Why Shouldn't You Add Water To Your Steam Boiler?

Posted on: 19 January 2022

When it comes to your home's heating system, adding water to a steam boiler is like putting a bandaid over a cut that needs stitches. It might keep the problem out of sight for a little while, but it won't address the real issue.

If your boiler frequently needs more water, that's a sign that something is wrong with your home's steam heating system. Adding more water or installing an automated system that refills the boiler when the level drops too low may mean that you're ignoring a severe problem that will only worsen over time.

Why Don't Steam Boilers Need Top-Ups?

Your home's steam heating system will never consume water when operating normally. A typical single residential boiler system generates steam in the boiler, and this steam rises throughout the home to fill radiators or baseboard heaters. The heat you feel is extracted from this steam, gradually cooling it and allowing it to drip back down to the boiler as it condenses.

This design uses a closed loop. At no point does water exit the system, at least under normal circumstances. The system does need to allow air to enter and leave your radiators, but specialized valves ensure that steam cannot exit through the same path. Under ideal conditions, your boiler will not lose any water or water losses will be so minuscule that you will never notice them.

Why Is Your Boiler Losing Water?

Most homeowners know that HVAC equipment rarely operates under ideal conditions. As equipment ages, failures can occur, and the system may not perform as it should. If your steam boiler is losing water, you'll first need to check for leaks in your heating pipes and radiators. Assuming you don't find any problems here, it's time to move on to the boiler itself.

Start by checking for water near the pressure relief valve. A boiler with too much pressure will release steam from this valve as a safety precaution, losing water as it does so. A faulty valve or a problem causing your boiler to run with too much pressure can potentially result in consistent water loss, forcing you to add water to your boiler frequently.

Your boiler also has numerous seals and pipe fittings, any of which can wear down over time and leak. Slow leaks may not produce noticeable amounts of water on the ground, especially since it may be leaving the system as steam. A boiler running with high pressure is more likely to damage fittings, seals, and even the pipes around your home.

If you can't find any obvious source of leakage around your boiler, you should contact an HVAC professional who provides boiler repair as soon as you can. Ignoring a boiler that continually loses water will increase your utility bills and may even shorten the life of your HVAC equipment.


Summer is Upon Us – Is Your AC Working?

Hi. My name is Laurie Waters. The HVAC contractor was just out at our house last week and did I ever get a lesson from him. You see, we had a warm spell hit and I went to turn our air conditioning on for the first time since last summer. Much to my dismay, it wasn’t working. All I got was a blast of warm air. The fan was bringing the outdoor heat inside. Thank goodness it wasn’t anything major. My unit needed Freon. While he was here, the contractor taught me how to do some routine maintenance around my unit, vents, and filters. I’m going to share this information with you. I hope you find it to be useful.

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