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The difference between boilers and furnaces, explained

What is the difference between boilers and furnaces? Or, boilers and water heaters? Many homeowners use these terms interchangeably, but these systems—from the way they work to their very purpose—are all incredibly different. In this article, we’ll review boilers, furnaces, and water heaters, and how to know which system you need for your home.

Do you live here in Buffalo or Western New York? At Reimer Home Services, we offer free in-home estimates on new boilers and furnaces. Give us a call today to learn more about heating installation from our team.


Get a free in-home estimate on a new furnace or boiler.

Does your home need a new heater? We’re here to help. At Reimer, we offer free in-home estimates on new heating systems—including both furnaces and boilers. Fill out the form to request an appointment with our team.


What is the difference between boilers and furnaces?

The majority of homes in the United States have a central heating system. Those that don’t typically have a ductless mini-split setup.

But, not all types of central heating systems are the same. The two most common types of heating systems installed in homes today include furnace and boilers. Some people think that the difference between the two is just semantics. However, this is not the case. Sure, both the systems keep the room warm, but the way that the warm air is generated is different.

Knowing the differences between a boiler and a furnace will be helpful when it comes to new heater installation. It will also be of use when conversing with the technician about heater problems. So, what are the differences between the two? You should continue reading the article to find out.

What are boilers?

A key difference between boilers and furnaces is that boilers heat water to be used for radiant heating, while furnaces heat air to be used for forced-air heating.

A key difference between boilers and furnaces is that boilers heat water to be used for radiant heating, while furnaces heat air to be used for forced-air heating.

Boilers generate warm air through the heated water in a tank. They don’t require ducts to circulate warm air throughout the house. Instead, heated water is circulated through pipes to different end points located inside the house that are typically baseboard heaters or radiators. This is known as radiant heating.

Electric boilers have heating elements to heat the water, while gas heaters use jets under the tank for the same purpose. The heat is moved through the end points into the living space through radiant heat transfer—the delivery of heat by increasing the surface temperature so that it warms the nearby area.

What are furnaces?

On the other hand, both gas and electric furnaces are forced-air systems. They combust fuel (gas) or generate heat (electricity) to heat up air, which is then blown through ducts into the living spaces of your home. The forced systems heat the air through a device known as heat exchangers. The heated air is then circulated inside the house through the ducts by blower fans. In electric-powered furnaces, heating elements are present that create warm air, while in fuel powered furnaces the warm air is created by the gas jets.

If your gas or electric furnace is getting up there in age, it might need to be replaced. Check out this article to learn why you should consider getting a new furnace installed before winter arrives.

So, which is better?

Each of the types of the heater has its own advantages and disadvantages. Boilers tend to produce cleaner heat and entail lower repair and operation costs. They also tend to be more energy-efficient: less heat energy is wasted through radiant heating compared to forced-air heating. Ultimately, this is a big difference between boilers and furnaces.

However, if your home isn’t set up for a boiler and radiant heating, you may find the cost of installation to be prohibitive—especially if you already have ductwork, anyway. Most homeowners looking to put in radiant heating do so during a major remodel or new home build so that they can run the water lines underneath floors. This has the added benefit of adding heated floors to your home.

What about water heaters?

Many people confuse water heaters and boilers. After all, the physics is fundamentally the same: both systems are using some form of energy (electricity, natural gas) to heat water inside of a tank, and then using pipes to distribute it out to other areas of your home. However, this is where the similiarities end. For the most part, the water inside of a radiant heating system and boiler exists in a closed loop—its purpose is to transport heat energy.

Water heaters, obviously, disperse water to the taps, faucets, and shower heads in your home. They are considered plumbing, while boilers are considered an HVAC system. If your water heater stops working, you’ll need to call a plumber. At Reimer, we have both HVAC techs and plumbers on our team.

Call Reimer for heating installation in Buffalo and Western New York

Whatever heating equipment you purchase, you can ensure that it continues to operate without a major fault for a long time through regular tune-up. If you want to get in touch with experienced NATE-certified furnace repair technicians in Western New York, you can contact our team by filling out the form below.

