What does a furnace do? Furnaces keep your property warm in the winter months by producing heat. Understanding the way that a heater operates allows you to feel more confident about using these appliances.
You can learn more about furnace operation and standard parts in your heating system with our team at Mission Comfort. Contact us at (301) 701-3768 to discuss your furnace or set up an appointment for repairs if your heating system breaks down in Waldorf, MD.
Basic Information about Furnace Functions
Furnaces heat your home by circulating hot air. This statement provides the short answer to the question: What does a furnace do? However, many property owners wonder how a furnace generates heat. The exact process depends upon the type of furnace you have.
Regardless of the method used to produce heat, the warmed air then circulates through your property through your Heating and Air Conditioning duct and vent system.
Operation of Various Types of Furnaces
Not all furnaces operate in the same manner. Explore the differences in furnace function right here.
Electric Furnace Function
Electric furnaces use electrical resistance to generate heat. They include several electric heating elements that look like coils. These coils turn on with the application of electrical energy. The furnace uses a resistor during the process of heat generation.
Electric furnaces warm the air that passes over them through your home’s duct system. Heating and Air Conditioning systems then transmit the heated air through the rest of your house.
Propane Furnace Function
Propane furnaces use propane as a fuel source. The unit brings the propane to a burner, where it gets ignited. The heat generated in the burner gets transferred to the surrounding air, which gets pushed through your air ducts by a blower unit.
Gas Furnace Function
Gas furnaces also use a burner to warm the air in your home. However, unlike a propane furnace, these appliances use natural gas as a fuel source. You must have a gas line supplied by a local utility company to use a gas furnace. These furnaces have a reputation for being highly efficient.
Oil Furnace Function
Oil furnaces also make use of a burner and propel hot air through the ductwork in your home. These furnaces run specifically on oil, are fuel-efficient, and have a lower initial investment than natural gas furnaces.
Review Parts of Your Furnace
Do you find yourself asking, What does a furnace do, and what parts does it contain? Our professional team provides you with the answers to these questions. Furnaces include different components depending upon their make and model.
Some of the most common parts found in furnaces include:
The thermostat represents the tool that allows you to control the heat setting for your furnace. You probably see your thermostat every day, as most builders place this system in an easy-to-reach location, like the kitchen.
You change the temperature on the thermostat by pressing a few buttons. The thermostat then relays this information to your furnace through an electric signal to increase or decrease the temperature in your home.
If you notice that your furnace does not respond to commands by the thermostat, make sure that the thermostat has good batteries and that all the connections appear secure. Contact a furnace repair specialist if the thermostat remains non-functional.
If you have a gas furnace, it will include a gas valve. This valve controls the amount of gas that reaches your burner component. The gas valve only functions correctly when the pilot light is on in your furnace.
The thermocouple (or thermopile, in some furnaces) monitors the status of your pilot light in a gas furnace. This tool stops the gas valve from emitting gas if the pilot light goes out. You can face a hazardous situation if your furnace emits gas without a working pilot light.
Burners warm up as they get exposed to an energy source. The exact energy source in your furnace depends upon the type of heating system you selected for your home.
Heat exchangers absorb heat from your burner components. Heat exchangers typically have a series of looped tubes, which move heat into the air. Sometimes, heat exchangers break down because they crack or develop leaks.
Water may seep in around the heat exchanger in some situations, leading to issues with corrosion and rust. Learn why there is rust inside your furnace by reaching out to our team at Mission Comfort. Our crew of highly trained Heating and AC professionals can assess your unique situation and repair your furnace.
Blower Motors and Fans
Blower motors and fans conduct the heat produced by your furnace into your home’s ductwork. Eventually, the warm air raises the temperature inside your home. At this point, sensors in the thermostat note the increased temperatures and signal your furnace to stop running.
Note that we have not discussed every possible part of a furnace with the article. Some companies include additional features with their heating systems. However, these are the most common parts involved in furnace function.
Comparing a Furnace with a Heat Pump
Some property owners find themselves wondering, What does a furnace do, and how does it compare to a heat pump? Furnaces generate heat for your home, but they do not handle air conditioning services. Heat pumps, on the other hand, can both heat and cool your home.
Heat pumps draw in air and either warm it up or cool it down before circulating it through your home. Both heat pumps and furnaces make use of the ductwork in your home to adjust the temperature.
In general, heat pumps cost more to install than a furnace. However, they provide year-round temperature control options, which you cannot get from a furnace. Homeowners who only have a furnace typically have to set up another system for cooling, such as an exterior air conditioning unit.
Both furnaces and heat pumps function better when they receive regular maintenance checks. Keeping your heating system in good condition may extend its life and keep it working efficiently to reduce your energy expenses. Maintenance appointments also diminish the odds of a breakdown for any heating system, including a heat pump.
Comparing a Furnace and a Boiler
Furnaces represent only one of your options to heat your home here in Waldorf. Many homeowners choose a boiler to provide heat instead. Boilers utilize hot water instead of hot air to keep your property toasty throughout the winter months.
Boilers generate heat with either electricity or gas, much like a furnace. However, instead of heating the air, they warm up the water contained in the boiler. The boiler then pushes the water through your home, using radiators or radiant heat pipes to raise the temperature in different rooms.
The water in your boiler system continues traveling around your house, over and over again. It returns to the boiler to heat up again as it cools in the pipes.
Some furnaces do double-duty by serving as hot water heaters. These appliances warm up the water you use to shower, run the dishwasher, or wash your clothes. Many homeowners appreciate this functionality, which you can’t get from a furnace.
Contact Us and Learn About Furnace Operation
What does a furnace do? In short, furnaces heat your home anytime the temperatures drop. Various heating systems use different strategies to produce warmth for your home. You can review these processes in more detail with our team at Mission Comfort.