Understanding the Steam Heat System
As the term suggests, a steam heat system is a house or building heating system that relies on steam to provide heat. Although steam heating used to be very popular, many newer systems have surfaced lately. Still, there are two things about steam heating that make it advantageous compared to modern heating systems – it is more reliable and it is so much easier to maintain.
Moreover, upgrading a heating system can be very expensive and complex. If you own a building that uses a steam heating system and you have no plans to upgrade, you just have to understand its basic operations and how to fix it.
Fundamentals of a Steam Heat System
There are four components of a steam heating system – a burner, a water boiler, pipes and radiators/convectors. The way the system works is rather straightforward. The boiler turns the water into steam by applying heat to it. This steam then goes down the pipes and into the radiators and/or convectors in every room. This is the way stem heat is distributed all over a building. As the energy spreads out, the steam cools down and reverts back to water, which the boiler heats again.
How the Boiler Is Heated
The boiler can be heated by the burner in various ways. In most cases, electricity, oil or natural gas will be used. Boilers heated by electricity are generally more expensive to operate than those that are heated by gas or oil. However, they are so much easier to maintain, and, when they actually break, cause less damaged compared to the other two types. Electrically heated boilers can be seen in larger buildings, while boilers that run on gas or heat are more common in homes and smaller buildings.
Radiators or Convectors?
In a steam heat system, radiators serve as heat-transferring devices where pipes that distribute heat are fully exposed. Convectors, on the other hand, are heating devices in a set up where there is partial shielding of the pipes that move heat. Convectors and radiators are of several shapes and sizes; and because they are cooler than radiators, convectors are generally safer to touch. Still, both must be handled carefully.
How to Maintain a Steam Heat 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.
The user can manage the system’s day-to-day care needs. For example, the boiler’s pressure and water gauges must be monitored. A low water level means the building will not be heated and the boiler will simply keep getting hotter and hotter. Water has to be added the soonest. If the pressure level is too higher, the danger could explode. This can be avoided by loosing the air valves temporarily until the pressure normalizes. Finally, the air valves must also be oiled regularly.
Source: may xong hoi kho