Mechanical systems, also known as heating/air conditioning (HVAC) systems are an important component of our homes. We rely on this system to keep us warm during the winter and as the seasons change, we expect the system to keep us cool during the summer. In those moments where that simple process fails us, we are all too quick to call in a professional for service and are ultimately left with a costly invoice to "bring our surroundings back to normal". Many older homes with hot water heating were built before air conditioning was invented. They are often comfortable in the winter, though utility bills keep growing. Meanwhile, they are usually uncomfortable during the summer because the retrofitted central air conditioning systems suffers from poor design. Even in newer homes, you may find that you need to turn up the volume of the TV when the HVAC system runs or that one or more rooms are uncomfortable during the heating or cooling season. The vast majority of homes with ducted heating and cooling experience a great deal of air leakage into and out of the return and supply ducts, with the result that your bills are much higher than they need to be.
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Seen here is a replacement boiler. You know it is a boiler because boilers heat water and there are pipes attached. If it was a furnace, there would be duct-work attached because furnaces heat air.
Notice that the flue pipe carrying the combustion gases to the masonry chimney is a shiny galvanized type. Over time, flues like this will become a dull gray. That indicates that the boiler is a recent replacement. Notice, too, that the piping connecting the boiler to the overhead piping is made of copper tubing. The copper is still the color of a new penny and it will darken over time as well.
The copper tubing is smaller in diameter than the steel piping seen attached to the ceiling. That indicates that the original boiler was a gravity distribution type. Gravity hot water systems moves the water within the piping relatively slowly. Newer boilers, like the one shown above, are fitted with circulator pumps which move the water around the system much faster, hence the piping does not have to be as large.
With hot water heating systems like this one, there is very little air in the water within the system and that is why the piping almost never rusts or clogs closed. Hot water heating systems like this one were almost always connected to cast iron radiators and were usually very quiet in operation and produced very comfortable houses in the winter.