Fill out this form to request a free in-home estimate

Furnace repair versus replacement

It’s a cold night in Buffalo, and your furnace just died. It heated your home for more than a decade. Now, you’re at a crossroads: do you have Reimer fix your current furnace, or is it time to upgrade to a new system? Believe it or not, most homeowners have to make this decision at one time or another. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the furnace repair versus replacement debate.

Furnace Repair versus replacementWhen should I think about getting a new furnace?

On average, most furnaces last between 10-13 years. As a general rule of thumb, a furnace under ten years old may still be worth repairing, since you can expect to get some more years of efficient, effective heating out of it. Reimer can help with this: we offer 24/7 emergency furnace repair services.

However, if your furnace is more than a decade old, you should at least consider replacement as an option. If your furnace is 15 or 20 years old, you should strongly consider replacement: even if your furnace has kept itself running, it’s likely to be far less energy efficient or effective than a newer model.

For most homeowners, a furnace breakdown is the point at which they make the decision to replace their furnace. In some ways, that makes sense: it forces you to decide between furnace repair versus replacement right then and there. However, you may want to get a new furnace before your previous one dies. That way, you won’t have to be without heating during the coldest nights of winter in Buffalo.

Deciding between furnace repair versus replacement

If you’re trying to decide between keeping your old furnace or replacing it with a new one, you should consider energy efficiency, reliability, and performance.

  • Energy Efficiency: As furnaces near the end of their lifespan, they become less efficient, as parts that were once new don’t move as well as they did 20 years ago. Think about it: your furnace has been running nearly constantly for months at a time for many years now. Plus, a newer furnace can take advantage of two decades of better technology and energy-efficient design. If you’ve been debating furnace repair versus replacement, consider how much money a new furnace will save you on your heating bills each and every winter.
  • Reliability: In addition to being a major headache that leaves your home feeling frosty, a furnace breakdown can also cost you money for repairs. The older a furnace gets, the more likely it is to break down, and each time you decide to repair it, you could be just putting off the inevitable. All those repair costs can add up over time. In contrast, a new furnace is not only less likely to break down, but also comes with a warranty that covers some of the repairs it might need. Take this into consideration when weighing furnace repair versus replacement.
  • Performance: Has your older furnace been struggling to keep your home warm at night? Has your home had hot and cold spots and inconsistent temperatures between rooms? This may be a sign that your furnace is struggling to keep up with demand, and is seeing its performance start to slip. In addition to not being able to heat your home, your furnace is probably burning more and more energy to do less heating—a lose-lose situation. If this is the case, it might be time to consider upgrading to a new furnace from Reimer. Don’t forget to think about your comfort when debating between furnace repair versus replacement.

Reimer can help with both furnace repair and replacement

Every furnace is different. This blog post has some general tips, but to make an informed decision between furnace repair versus replacement, you’ll need to have one of the NATE-certified technicians at Reimer inspect your furnace. That’s why we offer 24/7 furnace repair services in Buffalo and Western New York.

Once our technician has inspected your furnace and provided you with an honest, upfront quote, we’ll be able to give you an informed recommendation on whether or not you should upgrade to a new furnace. From there, we’ll talk to you about some of our new systems and schedule a free, in-home estimate with you to discuss your options.

Ready to get started? Give Reimer a call today at (716) 694-8524 or contact us online.

Why you should consider furnace replacement this fall

Here in Buffalo, a cold winter is fast approaching. Western New York sees it all in the winter: blizzards, below-freezing nights, and windy days. Your home should be a warm place where both your family and water pipes aren’t freezing, but are instead warm and comfortable. However, if you’re relying on an aging furnace that is near the end, you might be in for a cold awakening. You’ll need furnace replacement.

Most furnaces last between 10-20 years, with some lasting longer thanks to a good furnace maintenance record. Yet, if your heating system is getting up there in age, this fall might be a good time to consider a furnace replacement. In this blog post, we’ll share just some of the reasons that upgrading to a new furnace makes sense.

