What is a Steam Boiler Furnace?

steam boilerA steam boiler is a cast iron or steel container that’s designed to convert water into steam for various heating applications or to turn a steam engine.

Residential Steam Boiler Maintenance

Steam systems have a series of traps at each of the radiators to help relieve excess pressure.

These traps fail every six years or so and they have to be maintained carefully to keep them functioning properly until then.

Taking care of steam traps helps keep steam systems clean and functioning, but it is a lot of work. You’ll have to check and top-off water levels periodically and make sure that the main pressure relief valve is in working order.

If you aren’t sure how to service a steam system, it’s important to find a qualified technician. Regular maintenance and annual service will help ensure your steam system provides reliable and efficient heat time and time again.

How Steam Boilers Work

Water is stored in the tank of a steam boiler and it’s heated by natural gas, propane, coal or an electric element. Once the water is converted to steam, it is collected in an empty tank called a dome. Steam continually collects in the dome and pressure levels within climb higher and higher.

When the pressure reaches a desired level, the steam is released through a valve to travel up through pipes and around the home. The steam travels through a series of radiators until enough heat energy is finally lost and it turns back to water once again and drains back down to the boiler to be heated once again.

Steam boilers don’t require an electric pump for operation and that means that no electricity is necessary in order for a steam heating system to function. The steam’s pressure is used to generate movement through the system.

Steam Boiler vs Hot Water Heater

Unlike the hot water boilers and heating systems most commonly used today, steam systems are kept at much higher pressures and temperatures, making them more dangerous to use.

Not only are the systems more of a burn hazard since temperatures are so high, but there is always the risk of an explosion from all the pressure built up. A set of failsafe’s are included in each steam heating system, but if problems arises with one or more of these systems serious problems can occur.