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What is Forced Air Heating?

Academy Home Services

There are many different home heating systems out there. It isn’t uncommon for homeowners who are looking for a new system to get overwhelmed with choices, and even get confused by some of the different options available. You may have heard of one option: forced air heating. If you’ve been on the look-out for a new home heating system, forced air heating has likely cropped up. But what is forced air heating, exactly? There are lots of different kinds, and things to consider before deciding on a forced air heating solution. However, it is one of the most common choices, with it being found in over 35 million American homes today. Let’s take a look at this kind of heating system in more detail.

What is Forced Air Heating?

A forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat through your home via duct work, using air to carry it. Your home is able to maintain a particular temperature, as the air is carried through different ducts in the home and dispersed through vents into different rooms. The process is continued until your desired temperature has been reached. The temperature will be whatever you have set your thermostat to, and once it is the right temperature, the heating will turn off until the temperature dips down again. The cool room air is drawn through duct work to a furnace, where the air is then filtered and heated. Pollen and dust are also removed. With the help of other duct work, the warm air is then redistributed back into other rooms of your home. Flexible duct work is sometimes preferred, but oftentimes, it’s metal wrapped insulated ducts to keep the air warm as it travels.

There are different types of forced air heating systems, with the main difference being the equipment used to heat and distribute the air. For example, a fan, blower, or air handler can all help to distribute heat through your home.

The fan timing is crucial to how effective your forced air heating system is. It prevents heat from backing up, and can also stop cold air from blowing through your rooms when the furnace stops. In order for a forced air heating system to work, there needs to be a space under your doors. This means that when your registers are closed the furnace can still suck in air. It’ll take air from anywhere in the home where it is freely circulating.

Supply and Return

The supply and return in a forced air heating system need to be equal to prevent loss. There should be one register and one return for every room in your home, ideally. If this doesn’t happen, negative pressure is created, eventually releasing noxious fumes into the home. Also, if your vents are not properly spaced out, air will race to the furnace which can cause a draft.

Installation and Air Quality

A forced air system can be combined with a humidifier and air filter. The air filter can be important if someone in your home as allergy issues. The filters help to control indoor air quality and are important for managing your energy efficiency. Not only that, humidifiers stop your air from getting too dry and increasing illness in your home. A system that has been designed well will effectively create a well insulated home while allowing an exchange with air outside of the home. To keep a forced air heating system running to a high standard, you’ll need a well constructed duct system, a well maintained furnace flue, and a quality air filter.

Different Kinds of Forced Air Heating

There are different forced air heating systems, and not all of them have the same performance standards. This means you need to carefully research and consider your options before deciding on the right one for you. Make sure you know what your priorities are, and have a good idea of what you want to spend on your new forced heating system as this will help you to decide. When looking at different heating units, it’s a good idea to check out noise level, energy efficiency, comfort level, and convenience to help you choose. All of these factors can change drastically between heating units, so this is important.

It’s a good idea to think of your past heating systems and go from there. Is there anything that particularly annoyed you in the past? Or is there anything you liked? You can use this to make a list of things that you want and don’t want. If the noise of a heating system has annoyed you in the past, you’ll want a forced air heating system that is as quiet as possible. It’s a good idea to also consider your location and how cold it tends to get where you live. You don’t want to invest in a brand new system only to still have cold feet during winter.

Energy Efficiency

The great thing about forced air heating systems is that they can be an extremely energy efficient way to heat your home. They will help to keep your temperature under control all throughout winter, and can even be put in place with your current air con system. This allows for hassle-free, effective year round temperature control. Energy efficiency is not only better for the environment, but for your utility bills too.

Natural gas forced air heating is better for the environment, is safe with completely sealed combustion, and is the cleanest fossil fuel. Choosing a forced air heating system that is as energy efficient as possible is a good idea, as you won’t waste heat or hurt your bottom line.

The Cost of Forced Air Heating

It makes a lot of sense to incorporate forced air heating in a building that already has ductwork, or a new construction building. However, costs can shoot up if you have to put ductwork in place. The maximum average cost to buy and install your forced air heating system is $2,600. The minimum is usually around $775. This will vary depending on different factors, however.

Furnace Design in Forced Air Heating Systems

There are different furnace options designed to accommodate different types of home and where they are being installed. They come in the following:

  • Upflow
  • Downflow
  • Horizontal

They are designed to accommodate basement, attic, or limited space installation. As a rule, the bigger your home is, the larger your furnace will need to be. However, if your home is cold, this doesn’t mean you need a larger furnace. It could simply mean you need a better way of distributing the air. If your furnace is too large for your home, you’ll have too much heat and no adequate way of distributing it. Not only can this cause wear on your furnace, it can also make it noisier, clog up, crack, and create noxious fumes. The furnace can be variable speed or dual-stage, but many of them are single stage. Both the furnace and the duct work need to be right for your home for your system to work effectively.

Pros and Cons of a Forced Air Heating System

A forced air heating system has many pros. Providing you have regular furnace filter maintenance, you can improve the air quality and comfort in your home. The furnace filters trap allergens and other nasties that could have potentially made your family sick. They are very energy efficient too, as mentioned earlier on. There’s also the option for combined heating and cooling, so you can distribute air con through your home. Forced air heating system return air runs are simple to install, because they don’t have to contain metal like supply runs do.

There aren’t many disadvantages to a forced air heating system. However, it’s good to look into them so you know exactly what you’re getting. There’s the possibility that rooms will heat unevenly if your vents or ducts are blocked. If you’re not maintaining your furnace as you should be, there’s also the possibility that members of your household could get sick. Noise may also be a problem, depending on your system, as you may hear air being pushed through the vents. Placing furniture in your home can be tricky with this kind of system. You need to be sure that your furniture is not obstructing anything or making it difficult to allow the air to circulate. Finally, there’s also the chance that a forced air heating system will make the air in your home dryer than it should be, which is why getting a humidifier on top of one of these systems is recommended. Keeping the air moist in your home is crucial for the health of household members.

Other Considerations to Make

As with deciding to install any heating system, there are some considerations you’ll need to bear in mind. This includes the cost, and the fact that this kind of system isn’t just something you can DIY. You’ll need a trained professional to do it for you or you may risk dangerous gases in your home.

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