Reimer offers free estimates on new advanced Carrier furnaces. To get started, contact our team, or keep reading to learn more.

Furnace ReplacementThe truth about an aging furnace

When you bought your house twenty years ago, maybe it came with a furnace. Or, if you’ve been in your home longer than that, maybe you remember having it installed in the mid-1990s. Perhaps your furnace is slightly younger than that, or you’re just not sure.

There’s a common saying you might have heard: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Many people use this a justification for keeping aging HVAC systems hobbling along, year-after-year. After all, it’s hard to come to terms with replacing something that’s technically still running, right? To use another expression, why look a gift horse in the mouth? Your furnace has been fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age. You’re lucky!

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that. Think of your furnace in the context of a car. Sure, your very old compact car might still be street legal, but it can’t get above 45 MPH and it gets below double-digits in gas mileage. At some point, what you’re spending on repairs and energy begin to add up, to the point where maintaining your clunker of a car just isn’t it worth it anymore.

The same principle can apply to furnaces. Here in Buffalo and Western New York, heating systems are in-use through almost every night of the cold winter, working hard to keep your home and family warm. All this constant work puts strain on your furnace, and parts begin to wear down. Winter after winter, your heating system is marching toward its eventual breakdown. Along the way, it’s becoming less efficient and breaking down more often.

When will the final day be?

Nothing lasts forever. If you’re counting on your furnace to get you through the cold nights this winter, your old furnace may not be up to the task. In fact, a very old furnace could just quit working as a result of mechanical failure.

Part of the problem with gambling with an old furnace is that you don’t get to pick the time or circumstances under which your system gets replaced. For example, having to replace your furnace in a pinch is possible, but it means that you’ll need to figure out how to heat your home without it. Replacing your furnace in the fall, spring, or summer is easy for everyone involved, while replacing your furnace in a January blizzard is less so. Reimer will work with you to get your furnace replaced as fast as possible, but it’s sometimes better to plan ahead.

When you get a new furnace before your old one breaks down, you get to choose the place and time of your furnace replacement and have a minimal gap in heating.

Why should I upgrade to a new furnace?

In contrast to your old, aging furnace, a new furnace gives you a fresh start. Here’s how.

Furnaces manufactured today are better than those manufactured ten or twenty years ago. That’s because the technology has improved and furnaces are being designed with a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, to meet the (very reasonable) demands of consumers who want to save money on their electricity or gas bills. In addition to using less energy, today’s air conditioners are more powerful, have more precise heating, are often connected to smart devices, and run more quietly.

With a new furnace, you get a clean start on a new maintenance record (especially important if you purchased a home with a furnace and don’t know how or even if it was taken care of before your ownership) and a manufacturer’s warranty. That’s on top of the fact that a brand-new system is unlikely to encounter any major repair needs during its first few years of operation.

How do I start the furnace replacement process?

At Reimer, we offer free estimates on new systems. Give us a call, and we’ll arrange for one of our certified techs to come to your home and begin measurements. These are important: your heating system needs to match the size of your home for consistent and energy-efficient heating. As a Carrier Factory-Authorized Dealer, we carry a wide selection of some of the most powerful and efficient furnaces on the market today. Once you’ve received your free estimate, you can make the decision whether to purchase.

We look forward to working with you on your furnace replacement. Contact Reimer today for your free estimate.

Why you should consider tankless water heaters

While most people are familiar with the traditional water heater tank that has been a fixture in households for decades, tankless water heaters are becoming more and more popular thanks to their numerous benefits. The Reimer team has installed many of these water heaters in homes over the past few years. In this post, we explore what makes these systems different from the usual water heater and what advantages they have.

They’re more efficient

Tankless water heaters use less energy than conventional water heaters; according to some estimates, a gas tankless system uses more than 20 percent less energy than a normal water heater. Those savings can add up over the total lifespan of the system, eventually coming close to paying for the cost of the unit itself. Plus, by using less energy as a part of your water heating, you’re doing your part to help the environment. Tankless water heaters have a number of benefits, but energy savings is probably the most prominent.

