HVAC FAQ: How Does a Furnace Work?

heating-open-cabinetFor the most part, the average homeowner doesn’t need to know too much about the way an HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system) works. Unless you’re changing the air filter or the batteries in your thermostat, heating system service is something that should always be left to a professional technician with the proper training and skill set.

However, many homeowners can benefit quite a bit from knowing the basics about their home furnaces. This can help you keep your home safe and operate your heating system efficiently. We’re here to help, so today we’re offering a basic overview of your home furnace. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions you may have!

Fuel Source

Gas furnaces and electric furnaces work similarly in principle. As a basic overview, the furnace takes in air from around the home via a blower fan. It runs over a heat exchanger which heats the air before it is sent out through the air ducts to the rooms of your home.

The way that heat is generated, though, may come from two different common sources. Electric furnaces require electric resistance to generate heat. This can use up a lot of electricity and cost you a lot due to the high prices from the electric company, which is why natural gas furnaces are more common.

Gas Furnace Ignition

In the past, you had to have a standing pilot light that was lit during the fall in order to keep the burners going so that heat was always available. Today, that’s not how furnaces work—but if yours does still require this you should look into an upgrade.

Electronic ignition systems only provide heat when the furnace actually needs to cycle on. This is more efficient and safer than a standing pilot light. An electronic control board delivers a spark which sets off the ignition when the thermostat calls for heat.

Heat Exchanger and Fan

Air is heated up in the heat exchanger, a metal component that contains all of the byproducts of the fuel combustion process, including dangerous ones like carbon monoxide. The heat exchanger is enclosed, and a flue vent leads out of it to the outdoors to keep you safe.

The blower fan sucks in air from around your home, moves it over the heat exchanger, and then sends that air out to the air ducts. Heat is easily transferred from the heat exchanger to the air. The thermostat on the wall senses when the room is warm enough and then shuts the system off. It continues to run in cycles in this manner.

Safety Switches

Thankfully, today’s heating systems are safer than ever before. That does not, of course, make them invincible, but it does mean that you have fewer worries throughout the winter. A fan limit switch, for example, keeps the system from overheating.

However, you must have these safety switches—and all of the components of your furnace—maintained annually to ensure that you always have the best possible protection for your home. Call in HVAC technicians to do an inspection for you this year.

For HVAC in Clarkston, MI, contact the friendly team at Davison Heating & Cooling.

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