Many homeowners turn up their noses when they hear the words "boiler system." Boiler-style heating, while once a mainstay of the HVAC industry, has fallen out of vogue in recent years. While it is not necessarily the best choice for every home, boiler-style heating does not deserve such a bad rap. A lot of its poor reputation is derived from myths, rather than facts.
Myth #1: Boilers are a very inefficient heating method.
Most older boilers are less efficient than new ones, but the same can be said for forced air furnaces. New boilers can be made to be as efficient as high-efficiency furnaces – many have efficiency ratings of 90-95%. If you have an older boiler in your home, replacing it with a newer, more efficient boiler is a much more cost-effective choice than having your entire heating system ripped out and replaced with a forced air system.
Myth #2: Boiler systems leak a lot, leading to water damage.
If your boiler system is leaking, it's likely because one or more of your pipes need to be replaced, or because your valves are not tightened properly. Leaks in boiler systems are almost always fixable. They're not just an inherent evil of this type of heating system.
Myth #3: Boiler systems are not a healthy choice, since the water sits in them and accumulates bacteria.
First of all, you don't come into contact with the water in your boiler system, unless you have a major leak. Second of all, the water in your system is heated to its boiling point multiple times per day, and is always kept very hot. This temperature inhibits bacterial growth, so you don't have to worry about diseases breeding in your radiators.
Myth #4: Boiler systems are noisy.
It is true that many older boiler systems make a lot of hissing and popping noises as the water travels through the pipes and into the radiators. However, this noise can be controlled by making sure the system is bled properly each year, and by ensuring that valves are properly tightened. Having your HVAC specialist come inspect your boiler system each fall, before you start heating your home, will ensure it stays quiet and in good repair.
If you're thinking of purchasing a home with a boiler system, don't let common myths about this style of heating steer you away. Like all heating systems, boiler systems do require regular maintenance. Many of the problems people complain of with boiler systems are related to a lack of maintenance or older boilers that are badly in need of replacement.