How much do you know about your current heating system? If you live in an older or historic home, maybe you rely on your radiator each winter. Or, perhaps you live in a newer home with a traditional forced-air furnace.
Either way, you may wonder if you can get by with your current system or if it's time for an update.
What you may not know is that radiant boiler systems are still an option, whether or not you have a boiler now. By educating yourself on today's residential boilers, you'll know if they're right for your home.
Pros and Cons of New Residential Boilers
First, you need to know how a boiler differs from a hot air furnace. Unlike a furnace, a boiler circulates hot water through pipes in your home (and through radiators in older homes). By contrast, a hot air furnace blows the heated air through ducts and vents.
Although boilers still carry hot water throughout the home, today's boiler systems can do more than take water to baseboard heaters or radiators. Today, you can install radiant heating within your floors.
Here are a few more pros and cons to boiler installation:
New boiler systems operate quietly.
Boilers don't require as much maintenance (no filters or regular duct cleanings).
Boilers and radiant heating systems are great for those with allergies (no blowing dust or contaminants).
Boiler systems work reliably for many years.
Boiler installation can be more expensive up front (and require knowledgeable HVAC technicians).
Pipes can freeze and burst with boiler/radiant heating systems, so they'll need regular check-ups.
What If You Own an Existing Boiler?
If you already have a boiler, take care of it by insulating your pipes, plugging gaps and chinks in your home's exterior, and scheduling regular maintenance checks.
Of course, if you're in the market for a system upgrade, ask your HVAC representative if your old system can be retrofitted for better energy efficiency. If you've been planning for radiant heating in your floor, you already have the boiler in place, so your remodel may cost less.
The Importance of Regular Professional Maintenance
Even though boilers are fairly easy to maintain, that doesn't mean you should ignore periodic check-ups, particularly if your system is old.
Call your plumber to check the following components during your annual system service appointment:
Pressure gauge and safety valve
Water level gauge