Identifying Your Home Heating System: A Comprehensive Guide

If you're not sure what type of heating system you have in your home, it's important to know so that you can keep your machinery in good condition and potentially reduce your monthly heating costs. There are several ways to identify your home heating system, including checking the thermostat, looking for labels on the outdoor unit, and searching for horizontal brass tubes. To check if the central air conditioner is working, lower the thermostat and then see if the unit turns on. If you can't feel cold air coming through the wall or ceiling vents, check if the fan inside the compressor is moving.

If you hear a buzzing sound but the fan doesn't move, the motor or fan may need to be repaired or replaced. If there are no sounds or movements, the unit may need new wiring or a new motor. Most often, forced air belongs to the heating system, while central air refers to the cooling system. However, sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably. In the central heating system, heat is produced in a central location and is then distributed throughout the house.

On the other hand, a forced air system refers to any HVAC system that uses air ducts and vents to circulate temperature-controlled air to your home or building. Commonly referred to as “forced air systems”, furnaces are the most common heating systems found in homes. The air is heated in the furnace with gas, electricity, propane, or oil and is then distributed throughout the house through ducts and vents. You can find your boiler in the basement, attic, mezzanine, or closet. Heat pumps are generally found in moderate climates and use electricity to move heat through the house through ducting. Typically, these systems are divided into two components, with one part on the inside and the other on the outside.

The way to determine if you have a heat pump is to check the component label of the metal housing of the outdoor system, which will tell you if it is a heat pump. If you're still unsure, look up the brand name and model number. Another type of heat pump is a geothermal system. Geothermal heat pumps use the temperature of the earth to heat or cool your home. The advantages of a geothermal heating system is that it is energy efficient, quiet and produces no harmful emissions. Boilers convert stored water into steam.

The steam created heats your home using baseboard radiators or “underfloor heating”. Boilers, like a regular furnace, usually use one type of fuel. Fuel options for boilers are gas, electricity, propane, or oil. In addition to generating heat for your home, boilers can also provide hot water. Radiators are often found in older homes and are sealed metal containers.

They often work with a boiler to heat your home, although some contain electrical coils. Steam from the boiler circulates to the radiator, where the metal heats up and radiates throughout the room. These systems include heating and air conditioning units and are often installed on the roof of the house or on a slab on the side of the house. Packaged units use gas or electricity to heat and cool your home and have ducts connected through the roof or outer wall to distribute air throughout the house. For more information about your home heating system or to seek help determining what type of heating you have, contact the professionals at Oasis Heating, Cooling & Refrigeration. With 35 years of experience helping residents of Fairfax, Virginia, we can easily help you maintain your heating system and answer any questions.

Schedule your maintenance appointment today by calling us at 703-339-3877 or complete our online contact form.

How To Identify Your Heat Pump System

Not sure how to tell if you have a heat pump system? Check your outdoor unit. There must be a label that describes whether it is an air conditioner or a heat pump. Can't find a tag? Try searching the internet for the brand name and model number. You can also check for horizontal brass tubes in the condensing units - these are only found inside heat pumps. Finally, your thermostat may be able to shed some light.

Most heat pumps have an emergency heat setting on the thermostat. If you're still unsure, your local Air Serv professional can help you identify your heating system.

Dora Ethen
Dora Ethen

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