The Distinctions Between Boiler, Furnace, and Water Heater

water heater

Homeowners occasionally call us for assistance with their water heater because it contains the term heater. However, you should be aware that HVAC contractors install and maintain house cooling and heating equipment. Since their primary function is to regulate the temperature of the water that supplies your taps, showers, dishwasher, and washing machine, water heaters are technically a component of your plumbing system rather than your HVAC system.

Here's when things start to get a little complicated. In addition to providing hot water for all of the aforementioned uses, boilers also provide heat by circulating the hot water around your home utilizing a network of pipes and baseboard radiators. Boilers are classified as HVAC equipment because they are made to provide heat (not simply hot water) (some boilers turn the hot water to steam and utilize a steam radiator instead, which isn't quite as efficient).

Your home can also be heated by furnaces, but they don't use any water at all. Instead, furnaces warm the air directly before distributing it through a network of ducts throughout your house.

Now, a lot of people interchangeably refer to boilers and furnaces, which can cause some confusion when you contact for a repair. If you claim that your furnace broke down but have a boiler (or vice versa), we risk sending the incorrect technician and equipment. Keep in mind that if you have radiators, you probably have a boiler as well. If you have ductwork, you probably have a furnace.

Which is superior, furnaces or boilers?

Whenever it comes to boiler and furnace, there is no "better"—just "different," like most things in life.

In comparison to furnaces, boilers often require less maintenance, generate heat more effectively, and don't spread dust and allergens around your home. They are, however, more costly to install, take longer to heat a space, and can freeze in extremely cold temperatures—exactly the opposite of what you want in a heater, of course.

As opposed to boilers, however, furnaces are less expensive, won't freeze in the winter, can't leak as a boiler may, and don't cause humidity issues. On the other hand, they are noisier than boilers, need more frequent maintenance, such as filter changes, and often have a shorter lifespan.