Design Comfort Blog: Archive for the ‘Gas Heaters’ Category

How Newer Furnaces Are Improving in Energy Efficiency

Monday, December 28th, 2015

How old is the gas furnace that’s currently keeping your home warm during cold weather? If it’s more than 15 years old, and especially if it’s more than 20, it is definitely time to consider having the unit replaced. This isn’t just a way to ward off a furnace having its final failure at an inconvenient (i.e. freezing) time: it’s a way to improve energy efficiency. Not only is an aging furnace going to require more power to produce heat, but newer furnaces have improvements that have made them more energy efficient than ever. Where the average AFUE rating (an annual energy efficiency measure) of gas furnaces was once 60%–80%, most furnaces score higher than this today—and some even score as high as 97%! That means a furnace that wastes only 3% of its fuel source.

How Do Newer Furnaces Achieve This Increase?

The basic answer is that furnaces are simply better made today than ever before, with improved materials making it easier for them to effectively transfer heat from their heat exchangers to the air. They have also changed over from using a standing pilot light that drains power even when the furnace isn’t on over to using electronic ignition systems, which are not only less drain on power but also more reliable.

There are some specifics that go into the special high-efficiency furnaces currently available. One of these is the second heat exchanger found inside condensing furnaces. The second heat exchanger captures the combustion gas vapor from the first exchanger that would otherwise end up vented outside and wasted. The second exchanger condenses the vapor and draws even more heat from it.

Many modern furnaces have special sealed combustion chambers, rather than the older style known as an atmospheric combustion chamber. A sealed chamber loses less heat to the outside when the burners ignite. As an added benefit, furnaces with sealed combustion chambers are safer and run quieter.

Finally, many newer gas furnaces have multi-stage burners and variable-speed blowers, which means they don’t have to operate at the same power level whenever they turn on. Instead, the furnaces modulate the burners and the blower capacities to match the needs of their homes and to reduce energy use.

Design Comfort offers heating replacement services in Millcreek, UT.

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What Does a Furnace Thermocouple Do for Salt Lake City Residents?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

In Salt Lake City modern appliances are equipped with an array of safety measures to make sure that they operate safely in your home. This includes gas furnaces, which are harmless when working correctly but can be unsafe if something goes wrong. Perhaps the most crucial safety feature of a gas furnace is the thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

Essentially, a furnace thermocouple works as a kill switch to shut off the furnace in case the gas is not igniting, like if the pilot light is out. Here is how it works.

The thermocouple is made up of two pieces of metal which are welded together at one end, called the “hot end” because it actually sits directly in the path of the furnace flame. On the cold end, it is wired to a circuit. Under normal circumstances, when the furnace is switched on, gas flows through the line and is ignited by a pilot light, ignition spark or glow coil. The flame heats up the thermocouple, and the furnace stays on.

However, sometimes the gas may not ignite, for example if the pilot light is out or the glow coil is faulty. In these cases, if there were no thermocouple, gas would continue to flow out without being lit, creating a very dangerous, poisonous and potentially lethal situation.

What the thermocouple does is detect heat, so if the furnace is on, but the hot end of the thermocouple has not heated up, that circuit up at the cold end kills the power to the furnace so that gas cannot continue to flow out unchecked. That way, you do not have to worry about a gas leak building to dangerous levels without being aware of it.

Sometimes, the thermocouple can malfunction, causing the furnace to shut off even if the burners are working just fine. Usually that is just the result of build up on the hot end over time, which can be fixed with some sand paper or emery cloth.  If you have any questions about this please contact Design Comfort Co.

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