What Type of Furnace Do I Have?

Do you want to buy a new furnace? Are you looking to replace your old one? Just want to learn more about this major appliance? Knowing what type of furnace you have can help you make decisions about when to replace your furnace or how to repair it if it seems like something is wrong. Do you have a sealed furnace? Is it one or two stage? We’ll help you figure it out.

Electric, Oil, or Gas Furnace?

The majority of furnaces are gas furnaces, but some older homes run on oil, particularly in the North. If your furnace is regularly serviced by a delivery company, it’s probably an oil furnace. You’d use an on-site storage tank to hold the delivered oil.  A gas furnace is connected to a gas pipe and doesn’t need any kind of scheduled fuel delivery. Can’t find a gas pipe or exhaust flue? Look for electrical cables – you might have an electric furnace.

Atmospheric or Sealed Furnace?

When a furnace burns fuel to heat your home, flue gases are produced as a result. A sealed furnace takes the products of combustion directly outside, so there is less risk that they will enter your home. An atmospheric furnace uses a draft hood or a damper to draw the gas up, so if you see one of these, you have an atmospheric furnace. A sealed furnace isn’t just the safer option; it’s also more efficient. An atmospheric furnace uses heated air for combustion, wasting the energy that was used to heat it. A sealed furnace is fueled by air from the outside.

One-Stage or Two-Stage Furnace?

A single-stage furnace is either on or off. There’s no adjustment for cooler temperatures, so there’s less granularity. A two-stage furnace has two settings: low and high. If it’s freezing out, the furnace automatically kicks into high gear. According to Lennox, the low setting is adequate 80% of the time. A two-stage furnace can operate at this lower setting, so it’s more efficient and is better at regulating temperatures.

Pilot Light or Not?

Pilot lights are becoming less and less common. A pilot light burns continuously; if you see a flame in your unsealed or sealed furnace, you have a pilot light. It takes energy to keep that flame going, so those furnaces are less efficient. Most newer furnaces use either an electronic intermittent ignition, which only lights up when it’s needed, or a hot surface ignition. Hot surface ignitions use electricity to quickly heat up a metal, so no flame is necessary.

So What Does It Mean?

Each of the factors detailed above has an impact on your furnace’s AFUE rating. The AFUE rating is a measure of the overall efficiency of your furnace. If your furnace is less efficient, you’re spending extra money on heating and cooling bills each month. When your furnace breaks, do the math. Is it beyond 75% of its life expectancy? (Since the average life expectancy of a furnace is 16 to 20 years, that would be 12 to 15 years.) Will the repairs cost more than 1/3 of the cost to replace? If so, you may want to consider replacing your furnace.

Want to know more? Contact Newcomb and Company. We can give you a quote for furnace repair and replacement, so you can make the wisest choice for your home and your wallet.

 

 

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