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Informative Aritcle Regarding Different Types of Heating Systems
Featured content provided by www.msn.com
Anyone who has ever spent a night tossing and turning in a cold house as a result of a busted heating system will never look at that particular equipment the same way again. It’s as unpleasant as being stranded on a dark and lonely road when a car quits. But it may not take outright failure to make homeowners examine how their home is heated. It might be the system’s noise or the fact that it simply doesn’t work all that well. Being uncomfortable and annoyed all winter is a pretty compelling reason to consider the options for fixing or replacing it.
Then there’s a fuel bill that lays waste to household finances. Let’s say you have a boiler or furnace with 80% efficiency that produces a monthly gas bill of $279. About $56 of that has fueled nothing more than wasted heat that has gone up the chimney. (Bing: Find a chimney-sweep near you)
Regardless of what prompts you to take a second look at your house’s heating system — or perhaps the first look — you do need to know what makes it tick. Here are the basics.
How your heating system works
1. Draft inducer fan
Modern furnaces rely on a fan to create a draft up the chimney, rather than heat produced by a roaring flame from the burner.
2. Igniter, gas valve
This device creates a high-voltage spark, or it glows red hot to ignite the rush of gas to the burner. The last stop on the way to a warm house is the gas valve. Its electromagnet is energized and opens to permit gas flow after it receives a signal. That can happen only after the thermostat and all other controls are energized.
A burner has no moving parts. It’s a simple device, no more than a row of tubes, that allows fuel and air to mix at the proper ratio so they can burn at the highest efficiency possible.
4. Heat exchanger
The principle is simple. Heat the metal with a gas flame and pass air over it. The heated air gets distributed to the house. The flue gas goes out the chimney.
5. Furnace blower
The fan creates a pressure gradient inside the furnace so that cool air is pulled in to be heated and warm air is pushed into the ducts to be distributed to rooms. Modern forced-air systems are far superior to old gravity heating, which relies on convection to distribute air throughout the house.
6. Cold-air return
Cooled air returns to be heated through a length of ductwork. Insufficient return air ducts can cause the system to slightly pressurize the house, driving heated or cooled air out through even tiny openings and wasting energy.
7. Furnace filter
Air returning to the furnace is pulled through a filter to remove dust, smoke or allergens.
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Producing heat is easy. Getting it where it needs to go is the hard part.
Option No. 1: Hot water
Water is the ideal heat-transport vehicle. A small pipe filled with hot water carries as much heat as a large air-filled duct, and it fits far more easily between studs and joists. In most houses that use hot-water systems, the pipe carries water at 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit to baseboard convectors that consist of a copper tube running through a row of sheet metal fins. This sets up a convective heating loop as air is pulled in at the base and flows out the unit’s top. Newer radiant-heat systems use plastic tubing routed in a serpentine pattern. Usually this is installed under wood-frame floors, or it is encased in concrete.
Option No. 2: Forced hot air
A forced-air heating system is simple and versatile. By connecting a humidifier, air cleaner or evaporator cooling coil to the duct system, a homeowner can completely control the indoor air’s temperature, humidity and cleanliness. Air in these systems moves at about 700 feet per minute through the house in rectangular ducts, typically made from galvanized 30-gauge sheet steel. Some systems use round ducts connected to the main rectangular trunk, while other houses have flexible, round, insulated ducts connected to an insulated trunk. In all cases, the joints in the duct system need to be meticulously sealed to prevent air leaks and energy loss.
- MSN Lifestyle: Home-improvement tips for the New Year
What goes on in a heating system is amazing
• Oil burner
About 7% of U.S. homes heat with oil, collectively consuming about 7 billion gallons of fuel a year. Modern burners atomize the oil by pumping it at about 100 psi to a tiny brass or steel nozzle that turns it into a spinning, cone-shaped spray pattern consisting of about 55 billion droplets. The spray is ignited by a 20,000-volt arc produced by a pair of burner electrodes. The result: a clean-burning flame of 2,200 to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Condensing boiler or furnace
A small but growing number of the nation’s homes have condensing boilers or furnaces — both more than 90% efficient. In these appliances, flue gas condenses in a secondary heat exchanger, releasing usable energy. The flue gas and condensate are routed to the outdoors via plastic pipe. The equipment gains further efficiency by using unheated outdoor air for combustion, rather than conditioned indoor air.
Keeping the heat on is important. So is knowing how to shut the system down in an emergency.
• Boiler shutoff valve
Stops water flow to the boiler and to valves or other devices downstream. (It is the first of several valves and devices on the boiler’s feed line.)
• Burner emergency switch
Cuts power to a gas- or oil-burner circuit.
• Main shutoff valve
Controls gas flow from the meter to the building for maintenance or emergencies. The valve is turned with an adjustable wrench.
• Propane tank service valve
Controls gas flow from the tank to the building for maintenance or emergencies.
• Circuit breaker
Provides a means to automatically or manually cut power to heating-equipment circuits.