Written on: November 23, 2020

Boiler Vs. Furnace: What’s The Difference?

boiler and furnace care connecticut

Ask some people what type of heating system they have, and they will answer “a furnace” – when what they actually have is a boiler.

The differences between these two pieces of equipment (and the type of systems each works within) are significant – and knowing which one you have could prove quite helpful when the time comes to troubleshoot a problem with a heating technician.

Furnace 101

A furnace is the key component in a “forced air” system – that is, a system with vents rather than radiators or baseboards.

The furnace burns fuel (such as heating oil) to heat a volume of air, then uses blowers to push that warmed air through a series of ducts and into your living space until it reaches the temperature you’ve set on your thermostat. Once the temperature is reached, the burner shuts off; if temperatures drop below your thermostat setting, intake vents draw the now-cooled air from your home back into your furnace for re-heating.

Three keys for keeping a furnace working at its best:

  • Check and change (or clean, depending on the model)air filters regularly – Check your filters about once a month, especially in peak heating months.
  • Take care of furnace repairs quickly – The longer you wait, the bigger the repair.
  • Replace older equipment once repairs start happening more frequently – Once a furnace gets to somewhere in the 12 to 15-year-old range, repairs start to become sunk costs, because the efficiency of your older equipment may be as low as 70 percent – a huge drop-off from the 90+ percent efficiency of a modern furnace.
  • Boiler 101

    A boiler is the heart of a “hydronic” (water-based) system. A boiler burns fuel to heat water, then pumps it through pipes and into your baseboards or radiators; eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again (a steam boiler operates more or less the same way as a hydronic boiler, but converts water into steam before sending it through to your radiators and baseboards).

    Four keys for keeping a boiler working at its best:

  • Keep an eye (and hand) on your radiators and baseboards – If your baseboards aren’t getting warm, check to see if the damper is open, and make sure the bottom of the unit isn’t blocked by heavy carpeting.
  • Check your water gauge – For steam systems, check the boiler’s water gauge; low water levels can shut down your boiler. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty; if you don’t know how to do this, contact us for service.
  • Take care of boiler repairs quickly
  • Replace older equipment once repairs start happening more frequently
  • Getting the most from your heating system starts with expert heating installations and heating maintenance in northern Westchester and Fairfield counties, and continues with reliable heating oil deliveries in NY and CT. Get all three with the experts at Westmore Fuel Co. – contact us today to learn more!