What’s The Difference Between A Boiler And A Furnace?

Furnace Versus Boiler

What’s the difference between a furnace and a boiler?

The fundamental difference between a furnace and a boiler is how the heat is distributed throughout your home. 

A furnace is a forced air system and requires ductwork to distribute heat. A boiler is a piped hydronic system that heats up water as it flows throughout your home. Basically, one system uses air to heat your home, and the other uses water.

What’s A Boiler?

Boilers literally boil water in a hot water tank that circulates throughout your home via pipes to radiators or baseboard heaters in each room. 

How does a boiler disperse heat?

Boilers can either create steam or hot water depending on the type of heat dispersal you have; the former distributes via steam radiators, while the latter moves through baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems, or can raise the air temperature via a coil.  

What kind of energy does a boiler run on?

Boilers can operate on various energy types, including natural gas, oil, electricity, and even wood. 

What are the pros of using a boiler?

  • A boiler distributes water – this means no dry air or anything associated with it (including dust or allergens) circulates throughout your home. 
  • It provides a more balanced and consistent warmth, while operating more quietly.
  • Properly designed radiant in-floor piping is the most comfortable heat distribution possible.
  • It’s often easier to get piping to hard-to-reach rooms than ducting.

What are the cons of using a boiler?

  • It has a singular function: it cannot be converted since it only produces heat, and so homeowners find themselves having to install a separate AC-system at an additional cost. 
  • The possibility of water damage from leakage poses an expensive hazard to your home.

What’s A Furnace?

How does a furnace disperse heat?

It distributes heat with a blower or fan that moves the now warm air through your home’s duct system. The hot air disperses into each room via registers or vents in the floors, walls or ceilings. 

What kind of energy does a furnace run on?

Furnaces can run on electricity, natural gas, propane or oil. 

What are the pros of using a furnace?

  • There is a lower leakage hazard from a furnace since duct leakage consists of air escaping that causes much less damage to your home.
  • In many areas of the country air ducting is less expensive to install or service than radiant piping or systems.

What are the cons of using a furnace?

  • They’re inherently less efficient because air doesn’t retain heat as well as water, causing larger energy consumption in order to compensate.
  • It can distribute a mixed air composition of dust and allergens if filters aren’t changed.  

How do oil tanks fit in?

In the face of progress, the oil tank becomes a reminder of a time filled with constant service visits and inconsistent fuel deliveries at varying refill costs. 

What shapes can oil tanks come in?

They can be either capsule or cylindrically shaped drums. 

Where can oil tanks be installed? 

If your oil tank is capsule-shaped then it can be stored either vertically or horizontally, while a cylindrical-shaped tank must be stored horizontally. Depending on a host of factors, the oil tank can be situated indoors, outdoors, and above or below ground. 

What are the general implications of having an oil tank?

  • Sludge will result from systemic contamination by water and bacterial infiltration. It will travel via the fuel lines, the filter, and finally reach the burner. This creates major problems for the internal combustion engine, and will necessitate yet another service visit. 
  • Oil leaks can result from harsh exposure to external elements that can cause eventual rust or rotting of your tank and fuel lines. 
  • Oil deliveries are a tedious responsibility that cannot be outrun with technological advancements; you are hopeful that a punctual oil delivery driver is coming to refill the tank. In addition, these refueling visits will add up over the 10 – 15 year lifespan of the heating system.