A furnace is a simple system with some complex and delicate components. It is important to understand the basic process before understanding the rest of the components.

The Simple Process

The very first step is the thermostat sending the furnace a signal to start. When the furnace receives this signal, it lights the burner in the combustion chamber. This creates heat.

That heat rises to the heat exchanger and warms it up. When the exchanger reaches the correct temperature, the circulating fan starts and moves air through the system.

This fan draws air in through the return duct and pushes it through the exchanger. The exchanger then warms the air as it moves through, and the fan continues to push it out into your home.

What Could Go Wrong?

Many components in a furnace can malfunction. In the event that one does, the furnace can become dangerous if an ill-trained person attempts to fix or replace it.

Most people can replace the furnace filters and the thermostat batteries on their own. This is actually the first step to diagnosing a furnace problem. From there, any of the following could be worn or malfunctioning, needing either maintenance or replacement.

  • Circulating fan
  • Exhaust fan
  • Gas burner
  • Gas manifold
  • Ignitor
  • Gas valve
  • Thermostat
  • Circuit control board
  • Relays
  • Switches
  • Sensors

As you can see, many of these components interact with either the gas supply or heat generation function. Attempting to work on these without proper training can cause significant damage and be extremely dangerous. It is best to call a trained professional to diagnose and fix a problem if the thermostat and furnace filters are good.

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