You have probably heard the term forced air heating, before, especially if you’re considering a new home hearing system. But if you’re confused as to what the term actually means, you are not alone. There are many kinds of home heating systems available, so its understandable that people can be confused.

A forced hot air system is basically a heating system that distributes heat through your home via the air. Heated air moves through ductwork and is expelled through vents into different areas of the home. This air moves to maintain a specific temperature, which, of course, is set by a thermostat. When that temperature is reached, the system shuts off until the temperature drops below that certain point.

There are different kinds of forced hot air systems; an electric furnace, a gas furnace, a hydronic coil and a heat pump. When paired with a fan, all of these systems can distribute air through a home.

Central forced hot air systems are the most popular form of home heating in the U.S. The mean reason is they deliver heated air from a central heat pump or furnace to every room of a home.


Here are the basic components of a forced hot air system:

  • An air handler, which can be a forced hot air furnace that includes a blower, or a stand-alone blower cabinet used with a heat pump.
  • A means of heating the air, such as electric-resistance heating elements or gas-fueled burners.
  • Ductwork for delivering room air to the heater.
  • Ductwork that sends heated air back to the rooms.
  • A thermostat for turning the system on and off.


Forced hot air systems include other parts, of course, such as registers to direct and control the flow of air to rooms, filters to clean the air, and, in regard to heaters that use fuel for heat, a flue for venting gases outdoors.

When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is below a comfort level, the air handler engages, drawing room air through ductwork into the furnaces heat exchanger. The burners or heating elements engage, and the air is heated as it moves through the air handler. And then the blower forces that air through ductwork to all areas of the home.

Forced hot air systems are typically quite efficient, and are typically made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for temperature control all year.