What’s the most popular heating system for American homes? You guessed it – a furnace powered by natural gas. But although many of us have spent our entire lives living under the same roof as our furnace, knowledge of this integral household component is usually restricted to industry professionals like AE Power Plumbing. So let’s dive into some “furnaces 101”, courtesy of the experts at our furnace company serving Willow Springs, IL.
Three furnace types exist today, each with a different efficiency level. A furnace’s efficiency is measured by “annual fuel efficiency”, or AFUE. The AFUE represents the percentage of energy used by the furnace that is converted into warm air.
Furnace #1: Old-model (gravity-flow) furnace
Although old-model, gravity-flow furnaces are no longer manufactured, there are still plenty in use. If your home has such a model, we highly recommend you replace it, since its AFUE is far lower than that of modern furnaces – to the tune of 50% – 60% decreased efficiency. Moreover, old-model furnaces lack 21st-century conveniences like vent dampers, sealed combustion units, and electronic pilot light ignition, rendering them harder to operate, harder to service, and more dangerous.
Furnace #2: Standard furnace
A standard furnace, i.e. one that integrates a blower fan and some/all of the conveniences mentioned above, has an AFUE from 80% – 85%. Compared to the average old-model furnace’s 30% AFUE rating, you can see just how far furnace design has come. An 85% AFUE rating means that for every dollar you spend on your home’s heating, 85% of that dollar returns to your home in the form of warm, comfortable air. Where does the other 15% go? Well, standard furnaces utilize a single heat exchanger, a device which collects the heat produced by the furnace’s gas burner. Since there’s only one heat exchanger, 15% of the furnace’s energy escapes in the form of water vapor that seeps outside via the furnace’s flue pipe.
Furnace #3: High-efficiency furnace
The biggest difference between a standard furnace and a high-efficiency furnace is that the latter includes a second heat exchanger. This allows a high-efficiency furnace to evaporate water vapor a second time, extracting more available heat and limiting the amount of “heat escape”. The best high-efficiency furnaces can achieve an outstanding 96% AFUE, which is almost a one-to-one return on your dollar. These furnaces are quickly becoming the norm, especially as households with an older-model furnace look to upgrade and bypass a standard furnace.
How do furnaces wear out?
Cracks in the aforementioned heat exchanger(s) happen over time, the result of expansion and contraction due to the furnace’s burners always turning on and off. These cracks are serious business, because an untreated one can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This is the biggest reason why you should have your furnace inspected periodically, especially as it nears the 15 – 20-year mark.
Contact a Furnace Professional
Depend on AE Power Plumbing to address all of your needs and furnace services near Brookfield, IL. Contact us today to make an appointment, and don’t forget to review the valuable coupons offered on our website.