2018.03.23 13:06 | Sean Carter
It is important to understand the basics of a steam heating system whether you are attempting to build your own, or if you are just curious about the details for your own peace of mind as a homeowner. It can be helpful to understand how they operate, as well as the parts of the system, such as the thermostat, steam condensate pump, or the condensate return pump.
Steam Heating System Parts
There are three system designs for these systems. They include low pressure, vapor systems, and high pressure systems. The most common design for steam heating systems are the low pressure systems, with high pressure systems used for commercial applications.
A typical residential steam heating system includes a steam-producing boiler, radiators to release heat into the rooms in your home, and intricate piping to connect the boiler and radiator. Boilers burn gas or fuel oil to produce heat and raise the temperature of the water within the system to boil and create steam.
To control your steam heating system, you need a thermostat, pressuretrol, and a low water cutoff. The functions of these components are:
● The thermostat, which tells the system when heat is required
● The pressuretrol, which turns the boiler burner on and off, based on the pressure of the system. In water based systems, steam condensate pumps circulate heat.
● Low water cutoff, which allows the boiler to continue operating when it does not have enough water.
Basic Steam Heating System Operation
When a thermostat identifies that the air temperature is below the set temperature, it automatically allows the heating system to turn on. Each of the three components communicate to operate the system in the most efficient way possible.
Air vents in the system are traditionally located at each radiator, and in the main steam pipe. These vents open when no steam pressure exists, and close when the steam condensate pump operates, or when steam gets close to them. Steam travels through the main piping to the radiators, gives off heat to rooms throughout your home, condenses, then a condensate return pump turns it to the boiler.
These are just the basics of steam heating systems. There is quite a bit more to it, and sometimes heating systems do not contain pumps to do the work and rely on the piping to return condensate to the boiler. Consult a contractor, or do more in-depth research about steam heating system operation to become a true expert.