Do I have a furnace or a boiler?
For most homes in the Barrington, IL area, there are two types of heating systems that are the most common. You will likely have either a furnace (gas or electric) or a boiler in your home, which utilizes heated water. Which do you have, how do they work, and what are the benefits of each? Let’s find out.
What is a furnace?
A furnace is a heating system that is powered either by natural gas or electricity. In our neck of the woods, gas powered furnaces are the most common. Both gas and electric furnaces are forced-air systems. Forced-air HVAC systems first heat the air through a device known as a heat exchanger. Then, the heated air is circulated inside your home through the ducts by an air handler (sometimes referred to as a blower motor). Finally, the heated air exits the ducts through the vents located in most rooms of your house.
Gas furnaces have many benefits:
- Easier to upgrade and install than a boiler system
- Cost-efficient and generally straightforward to maintain
- Less worrying over frozen pipes
- Less worrying over leaking or burst pipes
What is a boiler?
A boiler heats your home utilizing a water tank. This is unlike a furnace, which utilizes forced air. instead, the heated water is circulated through those pipes to radiators or baseboard heaters in your home. The radiant heat these provide heats the inside of the house. Boilers are more common in older homes that do not have or cannot support a forced-air system. While they can be complicated and more difficult to service, they do have some unique benefits as well.
- Less impact on indoor air quality (no moving air or blower) and may not require regular duct cleaning (because you likely don’t have a duct system)
- Can be very cost-efficient
- Potentially quieter as the system is not based on moving air
- Won’t dry out the air as much as a furnace would (again, no moving air)
Which is in my home?
If you’re wondering which type of system you have — it’s generally quite easy to determine. If you have heating panels or radiators throughout your home, that emit radiant heat, then you likely have a boiler system. If you have vents or dampers that blow heated air when your heating system turns on, you likely have a furnace system. However, if you’re unsure, please feel free to contact us online!