What is a High-Efficiency Furnace?
Homeowners who are building a brand new home, as well as those who are considering the replacement of their current heating system, will likely hear high efficiency condensing furnace as one of their options for heating systems. A high-efficiency furnace simply means that the furnace has an AFUE rating above 90%. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and is essentially a ratio of the amount of energy the furnace consumes in relation to its output. So for example, if you purchase a furnace that has an AFUE of 90%, that means that 90% of fuel is being converted to heat, with only 10% of that fuel escaping and being wasted. Older furnaces with low AFUEs (think somewhere in the 55 to 70% range) cost homeowners more to heat their homes because there is so much fuel waste. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace, which means you get more bang for your buck.
A high efficiency condensing furnace differs from a traditional furnace in some ways. One of the most crucial differences is the method in which it is vented. Here’s what you need to know about high-efficiency furnace venting.
1. Differences Between Conventional and High Efficiency Furnaces
A furnace that uses natural gas to heat your home produces byproducts as part of this process. These byproducts, in the form of combustion gases, must be removed from your home via a venting system. A conventional furnace vents these combustion gases through a vertical exhaust system that is attached to the furnace. A high-efficiency furnace uses a different type of venting system because it extracts the heat that remains in those combustion gases before venting the resultant mixture of water and carbon dioxide.
Example of High-Efficiency Furnace Venting on a Roof:
2. Conventional and High Efficiency Furnaces Use Different Venting Systems
Once a high efficiency condensing furnace removes this excess heat that conventional furnaces vent to the outside of a home, the leftover mixture is acidic water. This combination of carbon dioxide and water would damage the type of vents used in conventional systems which run vertically out of a home. To combat this issue, high efficiency condensing furnace uses PVC pipes to extract the acidic water from your home. These are connected to the furnace and routed out to the side of your home. The venting system is installed at the same time as your high-efficiency furnace.
3. You Need to Make Sure Your Furnace is Venting Properly
Ensuring that your high-efficiency furnace venting system is working effectively is very important. If the mixture formed by your furnace is leaking from the PVC pipe venting system or if those pipes are not draining correctly, your home can become damaged. These issues are often not evident to the average homeowner.
Example of a High-Efficiency Furnace PVC Vent Pipe:
4. Stick to a Regular Furnace Inspection Schedule
While having a furnace inspection on a regular schedule — most professionals recommend at least once a year — is important for any heating system, it’s especially so when you have a high efficiency condensing furnace.
The reasoning behind this is twofold:
- First, the professional heating and cooling contractors will thoroughly inspect your furnace to help avert any potential issues they might find that could result in your furnace being less efficient or even breaking down during the winter heating season.
- Second, by working with a contractor who has experience with high-efficiency furnace systems, you’ll know that they can effectively inspect the PVC venting pipes to ensure that they are working properly and tightly secured.
A high efficiency condensing furnace can save you money by lowering your heating costs. Like any heating system though, you need to understand the unique characteristics it brings to your home to effectively enjoy its many benefits. For more information, contact Farnen & Dermer today!