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What’s the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler?

natural-gas-furnace-flameIn order to get the service you really need for your heating system, it’s important to know the proper terminology. When your heater needs repairs or if you are shopping around for a new one, you should be able to identify whether you are thinking of a boiler or a furnace.

Don’t worry; it’s not uncommon to confuse the two. Sometimes, you get so used to hearing one term or the other, the differences may not occur to you. Or, you may move from a relatively warm climate to somewhere homeowners have all kinds of different systems in place.

We are here to help. Below, we describe the differences between a furnace (the most common heating system in the US) and a boiler (only common in cold areas like ours). Be sure to call our team when you need furnace or boiler services in Jerome, ID!

Furnaces Heat Up the Air

Boilers and furnaces start up in a similar way. They use natural gas or another type of heating oil for combustion. When the fuel ignites, a flame provides the heat necessary to keep the system going. But the combustion process is where the similarities end.

A furnace’s heat exchanger warms up as heat is produced during the combustion process. A blower fan near the furnace sucks in air from around your home through a register and past a filter. Then, the air moves over the heat exchanger.

The blower fan then pushes the air through a duct system. And that is how warm air reaches the rooms of your home.

Boilers Use Hydronic Heating

Boilers do not work by blowing hot air into a room. Instead, a boiler uses combustion to heat a tank full of water. Hot water circulates through the home via a network of pipes. This means either a piping system intricately laid out in the walls or the floors, or you may have a radiator or baseboard as an endpoint.

The heat from the water transfers directly to the objects and people in the room. This is called hydronic heating. This direct heat transfer is much different from forced-air heating (a furnace). But is it the best choice?

Which Is the Better System?

People who have boilers emphasize a lot of points when they say they will never go back to have a furnace to heat the home. What do homeowners love about their boilers?

  • Hydronic (water-based) heat transfer is effective and efficient. It simply does not compare to heating the air in a home.
  • Today’s boilers are more efficient than they’ve ever been. The misconception that boilers may be inefficient for heating a home comes largely from people’s perceptions of older boilers.
  • Boilers have a long lifespan and are unlikely to break down often.

However, furnaces still have their merits. That’s why it’s usually best to consult with a technician before making any big decision about your heating system. Furnaces are less costly to install, and many homes are already set up for them. Call our team for more information and we will be happy to help with the entire installation process.

Evans Plumbing Inc installs and services boilers and furnaces in Jerome, ID. Call our team to learn more!

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