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What You Need To Know About Furnace Systems
Whether you live in an area with more temperate weather or one that can see some significant winter weather, choosing the right furnace system for your home is crucial for maintaining comfort during the colder season. While some heating options, such as heat pumps, are gaining popularity in some areas, using furnace systems to heat your home is still one of the most popular choices.
Whether you are looking for an electric heating option or a more traditional natural gas furnace, Superior Home Supplies has the heating appliances you need to fit your budget and keep your home comfortable no matter how cold the temperatures get. Check out our selection of new furnace systems, or contact one of our sales representatives to help determine your best heating option.
What is the difference between furnace systems and HVAC systems?
A thermostat will control the temperature of the HVAC system and send a signal to the correct component depending on whether hot air or cool air is needed. Often the HVAC system is comprised of a natural gas furnace and central air conditioner but can also include other or cooling systems.
How do furnace systems work?
Understanding how a furnace works can help you better decide the right heating option for your home. A furnace is basically a warm air distribution system. While gas and furnaces have different components and energy sources, they both have a heating element, a blower, and a ductwork system to deliver heated air.
Gas furnaces start when the thermostat triggers the furnace to turn on. One of the gas valves will turn on, and the burner will direct gas to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger will use drawn-in air from the returns and the ignited fuel to heat the air. The blower will then push the air through the air ducts in the home. During the process, the heated air will pass through the air filter, where debris, dirt, and allergens will be removed to provide for better indoor air quality in the home. Any toxic gases and exhaust created during the combustion process will be vented outside. Electric furnaces work similarly but are powered by electricity which will use heating coils for the heat source instead of burning fuel.
What are the differences between a natural gas furnace and an electric furnace?
When choosing a type of furnace, you will have to decide which type of energy you want to control your system. Gas furnaces are powered by natural gas, while electric furnaces are powered by heated coils. Each type of furnace utilizes blowers and a ductwork system to push the heated air through the home. Both options are considered efficient and also offer higher efficiency furnace options that can have annual fuel utilization efficiency or AFUE ratings above 90%.
What are the pros and cons of furnace systems?
As with any home heating option, there are pros and cons to choosing a furnace as your heating appliance.
- They can be more cost-effective to operate.
- They are powerful enough to heat even larger homes.
- They can be paired with air conditioning systems
- They have lower installation costs than either option.
- They require minimal maintenance
- They require a gas line and venting if a natural gas furnace option is chosen.
- They can dry out the air in your home without the addition of a humidifier.
- They can re-circulate allergens and debris in the house through the ductwork.
- They may have energy loss through ductwork that is cracked or leaking.
What are the advantages of a furnace compared to a heat pump?
systems are a serious consideration for homeowners looking for other options than central furnaces to heat their homes. While many homeowners enjoy the energy efficiency that comes with a heat pump, there are some advantages to choosing a furnace instead.
- Longer lifespan: Most gas furnaces will last longer than a heat pump before needing replacement.
- Less maintenance: The fact that furnaces are used only a few months a year in most climates means they will often need less maintenance and repairs than heat pumps.
- Reliability: Since furnaces have fewer parts than a heat pump, they have a lower chance of a breakdown.
- Cheaper installation: Heat pump installation can be more costly than installing a furnace.
What are the various components that make up furnace systems?
A furnace system is comprised of various parts that work together to help deliver heated air throughout your home and keep it at a comfortable temperature when the temperature starts to drop. The primary components of a furnace include:
- Pilot light: The pilot light will stay lit and ready to ignite the fuel when the thermostat signals its delivery,
- Thermocouple: This will detect whether or not the pilot light is lit. If the pilot is lit, it will signal the gas valve to open and deliver gas.
- Hot surface igniter: If your system is newer and does not have a pilot light, it will have a hot surface igniter that will start a combustion process when needed to ignite the gas supply.
- Flame sensor: This safety device will detect heat from the surface igniter. It will shut the gas supply off if it does not detect any heat.
- Gas valves: These valves control the gas coming into your home and the gas going to the furnace.
- Burners: Gas and air are mixed by the burner to create a flame which is the heat source for the furnace.
- Heat exchanger: The heat exchanger ensures that the toxic gases created during the fuel burn are absorbed and vented away from the home. This part also gives off heat to the surrounding air.
- Draft inducer motor: This motor starts before the gas in the furnace burns and assists with venting.
- Pressure switch: The pressure switch helps the draft inducer motor to vent correctly. If the pressure switch does not detect the vacuum from the draft inducer motor, it will not allow gas to enter the furnace.
