One of the most important steps of installing a new boiler in your home is making sure the new boiler is the right size. Boilers that are too small will have to work extremely hard to produce enough heat to keep your family comfortable. On the other hand, boilers that are too big will be constantly short-cycling, creating large, uncomfortable temperature swings and generally causing the boiler to operate less efficiently. As homes become more energy efficient, with well engineered windows, better insulation, caulking and weather stripping, having a large furnace becomes unnecessary. Unfortunately, many people don’t know this and continue to install boilers that reach two to four times the required capacity.
Why Are So Many Boilers Sized Wrong?
The reason that many boilers are oversized is because boiler installation contractors often don’t take the time to properly calculate the size of the boiler required – instead, they take a look at the nameplate on the existing boiler and use that to size the new one. However, as homes get more efficient, their boiler size requirements change. Don’t let a contractor size your new boiler just by looking at the size of your current one – this method will most likely not reflect your home’s actual needs.
How to Properly Size a Boiler
To properly size a boiler, certain key factors must be taken into consideration:
- Local climate
- Home size, shape and orientation
- Home insulation levels
- The number, location, type and size of windows
- Air infiltration rates
- The number, age and comfort preferences of your home’s occupants
- The type and efficiency levels of lights and major home appliances (these things give off heat too!)
Needless to say, many of these factors change over time. Therefore, the size of your previous boiler may not be a good indication of the size requirements for your new one.
Special Considerations for Steam Heating Systems
Steam heating systems present a special case for boiler sizing – if your home has a steam heating system, the boiler must be sized to match the radiator size. If you are hoping to install a higher efficiency boiler for your steam heating system, there is still hope for energy savings – for one thing, your current boiler may be too big for the radiators! Make sure your contractor sizes up the boiler required for the radiators before installing your new boiler.
In addition, if you’ve been making energy efficient upgrades to your home, you may be able to eliminate some radiators. It may be possible to remove radiators from your home and replace your existing radiators with smaller ones. It is also possible that you can remove sections of your existing radiators, although this is often easier said than done. Fortunately, used radiators are usually available for pretty low prices – just make sure you replace the shutoff valves along with the radiators, as the old ones probably won’t work.
If you use a steam heating system and need boiler installation in Washington, DC, call Magnolia Plumbing!