Do I Need Furnace or Boiler Repair? How to Tell What Heating System You Have

May 8, 2024

When your heating system needs repairs, you’ll need to call a professional to fix it. But, do you know if you need to call a boiler repair specialist or book a furnace repair appointment? Lots of homeowners don’t actually know which home heating system they have. Here is a quick guide to the difference between a furnace and a boiler and how to determine which one you have in your home.


The Difference Between a Furnace & a Boiler

Both furnaces and boilers are systems that provide heat for your home, which is why many people are unsure which one they have. However, they are distinct heating systems that generate and distribute heat very differently.

A furnace functions as a forced-air system, where it heats air through a combustion process or electric resistance, and then uses a blower to circulate the warmed air through ductwork to various parts of the home.

Conversely, a boiler operates on a hydronic heating principle which means it uses water as the heat transfer medium. The boiler heats up water, producing either steam or hot water, which is then distributed through a network of pipes to radiators or baseboard heaters. The radiators, in turn, release heat into the surrounding space.

Essentially, a furnace delivers warmth via heated air circulation through ductwork, while a boiler achieves the same objective through the distribution of hot water or steam.


How to Tell Which One You Have

The easiest way to tell if you have a boiler or a furnace is to take a look at where the heat in your home comes from. If your home has baseboards or radiators, you likely have a boiler. If your heat comes from vents and you feel warm air blowing, you’ve got a furnace. You can also take a look at the unit itself – furnaces are taller than boilers and connected to boxy-looking ductwork, while boilers are smaller and connected to a network of copper pipes.

Example of a Furnace: 

A furnace installed by John Sadler Plumbing & Heating.

Example of a Boiler:


If you need furnace or boiler repairs, maintenance, or installation services, you can trust the team at John Sadler Plumbing & Heating! Our professionals have years of experience working with all models of both boilers and furnaces, and we are dedicated to providing outstanding workmanship, impeccable customer experience, and prompt service. Get in touch today to get a quote or book your appointment.

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