Most homeowners have a basic idea of how their furnace works, but they do not have an in-depth understanding of the heating cycle that happens in their home thousands of times throughout the year.
You may wonder why it is important to understand the heating process. There are several benefits that come from understanding how your entire HVAC system works. For example, if something breaks, you will have a basic understanding of why it broke. Additionally, having a basic understanding of the functioning of your furnace can help you clearly communicate the issues you are having with the HVAC partners you work with to repair, install, or maintain your unit.
Your furnace is designed to last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. You will likely need to buy a new furnace at least one time. The more informed you are, the easier it will be for you to evaluate the pros and cons of the different units available and make the best decisions for your home.
Understanding the Home’s Heating Cycle
Although the technology behind modern furnaces has changed in recent years, the basic sequence of operation for furnaces have remained constant. The heating cycle starts when your thermostat identifies a difference between the temperature in the thermostat settings and the temperature of your home. At this point, your thermostat will send a signal to your furnace to produce more heat.
If you have an older furnace, you will see a pilot light that is lit all the time. The pilot light is the initial fuel to ignite the furnace’s burners.
Newer models have a direct ignition spark. It’s like the spark plug in an automobile. Others have a hot surface ignition. This is like the cigarette lighter in your car.
If you have an electric furnace, electricity is used to heat up coils in the furnace. This is similar to what happens when you plug in your hairdryer or when you push down the lever on your toaster. As electricity passes through the coils, the coils heat up. That heat is then transferred to your home through a blower and ductwork system.
Regardless of the different ignition points, ignition is where the heat process begins. If you have an older system, the heat from the burners is going to rise to heat the heat exchanger. The air in the heat exchanger is then blown through your ductwork and transferred to your home.
In newer and more efficient systems, a venter motor will push heat from the burners toward the heat exchanger at a predetermined metered rate. This motor will be active for a predetermined amount of time, depending on what is needed to heat the home.
As this is happening, gas valves are open that are providing fuel to the burners. On the other side of the burner is a flame sensor. The flame sensor is a safety device. It ensures that there’s a flame burning as long as there is gas flowing to the burners. If the flame sensor does not detect a flame, it will immediately turn off the gas flow.
You have probably noticed that there is a little bit of a delay from when you activate your heater to when hot air is circulated through your home. During this time, the blowers may circulate cool air through your home. This is because the heat exchanger is still warming up.
Your furnace is equipped with a flute that runs from the central cabinet to the outside of your home. This flute is used to remove any exhaust and other contaminants produced by your furnace.
Once your home reaches the desired temperature, your thermostat will send a signal to your furnace telling it to shut down. Everything will cool down and wait for a signal from your thermostat indicating that the temperature of your home has cooled below the desired level and that the process will need to start all over again.
Systems and Parts in Your Furnace
Your furnace is made up of a variety of parts. However, you don’t need to know each component of your furnace. The professional HVAC installers and technicians that we have at Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling are experienced and highly trained. We understand your furnace inside and out. We can help you address any issues that might arise.
While you don’t need to be an HVAC technician, it’s good to have a basic understanding of the major components that make up your furnace. They include the heat exchanger, blower motor, filter, and combustion chamber.
What Is the Blower Motor?
Your blower motor is like the lungs of your furnace. It’s going to distribute warm air through your home via your ductwork. Your blower motor is also going to circulate central air through your home when your air conditioner is activated.
What Is the Heat Exchanger?
Your heat exchanger is like the heart of your furnace. It consists of several metal tubes that hold heat produced by your furnace’s heat source. The air from your home is warmed to a particular temperature because it passes across the heat exchanger. The heat that is within the heat exchanger is transferred to the air that warms your home.
What Is the Combustion Chamber?
The combustion chamber is where everything happens inside of the heat exchanger. This is an open space that the air is going to move across. It is important that the combustion chamber is kept clean. If it’s dirty, it’s going to impact your furnace’s ability to transfer heat to the air that blows across it. It’s critical to include cleaning your combustion chamber during your routine professional maintenance.
What Is the Air Filter?
The air filter works for your air conditioning unit and your furnace. The air filter cleans any air that is being brought into the furnace. Remember, the airflow to and from your furnace is circular. The blower will push out the warm air into your home. That air is sucked back into your system. It passes through the air filter, and then it goes through the heating process again. Your air filter prevents dust and other particles from getting into your furnace. It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of keeping your air filter clean. If your air filter is dirty, it can wreak havoc on your HVAC system.
Enjoy Premium Heating and Cooling
At Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling, we pride ourselves on providing premium heating and cooling services to our customers in West Michigan. We’re proud to go above and beyond what our customers need. That is why we offer free estimates on our services, monthly specials, and financing with approved credit. Our team is committed to keeping your home as comfortable as possible.
Whether you need heating or AC repair, installation, replacement, or maintenance, we are the name you should call. We offer 24/7 emergency services. We have more than 60 years of exceptional service behind us and a long-standing Better Business Bureau A+ rating. We are proud of the work that we have done in our community. Many of our employees have been with us for decades. Contact Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling in Grand Rapids, MI, today. Discover for yourself why we’re the best in the business when it comes to home comfort.