What Do You Have: A Furnace or a Boiler?
Here is some information you should know that will give you a working knowledge of how your oil-heat system works.
To begin with, your oil heating system can be either a furnace or a boiler. Both of these heating units will keep you warm; knowing what type of system you have will be helpful if a problem arises. If it’s something minor, you may be able to correct it yourself. And if you need to discuss something with our oil-heat service technician, you will at least have some understanding about how your heating system operates.
What is a furnace?
A furnace refers to the heating unit in a warm-air, or forced-air, system. After air is heated in the furnace, a blower forces 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 air filters 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 or clean it when necessary. Contact us if you’re not familiar with this procedure.
- If you have a whole-house air cleaner connected to your furnace, get the most out of it by keeping the thermostat set 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 that 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 of shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Contact us if you’re not familiar with this procedure.
- A radiator valve has only two positions, on and off. Keeping the valve’s handle in between the two does not regulate the temperature but can strain the pipes and produce a hammering sound.
Hot 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 airflow.
If you think it’s time to replace your old furnace or boiler, please contact us about your options. Today’s oil boilers and oil furnaces offer homeowners a great opportunity to increase their comfort while decreasing their energy usage.