House Boiler Types: Differences and Considerations

Your home’s boiler keeps your family warm when the temperature outside drops during Chicago’s infamous winters. Just like the other appliances in your house, boilers require regular maintenance to keep functioning efficiently.

Taking care of your home’s boiler can extend its life and prevent the need for sudden repairs. Understanding the different house boiler types is helpful when yours starts to malfunction. If your boiler is experiencing issues, contact the team at A Custom Services in Chicago to learn how long boilers last and schedule a repair.


When it comes to residential boilers, there are two categories.

  • Steam boilers heat your home by creating steam and pumping it through the radiators.
  • Hot water boilers warm the home by heating water and pumping it through the radiators and baseboards.

Both types of boilers can effectively heat your home. But there’s another factor that separates different types of boilers – efficiency.


There are two boiler efficiency types: standard and high efficiency.

Standard efficiency boilers are common among Chicago homes since they are less expensive than high-efficiency boilers. However, as the name implies, they are also less efficient.

Standard efficiency boilers lose energy during the conducting process. High-efficiency boilers, on the other hand, trap escaping energy and direct it back to your home.

How Do You Measure Efficiency?

Homeowners can measure their boiler’s efficiency by reading the displayed Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Here is how to measure your boiler’s efficiency rating.

  • 56% to 70% AFUE: old and low-efficiency
  • 78% AFUE: new and minimum efficiency
  • 80% to 83% AFUE: new and mid-efficiency
  • 90% to 98% AFUE: new and high-efficiency

The lower the efficiency rating, the more fuel is being wasted. If your boiler is over 10 years old, it most likely has a low AFUE. A boiler with 60% AFUE uses only 60% of the fuel to heat your home, while the other 40% goes unused.

Using a boiler with a high efficiency rating not only warms your home better but saves you money. A more efficient boiler means lower energy bills and a longer-lasting system.


After considering the type of boiler and its efficiency, it is important to understand the various fuel types. Boilers use two different types of fuel: oil and natural gas.

Oil boilers often require a large tank to hold between 200 and 1,000 gallons of oil. As a result, they are also significantly more expensive than natural gas boilers.

Natural gas boilers are the more popular option for Chicago homes. Not only are they more environmentally friendly, but they get gas from the utility company rather than a large tank in the basement.


No matter what type of boiler you have, you should be aware of the most common boiler problems. With regular maintenance and professional installation, you can keep these issues to a minimum.

The Boiler Heats Water but Not the House

Although it may seem like the primary job of your boiler is to provide heat for your home, the hot water you use for your showers and washing the dishes rely on the efficiency of your home’s boiler. In some instances, you may have hot water but no central heating.

When your boiler malfunctions, it can become challenging to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. A lack of heat is a clear indication of a problem with your boiler.

A lack of heat coming from your boiler could be the result of a few things.

  • issues with the utility company (if using a natural gas boiler)
  • faulty thermostat
  • frozen condensate pipes
  • broken pilot light (common for older models)
  • insufficient boiler pressure

Most often, the reason that your house is cool but your water is still warm is a faulty thermostat. The thermostat regulates the temperature of your home’s heating system. If the settings are off or the thermostat isn’t working, the heating system can’t properly warm your home. A professional boiler repair technician can diagnose the problem and help you fix it to get your house warm and comfortable again ASAP.

The Boiler Is Leaking

Boiler leaks are common with hot water boiler systems and require immediate attention. Various issues can cause a boiler leak:

  • boiler pressure is too high for the system
  • broken pump seal
  • broken pressure valve
  • corrosion

If you notice a boiler leak, call a professional technician right away.

The Boiler Is Making Strange Noises

Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to hear your boiler working. Banging, clanking, humming, or whistling sounds are not only annoying but are also a sign that something is wrong with your home’s boiler.

If you have a noisy boiler, a technician will check your system for various issues that could be causing it:

  • sludge build-up on the heat exchanger
  • loose internal components
  • pump problems
  • loose pipes
  • electrical problems
  • clogged pipes

The Boiler Won’t Stay On

When your boiler keeps turning off, it can’t warm your home effectively. Several problems could be preventing your boiler from staying on:

  • faulty thermostat
  • poor flow of water
  • insufficient boiler pressure
  • debris build-up in the system
  • too much air in the boiler


A Custom Services is home to the premier boiler service experts in Chicago. Our team members take pride in their work and are passionate about helping Chicago residents keep their homes warm during the brutal Illinois winter.

When you need help deciding between house boiler types or scheduling a repair, let the professionals lend a hand. Both steam and hot water boilers consist of various internal and electrical components that require professional tools and expertise. Hiring an HVAC technician when you need a new boiler or repair guarantees a safe process with effective results.

From boiler installation to repair, A Custom Services will be there. Call us at (773) 831-4891 to schedule an appointment in Chicago. 

Similar Posts