How to Size a Hydronic Boiler

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Accurate and code-compliant sizing of a boiler is standard practice for plumbing and HVAC professionals. The task has changed much from the days when a contractor would stand outside and guesstimate the correct size. These days contractors use one of a few methods of heat loss calculations and then rely on the local and state codes to narrow the search to the final boiler(s) for the residence in question.


Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) provides an abridged version of their engineered heat loss calculator for anyone to download, along with a video tutorial.

  • Download the ACCA spreadsheet and watch the linked video tutorial on how to use the spreadsheet.

  • Complete a comprehensive heat loss calculation to determine the needed British Thermal Units to supply the necessary heat for the location of the house in question. The spreadsheet is self-explanatory for the measurements and determinations required to complete it accurately.

  • Determine the best location for the boiler installation by thoroughly understanding the International Mechanical Code's sections on Combustion Air requirements and Boilers. This will lead to specific choices for the venting requirements of the boiler.

  • Determine the best possible fuel source for the boiler, the final step in the selection process.

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