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Study: My Understanding of Products

Understanding the Steam Heat System

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. While steam heating was once very popular, a lot of newer systems have emerged of late. 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 counts on a steam heating system and you don’t plan on upgrading, you simply need to understand how it operates and how to fix any problems.

Understanding the Steam Heat System

There are four components of a steam heating system – a burner, a water boiler, pipes and radiators/convectors. The system functions in a rather straightforward manner. By applying heat to the water, the boiler turns it into steam. Then the steam travels down the pipes and enters the radiators and/or convectors in each room. This is the manner in which steam heat is distributed around the 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.

How the Boiler Is Heated

The boiler can be heated by the burner in various ways. Natural gas, electricity or oil is often used. Boilers heated by electricity are generally more expensive to operate than those that are heated by gas or oil. However, they are also way easier to maintain and don’t become as damaged as the other two when they actually break. 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

Radiators in a steam heat system transfer heat through fully exposed pipes. On the other hand, convectors are heating devices in a setup where heat-moving pipes are partly shielded. Convectors and radiators are made in different shapes and sizes, and convectors are generally safer to touch because they are cooler than radiators. Still, both must be handled carefully.

Maintaining a Steam Heating System

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.

As for the everyday care needs of the system, users can attend to them easily. For example, the boiler’s pressure and water gauges must be monitored. A water level too low means the boiler will just keep increasing its temperature, but the building won’t actually be heated. Water has to be added the soonest. With a very high pressure reading, the boiler could actually explode. This can be avoided by loosing the air valves temporarily until the pressure normalizes. Lastly, the air valves should also be oiled every now and then.

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