As the original leak detection company we have been finding central heating leaks for many years, in this article we discuss how central heating systems work. Often people only start looking into central heating problems when the heating stops working, which on most occasions is due to low boiler pressure, or maybe a big leak!
Central heating systems are examples of equipment we take for granted in our homes, until they malfunction or break down, then we start looking looking for technicians to come and fix them.
However, understanding how the system works is very important. As a property owner or occupant, you have everything to gain by acquainting yourself with the components of central heating systems, how they work, and so on. As such, you can quickly notice if the system has a problem, you’re also able to explain to the technician the precise hitch that needs to be repaired.
- Generally, a central heating system is a continuous circuit movement of water from the boiler to the radiator and the process gets repeated again and again.
- The water is sealed permanently inside several radiators supplied from one trunk pipe. The same water circulates the property every single day unless when it’s drained for maintenance.
Here is an in-depth illustration of how a central heating system works;
- Natural gas gets to the property through a pipe in the street. The gas stores all the heat that warms up your property.
- The gas is burnt inside the boiler, emitting hot jets that act on a heat exchanger.
- The heat exchanger comprises of a copper pipe with water going back and forth a few times in the gas jets to pick up the maximum amount of heat. The heat energy from the gas is transferred to the water.
- The heated water is pushed to the system by an electric pump.
- The water flows through a closed-loop inside each radiator, entering and leaving on different sides. The water is cooler when coming out of the radiator than it entered because each radiator emits heat.
- After passing through all the radiators, the water is significantly cooler and has to return to the boiler for more heat. The main function of water at this point is to serve as a heat-transporting mechanism that transports heat from the gas in the boiler to the different radiators.
- The electric pump is strong enough to push the heated water upstairs through the available radiators.
- A thermostat helps monitor the temperature as well as switch off the boiler when the room is hot enough
- Waste gases from the furnace or the boiler disperse in the air through a small smokestack.
Components of a Central Heating System;
A boiler is the most important component in the central heating system. It burns the natural gas when you switch it on via an electric switch. A valve opens, and the gas gets in the sealed combustion chamber through many small ducts in the boiler. An electric ignition system lights the gas. There is an electric pump inside the boiler that maintains the water flown around the radiators and pipe-work.
A thermostat acts as a thermometer only that it’s automatic and gets turned on by an electric switch. It activates and switches on the electrical circuit when the temperatures drop; switches the circuit off when the temperature rises. In other words, the thermostat starts the boiler when the room is cold and turns it off when the room is warm enough.
Radiators comprise of copper pipes bent close to 20 times to create a larger surface area to transport heat to the room. In a central heating system, each radiator has a screw that turns it on and off.
Thermostatic valves are fitted into the radiator to offer you more control over the temperatures of each room in the property. They help reduce energy consumption by the boilers, hence lowering your energy utility bills.
There are open-vented boilers that heat the water stored in the tank; and combi boilers that heat water on demand. A combi boiler has two independent heat exchangers; one supports a pipe through the radiators, while the other carries another pipe through the hot water supply.
Central heating system pipes are often made from plastic or copper and come in different sizes from 8mm to 35 mm in diameter. The standard pipe sizes for domestic central heating systems are 28mm, 15mm, and 22mm.
Expansion vessels are used in a sealed central heating system to regulate the expansion of the radiators and pipes. When water is heated, they enlarge in volume by at least 4%, the expansion vessel takes up the excess water and prevents the system from bursting.
The tank is placed in a loft, an “expansion and feed” tank. It feeds the central heating system with water and also stores the hot water when the system overheats.
Often, low boiler pressure is caused by a leak and unless you get a professional find the leak and fix it, you may be tempted to replace your boiler and buy a new one. But wait, it doesn’t have to be that way!