Boilers are used for various purposes, the most common being to heat water and fluids for use in a building. They can be made of steel, wrought or cast iron or other, less-common materials. They can be heated by coal, oil, natural gas or even wood. These many different configurations amount to many different types and uses of boilers.
Because of this, being able to identify the specific type of boiler service you need starts with identifying the type of unit you have. Boilers in houses, office buildings or other structures can vary in size, shape and responsibility, meaning the symptoms of failure or imminent trouble will vary as well. In some scenarios, of forced hot air through a heating system can by a symptom. In others, it could be intermittent hot water.
When it comes time to determine whether you need boiler service and eventually make the call for it, you need to know specifically what type of unit you have. While there are many different variations, there are also several common types that are easily identifiable.
A pot-style unit is actually a kettle in which liquid is heated by a fire below. These are primitive models that burn coal or wood and are far less common nowadays due to the fact that they are inefficient.
A fire-tube model was made popular by locomotive trains and features a barrel partially filled with water connected to a heat source by a long tube. As the heating process intensifies, warmed gasses travel through the tube and eventually reach and heat the water. This configuration typically burns solid fuels.
A water-tube model features tubes inside the furnace that are connected to storage drums that contain steam or the liquid to be warmed. The warming process moves from the furnace area through these tubes to the drums, where the liquid is warmed and steam is produced. The volume of steam is typically high but there is little room for storing it, so this configuration is typical for suiting high-pressure needs.
Numerous other configurations of all shapes and sizes not only exist but are popular around the world. Depending on the climate of the area, the demands for and usage of the system and other important factors, various boilers can be a variation of one of these common types ora more customized version.