A forced air heating system is one in which conditioned air is pushed through an HVAC system via a blower. Air is first heated by a furnace or cooled by an air conditioner. This setup differs from a gravity-based system in which convection currents deliver heated air rather than blowers. Only warmed air can be distributed this way. But if an air conditioner or heat pump is installed, you have a forced-air system; we will explain how this works.

How Forced Air Heating Systems Work Explained

Design and Function of a Forced Air Heating System

The most popular home heating solution in North America is the central forced air heating. A system that, often efficiently, delivers heat to every room in your home. It also delivers cooled air from air conditioners. Key components of this setup include:

  • Outdoor Compressor/Condenser Unit: Manages the refrigeration cycle and circulates refrigerant to the indoor air handler via a series of tubing.
  • Air Handler: A forced-air furnace with a blower or, in the case of a heat pump, a stand-alone blower cabinet.
  • Heating Elements: Gas-fueled burners are popular; if you have an electric furnace, electric-resistance heating elements are the main heating source.
  • Blower: Pulls in air from a room and across the coils. Once air is heated or cooled, it is pushed back into your home.
  • Ductwork: Distributes air from rooms to the heater and from the furnace/heat pump to every room in your home.
  • Thermostat: Monitors temperature, allows you to turn the system on and off, and set the desired temperature, while directly controlling the system.

Other parts of a forced air heating system include:

  • Filters
  • Registers
  • Flue vent
  • Fan limit switch
  • Combustion chamber
  • Heat exchanger
  • Gas valve
  • Hot-air plenum
  • Return-air plenum

Process oh a Forced Air Heating System

The system works in the following steps:

1. The thermostat constantly measures temperature. If a room is cooler than the set temperature level, the unit will turn on the air handler.
2. Room air starts to be drawn into the cold-air return, and into the ductwork.
3. The ductwork channels air into the furnace’s heat exchanger, while burners or electric heating elements are activated to heat this air.
4. Warmed air is forced back into ducts by the blower.
5. This cycle continues until the thermostat registers that the set comfort level has been achieved, and then turns the system off.

Types of Forced Air Furnaces

There are different types of forced air heating systems designed for installation in different parts of the home. The most common of these are:

  • Upflow Furnaces: Direct heat upward and are usually installed in the basement.
  • Downflow Furnaces: Are usually placed in the attic as they’re designed to drive air downward.
  • Horizontal Furnaces: Also typically installed in attics, especially those with a very limited ceiling height.

Why Install a Forced Air Heating System?

A forced air system is cost-effective because there are fewer parts. It also provides efficient heating. Given the efficiency improvements to equipment over the past 10 years, you could achieve higher ratings by upgrading to a forced air system. The system also quickly provides comfortable temperatures, is extremely reliable, and compatible with most central air conditioning systems. There’s also a reduced risk of fire, carbon monoxide, and other toxic fumes; indoor air quality overall is improved.

Contact Express Plumbing Heating & Air

A professional heating installation, repair, and maintenance contractor serving the Boise area, we can help with your forced air heating system in any way necessary. Our licensed technicians can fix problems big or small or help upgrade your HVAC system. To get started, you can book your appointment online, or call (208) 398-0309 today!

Brad Jordan

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