Thinking about Buying a Condensing Furnace? Here's What You Need to Know

If you're in the market for a brand-new furnace, then you probably know there are several types of systems to choose from. One option that you should consider purchasing is the condensing furnace. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the condensing furnace, including how it works and what benefits you can expect from it.
 
 

What Makes a Condensing Furnace So Special?

At first glance, a condensing furnace seems just like any other type of furnace. However, there's one major distinction that sets it apart from its conventional counterparts. Whereas a typical furnace is equipped with a single heat exchanger, a condensing furnace uses two heat exchangers for the best possible efficiency.

A heat exchanger is a series of coils that have two major functions. The first is to contain and direct combustion gases out of the furnace, while the second function is to extract the latent heat trapped within the gases. The furnace blower pushes air over the outside of the coils, allowing the extracted heat to be carried away and eventually distributed throughout your home through its ductwork.

A secondary heat exchanger allows your furnace to extract even more latent heat from passing combustion gases, allowing your furnace to get more heat energy out of the fuel it's burning. This makes condensing furnaces exceptionally efficient when compared to conventional furnaces.

The two heat exchangers also have the effect of making combustion gases cooler as they leave the furnace. In fact, these gases often cool down so much that they condense into water and carbon dioxide. The resulting condensation, which usually turns into carbonic acid, is eventually drained out of the furnace through PVC plumbing and a nearby drain, similar to how condensate is handled within an air conditioning system.

What Other Features Should You Expect?

A secondary heat exchanger isn't the only feature that's offered on a condensing furnace. You can also expect a condensing furnace to feature a dual-stage or modulating gas valve, allowing the furnace to fine-tune the amount of fuel delivered to the burners.

Most condensing furnaces are also equipped with variable-speed blower motors that allow the furnace blower to operate at slower speeds for quieter operation and greater efficiency during low-demand periods.

Like most modern furnaces, a typical condensing furnace also uses an electronic ignition system instead of a traditional pilot. This allows the condensing furnace to avoid the waste that's typical of some conventional furnaces while maximizing its overall efficiency.

What Are the Benefits of Owning a Condensing Furnace?

Condensing furnaces offer a wide variety of advantages over a comparable conventional unit:
Efficiency

A conventional furnace may be only 84 percent efficient due to its design, but a condensing furnace is usually 90 to 97 percent efficient thanks to its additional heat exchanger and other energy-saving features.
Noise

The addition of a variable-speed blower and fuel-modulating technologies allow condensing furnaces to operate with less noise than most traditional furnaces, making them ideal for homeowners who value enhanced comfort with reduced system noise.
Costs

Condensing furnaces use significantly less fuel than their conventional counterparts. This can save you hundreds of dollars on your annual heating costs over the lifetime of the furnace.
Vent Pipes

With cooler combustion gases, you won't need the traditional metal chimney vent that's commonplace on conventional furnaces. Instead, a condensing furnace is capable of venting its combustion gases through an ABS or CPVC pipe. The vent pipe usually goes through your home's side wall instead of the attic and roof, saving you plenty of time and expense when it comes to routing the furnace exhaust.

The above benefits often put condensing furnaces head and shoulders above traditional units.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Owning One?

There are only a couple of drawbacks to purchasing and owning a condensing furnace. The biggest drawback to consider is the cost of the unit itself. Condensing furnaces aren't cheap and the price gulf between a conventional furnace and its condensing counterpart is roughly around $1,000.

However, it is possible to find a great deal on a condensing furnace when you purchase it. You will also make up the cost of the initial purchase price over time through long-term energy savings.

The other drawback involves dealing with the corrosive condensate that's a common byproduct of the combustion process. This condensate has the potential to damage metallic drain pipes. Fortunately, all it takes is regularly scheduled maintenance and occasional treatment of acidic condensate to keep things under control.

Finding the best condensing furnace isn't always an easy task, especially with so many different models currently on the market. Fortunately, the professionals at C. B. Lucas can lend a helping hand when it comes to choosing the right condensing furnace for your home. Contact us for help making decisions about the best heating options for your home.

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