The Differences Between Boilers and Water Heater

To many people who are not experts in the plumbing field, a water boiler and a water heater mean the same thing. This is because both share the functionality of heating water throughout the home. The functionality might be identical but a water heater and a boiler serve different purposes in a home setting.

A savvy homeowner should be able to know the difference between the two so that they can save money and time when it comes to basic troubleshooting and light maintenance whenever there is a problem. In case of emergencies, you can always reach out to Dowd Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning. In order to understand the difference between a boiler and a water heater, we need to start by defining them.

What is a Water heater?

When it comes to functionality, a water heater literally heats water. This heated water is used in the home to shower, cook, clean, and washing of hands. The cold water is taken from the supply and heated up before being pumped to the various parts of the home where it is needed. In essence, a water heater warms portable water which is both safe for drinking and cleaning.

How It Works

There are two main types of water heaters: tankless water heaters and tanked heaters. With a tanked water heater, the incoming cold water is indirectly warmed by an electric heating rod or a gas burner inside the tank. The water is then stored within the tank once it has reached the desired temperature. It is from here that the hot water is pumped for use in the home. The water will mix with cold water depending on how much you turn the handle.
With a tankless water heater, the water is heated instantly and is not stored in a tank. Once you set the desired temperature, the heated water will continue to flow through the pipes as long as the taps are opened.

What is a Boiler?

It should be noted that a boiler doesn’t necessarily perform the function of boiling water. It is used to turn water into steam. This is because steam is an efficient and inexpensive form of transferring heat. Water weighs more and will require a lot more energy to transfer. With a boiler, the water is turned into steam and pushed to the different parts of the home more efficiently.

How Boilers Work

Boilers can still be used to heat potable water although that is not their primary function. In any case, it used for heating, it will rely on a thermostat to indicate when to start the heating process in the system.

The majority of boilers are designed with a closed loop system. This means that no new water is used when transferring the steam. The process starts with water inside the boiler. It is then indirectly heated by a combustion chamber. Once the water has turned into steam, the boiler then sends it to the different parts of the home.

The Difference Between Boilers and Water Heaters

Having discussed the two in detail, it is easy to see where the distinction comes in when it comes to purpose and functionality. A water heater basically heats water while a boiler can be used to heat a house with radiant heat techniques and steam.


This is another aspect that gets people confused. You will find that a warranty can only cover a boiler and not a water heater. Water heaters are generally used in most places and you can easily get a replacement if you’re on a warranty.

You can always call Dowd Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning if you’re in need of a reliable contractor to fix your water heater.