Whats the Difference Between a Boiler & a Furnace?

A lot of people use the word furnace when they are talking about a boiler, but a boiler and furnace are two different things. Both are used to heat a place, but the similarity ends there.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a furnace and a boiler is that a boiler uses hot water or steam to heat your building while a furnace uses warm air to produce heat. Boilers and furnaces also have different ways of sending heat through a house.

How does a furnace work?

A furnace heats up air, and then uses a blower to force the hot air through ducts. The warm air enters the home through vents or registers. It’s very common for older homes to be heated with a furnace. Older furnaces were often heated with coal and wood. Modern furnaces can run on electricity, gas, or propane. It’s also quite common for furnaces to share their ducts with air conditioners to avoid having to take up extra space.

How does a boiler work?

A traditional boiler heats up water that circulates around its combustion chamber. This hot water is then sent through small hot water pipes that heat baseboards, cast iron radiators, or radiant floor heating systems. The water returns back to the combustion chamber after it has been used, ready to be used again when needed. A steam boiler creates steam which passes through pipes and then to the radiators in a home to heat them. The energy for boiling the water in a boiler can come from gas, oil, electricity, or natural fuels such as wood pellets.

Knowing the difference between a furnace and a boiler can help you identify a problem when either one is malfunctioning and being able to communicate the problem to your service provider. Both types of heating systems need regular, professional maintenance to keep them running smoothly through the cold months. Give Butler Heating and Air Conditioning a call today to keep your home heating system in top form.