Furnace vs. Boiler – What’s The Difference?

Boilers vs FurnacesAs an HVAC company, we get several calls a day from people who need their heating system repaired. One of the most questions is what’s the difference between a Furnace vs. Boiler? That’s the million dollar question that so many can’t seem to keep straight.  We thought we’d help you differentiate the two so that next time you call for a repair, you know exactly what you’re talking about!

Are you ready for the big shocker? A furnace heats air and a boiler heats water!  Simple, huh? Not quite! Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences between a furnace and a boiler.

Furnace vs. Boiler

Furnaces can use gas, oil, electricity, etc. to heat several coils within the unit. A furnace heats air and then distributes it via a blower throughout your home’s duct system. This is known as a forced air system and requires both air filters and ducts to keep the clean air moving throughout your home.


The heat-carrying medium in a boiler is water, not air. They typically use oil or gas to heat up the water in the system and the radiant system carries the water to baseboard heaters or radiators throughout your home.

Head on down to your basement, utility room or wherever your unit is housed and take a look at your unit. If you have duct-work coming out of the metal box, you most likely have a furnace. Typically, duct-work equals air which equals a furnace. If you see copper pipes, you most likely have a boiler. Most often, pipes equal water which equals a boiler.  Some systems are more complex.

Contact Dave’s Cooling & Heating

Call a trusted HVAC contractor like Dave’s Cooling & Heating. We will be happy to diagnose the issue with your system, is and educate you in the process.

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