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What is the Difference Between a Boiler and a Furnace?

Published by Luke Weiden

There are two main types of central heating used in homes today: boiler systems and furnace systems. Both have their own specifications, along with their specific pros and cons. Read this guide to learn more.

The Main Difference

The main difference between furnaces and boilers is that furnaces push hot air to each room via air vents whereas boilers use pipes to dispense boiling water to individual radiators. Given that, boilers do take longer to distribute heat than furnaces, but the warm air is longer-lasting. Boilers are arguably more energy efficient as furnaces can lose about 30% of their fuel energy in exhaust alone.

What Are Boilers?

A boiler is a special-purpose water heater that heats rooms through individual radiators. Electric boilers use a central water pump and hot water coils to heat the water, whereas gas-fired boilers use gas burners to heat the water. Both systems utilize a circulatory pump to disperse the hot water through pipes and valves to individual radiators that heat each room. When the water begins to cool, the pump once again circulates hot water, thereby returning the cold water back to the boiler to be heated once again.

Homeowners control the temperature using  a thermostat that operates a zone valve or valves to regulate the circulation of hot water based on the desired temperature.

One of the main drawbacks of using a boiler is that if the boiler goes out during a cold period, not only could the plumbing pipes freeze and burst, but the radiator system could also potentially freeze and break. This would mean that the entire radiator or baseboard system would require replacement.

A home high efficiency furnace with a gas water heater.

What Are Furnaces?

Electric or gas-fired furnaces, on the other hand, heat homes using hot air via separate air ducts throughout the house. Commonly, furnaces use a heat exchanger to separate the combustion process from breathable air. To maintain optimal air quality, the breathable air is pushed through an air filter via forced air system into the vents and out the air grate.

Unfortunately, older furnaces risk losing about 30% of their fuel energy in exhaust as they heat the air. Newer furnaces have inducer fans that capture exhaust gas, but older furnaces have higher energy output and more carbon emissions. Additionally, accumulated debris in the air vents can force your furnace to work harder to heat rooms ,thereby increasing wear and tear on the unit.

Boiler Burner Replacement in Chicago

If you’re looking for a replacement boiler burner or furnace blower in Chicago, Deljo Heating and Cooling has high-quality, efficient HVAC replacements to meet all your needs. Additionally, if you need boiler services or furnace maintenance solutions, we have the experience and knowledge to do the job right the first time.

Call us at 773-248-1144 to schedule your next appointment!