How a Furnace Works

Homes are normally heated by furnaces powered by gas, oil or electric current. But how does this system work, and how does it keep a home warm during the winter months? Knowing how a furnace works allows a homeowner to be more knowledgeable about how the system is maintained, and when to seek the advice of a heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) professional. 

When a thermostat is used or adjusted, it begins the cycle of replacing cold air with warmer, more comfortable air. A fan in the furnace will start to turn, pulling air into the unit until proper airflow is created. Burners are lit, ignited either by a spark or a “pilot light” in older heating units, and something called a “heat exchanger” is heated for several minutes before a blower activates. 

During these several minutes, all byproducts resulting from the combustion process, such as carbon monoxide and other gases, are safely vented out of the home by way of an exhaust vent. This keeps them from collecting and possibly poisoning anyone inside the house. 

Once the air reaches the desired temperature, the blower fan is powered on, which sends the air through the house by way of air ducts in the floors, walls and ceilings through the house. At the same time, cooler air is drawn in through return ducts in order to return back to the heat exchanger to regulate its temperature. The process is repeated multiple times and the cycle continues until the desired level of heat within the home is reached and able to be maintained. Furnaces are very complicated pieces of equipment. Regular HVAC system service will keep your furnace in peak operating condition.

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