What Is The Difference Between A Furnace And A Boiler?

This is a more common question than you might think, most people don’t even know what they currently have. A boiler and furnace run on the same general principles, but carry out their functions very differently. One will heat air, the other will heat water. Both a boiler and furnace can run off of a heated-oil system instead of natural gas or propane. To find out what you have, take a look at how they work and find which one fits.


difference between a furnace and a boilerA furnace heats air by a process of combustion and heat exchange. Because combustion and the materials used to do it can be toxic, the heat exchange makes sure that the air you breathe is not contaminated by the process. Here is how it works: A gas or oil is ignited in the main furnace compartment, then this warmth is transferred to filtered air for circulation. A blower then forces this air through the duct work in your home. A furnace will always be connected to a duct system that carries the warm air to the vents in your home.


A boiler uses combustion as well, but in this case it is heating up water. Clean, filtered water comes into the home in copper pipes, these pipes travel to the boiler where is is heated. The pipes then travel through the home, carrying the hot water with it. This water is then circulated through radiators and baseboards in you home. After this circuit the water travels back to the boiler to get heated again. In some cases you may have a boiler that works with water to create steam, these will be circulated by pipes as well and connected to steam radiators.

Differences To Look For

what is a boilerR.F. Ohl services boilers and furnaces in Jim Thorpe and all surrounding areas. We can help you determine what kind of system you have or your can figure it out yourself with this helpful guide.

A furnace will use a ducting system while a boiler will use a pipe system. Don’t be fooled by home heating tank, which can provide either a boiler or furnace with oil for combustion. This will be a separate tank connected to your system by a few pipes near the bottom of your unit. It provides an alternative source of fuel that can be more Eco-friendly and easier for those not on natural gas. Most units can also be retro-fitted with a home heating tank if needed.

For choosing a new unit for a new house, you can pick between which style you would like. When replacing an old one, it is nearly always best to stay with the style you currently have. It is a very costly change-over, including the removal of your old duct/pipes and adding a new system in. In most cases if you want to improve the efficiency of your system, using heated oil can really help. The heated oil process burns the fuel hotter which can heat your air or water faster than most other fuel. No matter what you decide, be sure to find a reputable dealer in you area that can help answer your questions.

If you have any questions concerning your boiler or furnace, R.F. Ohl will gladly address them for you. We specialize in HVAC systems of all makes and models. We service Carbon County, Monroe County, Lehigh County, Northampton County, and Schuylkill County. Keep safe and warm this winter by calling us and speaking with a live representative 24/7.

Contact us today or give us a call at (610) 377-1098 if you have any questions.