- Blower motor: The blower motor pushes warm air through your home’s ducts.
- Blower motor capacitor: The capacitor starts your blower motor and keeps it running at a constant speed.
- Limit switch: This part monitors the temperatures in the furnace. If the system were to get too hot, the limit switch would shut the gas off to ensure safety.
What is furnace capacity?
Your furnace systems capacity is the maximum amount of heat that it can output. This measurement is done in BTUs, which is an abbreviation for British Thermal Units. In most cases, furnaces will fall between the capacity range of 60,000 and 100,000 BTUs. Higher BTUs mean more heat, but several factors come into play when choosing the right BTU for your home.
When is it time for a furnace replacement?
There are many instances when a furnace replacement should be considered. If your furnace system has been operating fairly smoothly, you should consider looking for a high-efficiency new furnace or one with a higher energy star rating once your system is 12 to 15 years old. While some furnaces are designed to function for 20 to 25 years, they can begin having problems and lose efficiency around the 12 to 15-year mark, which makes it an excellent time to start shopping around.
You never want to wait until your furnace dies before replacing it. It could force you to choose a furnace without the time for proper research and may leave your home uncomfortable if it were to give out in the winter months.
Aside from age, there are several other indications that it may be time to consider a furnace replacement. Some signs that replacing your furnace would be the best option include:
- You are paying for frequent or expensive repairs.
- You are hearing unusual or loud noses, such as rattling.
- You are seeing a buildup of dust, rust, and dirt around the registers.
- Cycling occurs more often than normal.
- You notice a crack in the heat exchanger.
- You have higher than average energy bills.
- You notice uneven heating around the home.
- There is increased humidity in the home.
While some of these signs could indicate a minor repair, they could indicate a more severe or costly problem, especially if more than one issue occurs.
How often should you have your furnace system serviced?
When your heating system is in tip-top shape and less than eight-years-old, having it serviced once a year should keep it operating well and maintain its energy efficiency. When the system ages and begins to show signs of aging, you may need to have it serviced twice a year, making sure that one visit is right before the heating season in your area. Your HVAC technician will also perform troubleshooting on your system to check for any potential issues.
Having your furnace regularly serviced is critical, and it will improve safety, keep your energy bills down, and prevent your warranty from being voided. You should check and change your air filters monthly or according to the manufacturer guide in between service visits. This will help you maintain proper indoor air quality.
How do you calculate the furnace size?
Calculating the right furnace size to meet your home heating needs takes into account factors such as the square footage of your home and the average climate in the area you live in. Areas are given climate factors, such as 30 for areas that will experience mild winters. You then multiply that factor by your home's square footage to determine your furnace's required BTU. If you have a 2,500-square-foot house and live in a place with mild winters, you will need to look at furnaces around 75,000 BTUs.
Additionally, there are other factors to consider, such as the height of your ceilings, the efficiency of your doors and windows, and the amount of insulation in your home. For example, if your 2,500-square-foot home has vaulted ceilings throughout, you will want to consider increasing the BTUs needed by 25%, since you will need more power to fill up the space between the floor and ceiling. If unsure about the size you need, you can discuss your needs with an HVAC technician or see how these factors affect your options.
It is important to note that choosing the right furnace size is critical. When units are too small, they can be overworked and wear out faster. When they are too big for your home, they are less efficient.
Find your comfort at Superior Home Supplies
Make your home more comfortable this winter by choosing one of the many energy-efficient new furnace options available from Superior Home Supplies. Superior Home Supplies knows how important a furnace is to your home’s comfort and carries dependable and well-known brands designed to provide you with reliable and efficient heating options. Whether you are looking for a new furnace or a furnace replacement, check out our furnace systems or contact us today to find all our available options.
Extra Furnace System Information
Single stage furnaces are the traditional equipment that is either on or off, sometimes leading to short on-off-on-off cycles.
Two stage furnaces default to a 70% burn rate and only go to 100% when needed. This leads to longer run times and better temperature regulation without increasing your monthly energy bill.
Variable speed blowers allow the furnace to slowly ramp up the air flow, meaning no more noisey *poof* when your system turns on. Instead you'll simply notice a slow and steady increase in air movement, leading to fewer hot and cold spots within your home
If you live in California, be sure to look for "Low NOx" units due to regulations, unless you live in one of the following counties, in which case regulations restrict you to "Ultra-Low NOx" units. (Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, or Tulare)