heating installation connecticutMost furnaces and boilers have a lifespan of around 15-20 years, though homeowners who have performed annual maintenance may enjoy longevity with their system. However, if your heating system is reaching its expiration date, it’s important to start looking for telltale signs your system needs a replacement.

Don’t get caught with a faulty heating system as winter begins.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Heating Equipment

The most common red flags homeowners should look for as their heating equipment ages are:

Each of these factors can mean that your system isn’t working as efficiently—or cleanly—as possible. Maybe an obvious indicator, but if you’ve had to call up the repair team more often than usual, it may be another sign that it’s time to replace your heating system.

Should I replace, call in for maintenance or make other adjustments to my heating system?

If you start to notice the signs of aging or inefficiencies in your system, it’s time to ask if a replacement or continued repairs is the best option. It’s a hard decision to make as the upfront cost of a new heating system can be expensive. But, so are continued repairs and maintenance on your system.

If your heating system is less than 10 years old, it’s likely not ready to be replaced quite yet. Of course, every situation is unique. Work with an HVAC company to learn the extent of damage to your system so you can accurately assess if it’s best to replace or repair.

On the flip side, if your machine is older than 15 years, don’t jump the gun when it comes to replacing your system. Instead, thoroughly examine the operation of your existing equipment:

Look for other, potentially dangerous signs like:

These signs could indicate your burner is not working correctly and could indicate your system is producing carbon monoxide. Though carbon monoxide is nothing to fool around with, the problem can be fixed through a repair, not necessarily an entire system replacement.

Important note: What type of refrigerant does your heating system use? In January 2020, systems that require R22 refrigerant will need updates. If your system uses R22, you’ll need to retrofit your existing equipment to work with newer refrigerants, or you’ll need to purchase a new system.

What to Look for in a New Heating System

If your system is beyond repair— or needs an update to stay compliant with the R22 update— there is a silver lining. A new heating system will provide you:

When you make the big decision, consider the following factors:

Fuel type

How you fuel your new heating system will be one of the most important choices you make. Though there are plenty of furnace and boilers that run off natural gas. However, if your home isn’t already equipped with a natural gas line, be prepared to spend money on costs like:

These costs can rise to more than $10,000 for homeowners who need a complete conversion.

For homes that don’t have natural gas pipes, heating oil and propane are particularly common sources for fueling furnaces and boilers, especially for homes in the northeast.

Boiler vs. Furnace

While both options work well, homeowners may spend a bit more on the upfront investment for a boiler.

Homeowners also complain that furnaces are more susceptible to breakdowns. To prevent untimely repairs, homeowners must keep a more careful eye on routine maintenance and regular cleanings. In many cases, homeowners say that apart from an annual inspection, boilers require much less attention.

The Cost to Replace Your Heating Equipment

The cost of your new heating equipment will vary based on the type of equipment you select.

For example, the cost to purchase an install a boiler can be 2-3 times more expensive than the cost of a furnace.  The average costs are as follows:

Installing a new furnace will cost somewhere between $1,200-5,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.  A boiler, on the other hand, can cost between $5,000 and over $8,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.

Where to start when you’re ready to replace your heating equipment?

A faulty heating system can turn a cold winter day into a dangerous emergency. Especially if you don’t have a backup generator on hand.

Before winter hits, it’s wise to call in an expert for an annual inspection and home energy audit.

If you think it’s time to replace, your technician can also assist you with the process. From determining the proper fuel to selecting the best equipment for your home, work with an expert to ensure your house isn’t left without heat this winter.

Functionally, the most significant difference between a furnace and a boiler is that a furnace uses air to transfer heat, and a boiler uses water. However, this seemingly innocuous difference affects everything from upfront costs, efficiency and air quality, to ongoing maintenance bills.

Read on to see the benefits and drawbacks of furnaces and boilers, and which is best for your home.

What is a furnace?

A furnace can be powered by electricity, natural gas, propane, or heating oil. This system warms your home by drawing in cool air and then transferring it to the furnace through ducts. Once the air has reached the furnace, it is filtered, heated, and pushed back into rooms of your home through the same ductwork.

What is a boiler?

Rather than using air to warm your home—as a furnace does—boilers utilize hot water, making them essentially a special-purpose water heater.

A boiler uses gas, propane, natural gas, electricity or oil, to warm the water in its tank and then pushes the water through a venting system to warm your home. Once the water has cooled down, it is sent back into the boiler to be reheated and recirculated through your home.

How do furnaces compare to boilers?

The differences in how the heat is created and distributed throughout your home mean that boilers and furnaces have unique weaknesses and strengths.

Finally, because the vents of furnaces are exposed, they pose more safety risks than boilers. Objects can slip into the vents of a furnace, which is a fire risk. It’s also possible for someone’s finger or hands to reach into the vent, which poses a risk of burns.

Which is less costly: boiler or furnace?

While weighing the pros and cons of furnaces and boilers, maybe you noticed boilers have a few more advantages than furnaces. The benefits of a boiler are reflected in the price difference: Furnaces are significantly less expensive than boilers. 

The cost of a boiler—and the subsequent installation—are anywhere from 2-3 times more expensive than the standard rates for installing and purchasing a furnace.

Installing a new furnace will cost somewhere between $1,200-5,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.  A boiler, on the other hand, can cost between $5,000 and over $8,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.

Homeowners also find savings with furnaces when they are installed with a Central Air system. By combining the two systems, homeowners don’t have to pay for extra ductwork.

When it comes to efficiency, boilers may save you a bit on your monthly energy bills if your furnace is an older model. However, with newer models, both furnaces and boilers are roughly 95% energy efficiency, which means overall savings could be a moot point in the end.

Is it easier to maintain a furnace or a boiler?

On average, both furnaces and boilers have an average lifespan of 15-20 years. By giving your system an annual inspection and regular cleanings, you can even prolong the life expectancy of your appliances.

It is important to note that furnaces usually require more maintenance from a homeowner than a boiler will. Furnaces tend to be more susceptible to breakdowns, which requires a more careful eye from homeowners to keep up on regular inspections and cleanings.

In many cases, homeowners say that apart from an annual inspection, boilers require much less attention.

Which is best for your home: boiler or furnace?

At the end of the day, selecting a furnace or boiler will often come down to budget. If you can spring for the upfront cost that a boiler requires, you can enjoy benefits like radiant floor heating, and a more even flow of air.

However, furnaces are a great option, as well. Though they have a few more drawbacks compared to their counterparts, they are still an effective way to heat your home, especially if you’re on a budget.