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Furnaces Vs Boilers: What’s the Best Heating System Option?

High-Efficiency Heating System in Illinois

A modern, high-efficiency heating system in Illinois will do wonders for your property, from potentially reducing your heating costs, to improving the comfort of your rooms, but which system is the best to go for: a boiler or a furnace?

The heating system that you choose for your house will determine the comfort and efficiency of your home for many years, so it’s a decision that needs very careful consideration. Yet, choosing between a boiler and a furnace is no simple task. Both systems may be designed to heat your home, but they couldn’t be more different in terms of design, function, and capability.

It’s time to get to the bottom of which system is the best option for your home…

What Is a Furnace?

Put simply, a furnace is designed to heat air. The heated air is then blown throughout a property via a blower motor. By using a system of ducts installed around the property, the hot air is then released into each room, where it’ll heat the space. This same duct system can also be used for air conditioning in warmer months of the year.

Now that you know how a furnace operates, here are some of the main pros and cons of opting for a furnace to heat your home:

  • Less expensive than a boiler
  • Leaks are unlikely to cause much damage
  • No risk of frozen pipes
  • Easy and often inexpensive to maintain
  • Furnace duct-work can be used for air conditioning
  • Not as energy efficient
  • Can cost more to run
  • Heat is not always consistent
  • Can be loud
  • Poor quality ducts can lead to drafts
  • Air quality is reduced due to blown air

What Is a Boiler?

Unlike a furnace, a boiler doesn’t heat air, but instead heats water. Depending on the boiler, either hot water or steam will be circulated via pipes around a property. There’s a lot of variance between boiler applications; some boilers can be used to circulate heat via a fan coil, whilst other systems can be used disperse heat into rooms via radiators or underfloor heating systems.

It’s also possible to have a combi boiler installed which can heat radiators and other systems, as well as being used to heat the main water supply for a property.

Boilers are very different to furnaces in the way that they provide heat to the home, but are the pros of this system worth the cons? Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider:

  • The heat that a boiler produces is more consistent
  • Easy to maintain
  • Air quality is improved as dust isn’t blown around the room
  • Can be very energy efficient to operate
  • Very quiet operation
  • Easy to control
  • Higher initial costs
  • Leaking water can cause damage
  • Not always responsive to thermostat changes
  • Freezing pipes are a potential hazard

Furnace Vs Boiler: Which Is Best?

There’s a substantial difference between boilers and furnaces, but despite the main differences, there’s no clear ‘best’ option. A lot depends on the existing system that’s installed inside a property, as altering the system, particularly from a boiler to a furnace, can be very difficult and expensive.

However, for new constructions or properties that are undergoing serious renovations, where a choice has to be made between a boiler and a furnace, it’s certainly worth comparing the pros and cons.

Financially, the installation of a furnace is a more appealing choice initially, as the system is considerably more cost-effective. However, in the long-run, the efficiency of a boiler can seem like a better investment; boilers are more energy efficient, and the heat is generally more consistent.

A major downside to boilers is the risk of damage if a leak should occur. Boilers pose a risk of water damage, and burst pipes, which can occur during freezing temperatures. A furnace is not prone to these problems, as it heats air instead of water. A great advantage of furnaces is also the ease of installing air conditioning.

For properties in warmer climates, furnaces can be a much more beneficial choice, as the inconsistent heat won’t be such a problem and the air conditioning will be greatly depended on. For properties in colder climates, the applications and efficiency of boiler can be very rewarding.

Get Advice from the Professionals

The last thing you want is to regret the system that you choose, as it’s certainly not easy to alter the system down the line! One of the best ways to determine which system will be right for your home is to get advice from heating and cooling specialists, as while there’s no single ‘best’ system, there may be a best system for your home.


Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Furnace

Chicago Furnace Replacement

Furnace Repair & Replacement

Chicago winters are not something that you want to have to face without a fully functioning and efficient furnace – those cold nights are going to be even worse without a reliable Chicagoland heating system!

But how do you know if your furnace has one last winter left in it? Furnaces don’t last a lifetime, despite what many people would hope; however, it’s not just the end of your furnace’s lifespan that you need to worry about!

Before your furnace breaks down completely, it’s likely to give you plenty of signs that an upgrade is needed. Catch these signs early and you’ll have plenty of time to get your furnace upgraded, but fail to notice them and you could be in for some chilly nights, or even worse…

Here are eight signs that it’s time for a furnace upgrade:

  • You’ve Forgotten When Your Furnace Was Last Upgraded

If you can’t quite remember when you last had your furnace upgraded, then it could be time to get a new one. The lifespan of a furnace varies from model to model, but you’ll normally find that there’s around a 15-year limit on the efficiency of a furnace – if those 15 years have been and gone, it’s time to look at an upgrade.

  • There Has Been a Noticeable Increase in Your Energy Bills

The older a furnace gets, the less energy efficient it’ll become; there’s little you can do about this as the reason is largely down to wear and tear. As with most major home appliances, a lack of energy efficiency will become noticeable on your energy bills. If there’s been a steady rise in your energy expenditure recently, your furnace could be to blame.

  • Furnace Repairs Are Getting More Frequent &  Expensive

As a furnace gets older, and the repairs start to stack up, you may start to notice that you’re spending more and more on keeping your existing furnace operating. There’ll eventually come a time when it’s cheaper to replace than repair, but it’s best to avoid this point. If your latest furnace repair bill is half the cost of a new furnace, it’s a good sign that it’s time to replace.

  • Heating Is No Longer as Consistent as It Once Was

Age and deterioration will eventually catch up with most furnaces, and you may start to notice this in the kind of heat that it’s producing for your home. If you’re struggling to heat your rooms consistently without the appearance of spots that are too hot or too cold, then the age of the furnace is likely to blame.

The furnace may also be due an upgrade if you’re constantly having to readjust the thermostat to stay comfortable.

  • Your Furnace Is Making Strange Noises

So far, most of the signs that you may need to upgrade your furnace have surrounded the heat that it outputs, but you may also get an early warning sign via sound. Squeals, bangs, and pops are not the sounds of a healthy furnace; they’re very evident signs that an upgrade is due.

  • The Furnace Burner Flame Has Changed Color

An inefficient furnace, or one that’s producing carbon monoxide, will often have a burner flame that’s yellow. Since a healthy furnace’s flame is supposed to be blue, this should be a major warning sign that there’s something seriously wrong with the furnace.

If the flame is yellow, it’s important to act quickly, leave the house and get an expert in to have a look, as it could be pumping out poisonous carbon monoxide. Excess moisture around the home, soot around the furnace, no upward draft in the chimney, and rusty pipes are also a sign of carbon monoxide being released.

  • You’re Experiencing Frequent Headaches

Further signs of carbon monoxide presence, and serious signs that you need a furnace upgrade, are regular headaches, sickness, and a burning sensation. Carbon monoxide presence can be the result of a cracked heat exchanger and is potentially fatal.

  • Your Home Is Starting to Feel Dry or Stuffy

A stuffy home may be a surprising sign that your furnace isn’t working, but it could be the result of an old or faulty furnace. If your home feels dry or stuffy, and there isn’t much moisture around, then your furnace may have stopped doing its job properly!

From discomfort to health risks, the consequences of putting off your furnace replacement for too long are not worth risking. If your furnace is telling you that it’s time to consider an upgrade, make sure that you’re listening! With a brand-new furnace, you could wave goodbye to old problems and welcome a warmer, safer, and more efficient home – the perfect environment to tackle the cold Chicago winters.


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