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How a Furnace Works

As we settle into the colder part of winter, having a proficient and reliable heating system will be essential for the next few months. If there’s ever an issue with your home heating system, understanding how it works will put you one step ahead in finding a solution. Use this guide to get familiar with furnace basics and set yourself up for a comfy and cozy winter!

How a Furnace Works – A Typical Home HVAC Set Up

HVAC is an abbreviation that stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. One of the most common home heating systems is a furnace, consisting of a thermostat and a furnace, which for the most part function seamlessly together to maintain a comfortable temperature in your living space.

Essentially, the furnace receives information from the thermostat about the ambient air surrounding it, which prompts it to turn on or off depending on the temperature you’ve set. When the surrounding air temperature drops below what it has been set to regulate, the furnace ignites. It heats the air in one location and distributes it throughout your home via a network of forced air ducts and vents.

Most furnace heating systems contain the same key components: a thermostat, a gas valve, burners, a heat exchanger, a blower motor, and ductwork.Furnace Basics – How a Furnace Works Step-by-Step

Take a closer look at how a furnace works to help you understand the step-by-step process that happens within your walls to keep you warm on cold winter days:

  1. The thermostat measures the temperature in your home based on the temperature you have set as optimal. When the air drops below that temperature, it sends a signal to activate the furnace.
  2. When the thermostat sends a signal to start the furnace, the gas valve opens, sending fuel to ignite the burners. The gas valve works in conjunction with the thermostat to regulate the amount of gas that flows into your furnace.
  3. Once the burners are lit, the flames heat up the heat exchanger. The heat circulates through the heat exchanger creating warm air. During this process, any combustion gasses should be venting safely out of the house.
  4. The air in your home is sucked in through an air return system, moved around in the heat exchanger, and converted to warm air.
  5. As the air moves through the heat exchanger, a blower motor and fan will move the warm air and circulate it throughout your living space via a ductwork distribution system.
  6. As the warm air moves through these forced air ducts throughout your home it flows through vents and registers to provide each room with heat. Once enough heat is generated and the overall temperature rises, the thermostat will trigger the furnace to shut off.

Furnace Basics – The Best Way to Optimize your Home Heating System

Apart from arming yourself with knowledge about how a furnace works, here are a few things you can do to keep a healthy heating system all winter long. Maximize efficiency, maintain safety, and minimize unnecessary costs with these furnace safety and maintenance tips.

  • Schedule annual maintenance. Have a professional come in and test your heat exchanger, clean your pilot light, and inspect the ventilation system to stop problems before they start.
  • Set reminders to check your furnace filter once a month, and plan to replace it at least every three months.
  • Regularly examine the furnace flame color and characteristics. It should be blue with a small yellow tip. Any other color could indicate a fuel burner problem and could be an indication to contact a professional.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
  • To learn more about furnace maintenance and costs, check out our furnace FAQs

Understanding the basics of how your furnace works and keeping up with regular safety and maintenance practices will set you up to live comfortably amongst the cold this winter. If you’re looking for more professional advice, maintenance, or repairs, call the experts at BCRC Heating and Cooling – we are here to help!

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