The P. Gagnon & Son Blog

Furnaces vs. Boilers: What’s the Difference?

Get the best energy efficiency and comfort from your heating equipment.

boilers  Rockingham county, nh Every home is unique, and at P. Gagnon & Son, we’re fortunate to serve a fascinating range of homes in Maine’s York County and New Hampshire’s Strafford and Rockingham County. Some are recently built, while others have decades of history. They come in many shapes and sizes —with ductwork and without — and use different energy sources, including heating oil, propane and electricity. But our constant goal with all the households we serve is to ensure uninterrupted, year-round comfort.

One question we get from many new homeowners in our service area is how a boiler differs from a furnace. It can be pretty confusing if you grew up in a house with one heating option and just purchased a house with another.

No need to worry; the experts at P. Gagnon & Son can help.

How does a boiler work?

Boiler systems do not use ducts to provide heat. Instead, they heat water and circulate hot water or steam through pipes into your living spaces. Steam systems use radiators to heat your rooms, and hot water boilers use baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems.

How does a furnace work?

Furnaces take in cool air and heat it in a combustion chamber. This hot air moves to the furnace’s heat exchanger, where a blower fan forces it through your home’s ductwork to vents in your rooms. This is called a forced-air heating system.

Are boilers or furnaces better?

There are pros and cons to both heating system types.

Furnaces tend to warm homes faster. They utilize ductwork, and homes with furnaces can typically install central air conditioning. This isn’t the case with boilers (although we have many ductless cooling options you can choose from). On the other hand, forced-air systems circulate air into your living space, which can spread pollutants and lower indoor air quality.

Boilers produce a humid heat, which many people find more comfortable. However, they also take longer to heat your home. Replacing a boiler is more complicated than replacing a furnace. If you have a major boiler failure, you risk water damage to your home.

P. Gagnon & Son knows home heating equipment!

It’s natural to want to get the most for your energy dollar. Some homeowners ask us if they should switch their heating system to a different type. We’re always happy to evaluate your equipment to see what we can do to boost your comfort and lower your fuel bills.

It’s important to note that changing from a boiler system to a forced-air system (and vice versa) can be expensive and time-consuming, with alterations to large sections of your house.

It’s almost always a better idea to invest in efficiency with a new furnace or boiler installation . Today’s high-efficiency heating systems have fuel efficiencies as high as 98.5%, meaning that virtually every cent you spend on fuel goes to heating your home. You’ll burn less heating oil or propane and enjoy cost savings for years to come.

Allow the P. Gagnon team to see if your home could benefit from an upgraded boiler or furnace installation. Reach out to us for a free estimate.