What Type of Heating System Do I Have?

Do you know what type of heating system you have in your home? If you have considered this knowledge unnecessary in the past, take into account that learning about your current heating system and properly maintaining it can extend its life, lower your heating costs, and ensure your family stays comfortable throughout the cold of the season. This page contains helpful information from our heater repair experts at Aire Serv®.

Furnaces and Heaters

Sometimes referred to as forced air systems, these heating systems burn natural gas, propane, oil, or use electricity to heat your home, and are the most commonly used heating systems. Air is heated in the furnace and then distributed throughout your house via ductwork. Furnaces are typically found in closets, basements, crawlspaces, and attics. There are many concerns when deciding whether to choose a gas, oil, or electric furnace. Our technicians can help you make this difficult decision.

Do I have a Heat Pump?

Used in moderate climates, heat pumps offer both heating and cooling capabilities. Working like your refrigerator, they use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, depending on the season. These systems are typically split, with both an indoor cabinet as well as an outdoor metal cabinet housing components. Most systems work by moving air through ducts; however, ductless versions are available.

How to tell if you have a heat pump? The best way is to check your outside system; there is usually a label that specifies if it is a heat pump or an air conditioner. If no such designation exists, Google the model number and brand name. You can also check for horizontal brass pipes within your condensing units, which are unique to heat pumps. Finally, your thermostat may be able to help. If you have an emergency heat setting on your thermostat, you likely have a heat pump.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps use the naturally consistent temperature of the earth to heat or cool the air in your home or business. They are known for being quiet and incredibly energy efficient, with drawbacks including the relatively high upfront cost and the potential disruption to your existing landscaping for installation.


Boilers are made of two parts:

  • A furnace that provides heat
  • A vessel where water is converted to steam by heat piped in from the furnace

Boilers typically have pressure gauges, and may use electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil to operate. Heat created from hot water or steam is used to heat your home and may be distributed through baseboard radiators, radiant heat floor systems, or heating air via a coil. Boilers may also provide hot water to your home in addition to heat.

Package Units

Packaged units may be either electric or gas, and combine all system components into one cabinet which is typically found on a slab next to your home or on the roof. These systems combine both heating and cooling capabilities, eliminating the need for a separate furnace indoors. Ductwork is connected to the system through the roof or exterior wall and distributes heat or air throughout your home.

How to Safely Approach Your Heating System

The location of your heating system will vary depending on the type of system in your home. If you are having difficulty locating your heating system and your system uses ductwork, try following the ductwork to its source. If you are inexperienced, it is in the best interest of your safety to look with your eyes and not with your hands.

Regardless of your level of experience, be sure to enlist the help of an expert when servicing your heater and ask them how to properly handle routine maintenance for your particular model during the service call. Numerous reports are made every year to the Consumer Product Safety Commission resulting from incidents occurring with heating and air conditioning units such as electrocution, lacerations, cuts, bruises, strains, and sprains.

Low Heating Bills Are the New Hot Thing—Call to Find Out More!

For help determining what type of heating system your home uses, contact Aire Serv today. Aire Serv technicians have the knowledge and skills needed to service all types of heating systems and can help you set up a routine maintenance schedule to keep your system operating at peak efficiency.

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