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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is the most common type of heating system?

The most common type of home heating system is a forced-air heating and cooling system. This type of heater involves a furnace, which is commonly powered by natural gas, forcing air through a series of ducts that distribute the hot air through different rooms in a house. Furnaces can run on other types of fuel, including electricity, propane and oil. This type of heating system is quite popular because it doubles as a path for air conditioning in the summer.

What is the most efficient heating system for a house?

Geothermal heating tends to be the most efficient way to heat a house when compared to traditional HVAC systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Geothermal heat pumps (also called ground-source heat pumps) transfer energy to and from the ground to supply heat, cool air and hot water.

Note that one of the most important ways to boost efficiency, save electricity and lower your heating bills is to make sure your house is weather-tight and well-insulated.

How much does it cost to install a heating system?

The cost of a heating system depends largely on the type and size of the heating system. For example:

To find out how much your new heating system will cost, contact heating and air companies near you and ask for free cost estimates.

How do I know if my heater is broken?

The first way to tell whether your heater is broken is to feel the vents — if cool air is coming out, there’s a problem. However, it could be a tripped circuit, loss of power or a different problem. For example, if you hear loud or unusual noises, this could also be a sign of breakage, as most modern heaters are fairly quiet. Finally, look at your power bills. If there’s an unusual spike in prices, your heater could be working improperly and running inefficiently.

Reach out to a heating and air specialist near you to repair your heating system.

What do you do if your heat isn't working?

Start by checking your thermostat and making sure it’s on heat mode. If the display is out, change the batteries. You should also check your circuit breaker to see if the circuit has tripped. And check to see if there are any issues with your filters or furnace. 

When in doubt, contact a heating and air specialist near you to diagnose and fix the problem.

How long does it take to install a new heating system?

A new heating system generally takes a few days to install. Jobs that require new ductwork will take more time. And switching to a different type of heat fuel — propane, natural gas, oil or electricity — may require longer installation times as well, as they could require routing piping, regulators and other adjustments to your home.

How does a central heating system work in a house?

A central heating system consists of a boiler, heat pump or furnace. The furnace contains several parts, including burners that deliver and burn fuel, a blower, heat exchangers, a blower and a flue. The furnace will push air through the heat exchanger. Then, it will pump the warmed air through your air ducts to distribute heat throughout your home.

In the summertime, a central heating system can also provide air conditioning to cool and dehumidify your home.

What is a dual fuel heating system?

Dual fuel systems combine two types of heat fuels — typically gas and electric, the latter in the form of a heat pump — to boost heating performance and efficiency. These systems work with your furnace to deliver both hot and cold air.  A major advantage lies in the power of a heat pump, which provides cool air in the summer and heat in the winter.

What is a radiant heating system?

A radiant heating system can be installed in your floors or wall panels. A radiant floor heating system warms your home from the ground, providing uniform heating throughout your home. These systems are quiet, and they don’t require ductwork.

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