What is a Forced Air Heating System?

Forced air heating systems are an energy-efficient and reliable method of heating and cooling your home.
Written by Kara Vanderbeek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Forced air heating systems use ductwork and vents to circulate air throughout households and other structures.
If you’re in search of a new heating system for your home, you’ve likely come across the option of forced air heating. With increased energy efficiency and a relatively low price, installing a forced air heating system may seem like a no-brainer.
However, forced air systems come with pros and cons, so it's important to consider all relevant factors before you purchase one for your home. To help you decide if a forced air heating system is right for you,
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has compiled this guide of everything you need to know.

What is forced air heating?

Forced air heating systems use ductwork and vents to recycle and transfer a heat supply throughout a household. 
These systems can be controlled by a single thermostat, with ducts that are concealed in walls, attics, and crawl spaces.

How does a forced air heating system work?

Natural gasses, such as propane, generate heat in forced air heating systems. Gas is warmed up and pushed into a structure’s ductwork and circulated throughout by a fan or blower. 
Registers that circulate air can be adjusted to control the amount and direction of flow. When the desired temperature is reached, the system stops heating the air. 

Pros and cons of a forced air heating system

While forced air heating systems can be an energy-efficient option, they pose potential health risks. Before you purchase a forced air heating system, take both the advantages and disadvantages of these systems into consideration. 
For a breakdown of the pros and cons of a forced air heating system, check out the table below:
Energy efficient: Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner for the environment
Noisy: The sound of air pushing through ducts will produce some level of noise
Heating times: Ductwork will heat your home faster than other heating systems
Central control: One thermostat controls the heat in all rooms, which may cause some areas to be cooler than others, depending on the location of the ductwork
Easy installation: The installation process is minimal if you have existing ductwork
Health risks: As air is being blown throughout your home, dust, mold, and other particles may come with it, posing risks to your health
Reliable: You can count on the simple components of ductwork to heat your home, and any broken parts are easy to replace
Leaky ducts: If designed poorly, there is potential for ductwork to leak
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Forced air heating system maintenance 

When it comes to the maintenance of a forced air heating system, the most important item to look after is the air filter. To ensure the smooth running of your system, you’ll need to replace or clean the filter periodically throughout the year. 
Professional maintenance may be required to check the air temperature differential between return and supply air. Further, it may be a good idea to have periodic inspections of the heat exchanger and inducer motor.

Does home insurance cover forced air heating systems?

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems will be protected under your insurance policy as long as a
covered peril
caused the damage. For example, if a snowstorm caused your furnace to malfunction, your home insurance would cover the damage. 
Keep in mind that most home insurance policies exclude damage from wear and tear, lack of care, maintenance issues, and neglect, so you must take the proper steps to maintain your heating system. 
If you experience problems with your heating system, have a professional assess the system as soon as possible to determine whether it’ll be covered. 

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The easy installation of forced air heating systems makes for an economical heating choice, with the average cost at around $800 per unit and installation costs sitting at roughly $300. However, the exact price will depend on if you have existing ductwork or require ductwork installation. Have an HVAC contractor assess your home for a specific price estimate.
While forced air systems distribute air through ducts that are connected to a heating and cooling unit, central air systems are typically located outside the structure and transfer air in a closed loop.
Forced air heating and cooling systems distribute hot and cold air through ducts and vents according to the desired temperature.
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