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What Is The Difference Between A Furnace And A Boiler?

October 15th, 2017 by kcunningham

Furnace? Boiler? Same difference, right? Wrong.

They’re not the same thing, and they have different names for a reason. But what does it matter, you ask, as long as they keep the house warm? Well, it’s useful to know these things in case you encounter any issues with your heating system and need to do some light maintenance, some home repair, or even when you’ve called in a pro who’s explaining what’s up while you go “uh huh, sure.” Or when you’re calling a pro, who hasn’t gotten there yet, and he or she asks you for details about your heating system, if you’re not sure what’s what then you’re gonna have a hard time on the phone. So let’s fix that and prevent any inconveniences down the line.

 

What’s The Difference?

At its simplest, a furnace uses warm air to heat your home. A boiler boils, and uses either warmed water or steam to do that job. Warm air and hot water are very different things, so not only are the boiler and the furnace themselves different, but so are the heat distribution and circulation systems they utilize.

Furnaces use ducts and blow warm air around the house. These ducts are simple and use filters to prevent dust or dirt from circulating into the air people breathe.

Boilers use baseboards or radiators, which are connected the hot water pipes that run around the home. The heat circulates to the baseboards or radiators and then to the rest of the home. There are two types of boilers, hot water systems (hydronic) and steam systems, and with names like that they’re pretty self-explanatory.

 

So Which Is Better?

The next question would be, which is better, a boiler or a furnace? Of course they have their own advantages and disadvantages. Boilers have generally more affordable repair and operation costs, you also don’t need to worry about air filters with them. Since boilers convey heat through the pipes and radiators, rather than blowing air through ducts, the heat also stays “in place” instead of dispersing too much.

Boilers do take time to warm up a place and if the weather gets really, really cold then they can freeze up. They can also make things pretty humid.

On the other hand, furnaces are cheaper to install and won’t freeze up. But furnaces have shorter life spans and need more maintenance. The air filter, for example, needs to be replaced regularly, unlike boilers.

There’s also a newer system called hydro-air, which uses a mechanism where the hot water warms air which is then circulated as well.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? At least, with this information, if you ever call a hotline or have a pro come over and check a look, you can convey some of the basic details and grasp what they have to say as well. For more information on furnaces and boilers, contact Thornton Heating at (847) 905-1608.