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HYDRONIC HEAT...Some FAQs about your Hot Water and Steam Heating

Posted by Bonnie Bornstein Fertel on Sun, Sep 26, 2010 @ 02:22 PM

In an effort to respond to some problems we’re often told about,Contact Bornstein Sons 1.800.287.6651 for heating service in NJ we’ve put together some Questions and Answers on Hydronic Heating Systems. Your heating system should be inspected by a professional annually. Here are some questions we're asked often during the colder months.

We are experts on hydronic (hot water and steam) heating systems. If we haven't addressed some of your concerns, we encourage you to Contact Us. And, while we're on the subject, here's some helpful information on Maintaining Your Steam Boiler.


Maintenance and Service
Q: The water in my steam boiler fluctuates, how do I prevent this?
A: If you notice fluctuation in the water line of a steam boiler it is referred to as Surging. A small amount of fluctuation is not uncommon, but if severe enough can cause a number of undesirable conditions, such as a water hammer and result in inefficient operation. Severe surging is recognized by a water line that is fluctuating more than one-inch or if you notice water running down from the top of the sight glass. To prevent this and other problems from occurring, always pipe, clean, and maintain your steam boiler.
Q: What would cause a popping or sizzling noise in my boiler?
A: A "hot spot" can be created by sediment accumulating in the bottom of the boiler sections which is typically the lowest point in the Hydronic heating system. The sediment acts as insulation and can be carried into the system by poor water quality and should be filtered if necessary and corrected to a proper pH level of 7 to 8.5.The popping sound that is being generated is water that turns into steam until it escapes back into the cooler water where it is rapidly cooled and creates a popping sound. Most of the time this can be repaired by having your service technician flush the system and if necessary use a boiler cleaner to help remove the sediment deposits.
Q: How do I remove air from my hot water heating system?
A: This can be accomplished by having a professional heating contractor install an air elimination system on the main supply pipe as the water leaves the boiler to remove air form the water system. This device is sometimes referred to as a 'Micro-Bubble Air Eliminator'.
Installations and Replacement Boilers

Q: What size boiler or furnace do I need for my home?
A: The only way to accurately and properly determine what your sizing requirement is to have a heat load calculation performed on your home by a qualified heating contractor. This calculation takes into consideration the structure size, insulation, doors and windows allowing for your climate, to determine an outdoor design temperature. A heat loss is then calculated to determine the correct size for the boiler and the heating elements to heat the structure. It is an exercise worth the time and effort to know that you have the sufficient sized equipment and radiation to do the required job this winter and winters to come, without over sizing the unit and loosing efficiency. A boiler that is over-sized is just as incorrect as a boiler that is under-sized. Often today we find that replacement equipment is smaller than that your old unit. This may be to incorrect calculations when the initial system was installed. Because a previous contractor put in one size unit doesn't mean that was correct!
Q: Can I buy a boiler direct from the factory?
A: No you may not. Manufacturers of heating equipment sell their products through wholesale distribution only who in turn will supply the dealer trade in your area with our products along with all the other items your dealer will need for your system. We support the professional tradesmen to know that your new piece of heating equipment is installed properly and operating correctly for maximum efficiency and safety concerns. With today's installation codes, in most areas a piece of equipment can only be installed by a licensed plumberor heating contractor, and it is likely required that a permit is obtained and inspection scheduled by the local building code enforcement department. This is good for the industry and safety of all concerned.

Q: Do I need a Low Water Cut Off on my water boiler?

A: In some cases, your boiler is installed at the lowest point in the system, which means that there is less of a likelihood that the boiler will run dry. If radiators are installed at an elevation below the top of the boiler then a low water cut off is necessary. Examples include baseboard radiators near the basement floor, and basement in-floor radiant heating. There are some states, New York and New Jersey for example, a that mandate their use regardless of radiator location.

We thank our friends at Utica Boiler Company for some valuable insights and conversation on this subject.

We hope this information is helpful to you.

Need Service in Northern or North Central New Jersey? Schedule a Service Call Now! Last but certainly not least, we remind you to have your boiler serviced professionally each year prior to the onset of freezing cold weather. It's a known fact that maintaining your boiler will increase efficiency, save on energy costs and extend the life of the equipment.

Topics: Heating Maintenance Tips, Hydronic Heating Systems


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