In New England, we have a variety of heating systems; furnaces, boilers, and pumps to name a few. When sitting in our living room, enjoying the Olympics, we’re not too concerned about how the heat gets to us, just that it does and that it follows us everywhere in the house.
As the temps outside fluctuate wildly (as they are now), it can be tough on a central heating system and sometimes cause it to go belly-up. Should that happen, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating think it’s good to be in the know just in case you have to shop around for a replacement system.
Furnaces are how the majority of North American households’ heat. “This type of heating system is called a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system,” said Grand Master Plumber and Heating Expert Greg Sheck.
Basically, a furnace works by mixing fuel with air to create a fire. The flames heat an exchanger which produces hot air. The air is pushed by a furnace fan and forced through ductwork downstream of the heat exchanger. “These types of systems used to be big energy guzzlers, but as the demand for conservation has increased, the standards on furnaces have gone up dramatically,” said Sheck.
Instead of carrying heat in warm air like a furnace, boiler systems distribute heat in hot water which then gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated.
Long ago they used steam boilers which boiled water and then steam carried heat through the house, condensing to water in the radiators as it cools. This technology, although effective, was very inefficient. Today, boilers are considered top of the line in energy conservation, especially in on-demand systems and radiant heat components.
“Heat pumps are basically two-way air conditioners and are very popular,” said Sheck. Heat Pump are often considered the wave of the future for energy conservation. There are a few common types of heat pumps:
Air-source heat pumps use the outside air as the heat source in winter and heat sink in summer.
Ground-source, or geothermal, heat pumps get their heat from the constant temperature underground.
Ductless heat pumps distribute energy through refrigerant lines instead of water or air.
Now You Know
Those are a few of the common central heating systems you run into in today’s heating system market. If you are one of the unlucky few who find themselves heatless as the outdoor temps go up and down like a yo-yo this month, call Greg and Brandon today, they can go over more specifics about which system would be best for your home. G&C knows heating!