Heating inspection

The following is a list of some types of heating systems we found in the Grand Rapids area. Heating systems operate with several kinds of fuel, some of which are: natural gas, liquid petroleum or butane gas (LP), oil, electricity and solar energy.

Some appliances that run on some of the aforementioned fuels under certain circumstances can produce deadly carbon monoxide, however with proper installation and maintenance, are safe to use.

Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO, is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. The initial symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are flu-like and include headache, tiredness, and shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says, “More than 150 people in the United States die each year from CO poisoning due to accidents with consumer products unrelated to fire. Among these appliances are heaters, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces; which failed due to improper use, improper ventilation or had a defect. ”

“Never use portable generators inside the home, garage, basement or cellar. The CO of a generator can kill your family in minutes. Use them only outside and away from windows, doors and vents. ”

Hot air systems, there are two types, the forced air and gravity

Gravity systems operate by air convection. The hot air expands, becomes lighter and rises. The cooler air is dense and falls. The difference in the temperature of the air creates the convection or motivation for the movement of the air.

The forced air system is the one that uses air as its transfer medium. These systems rely on the work of ducts, ventilation grilles, and air-filled spaces in the structure to facilitate distribution of air, separate from the current air conditioning and heating system. Air from the empty space carries air from many ventilation vents to a central air handler for overheating. The air supply in the empty space directs air from the central unit to the rooms for which the designed system is to be scheduled.

Hot water systems

These systems resemble the hot air system having burners, vents, and pipes or channels. If visible we inspect the burners, vents, and pipes or channels in the same way we inspect hot air systems.

These systems may have pressure gauges, pressure relief valves, boundary controls, valves per zone, and expansion tanks.

The heat distribution is done in different ways, through cast iron radiators, cast iron bases, copper pipe with base convectors with aluminum fins.

Steam systems

These systems resemble the hot air system and the hot water system by having burners, vents, and pipes or channels. If visible we inspect the burners, vents, and pipes or channels in the same way we inspect hot air systems.

Steam heat acts like a teapot. You cannot see the steam until the water boils. Once the water is boiling, the steam rises to the supply tubes, which go towards the radiator. The steam is constantly being cooled in the tubes and radiators, turns back into water and flows back to the water heater to reheat.

These systems have pressure gauges, steam valves, low water shut off valves, steam limiting controls, automatic water feeders, pressure bleed valves.

The distribution may be one or two tubes. The tube comes from the heater and provides supply to all radiators. When the vapor condenses to become water, it descends through the same tube from which it came in the form of vapor. The important thing to remember is that the pipe should always be tilted towards the water heater.

The systems of two tubes have a supply and a return. Some of the steam may condense and return to the water heater via the supply pipe, however, a return pipe receives condensed steam and returns it to the water heater. The return pipes are always lower than the supply pipes. The returns of the hot water system go below the water heater. The steam returns used to go below, however when there was a malfunction with the return or it oxidized, it would drain the heater. This would cause the low water shut off valve to shut off the burner, and if the low water shut off valve does not operate properly, the heater could break.

Heat pumps                                                                                                                  

Through the refrigeration cycle draws heat from the outside air. A spiral coolant is located on the air handler instead of the heat exchanger or element. These types of systems can also be used in cooling, just like any air conditioning system. It can be more efficient than heaters fueled with oil-based fuels (gas / oil) and electric resistance heaters. Usually these are not recommended for frozen climates, unless they are used with a (second) source of additional heat as support. Modern heat / air pumps can provide heat very well at 32 ° F, zero degrees Celsius.


A geothermal heat pump whose source of heat is the ground or is a central heating or cooling system that pumps heat from the ground or to the ground. Use the earth as your energy source, in the winter or during the summer if the heat goes down. This design takes advantage of the moderate temperature in the soil to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of operation of heating or air conditioning systems, and can be combined with solar heat to form a geo-solar system with even greater efficiency. Heat sinks with ground source are also known as “geo-thermal heat pumps” although, strictly speaking, heat does not come from the center of the earth, but from the sun.

Electric heaters for socket

The electric heaters for the socket are in two styles, 120 volts or 240 volts. 120-volt heaters are very popular because they think they cost less to use because they only use a simple circuit. However, 240-volt heaters are more efficient because they use all the power from the source and this sometimes actually reduces the power demand by half.

In order for them to work properly, electric heaters for the socket need to have a special circuit for them. Generally, electric heater for the socket requires a 20 amp circuit with a 12-gauge wire for any heater style (always refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions). It is not acceptable to only add it to an existing circuit that is already charged, this can be a large hazard and cause a fire.

Passive solar

The passive solar heating design does not involve any mechanical heating devices. Instead, the passive heating floor works by absorbing heat through its built-in features when building it, and then releases the heat slowly to maintain the temperature inside the home. These building features, often referred to as thermal mass, can be large windows, floor stones, and brick walls.

In order for the passive solar energy to be effectively used there must be a means of circulating heated air throughout the house. The normal way air circulates is generally sufficient as long as the house doors are left open, however, sometimes fans are added to the design to facilitate this.

Active solar

Active solar heating is similar to passive solar heating, but with a larger process and generating much more heat than the passive system. Active solar heating depends heavily on three components: a solar collector that absorbs solar energy, a solar storage system, and a heat transfer system to disperse heat to the right places in your home.

Active heating systems can be divided into two categories: air systems and liquid systems. The difference in heating systems lies in the way solar energy collects in the solar collector. Liquid systems use a liquid to collect energy in the solar collector; therefore air systems absorb energy through the air.