Many people refer to the appliance that heats their home as a furnace, but that may not be true: it could also be a boiler. Knowing the difference between these two pieces of equipment can be helpful when it comes to some money-saving do-it-yourself tips, or if you need to explain to us a problem you’re having with your system.
A furnace is the heating unit in a warm or “forced air” system. After air is heated in the furnace, a blower forces the warm air through ducts and into your living space via vents (also called “registers”). If you have vents in your house, you have a furnace.
All forced air systems have air filters to reduce dust and other impurities in your indoor air. If you have a standard throwaway filter, check it at least once a month, replacing as needed (make sure the furnace is off before changing the filter). After you change the filter, make sure to close the furnace panel.
There are two basic types of boiler: hydronic (hot water) and steam. In a hydronic system, water circulates through your boiler’s combustion chamber before being pumped through pipes and into your baseboards or radiators (if you have baseboard heating or radiators, you have a boiler). Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again. A steam boiler operates more or less the same way, but takes an extra step to convert water into steam before being released to heat your radiators and baseboards.
If you’re not getting heat from a baseboard, check to see if the damper is open, and make sure the bottom of the unit isn’t blocked by heavy carpeting. For steam systems, check the boiler’s water gauge from time to time; low water levels can cause your boiler to shut down. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty; if you don’t know how to do this, contact us for service. 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.
Getting the most from your heating system starts with quality propane and heating oil, delivered when and where you need it. Get yours from Core Fuels – join our family of customers today.