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Pros And Cons Of Replacing A Boiler System With Forced Air In An Apartment Building

If you own an apartment building with boiler-style heating, you may be considering switching over to a forced air heating system. Though modern boiler systems can be very efficient, many people hold the misconception that they are outdated and prone to explosions, which may make leasing apartments with boiler heating hard in areas with competitive housing markets. Changing over to forced air may make it easier for you to find tenants, but there are cons to consider, too. Before deciding to make the switch, make sure you weigh both sides carefully.

Pros of Switching to Forced Air

The apartment unit directly over the boiler or furnace won't get as hot.

In larger apartment buildings with huge boiler systems, the apartment located directly over the boiler tends to get pretty warm due to the heat that escapes from the boiler. This can be uncomfortable for residents, and it may also cause them to open their windows to cool the apartment off, which in turn forces the boiler system to work even harder to keep the apartment warm. Forced air furnaces do not give off the radiant heat that boiler systems do, eliminating this problem and making that first-floor apartment easier to lease.

You don't have to worry about water damage with a forced air system.

Especially if your boiler system is on the older side, there is a risk of leaks and resulting water damage to your property. If residents are not careful when bleeding or adjusting their radiators, water may spew out, causing staining on the carpets and walls. These stains may make it harder to lease your apartments or cause you to spend thousands on repairs. Switching to forced air eliminates this hassle and can reduce your repair costs.

Residents with children will feel safer.

With both steam and water boiler systems, there is always the worry that a child will touch the hot radiator and burn themselves. You may find that parents are hesitant to rent an apartment with boiler-style heating for this reason. Switching to forced air eliminates this worry, which may help attract more families to your units.

Cons of Switching to Forced Air

Depending on the layout of your building, laying the ductwork may be costly.

Forced air has to travel through ducts to vents in the walls or floors. Installing these ducts in an apartment building can be quite time-consuming and costly if your walls are not planned in such a way as to accommodate them. Every situation is different, so have an HVAC contractor come evaluate your building to tell you whether switching to forced air and adding ductwork is even feasible before you put too much thought into this decision. You can find an HVAC company online at

You'll have to change the furnace filters regularly.

There is little maintenance required with a boiler system; you simply set it and forget it. Forced air furnaces have filters that should be changed every 4 - 6 weeks in order to keep the air clean. While this is a simple task, it will add another item to your to-do list, which can be a hassle if you already have a lot on your plate or do not live near the apartments that you rent.

Residents with allergies may not be happy that you're switching to forced air.

Oftentimes, allergy sufferers prefer boiler heating since it does not blow allergens like mold spores and pollen through the air like forced air heating systems may. If you have current residents with allergies, they may not be happy when they receive notice that you're switching to forced air. You can minimize allergy sufferers' symptoms by changing your furnace filters and having your ducts cleaned regularly, but there are still likely to be more problems than with a boiler system.

Making the switch from a boiler system to forced air may help you find more tenants, but is it really worth the time and money? Every situation is different, so you'll have to use the information above to help you decide.