Boilers vs. Furnaces

boilers vs. furnaces - Twin Cities MN contractor

Boilers vs. Furnaces

Which heating system is best for you and your family? To make the right decision, you must first consider the distinction between a boiler and a furnace. In this article, our Twin Cities HVAC technicians share the difference between a boilers vs. furnaces.

What’s the Difference?

The simplest way to note the distinction is that a furnace uses air to disperse heat in your house, while a boiler uses water. Both heating systems work in very different ways. A furnace heats the air, which is then circulated in the home by a blower motor and the duct system. The boiler heats your home with hot water. Hot water boilers use a pump to distribute heat through small hot water pipes to heat baseboard, cast iron radiators, or radiant flooring systems. A steam boiler heats the radiators in the home by distributing steam through a network of pipes. Boilers, also known as hydronic heat systems, can be powered by coal, oil, electricity, or renewable fuels like wood pellets.

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Benefits of Boilers & Furnaces

Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each heating system will help you decide how to heat your house. Furnaces use warm air, which causes a drafty atmosphere because air is constantly blowing around. Air movement is beneficial for cooling in the summer but is inconvenient for heating. Radiant or convection heating, such as baseboard or cast iron radiators, can provide consistent heat and temperature stability. Hydronic heating systems, unlike forced air systems, do not scatter dust and allergens in your home and do not dry out the air. Although a boiler system for heat and central air for cooling is slightly more costly than using the air conditioning ductwork to heat by adding a furnace, hot water heating is worth the extra expense when it comes to comfort. 

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Type of Heating Maintenance Needed

Maintenance is extremely important. You need maintenance on just about everything. Our friends at LMS Garage Doors, a company for garage door repair Sacramento, agree that maintenance is critical to the longevity of anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s your car, garage door, or HVAC system. The type of maintenance needed is another distinction between these systems. Since air is blown in the building, some contractors recommend adjusting the air filter of a furnace once a month or once a quarter for optimum air quality. Boiler cleaning is completely different. High-performance boilers and oil boilers (such as a warm air furnace) typically require an annual heating inspection, while a cast iron gas boiler will operate for years with little maintenance.

So, boilers vs. furnaces – which is better for you? It’s determined by your needs and your budget. McQuillan Bros is the leading heating and cooling company in Minnesota and beyond. We have so many HVAC options for you to choose from! Contact McQuillan Bros today to schedule a free estimate. 

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Furnace Won’t Turn On: What to Do

Furnace Won't Turn On: Here's What to Do!

Furnace won’t turn on? As a Minneapolis homeowner, a broken furnace during winter may seem like the end of the world.  Don’t try to survive all season without a furnace. Contact a heating and cooling company in St. Paul for furnace repair. In the meantime, here’s what to do if your furnace won’t turn on.

Your Furnace is Not Receiving Power 

This is a common problem with most furnaces. The good thing is that it is easy to identify and fix. The electric input in your furnace could be damaged or tampered with causing this problem. 

To determine whether the furnace is not receiving power, you can check other appliances in your house. If they can turn on, then your furnace is likely not receiving power. 

Check the circuit breaker and make sure that it is not switched off. Your furnace will have its own circuit breaker. Check whether it is on or off. If it is off, push it to the on position- but only once. The circuit breaker is supposed to switch off in the event there is a fault along with the power systems. If it switches off after you turn it on, call for furnace repair services in St. Paul, MN. 

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The Float Switch is Up 

A float switch is a sensor that monitors the level of condensate within your furnace. Remember, your furnace burns fuel to warm you up. This burning produces condensate which cools and collects as water within the furnace in a place called the condensate pan. 

As it accumulates, it lifts the float switch. This collected water is then drained by a condensation pump because it is usually acidic.

Therefore, if the float switch is up, it could mean that the condensation pump is not working correctly. Check if the drain is clear. If it is not, clear is so that the collected water can drain and the float switch can drop. 

Clogged Air Filter 

Your air filter prevents dust and debris from being blown into your house. With time, the air filter will accumulate excess dust and clog. Once clogged the furnace will turn off to prevent overheating. 

The air filter should be changed frequently to prevent these issues and to keep your furnace running. 

Your Thermostat is Acting Up 

Your thermostat is important to your furnace. It allows the furnace to turn on automatically once a certain threshold is met. Usually, you will have set this threshold. 

