Boilers Vs Furnaces: Which Is The Best Heating System?

April 19, 2023


A boiler and furnace are essential parts of any property’s heating system. In fact, most use the terms interchangeably, so they assume they mean the same thing.

Nevertheless, there are some critical differences between boilers and furnaces that you should know about to make sure that you are hiring the best plumbing services in Calgary from a reliable plumbing company.

So, let’s discuss the differences between a furnace and a boiler regarding their working procedures.


A furnace is meant to use air to heat your house. It is also often called an “air-forced heating system.” It works as per the following principles:

  • The thermostat detects the reduced temperature to start heating.
  • Gas furnaces have a pilot light or electronic ignition to light the natural gas or propane in the burner. On the other hand, electric furnaces use a heating element to start heating.
  • A heat exchanger is present through which the air passes and starts picking up heat from the burner or heating element.
  • The blower causes the heated air to be forced into the ductwork to distribute throughout the house.
  • The cool air ultimately returns to the furnace, and the process repeats.

Also Read: Top 6 Signs You Need Emergency Furnace Repair


Unlike a furnace, hot water is used by a boiler to heat a property. It does not have ductwork. Instead, a delivery system typically includes ceramic radiators, cast iron radiators, or a radiant floor heating system. A boiler works as per the following principles:

  • Natural gas, oil, or electricity acts as the heat source to heat the water in the tank.
  • Steam or hot water is moved throughout the property’s radiant heating system via pipes.The specific type of boiler will determine whether this process occurs with steam or hot water.
  • A boiler vents out the hot gasses to ensure pressure is maintained in an optimum range.
  • Cold water travels back into the radiant system’s loop so that the boiler can reheat it, and the process can repeat.

The Differences Between A Boiler And A Furnace

Now that you are familiar with the essential workings of a boiler and a furnace, it’ll be easier for you to choose the best plumbing services for your specific heating system.

To summarize, the key differences between a boiler and a furnace are:

  • Function: A boiler heats your property by distributing hot water or steam to the radiators, while a furnace circulates heated air through ducts.
  • Fuel: A furnace uses natural gas or propane, while a boiler uses oil, gas, or electricity to heat the water.
  • Efficiency: A boiler is typically considered more efficient than a furnace as it does not lose heat through ductwork. Nevertheless, highly-efficient furnaces are also available.
  • Maintenance: Both furnaces and boilers require regular maintenance. Boiler maintenance includes cleaning the burners and inspecting the water pressure, while air filters must be changed in furnaces.
  • Installation: The installation cost of boilers is generally significantly higher than a furnaces installation cost.
  • Heat Distribution: Boilers are known for distributing even and consistent heat throughout the property, while issues like hot and cold patches can occur with a furnace.

Which Heating System Is Best For Your Home?

Both furnaces and boilers have their pros and cons. Generally, if you want to choose the best heating system for your home, you should consider the following factors:

  • Humidity: When using a furnace to heat your home, you will likely have to use a humidifier to restore moisture in the air. On the other hand, boilers deliver natural moisture into the air by heating through water.
  • Air Quality: Boilers and furnaces can ensure maximum air quality, depending on the heating system’s specific type or model. Always buy high-quality systems.
  • Noise: Some furnaces will make more noise than boilers, so be sure to buy a system that will not disturb your peace.

About Jack’d Up Plumbing

Jack’d Up Plumbing is a professional plumbing company in Calgary. We offer a wide range of plumbing services through our highly experienced and well-trained plumbing contractors, who can deal with various systems, including furnaces and boilers. Get in touch with us today to benefit from our comprehensive services related to boilers and furnaces, which include complete installation, repair, and maintenance.