A man checking a furnace with the words, "How Does a Furnace Work?"

The most common type of furnace is a gas-powered central air system. With this type of system, air is heated in one area of the home and then distributed throughout the house using ductwork and vents. The main parts of the furnace that allow it to work are the thermostat, gas valve, burners, heat exchangers, blowers, the duct and ventilation and system, and flute pipe. With so many parts, there are a variety of issues that can arise through improper use and a lack of maintenance. Read on to learn more about furnace basics so that you can have a better understanding of the system that will keep you warm and cozy every winter – with the proper maintenance, of course.

Thermostat and the Gas Valve

Your furnace turns on when it receives a signal from the thermostat that the temperature in the home is too low. The furnace’s gas valve then opens and ignites the burner component beneath the combustion chamber. It is important to note that the gas valve and the thermostat work closely together to ensure that only the correct amount of gas is flowing into your furnace.

The Heat Exchanger

Once the flames in the burner component get hot enough, they will heat the metal heat exchanger. The heat then circulates through the looped tubes of the heat exchanger, allowing the heat to transfer to the cold air inside of the unit. At the same time, any combustion gases are directed outside of the home by the ventilation system which carries it to the flute pipe. The flute pipe allows the combustion gases to escape outside of your home, keeping you and your family safe from getting sick from the harmful byproducts of combustion.

Heat Distribution

Once the air gets to the right temperature, the blower motor and the fan move the heat through your ductwork and ventilation system to heat up your home. Once the heated air has warmed up your home and the thermostat’s temperature rises, the thermostat will tell the furnace to shut off.

Furnace Safety Tips

With such an important function as regulating the temperature of your home in combination with so many moving and potentially dangerous parts like gas and fire, it’s important to know some basic furnace safety to ensure you and your family remain cozy and safe. Here are some tips to make sure you and your furnace stay safe.

  • Make sure you invest in yearly maintenance checks of your furnace
    • Test your heater exchanger for cracks
    • Clean the pilot light
    • Inspect the ventilation system
  • Replace your air filter at least once every 90 days to avoid harmful particles polluting your air
  • Check the furnace flame color periodically
    • The flame should be blue – sometimes there will be a yellow tip which is also normal. Red, orange, green or any other color flame signals that there is either a fuel or a burner problem. A professional should be called out immediately if you notice any odd flame colors.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 30 days
  • If you smell gas, evacuate your home and call your trusted HVAC company immediately

Your Trusted Furnace Specialists

When it comes to something as important, complex, and potentially dangerous as your furnace, consulting a trusted furnace specialist is the best way to make sure you stay safe and comfortable. Our professional team of specialists at Cote’s Mechanical is eager to help you with everything from routine maintenance to troubleshooting more serious problems with your furnace. Even if it seems like your furnace is toast, our experts will be sure to help you to figure out the best way to stay toasty. Don’t wait until a problem comes up and you’re left out in the cold – call us today!