Sometimes, thermostats misbehave and lose their programming, explains our friends at Gilmore Heating, Air, & Plumbing, a heating company in Folsom. This makes the reset to their default settings. If this is the case, a simple reset will have your house warmed up again in no time. If you are not sure whether this is the issue, set the thermostat temperatures at 10 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature and observe. 

The Blower Motor is Not Working 

The blower motor blows hot air through the vents when your furnace is on. You can easily tell whether your blower motor is working by looking at your furnace. Usually, there is a small window on the side of your furnace. 

If you look through it, you should see a blinking green light. This is the blower motor. Check whether the light is blinking, if not, call for a furnace repair service company

Keep your House Warm All the Time 

Staying warm throughout is a matter of making sure that your furnace is in its best condition. Contact McQuillan Bros and enjoy the best furnace inspection and repair services throughout the year.

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Should I Replace My Boiler?

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Should I Replace My Boiler?

At McQuillan Bros, we often get asked by Minneapolis homeowners if they should or shouldn’t replace their boiler. For this reason, we have decided to put together the guide below so that every Minnesota homeowner can decide if replacing their boiler is a good decision. 

What You Need for the Calculation

To determine whether you will save money when you replace your boiler with a more efficient one, you need two pieces of information.

First, Minneapolis heating and cooling experts recommend that you contact your utility company and find out how much energy (in kilowatt-hours) your current boiler uses each year. This information may also be available on your energy bill, but it may be difficult to understand. So, your best bet is to ask the utility company for this information.

Secondly, you need to find out the efficiency of your boiler. This efficiency rating is normally indicated on the tag having the model and make of the boiler. Our HVAC technicians are quick to note that as the years roll by, the boiler’s efficiency is likely to drop further, especially if the appliance hasn’t been well maintained.

For example, a boiler rated at 80% efficiency by the manufacturer may have dropped several percentage points over the years.

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Will I Save If I Replace the Boiler?

To find out if you’ll save after replacing your boiler, Gilmore Heating and Air, a heating company in Sacramento, share exactly how you can find out. Do some calculations using the efficiency and annual energy use information you collected earlier. Follow the steps below.

Calculate How Much Heat Your Boiler Produces Annually

Minneapolis heating experts say this is easy to do as you just have to multiply the kilowatt-hours of energy consumed each year by the boiler’s efficiency rating. Then you divide this by 100. For example, if your boiler uses 15,000kWh of natural gas each year and the boiler is rated 78% efficiency, your calculation will be 15,000×0.78 to give you 11,700 units of heat to warm your home.

Calculate How Much Energy a New Boiler Would Produce Annually

To get this figure, take the units of heat calculated earlier and multiply that number by the efficiency of the new boiler you wish to buy. For example, if the new boiler has a 90% efficiency rating, you will multiply 11700×0.90 to give you 10,530 kWh of energy.

Find Out How Much Less Gas You Will Need Once the New Boiler Is Installed

For this, Minneapolis HVAC contractors say you subtract the new boiler’s energy from the energy used by the old boiler. In our example, this will be 15,000-10,530 to give you a difference of 4,470 units of energy.

Find Out the Cost of the Energy You Save

This simply requires you to multiply the number of kWh by the unit cost of each kWh. For example, 4470x$0.437. This will give you a saving of $195 each year.

The national average cost for buying a boiler in the U.S. is $5,596. So, you would need about 28 years to recoup your investment. Is it worth it, in this case, to invest in a new boiler? The numbers don’t say so. However, if you use a lot more energy each year and the efficiency of your boiler is lower than what we used as an example, the figures will play out differently, and you may save by upgrading to an energy-efficient boiler.

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Should I Replace My Boiler or Repair It?

Remember, everyone’s household is different, so we recommend going over the numbers with trained professionals. Not ready to upgrade your boiler? You can also compare the cost of boiler repair or boiler maintenance. If you’re unsure if you need a boiler repair or a boiler replacement, contact McQuillan Bros. Our team is always happy to help. We always have prompt arrivals, meticulous cleanup, and dependable follow-through. Ultimately, the decision to replace your boiler is up to you. Run the numbers, talk to a Minneapolis HVAC contractor, and contact McQuillan Bros.

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We Can't Wait To Serve You!

Complete the form below and one of our team members will give you a call to help get you scheduled. If you have an urgent need please call us at
(651) 243-4002