A Furnace: Your House's MVP in the Winter

What with winter coming, the air is getting colder and we look more and more to the warmth and comfort of our homes to shelter us from the outdoors. All too often, we take for granted that even though its -40C outside, (if you live in Winnipeg like I do,) it’s still a comfortable +23C inside. For that, (in most cases,) we can thank our furnaces!

Yes, we rely on our furnace to keep us warm, but how many of us have even a clue how they work?

A common gas furnace consists of three main components: the burners, the heat exchanger, and the draft inducer. The burners are controlled by the thermostat, which you would set to your desired house temperature. When the thermostat detects that the house has dropped below the temperature you set, the thermostat indicates to the furnace that gas should start to flow to the burners, and it is ignited.

Hot gases from the burner, usually burning using natural gas, are sucked into the heat exchanger by the draft inducer. For those of you who know cars, a draft inducer looks a little bit like a turbocharger on a car, and works in a similar way.

At the same time, air in a modern “forced-air” furnace system is pushed through the furnace’s heat exchanger and subsequently through the duct pipes of the house by a fan. This is different from original gas furnaces that relied on changes in pressure between hot and cold air to circulate air up through ducts. Although these systems were quite genius in the understanding of how hot and cold air interact to make them work, they required furnaces to always be below the rest of the house/building, and hot air ducts to always go straight up from the furnace.

The ductwork of a furnace can be constructed out of metal or plastic piping, and should be insulated and sealed in an energy efficient house. With our modern understanding of sensible energy usage, we know that saving energy at all opportunities is important, in this case so that we don’t lose heat to places of our house/building that don’t need to be heated, such as crawl spaces and attics.

Although you now know how a furnace works, it is important to always have a professional work on your furnace if it breaks down. Trying to do your own repairs can be dangerous for you, and for others who live in your house such as your family. In Winnipeg, there is this Furnace Winnipeg service you can contact for any repair needs, and to keep you warm even when it’s cold out!