As wintertime approaches, you are likely thinking about turning on your furnace. This device is a crucial element of your home, especially if you live in the Joplin area where the winters are frigid.
In addition to keeping your home warm, your furnace distributes air around the house. There are multiple styles of furnaces, but they all function more or less the same way. This guide will discuss the basics of how your furnace works.
What Is a Furnace?
You know what your furnace is since it keeps your home warm during the winter months. The definition of a furnace is an enclosed unit that heats a building.
A furnace is different from a space heater. Space heaters are designed to keep a small area or a small room warm. A furnace is a permanent installation in a building. It is often a component of the HVAC system.
There are several types of furnaces. The most common furnace system type heats the air in a centralized unit and then distributes the heated air throughout the home. Air vents or ductwork are usually the conduits for the airflow. These systems are called forced-air distribution.
Why You Should Learn About Your Furnace
If you are not an HVAC professional, you may wonder if it is worthwhile to learn how your furnace works. After all, if something breaks, you can easily pick up the phone to reach us at Satterlee Plumbing, HVAC, and Mechanical Contractors, and our team of HVAC professionals can quickly go to your home and get your furnace working as it should once more.
The better you understand the problem with your furnace, the quicker and more accurately you will be able to react if there is a heating emergency. Understanding essential furnace maintenance can prevent bigger issues from arising that could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.
The more you know about your furnace, the better you will do troubleshooting and address minor issues. When you call our experts, you will be able to explain the problems you are having. Additionally, understanding how your furnace works can help you take steps to improve its efficiency and reduce energy costs.
Types of Furnaces
Furnaces are categorized by the type of fuel they burn. The four top types of furnaces are propane, natural gas, electric and oil-fired. There is a heat exchanger in most furnaces where the cool air is warmed before being distributed through the air vents. A thermostat tells the system when to turn on and off based on the predetermined temperature you have set.
A natural gas furnace is the most widely used type in the United States, and 48% of homes have natural gas as their heating source. However, the percentage fluctuates by region. With time, natural gas furnaces have become more energy efficient. This has led to a renewed interest in them.
Propane furnaces are not as popular as natural gas furnaces, but many homeowners use them. Propane furnaces are more prevalent in parts of the country where it is not easy to have natural gas piped into a home.
Of course, electric furnaces use electricity. They are the cheapest to purchase, and they’re simple to install. What’s more, they’ve been rated to last for up to 10 years longer than natural gas or propane furnaces. On the other hand, electricity is more expensive than propane or natural gas. In the long run, you will spend more money. You may think that a gas furnace will work during a power outage, but in the vast majority of cases, this isn’t true. A gas furnace’s safety system will not allow it to run when the electricity is off.
Oil-fired furnaces are more common in the northeastern part of the United States. They use oil as a fuel source and have been shown to be less efficient than natural gas or propane heaters. They have a low up-front fuel cost, but these furnaces cost slightly more than the other options we discussed.
How Do Gas and Propane Furnaces Work?
A gas furnace will use natural gas or propane. The igniter is the starting point of this furnace. Older gas furnaces use a pilot light, whereas newer models have electric starters.
If your unit has a pilot light, a tiny stream of gas is constantly supplied to keep the pilot light burning. Electric igniters have a filament where electricity increases the temperature, igniting the fuel source.
A combustion chamber is the element of a gas furnace where the natural gas mixes with the air. The gas is ignited, and the furnace’s venting system lets air and gas mix to produce combustion while removing exhaust and byproducts from the home through the flue. You must maintain this part of your furnace to ensure efficient combustion and keep your home’s indoor air quality clean.
The heat exchanger is positioned above the combustion chamber. This is where the furnace warms the air using the heat from the combustion chamber. Once the temperature in the exchanger reaches the desired level, which is based on the temperature set by the thermostat, the furnace’s motor starts to blow the heated air into the house’s ducts. The warm air travels out of the vents and cycles through the home. Cool air returns to the furnace to start the process again.
The process is the same with your propane furnace. The difference is that propane furnaces don’t emit greenhouse gases. A propane furnace will only work if you have a sufficient amount of gas stored in your propane tank.
How Does an Electric Furnace Work?
An electric furnace is less expensive, easier to install and simple to maintain. It also tends to have a longer lifespan The downside is that operating costs can be higher since it runs on electricity.
An electric furnace works similarly to a gas furnace. Instead of burning oil or gas, electric furnaces have electric heating elements that heat the air. The way an electric furnace works is analogous to how your hair dryer operates.
Air is pulled into the heating system via the heat exchanger. Once the air reaches the heat exchanger, the heating element increases the temperature of the air. This is a collection of coiled wires. Electrically charged particles travel across the heating wires. Depending on the size of your unit, an electric furnace can have between three and six separate heating elements.
When the air is heated to the desired temperature in the heat exchanger, a motor will blow the warm air into the ductwork. It will then travel to the vents in various rooms. The contactor controls the voltage of the heating element in the furnace, and the transformer allows electric power to flow to other components such as the sequencer. The sequencer activates and deactivates heating elements. It also guarantees that all the heating elements do not start simultaneously. This could trigger a blown breaker.
How Does an Oil Furnace Work?
An oil furnace functions similarly to a gas furnace. However, oil is injected into the burner. An oil-burning furnace is one of the best options for heating a small space. It can heat a room faster than an electric or gas furnace.
Your furnace is a key component of your home in Joplin. At Satterlee Plumbing, HVAC, and Mechanical Contractors, our professional HVAC technicians will help you keep your furnace running. Whether you need services for UV lights, ventilation, humidifiers, heating, zoning systems, plumbing, IAQ testing or air conditioning our team is the one you should call. We provide free estimates to ensure you are getting the best quality and value in the area. Contact us at Satterlee Plumbing, HVAC, and Mechanical Contractors today.