You get hot water, when you want it

Unlike normal hot water heaters that hold a set amount of water in a tank, tankless water heaters circulate water past heating coils that quickly raise it to the requested temperature. Since this water is coming from the normal water supply and is being heated as needed, you have—effectively—an endless supply of hot water. This makes tankless water heaters popular amongst multi-generation households or those with large families: many people can shower consecutively in the morning without the system “running out” of hot water.

Plus, tankless water heaters are better at providing you with hot water faster than a traditional tanked water heater, which means less waste while you wait for the sink or shower to “heat up”.

No risk of flooding

Tankless water heaters, as the name implies, do not carry a store of water. Traditional water heaters carry a risk of leaking or bursting in a way that floods your home and causes major damage. With tankless systems, there is no tank that can burst, and it’s highly unlikely that the system will have a leak.

While these systems don’t last forever, most last for about 20 years. This can be twice the lifespan of a normal tanked water heater. That lifespan should factor into your purchasing decision: while tankless systems can be more expensive, you may be able to just have one in the time you would have gone through two normal water heaters.

Call Reimer to learn more about tankless water heaters

Since 1921, Reimer has been helping the residents of Western New York with their heating, cooling, and plumbing service needs, from new system installation to upkeep and emergency repair. In those 95 years, Reimer has set the standard for service and product excellence. Today, our experienced technicians and plumbers continue that proud tradition. Skilled and friendly, they’re ready to help with any project, from tankless water heater installation to emergency plumbing fixes.

If you’re interested in learning more about what a tankless water heater can do for your home and energy bills, give our team a call at (716) 694-8524.

Financing a new air conditioner through Reimer

It’s the middle of summer in Western New York, and your air conditioner has finally started to give out after more than 10 seasons. With your current, older air conditioner one foot in the grave and your home budget already stretched to the breaking point, it might seem like you’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Financing Air Conditioning SystemsHowever, with financing from Reimer, you can get your air conditioner replaced without having to worry about the upfront cash. We offer financing to customers with approved credit, and that financing can help you in a number of ways, including allowing you to take advantage of seasonal specials on new systems, giving you greater buying power to purchase the right system for your family and home, and letting you buy into greater energy savings. Most importantly, you and your family will stay cool for the rest of the summer.

Financing gives you greater buying power

When you’re limited to the cash you have on-hand, you’re only able to purchase the systems you can afford to pay cash for—not the system that fits your home and cooling needs best. That last part is important. Air conditioners need to be the right size for homes: too big, and the system is constantly starting and stopping, wasting energy as it tries to maintain temperature; too small, and the system is constantly working harder and straining to keep up with demand.

Financing gives you the purchasing power to buy the right system, not just the right-priced system. When you work with Reimer, our professional team will help you determine which system is right for your home. We provide you with a free estimate to get started. Give us a call today to learn more about how we provide estimates to our customers.

Take advantage of specials

When you’re saving up for a new air conditioner, you may have to wait through several specials that would have otherwise saved you money. Reimer regularly offers seasonal deals on new air conditioners (and furnaces) that can offer major savings on the most advanced new Carrier systems. However, paying in cash means that your timing might not be right, leading to you losing out on a special offer from either Reimer or Carrier.

Instead, financing a new system allows you to take advantage of the limited time offer, so that you don’t lose out on an air conditioner that was perfect for your home, at the right price. To see current specials offered by Reimer, visit our coupons page.

Energy-efficiency boost

It’s a well-known fact that the air conditioners built today are far more energy efficient than the ones manufactured 20, 15, or even 10 years ago. Even not accounting for the age of your older air conditioner—since system lose efficiency as they age—today’s AC systems have an emphasis on reduced energy use. If you’re paying high electric bills while waiting, season after season, to save up for an upgrade to a new air conditioner, you could be costing yourself money in the long-run.

Financing allows you to make the leap in efficiency right away, which will save you money on your bills for the entire summer season—and years after that.

Ready to get started?

If you’re ready to learn more about financing from Reimer, give our team a call at (716) 694-8524.