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduces the chance of scalding or bacterial growth.

Alternatively, tankless water heaters are comparatively new and lack the storage tank, as the name suggests. Instead, it starts heating water as it arrives from your main water line. This can be very energy-efficient since you’re not constantly heating a lot of water like you would with a traditional tank water heater.

Five Signs Your Boiler May Need Professional Service

Reach out to your local boiler repair technician if you’re noticing any of the following signs:


The burner is loud or smells like smoke:

These burner problems often point back to trouble with the combustion process. Your technican should inspect the burner assembly itself as well as the air and fuel supply lines.

Excessive air sounds:

A loud boiler often starts with air stuck somewhere in the system, affecting efficiency. While most of the time these air pockets are in the pipes, there may also be something wrong with the circulation pump.



Water leaking out from the relief valve:

This suggests that the water pressure inside your boiler is too high. This may be a problem with the valve itself or that there’s something wrong with the expansion tank.

Water leaking from the boiler’s piping connections:

Leaks at the piping connections are usually damaged seals, joints or connections in the system. Addressing these leaks early prevents further damage and loss of efficiency.



A burning or gas smell:

The odor of natural gas or something burning can be a serious safety concern. There could be fuel leaking from the fuel supply line or a damaged burner assembly. A fast response ensures safety and prevents the risk of a fire.

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Whether you’re looking to fix a problem or you’re thinking about an upgrade, UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help.

We offer repair and installation services for both hot water heaters and boilers, and our certified staff will find out what your boiler or hot water heater needs to stay in the best possible shape. Get in touch with us at 877-960-0731 to learn more.

We service all makes and models, so give us a call today!

Save Even More with Special Offers

A complete sense of comfort shouldn’t be out of anyone’s budget. UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing lightens the load with seasonal promotions, discounts and other special offers. These offers help lower costs for key services, new equipment or whatever else you need for your comfort and peace of mind. Check out our current offers for more details on how to save.

Committed to Comfort from the Very Start

While a long history of service is impressive, nothing is more important to customer satisfaction than a dedication to total comfort. UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing considers your peace of mind our top priority, and that hasn’t changed since we first opened our doors. Learn more about our history, and how our communities support us just as much as we support you.