So what type of heating system is in the photo?
It’s easy to figure out if you know what to look for.
With hot water heat there is a boiler that heats the water up to a temperature somewhere between 160 and 180 degrees. A circulation pump that moves the water through distribution pipes and radiators in the rooms.
Steam heat again uses a boiler, the water is heated to a higher temperature that must be above 212 degrees (boiling point) turning it into steam. The steam moves by convection through pipes and radiators.
Most homes that are thought to have steam heat
actually have hot water heat which is a different but similar type of system.
How would you know which system you are looking at in a home?
The hot water system will have electric pumps on the piping beside the boiler. (The red and black things on the pipes in the photo)
– Steam will have no pumps anywhere.
The hot water piping will probably not have a lot of insulation (if any)
– Steam piping will be heavily insulated (often asbestos based).
The hot water boiler pressure gauge will read a pressure between 12 Lbs and 15 Lbs.
– Steam operates at 0 lbs pressure.
The hot water radiators will have bleeder valves (a venting nipple to vent out any air build up)
– Steam radiators do not have or need bleeders.
Are hydroponic (water) heating systems problematic? Not really, older systems from from years ago and older may need the water pressure reset every year. Generally they are relatively easy to use.
The heat is warm and dry with no air movement which is very nice for allergy sufferers.
The systems are very different from forced air systems and should only be
serviced by a boiler specialist as opposed to your average HVAC guy.