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Furnace Facts That Will Surprise You
Posted: November 2, 2017 by Andy

Your furnace quietly does its job keeping you warm, but there's a lot more going on than you might realize!

As outside temperatures fall, most of us are ready to spend more time inside where it's warm and cozy. Thanks to the furnace, we're able to do just that. Here are some furnace facts you might not be aware of, including where the name "furnace" comes from!

A furnace is the most common way to heat a home

Most homes in the USA are heated by furnaces. A furnace warms the house by sending air through a system of ducts found in the floors, walls, and ceilings. Furnace energy sources include electricity, natural gas, and oil, or sometimes a combination. Natural gas systems are the most common and most economical - saving as much as 30% versus electric systems.

Furnaces have been around a long time

The Romans, around 1200 BC, were the first known civilization to use a warm-air heating system. Called a "hypocaust," it pumped heated air through walls and floors. Later, during the 13th century, Cistercian monks used furnace-heated rivers to warm their monasteries. The very first steam-powered heating system was installed in England so that grapes could be grown during cooler temperatures.

Furnaces keep your pipes from freezing

When temperatures outside drop below freezing, the water lines in a home without a heating system will freeze in about three days if they're sealed (that is, if they're turned off and unused).

Humidity can affect how you feel, even at the same temperature

A low humidity level will cause your home to feel colder than its actual temperature, while a home kept at a high humidity level will cause your home to feel warmer than its actual temperature.

Furnaces consist of three main components

Although they also have parts such as fittings, filters, and ductwork, all furnaces contain these three components:

  • • A heating element (in electric furnaces) or a burner (in gas furnaces) creates the heat.
  • • A heat exchanger separates combustion gas from breathable air.
  • • A blower sends breathable air through the duct system into the home's livable spaces.

Furnaces have long lives

Many factors determine how long a furnace will last, but overall, they tend to enjoy lengthy lifespans. Conventional and mid-efficiency furnaces usually last from 18 to 25 years, while high-efficiency furnaces don't last quite as long, usually about 15-20 years.

"Furnace" has a different meaning in different regions

In England, the term "furnace" only refers to industrial furnaces used for smelting lead, iron ore, or copper. In America, we call this type of industrial furnace a "blast furnace." Instead, the British call their heating systems "central heating."

The word "furnace" has Greek origins

"Furnace" comes from the Greek word "fornax," which means oven.

Furnaces really do require maintenance

Did you know that a 6-room house collects an average of 40 pounds of dust a year? It's true! It's also one of the reasons why regular maintenance of your HVAC system is so important!

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