Heating & Cooling


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The cheat sheet you need to learn about your oil-fired heating system.

How Oil heating systems work infographic

As perhaps the most critical item of equipment, your oil-fired heating system keeps your home comfortable and running smoothly all year round. But do you know how it works? If you answered no, we’ve put together this cheat sheet with some of the more common questions and answers about oil-fired heating systems.

Oil-fired heating system cheat sheet.

Types of oil-fired heating systems.

There are two types of oil-fired systems that use different methods to heat your home:
  1. Water-based systems
    These function when water is heated in either a cast iron or steel boiler before it is dispersed throughout your home and there are two main types of water-based systems:  
    • Hot water systems - with this system, the heated water is circulated through radiators or baseboards
    • Steam systems – in this system, the water turns to steam and rises through pipes to the radiators
  3. Warm air systems
    These systems function by the furnace heating air. A blower then sends the heated air through the ducts and out of vents in your floors or walls. The air gets drawn back to the furnace through a return duct and the cycle repeats.


How your oil-fired system generates heat

When the oil burner is engaged, heating oil travels from the tank to the burner by way of a pump where it becomes a fine mist mixed with air. This fuel/air mixture is then injected into the burner where it is ignited in the combustion chamber. Any emissions from the fuel and air combustion leave the system via a flue pipe through a chimney.


Your thermostat and how it regulates the oil-fired heating system

Your home’s thermostat senses the room temperature and when it falls below the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat, sends a signal that switches on the heating system to heat your home.


How does an oil-fired heating system distribute heat?

Each of the above systems does this in a few different ways, depending on the system:  
  • Hot water through baseboards
  • Steam through radiators
  • Warm air through vents