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Home Heating Furnaces - Types of Home Heating Furnaces

air water forced boiler

If you are planning on remodeling your home, one concern that may come up is your home heating system. Some houses have horribly out-of-date and inefficient systems. Some have been converted from coal home heating furnaces, and some are newer but shoddily-made. New home heating furnaces come in two major types, and each type can often use a variety of fuels. Before making a decision, it is always best to know your available options.

Here are some of the two major types of home heating furnaces used today:

Forced Air Furnaces
Forced air home heating furnaces are the most common type used in the United States. They work by drawing air into the unit from an air intake vent or duct. The air passes through a heating chamber and is then blown through a duct by a fan or blower. The main duct often branches to reach all the areas of the house. The heated air exits the duct at 115F to 120F, depending on the length of the duct.

The heat from forced air furnaces can be generated using several different types of fuel. Those that operate by burning natural gas are the most popular and the most economical. Other fuels used in these types of furnaces include heating oil and propane. The fuel is burned in a heat-exchange unit that protects the open flames from excess wind and transfers the heat to a chamber where it can be blown through the ducts. Some heat-exchange units have ceramic elements that are designed to hold the heat more efficiently than the naked flame.

Any type of home heating furnaces that use a burnable fuel require a flue that connects to the roof or somewhere outside the house. This can be a converted chimney or a simple metal pipe. It is used to vent the carbon dioxide that is created through the burning of the fuel and the oxygen present in the air.

There are also electric forced air furnaces. Electric home heating furnaces do not require venting. They work by inducing electricity through a heating coil. The heating coil can be bare or it can be intertwined through ceramic elements.

Advantages of forced-air heaters include being able to filter or humidify the air, and it is inexpensive. The ductwork can also do double-duty for central air-conditioning systems. Disadvantages are that they require space for ductwork and they can be relatively noisy.

Boiler Furnaces
Boiler furnaces differ from forced air furnaces by using water and/or steam to distribute heat through homes. Boiler furnaces heat a tank of water using the same fuels as forced air furnaces, and they have the same venting requirements for the carbon dioxide gases that may be produced. A water line is necessary to supply new water as the boiler boils it out. The heat from the boiled water can be transferred in one of three ways.

The water can be pumped directly through pipes embedded in the floor or below the floor. The heat transfers by radiating from the hot pipes through the floor.

Another system uses baseboard radiators. The hot water runs through the pipes, which are connected to metal fins to increase the hot surface area. Air then naturally passes through the fins and into the rest of the room.

The final type of boiler furnace uses steam and not hot water. Steam is released from the boiler and it travels through pipes to radiators throughout the home. This type of heating is not used very often today because it requires iron radiator units that are not very aesthetically pleasing in each room that will be heated. Steam boilers are also larger and more complicated than hot-water boilers.

Boiler heating has several advantages. They are quiet and energy-efficient. The temperature can be closely controlled. The heat is more comfortable and even than convection heating, but it takes longer to heat a room than with forced air heating.

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