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Things You Might Not Know About Your Furnace

furnaceIf you live or work in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield (IL), a great thing about belonging to such a community is being able to help support it through the best of what you know and can do.

Some people are teachers, plumbers or real estate agents. Others are artists, librarians or auto technicians. Whatever their occupation, they contribute to a greater quality of life for all of us by sharing their knowledge and talent to help or inspire others.

If you’re like us here at Air Dynamics, you’re grateful for such diversity of ability. Most of us likely can’t and won’t become an expert at everything. Rather, we build on our chosen pursuit and look to others when we need support from theirs.

Air Dynamics’ chosen pursuit is providing the best possible service for HVAC and indoor air quality in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield. Because we focus so much on the profession, we develop a fair share of knowledge about local heating and cooling systems along the way.

One thing we never stop learning is how extraordinary the modern furnace really is. With the heating season upon us and about to stay for a while, we thought we’d share some things you might not yet know about the marvelous mechanism you have in your home.

Facts About Your Furnace: Millennia of Technological Movement

Furnace-type heating for public places and large homes has its origin with the Roman Empire and dates back to about 1200 B.C. With a nod to those original inventors, we certainly appreciate how far furnace technology and safety have evolved since then.

During that much earlier time, a warm-air system known as a hypocaust functioned by heating air with fire in an open space below the floor and sending it through passages into the spaces above. It was used only in brick or stone homes. While it produced a fledgling form of indoor heat, the hypocaust was often hazardous because of its potential to start a fire or cause suffocation.

If we fast-forward from the Roman Empire to the more recent age in North America, we find that during the 1700s and 1800s, most homes were heated by wood. Near the end of the 1800s, the invention of low-cost cast-iron radiators began introducing central heat.

In 1885, Dave Lennox built the first steel coal-burning furnace. Installed in the basement, it transported heat by natural convection (the rising of heated air) through ducts to the rooms above.

Even with this advancement, however, many people still struggled to stay warm, which further drove the pursuit of new heating technologies. In the late 1880s, German inventor Robert Bunsen discovered how to create an open flame to produce heat without soot. This prompted the further development of gas, propane and oil-fired heating systems. The pilot lights in today’s gas furnaces are descendants of Bunsen’s innovation. 

In the early 1900s, American Albert Marsh discovered chrome metal, which allowed him to forge a heating element 300 times stronger than others currently available. March’s heaters converted electricity to heat that could warm individual rooms. Although advancements in heating continue into the present, Marsh’s technology in furnace designs and manufacturing has changed very little.

We can thank New Jersey inventor Alice H. Parker for creating the first central-heating system that we now all use. She developed her concept in 1919 as a way to eliminate the need to go outside into the bitter winter cold to buy, chop or collect wood for the fireplaces that many still used to warm their homes. She also wanted to resolve the safety hazards that fireplaces often presented.

Parker’s design drew cool air into the furnace, where it would be heated by combustion of natural gas instead of by wood or coal, an approach that was revolutionary at the time. The warmed air would then be pulled from the heat exchanger through ducts to each room of the house. This would let homeowners regulate the temperature of their central heating system and warm their homes more efficiently.

Today, forced-air gas furnaces are the most popular heating systems in the U.S. because of their great economy, high-efficiency ratings and use in rural, remote and urban locations alike.

Fact About Your Furnace: Three Main Components

A typical modern furnace has three main components: a burner (gas) or heating element (electric), a heat exchanger and a blower.

The burner or heating element ensures efficient generation of heat from the energy source. The heat exchanger separates the breathable air from dangerous combustion gases. The blower then sends the heated breathable air through the ducts into rooms.

Fact About Your Furnace: Increasing Life Span

Many furnaces made today can live and operate for as long as 25 years if they receive regular preventive maintenance. This is highly desirable when we consider the average cost of a system replacement ($4,000–$5,000).

Fact About Your Furnace: Installations Are Regulated

A furnace installation is regulated by the local, state and federal government. This is to protect personal and public safety by monitoring the inherent risks of a machine that involves heat and combustion.

For this reason, a furnace should be installed only by a licensed and certified HVAC technician with the proper installation permit. Regulatory building departments also require that a third party inspect the installation once completed to ensure that it is correct and that the furnace will properly perform.

Learn Even More About Your Furnace: Contact Us Today

We love our dedicated role as HVAC specialists serving Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield (IL). Beyond supporting you with furnace maintenance, repair and replacement, we’re also here to make you an even wiser and better-informed heating consumer. If you ever have questions about your furnace and how your unit works in your home, simply give us a call at (630) 731-1550!

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