A boiler plays a vital role in various heating applications and uses for residential or commercial properties. It is essentially utilised for water heating, central heating, cooking, sanitation, and even power generation. 

There are different types of boilers available in today’s market, ranging from the most traditional to the most advanced. They also come in various shapes and sizes, models, and designs, as well as features and functionalities. For this reason, you will surely be able to choose something that suits your heating needs, whether at home or in your commercial space.

In this article, we’ll specifically cover what a steam boiler entails, what it is, and how it works.

What a steam boiler is

Simply put, it is a device used to create steam by applying heat energy to water. This type distributes heat via one or more radiators in each room. Instead of a wall unit which is true for a hot-water radiator, this model has a huge, cast-iron tank. It is said to be a convection heating technology that remains in use for more than 200 years, typically found in old homes.

How a steam boiler works

If you’re wondering how it works, let’s start with its cast-iron tank filled with water. Below the tank is a burner which essentially heats the water and turns it into steam. The steam then rises through the pipes and gets distributed to each radiator at home or commercial building. The heat is further transferred to the radiator, causing the steam to condense back into the water. The water travels back to the radiator, which is reheated for the next cycle.

Two types of piping systems

There are two piping systems of a boiler that are common among homes or commercial properties, as follows:


  • One-pipe system: The single-pipe system utilises the same pipe is to deliver steam to the radiators and to return water to the tank. While the steam rises up, the water goes back through the same pipe during the evaporation and condensation processes.


  • Two-pipe system: This system consists of two separate pipes—one for the steam supply and the other for the water return.

If you want to determine what type of boiler you have, simply take a look at your radiator. If there’s only one pipe connected to it, then it’s a one-pipe system. Otherwise, it has two pipes on the opposite ends of the radiator.

Vital features of a steam boiler

To ensure the utmost safety and ensure full operation, be wary of the following features of your boiler:


  • Pressure gauge and regulator: This tracks the pressure level and stops the fuel supply if it has already reached the limit.


  • Temperature and pressure relief valve: If the regulator fails and the pressure rises significantly, the valve then releases the steam.


  • Water level sight glass: This is a clear glass tube that shows the water level in your boiler.


  • Low-water cutoff: If the water value drops below the minimum level, it shuts off the system altogether.


At this point, we’ve covered what you need to know about a steam boiler—what it is and how it works. 

A steam boiler typically lasts between 15 to 30 years on average. Suppose you want to ensure that it lasts longer than usual. In that case, it’s best to have your boiler checked regularly by professional technicians, where they’ll conduct a thorough inspection and test critical controls and safety features. Ultimately, they’ll ensure that your boiler is in top shape and working condition!

Are you looking for steam boilers for your business? You’ve come to the right place, as we’re a boiler rental company in London. We also offer a wide selection of chillers, heaters, portable air-conditioning, generators, and ancillaries. To know more about our boiler hire services, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!