What is a steam heater?

A steam heater is a heating system where steam heat is created by transforming water from a boiler into steam.

  • In steam heating systems, your boiler furnace heats water using a gas or oil-fired burner, turning it into vapor.

The steam then moves through pipes to connectors or radiators, which give off heat that warms your spaces. As the steam cools, it condenses back into water form and returns to your boiler to be heated again, restarting the cycle. Since steam heaters work well in larger buildings and multi-residence situations, steam heating are still commonly used in many multi-family dwellings, apartment buildings, and older business buildings. Steam systems come with multiple benefits to owners. They have few moving components, making them more durable and reliable if properly maintained, compared to newer, more complex heating systems. They provide dust-free and clean heat, a huge plus for users allergic to dust and other allergens that could be stirred up by forced air or other modern HVAC systems. Steam heating systems also stay true to historic homes and older structures. No wonder some homeowners have stubbornly chosen to overlook and put up with some of the quirks that made steam heating systems less popular as residential heating systems over the years. On the other side, the disadvantages of area heating systems include less efficiency, less uniform heating, and higher safety risk than other heating options. Although one of the pros of steam heaters is their long lifespan, they still require servicing annually to make certain trouble-free operations. Consult an HVAC technician for the best ways to maintain your HVAC unit.


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