The P. Gagnon & Son Blog

What is a Boiler & How Does It Work?

You can count on P. Gagnon & Son for expert boiler installation and service!

boiler service maine Home heating systems can be broadly classified into two categories: forced air or hydronic.
A furnace is a forced-air heating system. A boiler is hydronic.

P. Gagnon & Son is your boiler installation, maintenance, and repair specialist for oil-fired and gas-fired boilers. With our cost-effective service plans, you can set your mind at ease because we offer an annual maintenance tune-up to keep your boiler running smoothly and efficiently, saving you money on heating costs. Plus, many of our plans cover the cost of parts and labor for boiler repairs if something does go wrong down the line.

Here is some crucial information about boilers for those of you who have one in your home.

How a boiler works

People often mistake boilers for water heaters, but they are not the same. Some water heaters use a home’s heating system, but there are distinct differences between the two types of equipment.

A boiler is a system that uses water to generate heat and circulates it around your home. It is a closed-loop system, which means it does not need fresh water brought into it and the water inside a boiler does not need to be potable.

The components of a boiler include:

  • burner, where the fuel (gas or oil) is combusted
  • heat exchanger, where the heat produced by combustion is sent and steam is generated
  • piping, which distributes the steam through your home
  • valves, which are on gas boilers to let the boiler receive the gas needed to ignite the pilot light and burner
  • vent, which allows the built-up gases to safely exit your home

A boiler-based heating system is not just the boiler. There are also baseboards, pipes, radiators, and a circulator pump. The boiler heats the water and then, depending on which type of system it is, releases the hot water or steam throughout pipes connecting to radiators located in various rooms of your home. The hot water or steam passes quickly through the radiator tubes’ thick metal walls to distribute heat evenly throughout the room. The water or steam that has cooled and condensed back into liquid form is directed through the boiler’s piping system back to restart the whole process.

What are signs my boiler has a problem?

Professional maintenance by P. Gagnon & Son is key to keeping your boiler running smoothly, but sometimes issues can still arise during heating season. If you see any of the following problems, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can send out a service technician.

  • leaking
  • no heat
  • frozen condensate pipe
  • cold patches in radiators
  • unusual noises such as whistling (also known as “kettling” as it sounds like a tea kettle when it’s boiling), banging, or gurgling
  • pilot light keeps going out
  • boiler keeps switching off
  • boiler keeps running after set temperature has been reached

Get your home’s boiler ready for the cold winter ahead by scheduling an annual maintenance tune-up today. By enrolling in a boiler service plan now, you can make sure your family stays comfortable all season long. Contact P. Gagnon & Son today to get started!