What is a Furnace?

A traditional home comfort system has two parts: an outdoor unit, an air conditioner or heat pump, and an indoor unit. The furnace is the indoor heating unit that heats and circulates warm air through your home in the winter, and in the summer, it takes the cool air from the outdoor unit and works as a fan to circulate that cool air throughout your home. The indoor and outdoor units are designed to work together. When the furnace (or heating system) is properly matched with a heat pump or air conditioner, the result is maximum efficiency and extended system life. A gas furnace uses natural gas or propane as the fuel source, an oil furnace uses fuel oil as the heat source, and an electric furnace uses electric resistance strips to heat your home or office. On all shapes and sizes of heating systems, an electricity source is required to run the control systems, blower, and some accessories. Various gas, oil, and electric furnaces in different sizes and efficiencies fit your particular needs.

The basic components of a furnace system are:

  • The Furnace Burner: Through which gas (natural or propane) or oil is delivered and burned. (on electric furnace models, these are called heat strips that use electric resistance to heat up the strips that the air blows across)
  • A Heat Exchanger: Where the heat produced from the burning gas is transferred to the air distribution system.
  • Ductwork: To transfer the heated air distribution system.
  • A Flue or Vent Pipe: To exhaust combustion byproducts (such as water vapor and carbon dioxide) to the outside.

Variable-Speed Two Stage Furnace

Variable-speed furnaces circulate more air throughout the home for longer periods of time, reducing air stratification room-to-room and floor-to-floor. These longer furnace run cycles can improve air quality by increasing air filtration. Variable-speed furnaces offer significant operating cost savings and whisper-quiet operation. Variable-speed furnaces also feature an ECM blower motor that uses less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. Standard furnace motors use nearly 500 watts.

Two-Stage Furnace

These furnaces feature two-stage operation with electric hot surface ignition and an induced combustion system for quiet, efficient operation. To maintain your comfort level, two-stage furnaces operate at low capacity during most of the operating cycle. On bitter cold days, the second stage maintains comfortable temperatures. This is a good all-around heating option for most Boise, Nampa, and Caldwell homes.

Single Stage Furnace

Single-stage furnaces offer many new features not found in older furnaces. One feature is an inducer that draws the correct quantity of combustion air into the furnace for the most efficient operation possible. Another is an electronic ignition system that replaces the old wasteful pilot light. A third is a powerful, direct-drive blower that sends warmth to all the rooms in your home. These features will help make your home more comfortable while reducing heating fuel bills.

Oil Furnace

Oil furnaces offer efficient heating, proven reliability, rugged construction, simple controls, and easy annual service. All units are built for long life and efficient operation. Oil furnaces are becoming obsolete as the price of petroleum products rises. However, if that is what your home is set up for and what you want, they are still readily available for purchase, along with oil furnace repair.

Electric Furnace

An electric furnace is an air handler with a blower in it. This air handler (or electric furnace) has electric resistance heat strips that the blower pushes air across and heats up. These electric furnaces can do a great job in areas that do not have a gas option, and depending on how large your home or office is, the heat strips are sized accordingly for your furnace.

What About Heating Repairs and Maintenance?

Drake Mechanical recommends regular or Annual Maintenance on your home's heating and cooling equipment. In the spring, we recommend that you have your air conditioner or heat pump gone through; in the fall, we highly recommend you check your heating system. If you do not, you may find that the first time it gets really cold, your furnace does not work. Annual furnace maintenance also saves you on costly breakdowns and saves you on your utility bills by helping your heating system run at peak efficiency. If you have questions about what we do on an annual maintenance checkup, please call or click on the link below so we can get your questions answered.

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