How Your Heating System Works

Regardless of which fuel your system uses, heat is distributed throughout your home in one of two ways: radiant or warm air vents.

With radiant heat, hot water is circulated through tubes in the floor, baseboard radiators or through cast iron radiators. Radiant heat is extremely comfortable and quiet.

Warm air vents are the most common type of heat distribution in western Washington. While the system you have may look a bit different, its operation is similar to those described here.

How Oil Systems Make Heat

How Oil Systems Make Heat

Your thermostat has a sensor that measures room temperature. When the temperature drops below your thermostat setting (or you raise the level above the room temperature), it sends a signal to the controls on your burner to get into action.

A fuel pump draws oil through a filter (5) to your burner. It turns this oil into a fine spray, mixes it with air and ignites it in the combustion chamber (6), causing the chamber to get very hot.

What happens next depends on the type of system you have.

1. If you have a Hot Water (hydronic) System (upper left), water circulates around your boiler’s heat exchanger (10). A circulator (11) pumps the hot water through radiators or baseboards. An expansion tank (12) adjusts to varying pressures.

2. If you have a Warm Air System (lower left), air absorbs heat in your furnace’s heat exchanger (7). A blower (8) sends this air through ducts (9) to heat your home.

The water or air eventually returns to the unit and begins the cycle again.

In all systems, the combustion emissions go up the flue (13), never mixing with either the air or water circulating through your home. A common misconception is that combustion particle are circulated in the house and that because of that gas heat is cleaner than oil heat. The truth is that with both oil and gas heat, combustion products go up your chimney. The air that comes out of your heating registers is the same air that is circulating in your home.

Questions?

Have questions about your heating or cooling system? Or would you just like to make sure your system is as efficient as possible? Give us a call at 206-722-1545. We’re here to help.