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Understanding Hydronic Hot Water Heating Systems For Homeowners

By Edited Jan 24, 2014 1 0

Hot Water Heating Systems

Understanding Hydronic Hot Water Heating Systems For Homeowners, is an article that will walk through the series of operation as well as the major components that are part of a well designed hot water heating system.

Learning the basics of this type of system, should be a must on the homeowners list of things that should be well understood. A few bits of information can save a lot of money when it comes to annual maintenance procedures and upkeep of your system.

Taking the time to read through this article will inform you of a lot but it must be accompanied by looking at the actual components and locating them within your system. Every system is designed by the installer as it goes in and they are all custom to the house. They start with a central boiler and the rest goes out from there.

Hot water hydronic heating has been around for a long time. It is still one of the most popular ways to heat a home. It is also one of the most economical ways as well. Gas and oil boilers have increased their ability to burn clean and provide a higher efficiency rating then ever.

Federal mandates have added to the innovations that have shown up within the industry by making the manufacturers fall in line with set ratings. They answered the call and some units burn as high as 96% efficient. This is pretty good considering ten or fifteen years ago 82% was about the best you could get. The rest went up the chimney. We are saving a huge amount of natural resources due to these Federal mandates.

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Observe Your System Often

Repair Any Leaks Immediately

A Well Piped Hydronic Hot Water Heating System
Hot water heating should be a work of art. The installer takes pride in making things line up and all pipes are level, plumb and parallel. This is a good sign that quality was taken into consideration throughout the system. A properly installed hot water system should provide years of trouble free service to the homeowner.

When you own a system of this type it is imperative that you visually inspect the system periodically for any leaks. This is the number one cause of premature boiler failure which can cost thousands to repair or replace.

When a leak occurs in a hydronic system, a few different things happen. First the pressure which is normally kept constant somewhere between 12 and 20 pounds per square inch is compromised and starts to drop as water leaks from the system. When this occurs there is an automatic feeder in the piping that is hooked to a city water supply or your well.

As water leaks out of the system, new water is automatically added until the pressure is returned to the preset level. Then when some more water leaks out of the system more water is added and the process keeps happening with a frequency that will be according to how bad the leak is.

The problem with this other then the mess from the leak, is the fact that when the new water is added there are also chemicals and oxidants like calcium and magnesium and iron that are being added to the system.

This type of heating system is made with some parts that are cast iron or steel. The water is put into the system on the initial fill and then the air is purged out. Once this has been accomplished and the heating system is put into operation, the whole thing is sealed and should require no makeup water.

The reason for this is because the water traveling around the loops and through the boiler will in a short time distill and leave all of it's harmful products in the bottom of the system at the lowest point. This is usually at the bottom of the boiler. They can do no harm there once they have settled.

If new water is constantly added then the system is constantly being contaminated and the non ferrous metals will rust very quickly. Boilers have been known to rot out and fail within six months time if left constantly leaking in an area with exceptionally hard water.

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Hydronic Hot Water Heating Series Of Operation

Understanding Your Heat

Our basic series of operation begins with a call from any thermostat within the system. Some have only one and some systems have many zones and therefore many thermostats. Whether you have one zone or twenty, the basics are the same.

When the thermostat in a room is "calling", the temperature within the room is below what you have the apparatus set at. It is now a closed circuit. A switch that is turned on. This is the easiest way to understand the function of the thermostat. It is either on or off. It is either calling for heat or it's not. There is no calling faster or hotter when you turn it up higher, this is a common misconception. It is simply on or off.

When the thermostat calls or closes, what it does is complete the circuit to call in a relay which is connected to the boiler. The same relay also energizes the circulator pump that supplies circulation of the heated water to the radiation for the zone we just turned up.

So the thermostat calls and the boiler fires, the circulator pump begins to circulate the heated water through the radiation, which can be baseboard heat or radiators or even radiant tubing within the floors. This heated waters energy, is then transferred to the air we live in through the convection process.

The process continues until the temperature within the room gets up to whatever the thermostat is set on and then the circuit is broken and the whole zone goes into standby waiting for the next call. Interruptions to the boiler running may happen during this heating cycle as it is also controlled by a high limit. This means that the boiler may shut down when it reaches high limit but the pump for that zone will continue to circulate the water until the room reaches the set point.

If the water cools down during the process the boiler uses sensors to know this and it will come back on at a preset low limit and bring the water back up until the room is up to temp, or until it reaches high limit again.

The process is the same for every zone within your system and some or all may run together at times. Systems are sized for how much radiation they need to heat the area in question and the boiler is matched for heating capabilities.

If you have a Hydronic hot water heating system then you already own the workings to live in a climate controlled comfortable environment. maintaining your system is a must. It will give back years of warmth in the coldest and harshest conditions.

Understanding Hot Water Heating Systems
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