Boiler vs. Furnace: What’s the Difference?

How Heating Oil Furnaces and Boilers Work

heating systems new jerseyWhile most people generally refer to their heating oil system as a furnace, that’s a totally different system from a boiler. Both of these heating systems will keep your home warm, and there are some tips that will help you get the most out of your own system. But first, you have to be clear about which type of heating system you currently have in your home.

How Does a Furnace Work?

A furnace refers to the heating unit in a warm air, or forced air, system. After the air is heated in the furnace, a blower fan distributes it through ducts. The warm air is then released through vents or registers in your home.

What is a Boiler?

If you have a hot water (hydronic) system, water circulates around your boiler’s combustion chamber. A circulator pumps the hot water through pipes to heat baseboards or radiators. Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again. If you have a steam system, the boiler turns the water into steam, which then rises through pipes to radiators.

Hot tips for Furnaces

  • All warm air systems have an air filter to screen out dust and other impurities. In general, you should check the filter’s condition about once a month during the heating season and change/clean it when necessary. Refer to manufacturer guidelines for proper maintenance.
  • If you have a whole house air cleaner connected to your furnace, get the most out of it by keeping the thermostat setting to “on” instead of auto. This provides continuous circulation and filtration of indoor air and helps maintain a balanced temperature throughout your home.

Hot tips for Boilers

  • If you’re not getting heat from a baseboard, check to see if the damper is open. Make sure the bottom of the unit isn’t blocked by heavy carpeting.
  • For steam systems, check the boiler’s water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Contact your heating oil company if you’re not familiar with this procedure or watch this quick video.
  • A radiator valve has only two positions, on and off. Keeping the valve’s handle in between does not regulate the temperature but can strain the pipes and produce a hammering sound.

Important Tips for All Heating Systems

  • Keep the area around your system as clean and clutter-free as possible. Never store anything flammable near your system.
  • Keep registers, baseboards or radiators clean and unobstructed to ensure maximum air flow.

If you think it’s time to replace your old oil furnace or oil boiler, please contact your New Jersey heating oil company about your options.

Today’s oil boilers and oil furnaces offer homeowners a great opportunity to increase their comfort while decreasing their energy usage. New systems now heat your home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment. Energy-efficient equipment can be installed with controls to use only as much fuel as needed to heat your home or a specific part of your home.

Read more about the benefits of a new boiler installation or new furnace installation.