What’s the Difference Between a Boiler and a Hot Water Heater?

Mahon Plumbing Boiler Hot Water Heater

Boilers and hot water heaters are both used to heat water, but their functionality is completely different.

You might be reading this and wondering what a boiler is. Most of us have heard of a hot water heater, we know what it is and what it does without needing much of a primer on it. Boilers aren’t prevalent in the United States, but they are occasionally used to heat buildings using steam. Due to their rarity, not all plumbers are equipped with the knowledge to maintain and repair them, and those who have one might not understand how it works or when to know when it needs to be serviced. So it’s important to know the difference between a boiler and a hot water heater.

Hot Water Heaters

Most people know what their hot water heater is. This unit heats the potable water of your home. This is the water that comes through your taps, from your sinks to your showers. In the U.S., most homes are only equipped with a hot water heater. It is always pumping fresh water through the system so stagnant water isn’t coming out of your pipes.


Boilers heat water to create steam which heats a building. These are popular in some countries but are rarely found in the States. In most cases, boilers in the U.S. are found in commercial and shared buildings. Boilers aren’t used to heat potable water because the water a boiler heats up is already present when a boiler kicks on to heat it and create steam.

When to Service

Both boilers and hot water heaters should be serviced annually. This ensures that professional eyes are keeping tabs on your systems and maintaining their operability. It’s never fun to deal with an emergency repair when you really need the unit in working condition. Heated water is needed for regular showers, cooking, laundry, and even hand washing. A building with a boiler needs it to keep operating throughout the winter, so making sure it’s not at risk of a major breakdown is important for keeping guests and tenants warm and content. It’s also important to know the early warning signs of a problem, so you can call a professional before that problem becomes urgent.

Call Mahon Plumbing Today

If you still have more questions regarding your plumbing, we here at Mahon Plumbing are here to help. We have been serving the wider Baltimore area since 1994, so we have 25 years of experience to back up our fantastic service! Call us at our Baltimore location at 410-766-8566 or our Pasadena location at 410-636-7944. Be sure to keep up with us on social media by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2022 at 3:18 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.