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Heating System

Heating System photos: P 1-P 25, P 157, P 158, P 202-P 205

The average homeowner often improperly uses the term furnace when discussing their boiler. This same confusion happens with heat pumps. I'll explain the difference between a Furnace, Boiler and a Heat Pump:

  • A furnace has a burner that heats the air and then blows it out of vents, sometimes called registers. You won't find any radiators if a furnace heats the house. Both a furnace and a heat pump use vents to discharge warm air in the house.

  • A boiler heats by boiling water and making steam in a steam system. In a hot water system, a boiler heats water without reaching the boiling temperature, and circulates it through the pipes. The heated water or steam is sent through radiators to heat the house.

  • A heat pump is a central air-conditioning system that works in reverse in the winter time. No matter how cold it is outside, there's always some heat in the air. The Freon in the heat pump can absorb this heat. The air is then blown over the Freon coils and the house is heated with warm air through the vents.

The basic operation of a heating system is this:

  1. The temperature in the house falls below the setting on the wall thermostat. The thermostat then engages the burner or heating coils to turn on.

  2. The air or water is then heated in an area called a heat exchanger. Picture the heat exchanger as a box where the burner or heating coils are located and the air or water passes around this area and the heat dissipates.

  3. From the heat exchanger the water or steam in a boiler system goes through pipes to the radiators to heat the house. In a forced hot air system, (FH Air), the air is heated as it passes over the heat exchanger. The heated air then moves through the plenum, which is the area just above the heat exchanger, and it goes through the vents to heat the house.

  4. When the temperature in the house gets high enough to satisfy the thermostat setting, the thermostat tells the heating system burner or coils to shut off.

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