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
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.
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.
offer a wide variety of advantages over a comparable 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.