What you don’t know about your home’s boiler can hurt you! Boiler systems are unique. In fact, they are so unique that many homeowners are unclear about the difference between a boiler system and a furnace. While both achieve the same goal of heating your home, the mechanisms used are different. Furnaces distribute heated air through your home’s duct system. Boilers heat water that produces steam that gets distributed through pipes to reach your home’s radiators. People enjoy boilers for the following reasons:

  • Efficiency: Boiler systems won’t cause you to lose heat through leaky ductwork.
  • Effectiveness: Boiler systems warm objects instead of air to create lasting warmth.
  • Cleanliness: Boiler systems are great for preserving indoor air quality in your home because they don’t blow particles and allergens around the way that some other systems do.
  • Pleasant Heat: Boiler systems are known for producing a comforting, pleasant type of heat.

Is buying a home with a boiler a good idea? Is a boiler a good idea for your home heating upgrade? What’s the most efficient type of boiler for heating your home? These questions are undoubtedly running through your mind if you’re in the process of making any sort of change or upgrade to your home’s heating system. Take a look at all the answers you’ve ever wanted to have about living in a home with a boiler system!

How Do I Know If My Home Has a Boiler?

Homes with boilers have some telltale signs. If your home is heated using a boiler, it will have radiators, radiant floor heat, or hydronic baseboard heaters. Boilers don’t only get confused for furnaces frequently. They also commonly get mistaken for water heaters. While boilers share some overlapping features with water heaters, they serve an entirely different purpose. A home with a furnace needs to have a separate water heater that produces warm water for baths, showers, faucets, and water-using appliances. A typical water heater consists of a large tank that stores hot water that can be accessed on demand. Of course, you may need to wait for your tank to refill with hot water if you use lots of hot water all at once for things like doing laundry, washing the dishes, and taking a shower.

Unlike a water tank that functions solely to create hot water for use in your home, a boiler heats both air and water. It’s common today to purchase combination systems that actually combine a traditional boiler with a storage tank. However, standard systems simply create hot water on an as-need basis when the boiler is activated by the act of turning on the hot water in your home. This means that most boiler systems don’t allow you to access hot water immediately without a small waiting period. Of course, modern systems will begin to draw hot water in under a minute. Someone who doesn’t have space in their home for a large water tank may actually prefer the classic boiler without the preloaded tank.

How Does a Boiler Work?

Also known as a hydronic heating system, a boiler uses a combustion source to heat water that then travels through your home’s pipes to heat your indoor air. These pipes generally run under the floors of the home to create even distribution. Homeowners with boiler systems often report that this is a toasty, efficient heat source. Boilers can actually run on three different types of fuel. Here’s a look at your options:

  • Gas: Considered the cheapest option, a gas boiler works very similarly to a furnace. A pilot light that ignites natural gas is responsible for heating the pipes that water will travel through to reach your home’s radiators.
  • Electricity: Considered the most eco-friendly option, an electric boiler uses electric heating elements to heat water. While many people like the efficiency of this option, local electrical rates ultimately determine your monthly costs to heat your home with an electric boiler.
    Oil: Like natural gas, oil boilers require an oil tank that is used to store oil. While this type of boiler works similarly to natural gas boilers, the big difference is that you’re burning oil instead of natural gas. That means that your monthly cost to heat your home will fluctuate with oil prices.

“ENERGY STAR certified boilers have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 87% or greater for oil boilers and 90% or greater for gas boilers,” according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It can be hard to say which type of boiler offers the most cost-efficient way to heat your home due to ongoing fluctuations in energy costs. Regional rates can also impact prices for different fuel sources. However, a natural gas boiler is generally considered to be the cheapest option of the three on a consistent basis. It’s also easier to budget year after year with a gas boiler.

Are Boilers Good for Getting Rid of Humidity Issues in a Home?

You may be looking for an alternative if humidity issues from your forced-air furnace are leaving you unhappy. Can a boiler eliminate humidity? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag. Boilers don’t necessarily have any impact on humidity. While they don’t add additional humidity to a home, they also don’t prevent humidity.

Are Boilers Bad for Wasting Energy and Water?

No! It’s a misconception that boilers waste water and energy based on the way they work. This misconception comes down to the fact that the average person may not realize that boilers are part of a sealed system. That means that energy sources are contained within the system. In fact, a modern boiler is every bit as efficient as any other type of forced-air furnace you can buy for your home.

Are Boilers Loud?

The answer is that they can be. However, it should be said that newer boilers are very quiet compared to systems from yesteryear. A boiler is noisy because it uses a circulating pump to distribute hot water around your home. The sound shouldn’t be louder than a light humming. If you’re hearing a loud humming sound, this is a sign that your pump may be going haywire for some reason.

What Do I Need to Know About Boilers?

There’s one detail that all boiler owners need to know. A boiler system works much slower than other systems. In fact, you’ll need 24 hours to fully heat your home to its ideal temperature when you’re using a boiler. That means that you need to anticipate “cold snaps” in order to turn up your thermostat to the ideal temperature as early as possible when you know you’ll need a warmer home. Another “secret” about boilers is that the best way to maintain high-efficiency performance is to keep your boiler properly maintained. Of course, this is the “secret” that applies to all types of furnaces of any style, age, brand, and model.

Get your new boiler off to a great start by having it professionally installed by your local heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) specialists in Delaware. Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning offers expert boiler installation. Making sure that your boiler is installed properly is one of the keys to getting the best performance and efficiency possible! If you already have a boiler in your home that’s in need of maintenance and repairs, our team can help you to keep up with all the tasks necessary to keep your system running at peak performance for as long as possible. Get all your boiler questions answered by the local boiler pros of Delaware. Contact Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning today!