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Boiler vs. Water Heater: What’s the Difference?

close up of water heater in residential home

When it comes to your home, no one is an expert like you are.

After all, you spend the majority of your time there. You know all of the house’s nooks and crannies, all the little quirks that come with it. That’s why it can feel jarring to come up against a part of your home that you don’t understand.

No matter how well you think you know your own home, the fact of the matter is that most of us aren’t construction, electrical, or plumbing pros. Which means elements of your daily home may be a mystery to you.

Today, we’re here to demystify at least one part of your home! We’re going to be breaking down the difference between a boiler and a water heater. You’ll learn:

  • What sets these two systems apart
  • How much they cost
  • Which one is better for your home

In the boiler vs. water heater battle, who will come out on top? Keep reading to find out!

What Is a Boiler?

plumber works on gas boiler at home

A boiler system is designed to help heat up your entire home. The boiler is filled with water, which, when heated, produces steam. That hot steam then travels through your home and is able to provide heat.

Boilers can also be used to create hot water for things such as showers, dishwashers, and washing machines.

What Is a Water Heater?

water heater in modern boiler room at home

Similarly to a boiler, water heaters are designed to heat water for your house. They both consist of cylindrical drums filled with water that have a heating mechanism. The difference is that a water heater doesn’t produce steam. Instead, the hot water is dispersed through your plumbing system and goes to whatever tap is turned.

The biggest difference between a boiler and a water heater is that a water heater is not designed to heat your home. Water heaters are typically paired with an HVAC system to keep your home warm during cold months.

What Is the Price Difference?

When it comes to purchasing major appliances for your home, we know that a primary concern is how much money you are going to have to spend.

If you are looking to buy a new hot water heater, you are in luck. Hot water heaters are relatively affordable to replace. Water heaters typically cost between $500-$800 brand new. The cost can go up if you need a bigger tank or are interested in investing in tankless water heaters. Then, the price can be closer to $700-$2,000.

A boiler is significantly more expensive than the average water heater, coming in at $4,000-$10,000.

What Is the Lifespan Difference?

close up of tankless gas water heater installed in home boiler room

When it comes to lifespan, there isn’t a huge difference between boilers and water heaters. Both water heaters and boilers have an average lifespan of around fifteen years. However, that number changes slightly when you factor in a tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters can last for more than 20 years, making them a worthwhile investment.

Which One Is Right for Me?

When it comes to deciding between boilers and water heaters, there are several factors to consider. However, we have to reiterate that though they both rely on the use of hot water, boilers and water heaters are not interchangeable, as they serve different functions.

If you are considering adding either a boiler or a hot water heater to your home, know that you may also have to invest in either an HVAC system, depending on what you are getting rid of or adding.

In general, boilers are considered an old-fashioned method of heating your home, and many homeowners prefer to update to an HVAC system. However, if you aren’t a fan of forced air, just know that you will likely have to invest in both a new boiler and a new water heater over time, which can be more expensive in the long run.

Maintenance Tips

plumber using the water valve to flush water heater

As we’ve previously mentioned, both boilers and water heaters can be significant financial investments for a homeowner. Because of that, we understand that you likely want to do everything you can to extend the life of your boiler or water heater. The best way to do this is through regular maintenance. 

Wondering how to keep your devices functioning optimally? Here are some of our top maintenance tips.

  • Schedule TuneUps – One of the best ways to keep your boiler or water heater working for years to come is to have an annual maintenance check with your local plumber. A plumber will be able to assess your system and determine whether any tune-ups are needed to ensure that future problems don’t occur.
  • Flush the Tank – Professional plumbers generally recommend that you flush the tank on your water heater or boiler every six months or so. If you have hard water, you should do this even more frequently. This will help you avoid sediment buildup that can affect the function of your water heater.
  • Regularly Check for Leaks – In an ideal world, your plumbing appliances would work flawlessly 100% of the time. However, the reality is that any device that uses water is at risk of springing a leak. Catching a leak early on can help you to avoid further damage to your home.

Get a Professional Opinion

Do you have more questions about water heaters or boilers? You want a knowledgeable plumber on your side. When you work with Black Tie Plumbing, that is exactly what you’ll be getting. We are the #1 plumber in the Dallas area and have the expertise you need to get the home you deserve. If you need plumbers that you can trust, contact our team today to set up an appointment. 

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