The boiler squats at a building’s core, churning out heat like some hulking behemoth of the deep. We tend to take the boiler and its labyrinth of pipes entirely for granted, except when it fails to work properly. Ignored in spring and summer, the sleeping giant must be awakened carefully before temperatures begin to drop in autumn.
Heating systems are among the most costly items to buy, operate, and repair in the entire condominium complex. So it makes sense to mitigate those costs by understanding what type of system you have, how efficient it is, and how to maintain it in peak condition.
Our ancestors burned wood or coal to stay warm. Later, coal-burning boilers gave way to cleaner gas- or oil-fired equipment, but the heat these devices generated could not really be modulated. “The old boilers just ran full tilt all the time,” says Larry Sweet of Lawrence V. Sweet Plumbing and Heating in Lexington, Massachusetts. “And a great deal of the heat went right up the chimney.”
Today, our homes are readily heated by ever more efficient, and complex, boilers and furnaces. These newer heating systems also benefit from technologies that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. With the cost of fossil-based fuels continuing to fluctuate, manufacturers are also responding to government and consumer demands to build boilers that can squeeze the most out of every unit of energy.
New standards and regulations are being adopted each year to improve operational efficiency and conserve energy. So even if that boiler in the basement was purchased and installed as recently as three years ago, new models possess superior technology.