Issue # 20: Forced Air Heating
ISSN 1703-5597
November 12, 2003

Issue #20 Forced Air Heating

  1. The Basics: Glossary, Overview, Total Comfort System
  2. Planning: Advanced Design, Costs, Efficient Furnaces
  3. Components: Ductwork, Thermostats, & Filters
  4. Operation: Problem Areas, Maintenance, Retrofitting
  5. Issues: Carbon Monoxide, Duct Cleaning, Experts
  6. New Stuff: Heat Pumps, Combo, Hi-velocity, Integrated
  7. Other Resources: Suppliers, Contractors, Forums, Book

1. The Basics: Glossary, Overview, Total Comfort System

Glossary Of HVAC Terms
An air handler is not just a highly vocal politician. Trane, a well-recognized name in the HVAC industry, has a good glossary of the many trade terms used in the heating industry.

System Overview
The Warmair website provides a basic explanation, with diagrams, of the different parts of a forced air heating system and an overview of how it works.

Total Comfort System
SMACNA, an international trade association, lists things to consider when selecting a complete comfort system. Although a few US terms are used this is still very relevant for BC.

2. Planning: Advanced Design, Costs, Efficient Furnaces

Advanced Space Conditioning (PDF FILE)
If you really want to understand good overall system design, Building Science Corporation has an online booklet describing full HVAC systems for high performance residential buildings.

Heating Cost Calculator
The Canadian EnerGuide website has an online calculator to help you or your customers decide which system and energy source may be the most cost-effective in the long term.

Consumers' Directory of Certified Efficiency Ratings
GAMA has an online search page where you can enter certain criteria and run a search to get the Efficiency Ratings and other technical information for all different types of Furnace Heating Equipment.

3. Components: Ductwork, Thermostats, & Filters

Ductwork Guidelines
The Sustainable Building Sourcebook offers these guidelines for designing and installing good quality ductwork systems. It includes tips for different types of ducting products.

Set Back Thermostat Savings
Do you ever wonder how much can be saved by setting back a thermostat? Warmair has a quick online calculator you can use to figure this out for different temperature settings.

Furnace Filter Selection
This CMHC information sheet helps you understand and select from the multiple types of filters available, based on their abilities stop different kinds and sizes of particles.

4. Operation: Problem Areas, Maintenance, Retrofitting

Room Heaters & Wall Furnaces
Terasen Gas has an overview of these compact and economical systems that can be used for the heating of problem areas and/or individual rooms of a home.

Heating System Maintenance
Here is some pretty good detailed technical information from the University Of Missouri website. It covers maintenance issues and procedures for each system component.

Retrofitting HVAC Systems
This detailed Best Practices Guide For Residential HVAC Retrofits is offered online from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. It comes recommended by NAHB.

5. Issues: Carbon Monoxide, Duct Cleaning, Experts

Carbon Monoxide Tips
TSSA, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority in Ontario provides information on CO including recognizing symptoms, actions to take, prevention methods, and testing procedures.

Duct Cleaning
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association represents this relatively new industry and has some good consumer info that cautions against being oversold on duct cleaning.

Free Online Expert Services
The All Experts site offers up a section on HVAC where you can ask questions from what look like some very experienced people, many of who are retired HVAC industry contractors.

6. New Stuff: Heat Pumps, Combo, Hi-velocity, Integrated

Ground Source Heat Pumps
Geothermal systems are becoming more popular. Here is a NAHB technical report with a good overview of these systems, as well as links to other heat pump resources online.

Combo Challenges (PDF FILE)
As usual, Dr. Joe Lstiburek provides a critical review as he recommends combo systems for certain applications and points out some challenges for production builders.

Mini-Duct & Hi-Velocity
These systems can solve problems when space is limited as NAHB points out in this report that briefly explains operation, benefits, limitations, costs, and lists the manufacturers.

Integrated Systems
The future of home comfort systems may be the integration of space heating, hot water and ventilation as demonstrated on this eKocomfort website.

7. Other Resources: Suppliers, Contractors, Forums, Book

Find A Product: Buyers Guide
Canadian HPAC magazine has an online buyers guide and wholesale directory if you want to find a supplier of any type of product used in forced air heating systems.

Find A Contractor
There are two trade associations that provide lists of trained and certified heating and ventilation contractors. TECA is the BC based forced air and ventilation trade association. HRAC Is A National Trade Association

Discussion Forums
HVAC Mechanic has good trade forums on its site. There are lots of items here and they provide a method for you to search through them if you are looking for a specific topic or item.

Builders Guide To HVAC
This NAHB book is written for small and medium volume builders. It covers HVAC system selection and specifying.

Dittie For Today: On Priorities
At present we have a society based on having and owning. What we need is a society based around being and giving.  Mike Scott

  Copyright 2003               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved