How Does A Modern Gas Central Heating System Work? – For Beginners!

Most of us are blessed with a heating system in our homes. Whether that system is delivered through a gas central heating system or by other means, we can enjoy warmth in our homes during the cold days and nights of winter on demand.

Like some other things in our homes, we don’t always know how things work. Your gas central heating system may be one of them. At a basic level, any central heating system is composed of two simple elements. Firstly, you have the element that generates the heat. Secondly, there is the element that distributes the heat around your home. These same two basic principles also apply to the modern gas central heating system. The system is designed to both warm your home and to provide your home with hot running water.

What Components Make Up A Gas Central Heating System?

Most modern gas central heating systems are made up of a number of different parts. Some of these parts may differ slightly depending on the type of gas central heating system you have in your home. These parts will include:

Boiler – This is the part of the system that heats up the water. It’s usually located downstairs in a two story house and may be housed in a cupboard or your garage. It will almost certainly incorporate a programmer of some description to turn it on or off during a 24 hour cycle.

Piping – Pipes are used to distribute the heated water supply around your home. Traditionally these will have been made of copper but modern cheaper polyethylene materials can now be substituted to reduce costs.

Cylinder – These store hot water to use, as and when required. These are generally found in homes with an older gas central heating system. Where a modern combi-boiler is installed, a cylinder is not needed and water is heated on demand.

Emitters – These come in the form of radiators and underfloor heating components.

The Different Types of Gas Central Heating Systems

If you are deciding on a new gas central heating system for your home, it is advised that you become familiar with the different systems available to you.

The Vented System

A vented system is one that you may already be familiar with. This is where hot water is heated and then stored in a cylinder located somewhere in the home. Traditionally these cylinders are stored in airing cupboards with a cold water storage tank located in the loft.

The role of the storage tank is to supply cold water to the base of the cylinder. When this colder water is supplied to the cylinder, the hot water rises to the top and is then drawn off. The hot water makes its way through the vent pipes to the hot taps in your home.

There are two very different types of vented systems around; one could be in your home right now. An indirect system uses a heat exchanger in the cylinder itself to heat up the water. This differs from a direct system where the boiler is used to heat up the water before passing it to the cylinder.

The Combination Boiler System

These systems are one of the new kids on the block. Unlike traditional vented systems, they do not require a cylinder to store hot water. They are designed to give your home instantly heated water for your taps and your central heating system. This kind of system can save money as you only heat the water you use, rather than potentially heating it, storing it and then letting it go cold.

You may already have a combi-boiler in your home. Your existing combi-boiler may fire up if the temperature in your home drops below the designated temperature on your thermostat. Once your home reaches that temperature, your boiler will then stop. It can be very efficient in heating your home and has the power to reduce your energy bills.

To heat the hot water for the taps in your home, a combi-boiler will instantly heat the water. It will then pass it through the piping directly to your taps.

At its most basic level a combi-boiler works by using a series of control valves. These change direction dependent on what you need hot water for at that time. For example, one moment in can be heating your home and the next it can be providing hot water for your tap. The control valve changes direction from one to another.

High Pressure Systems

Finally, a high pressure central heating system uses cold water from the mains. This cold water is then heated by the boiler and stored in a water tank ready for use.

It works slightly differently from the vented system and your home needs to be located within a high water pressure area. If you live in an area with low water pressure, the system will not work.

All these systems work differently but all provide your home with warmth and hot running water. Are you looking to replace your current gas central heating system with one of the above? If so, it may be worth considering the running costs. A new gas central heating system should be seen as an investment. Have a think about what return you are going to receive from that investment before you buy.

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