By identifying your source of heating, you can best provide proper maintenance, improve efficiency, improve comfort, and extend system life to your appliance. We will provide a few simple identifying markers to establish your type of heating unit.
A forced air motorized blower with ductwork throughout the home produces heat via coils in the furnace.
- Fuel(s): Most furnace systems use gas, propane, or heating oil. Some use biodiesel or electricity.
- Key Identifiers: Furnaces that work on gas typically have some common gas furnace parts: a gas manifold, gas burners, heat exchanger, vents, ignition controls, safety controls, and blower motor. A pilot light is a good identifier of combustion-style models. An electric furnace runs off of 208/230 Volts while a typical gas furnace runs off of 120 also a gas furnace will have a valve for the gas relay where the gas enters the furnace.
Heating water to provide warmth,Boilers distribute heat via pipes through steam radiators, baseboard heaters, and radiant floor systems throughout your home. Boilers are another system commonly found in cold climates, they may also heat air via coil.
- Fuel(s): Like furnaces, boilers typically operate on gas, propane, or heating oil, but can also run on biodiesel and electricity.
- Key Identifiers: Boilers are easily identifiable by large radiators distributed throughout a home, but can also be found alongside baseboard heaters or radiant floor systems.
Heat pumps lack the ability to generate heat like a furnace or boiler therefore they are commonly found in wramer climates. Instead, heat pumps simply move heat from one place to another via motorized blower and ductwork: Outside of your home in the summer (A/C), then reversing to transfer heat inside your home in the winter.
- Fuel(s): Most heat pump systems work on electric, but also come in natural gas varieties. Some models also use geothermal energy to source heat, with components dug far into the earth to take advantage of more consistent temperatures.
- Key Identifiers: You should see a black canister looking component, that’s the compressor, used for cooling (A/C) operation. To convert that same basic unit design to a Heat Pump, the manufacturer adds a couple of other components next to the compressor. Look for a another black (thinner) cannister (Accumulator) and/or a Brass/copper looking valve mounted on the upperside of the Compressor (reversing-valve). Split-systems” are the most common type of heat pump installation, featuring an air handler inside the home, often in a closet or basement, with a boxed metal unit outside on a slab.
All In One Packaged Unit
Packaged systems are all-in-one solutions, with most of the components for heating and/or cooling housed in a single cabinet. This eliminates the need for two separate systems. They also distribute heated air via motorized blower and ductwork. Many are heat pump-style.
- Fuel(s): Packaged systems operate using electricity or natural gas.
- Key identifiers: Packaged systems are compact, so they’re ideal for homes with limited space. They can be placed outside at ground level or on your rooftop. If the metal box on the slab outside your home is extra-large, you may have a packaged unit.
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