What Type of Heater Do I Have?

What Type of Heater Do I Have?

Having a hard time identifying the large hunk of metal or odd string of contraptions currently heating your home? Relax. You’re not alone. With a few simple identifying markers, you can finally solve the mystery, then be well on your way to proper maintenance, improved efficiency and comfort, and extended system life.

What type of heater do I have?

  • Furnace

    • How it works: Commonly used in colder climes of the U.S., furnaces produce heat via coils, then distribute it with the help of a motorized blower via ductwork throughout your home.
    • Fuel(s): Most furnace systems use gas, propane, or heating oil, but some use biodiesel and electricity as well.
    • Key identifiers: A pilot light is a good identifier of combustion-style models. Electric models can be a bit trickier, and have been known to confound even the most seasoned home inspectors.
  • Boiler

    • How it works: Boilers are another system commonly found in cold climates. Heating water to provide warmth, they distribute heat via pipes through steam radiators, baseboard heaters, and radiant floor systems throughout your home. In some instances, they may also heat air via coil.
    • Fuel(s): Like furnaces, boilers typically operate on gas, propane, or heating oil, but can also run on biodiesel and electricity.
    • Key identifiers: Boilers are easily identifiable by large radiators distributed throughout a home, but can also be found alongside baseboard heaters or radiant floor systems.
  • Heat Pump

    • How it works: Heat pumps are commonly found in warmer, more moderate climates due to their lack of ability to generate heat like furnaces and boilers. Instead, heat pumps simply move heat from one place to another via motorized blower and ductwork: Outside of your home in the summer (A/C), then reversing to transfer heat inside your home in the winter.
    • Fuel(s): Heat pump systems commonly work on electric, but also come in natural gas varieties. Some models also use geothermal energy to source heat, with components dug far into the earth to take advantage of more consistent temperatures.
    • Key identifiers: “Split-systems” are the most common type of heat pump installation, featuring an air handler inside the home, often in a closet or basement, with a boxed metal unit outside on a slab.
  • Packaged Unit

    • How it works: Packaged systems combine all the components needed for heating and cooling into a single box, eliminating the need for two separate systems. They also distribute heated air via motorized blower and ductwork. Many are heat pump-style.
    • Fuel(s): Packaged systems operate using electricity or natural gas.
    • Key identifiers: If the metal box on the slab outside your home is extra-large, you may have a packaged unit.

I’m still not sure… Can I tell what kind of system I have based on my region?

Because a variety of factors come into play in determining the best unit for a home – climate, fuel/energy sources available, and area utility service rates – there is no cut-and-dry method of identifying systems via region/climate alone.

Current heating system still left you scratching your head? Aire Serv® can help. There’s no system our experienced professionals can’t identify – even the ones that look like they pre-date recorded history. Cozy-up your home this winter. Contact Aire Serve today.

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