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What is the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler? Part 1

Many homeowners use the terms furnace and boiler interchangeably. While both of these systems heat your home, they work very differently. Here we will explain the differences and the importance of proper maintenance no matter which type of heat your home enjoys.

While ductless mini-split systems are becoming more popular, most homes in the United States utilize a central heating system. Not all central heating systems are alike, and the two most common types installed in homes today are furnaces and boilers. No, furnaces and boilers are not two different terms for the same thing. They both heat the indoor air, but they do it using completely different methods.

Understanding the differences in the two systems can be helpful when conversing with a technician about installing a new system or servicing the system that is already in place.

What are Boilers and How do They Work?

Boilers are the heart of a radiant heating system. A boiler heats water in a tank, then the heated water is circulated through pipes to various rooms in the home where it typically circulates through baseboards or radiators. The baseboard units and radiators retain heat absorbed from the heated water and radiate that heat into the rooms they serve. When the water in the system begins to cool, and the thermostat calls for heat, the circulating pump returns the cooled water to the boiler and hot water is sent back to the end points in the living space once again.

Radiant heating systems can run on electricity or gas. Electric boilers utilize heating elements to heat the water, while gas systems rely on gas burners under the tank.

What are Furnaces and How do They Work?

Like boilers, furnaces run on both gas and electric – but that is where the similarity ends. A furnace is a forced-air system. It works by combusting (burning) gas or generating electric heat, then using devices called heat exchangers, the air passing through the furnace is warmed. This warm air is then forced through ducts into the living spaces of your home with the assistance of blower fans.

Do I Need a Heating Service in St. Louis?

If you heat your home, it doesn’t matter if you have a furnace or a boiler, it’s important to select a knowledgeable heating service in St. Louis to conduct pre-winter maintenance. Call on Classic Aire Care for all your heating needs to make sure you’re ready for the upcoming cold weather.

Don’t miss Part 2 for more information on furnaces and boilers.

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