Furnaces and boilers are two different pieces of equipment used to heat a home. Furnaces heat air and move it through a home using a duct system. Boilers heat water and distribute steam through pipes to steam radiators or distribute hot water through baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems.
Furnaces and boilers need regular maintenance to continue providing efficient heating. All systems require checking the condition of vents, piping and chimney. Parts can deteriorate and need replacement over time. Heat exchangers are notorious for leaks, but leaks can easily be spotted on a boiler since there is a puddle of water forming on the floor. Furnaces can mix gases with air in a home and can become combustible if they have a leaky heat exchanger. Regular inspection is a must. A homeowner can adjust the controls on both a boiler and a furnace to settings that are comfortable and efficient for water and air usage.
Things to check on a forced air system include the combustible chamber for cracks, testing for carbon monoxide, removal of dirt and debris, and seal connections at the main ducts.
Things to check on hot water systems include the pressure relief valve, pressure tank to make sure it is not filled with water and the heat exchanger.
Things to check on steam systems include the heat exchanger, analysis of boiler water to control deposits and corrosion, and testing of low-water cutoff and high-limit safety controls.