Heating / January 11, 2022

Natural Gas Heaters, Your Options, and Household Safety

Should you invest in a natural gas furnace or boiler? Perhaps your home is ready for a heating upgrade, but you’re not sure what type of appliance to buy. If natural gas is on your list of options, take a look at what you need to know about this heating fuel, furnaces, boilers, and HVAC maintenance.

Are Natural Gas Heating Appliances Popular?

Yes, natural gas heating appliances are popular with homeowners. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 47 percent of American households use natural gas heaters. In comparison, the EIA notes that 36 percent use electricity as the primary fuel source for home heating.

How Do Natural Gas Heaters Work?

Two primary types of natural gas-burning heaters are available for residential use: forced air furnaces and hot water/steam boilers. A forced air furnace is exactly what the name implies. This type of heater forces hot air into your home. The central unit creates the heat necessary to warm your home. It then pushes the air into a network of ducts. The air travels out of the ducts through vents and into each room or space of the home.

A natural gas boiler uses water or steam instead of hot air to warm the interior area. Instead of ducts and vents, this type of system uses a series of pipes and radiators. The boiler unit heats water to a high temperature or creates the steam. The water or steam then moves through the pipes and into radiators in the home’s rooms. Some boiler systems use under-the-floor coils instead of stand-up or baseboard-level radiators.

Which Natural Gas Heating Appliance Is the Right Choice for Your Home?

Each type of natural gas heating appliance has pros and cons. If your home already has a duct system, a forced air furnace won’t require major renovations. But if your house doesn’t have air ducts, you will have to pay a contractor to install new ductwork. This type of project could include more than just the ducts. You may also need to break through walls, the ceiling, or the floor to make room for a spider web-like duct structure.

Likewise, if your home doesn’t already have pipes, radiators, or under-the-floor coils, you will need to install these parts of a boiler-centered system. This can also cost you extra money in extensive home renovations — especially if you need to remove and reinstall your floors.

If you do choose a boiler-type system, you will also have to select the radiators (stand-alone, baseboard, or floor), the radiator placement, and the choice of steam or hot water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, steam boilers are less efficient than the hot water version. This is due to the increased temperature (and higher energy needs) used to create steam.

How Should You Maintain a Natural Gas Heating Appliance?

All heaters require routine maintenance — regardless of the type. Whether you choose a forced air furnace, a steam boiler, or a hot water boiler, schedule a pre- and post-season check-up. This can alert you to potential problems. Along with an inspection, the technician can also clean the central unit, replace air filters in a forced air system, and check for leaks.

Natural gas heater leak detection is crucial if you have one of these systems. This is due to its combustible nature. The gas your heating and other home appliances use has a rotten egg or sulfur-like odor. If you smell this odor, leave your home immediately and call your gas supplier or emergency services. Are you ready to replace your home’s heater? Contact Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar for more information.

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