Heating Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a Heat Pump and a Furnace?

A furnace is a natural gas heater and is a common type of heating across the country. A heat pump is an outdoor unit with the ability to reverse the flow of refrigerant and pull latent heat from the outdoor air to heat the home. When it is below 30 degrees outside, a heat pump loses its ability to heat and electric heat is used to supplement that. It’s often an ideal system for homes in warmer climates where there are generally few days below freezing each year. A heat pump is less expensive to operate than straight electric heating. However, if the home already has a gas line and gas prices remain low, heating with a gas furnace will still be cheaper to operate than either electric heat or a heat pump.

What does AFUE mean?

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Simply put, AFUE represents a thermal efficiency ratio between the amount of heat produced for the amount of fuel used by a piece of heating equipment such as a boiler, furnace or water heater. A higher AFUE percentage means higher efficiency.

We just had our limit switch replaced two days ago, and we have the heat set on 70 but there is cold air coming from the vents. Plus the fan runs constantly until I have to reset it. Our maintenance guy said everything should be fine and that he will be out again in the spring for our annual checkup.

The limit switch on your heating unit goes off if something gets too hot. Usually that means that there isn’t enough airflow through the system to push out the heat. First, I would suggest checking your filter to make sure it is clean and fits snugly. If that doesn’t solve the problem, call your contractor back to double-check that the correctly-sized limit was installed. If your contractor is not helpful, you need to consider getting a second opinion from a reputable HVAC contractor, like ARS/Rescue Rooter.

My heating is not working in the downstairs but the upstairs is working fine. Do you know what’s wrong? The heating system or the thermostat?

It is normal for a two story home with one system that is not zoned to be warmer upstairs. If the downstairs is not heating at all there could be issues with the thermostat location, return air location and/or size, or capacity. I would suggest contacting an HVAC professional, such as your local ARS/Rescue Rooter team.

What is that burning smell when I turn on my electric heat for the first time each year?

In many warm weather markets, such as in Florida, homes may use electric heating strips to generate heat. During long periods in between uses, dust can collect on the heating surface. It is this dust burning off the heating strips that causes the smell. While this is a common occurrence, if you have any concerns, contact a professional, such as ARS/Rescue Rooter.