How Does Central Heating Work?

Central heating systems were created to make our lives easier. Instead of having to light an individual fire in each room, a modern heating system has one heat source. This one heat source then distributes heat around the building using pipes.
As a lot of the system is hidden into buildings fabrication, we can easily forget that it is there. When there is a problem with our heating and hot water it is hard to know what to do. With this introduction to heating, hopefully, you can identify the system you have and make plans for maintenance, repair or replacement.

How Does Central Heating Work?

Different Types of Central Heating

In the UK there are several types of central heating used in buildings. These are wet systems, electric storage heaters, warm air systems and district heating. The most common is the wet system, followed by electric storage heaters.
The wet system has a boiler which burns fuel to heat water. The heated water is then pumped around the building through pipes and into radiators. Most boilers used in a wet system are fuelled by gas as this is considered the most cost-effective fuel.

How is Central Heating Controlled?

A thermostat is typically mounted permanently in one room although wireless versions that can be moved are available.
The thermostat controls the heating system in two ways. Firstly, you can set the thermostat to a specific minimum or maximum temperature. If the temperature in the building drops below a programmed temperature, the boiler will turn on. Conversely, if the building heats up over a required level, the heating will turn off.

The other way a thermostat can control heating is with time. You can set your heating to come on just before you wake up or arrive home. A fairly recent invention are smart thermostats such as Hive. A smart thermostat works remotely from your mobile so you can adjust the building temperature even when you’re not there.

Your heating can also be controlled via temperature valves on radiators. These temperature valves can help regulate the heat for individual rooms to save energy.

What is the Difference Between a Combi Boiler and a Conventional Boiler?

A conventional boiler is also known as a traditional boiler and they are normally found in older properties. Conventional boilers use a tank fed system to supply water to the central heating. One tank is filled with cold water and is often located in the loft. A second tank is filled with hot water and is typically located in near the main bathroom in a property. As this system requires two tanks, it can take up a lot of space.

A combi boiler heats up water on demand and so doesn’t need tanks. The heat exchanger in the combi boiler uses the gas fuel to heat cold water directly. These means a combi boiler saves space and energy.

To find out more about what boiler is best for you home see our blog

What is Central Heating Maintenance?

Annual maintenance of your heating system is important for safety and problem-solving. As most boilers are fuelled by gas, it is important to have a gas safety check every year to make sure there are no leaks. Maintenance of the system will focus on boiler service to ensure all the parts are working correctly and that the pressure is at the right level. As part of system checks, radiators can also be inspected to ensure they are working at the optimum level.

At First 4 Plumbing, boiler servicing and boiler repair and can also provide advice on updating your central heating system.
To book an appointment or to speak to one of our engineers, please get in touch.