A Condensing Gas Furnace Uses: A Complete Guide


Rima Chatterjee

A condensing gas furnace is an innovative breakthrough in home heating. It boasts impressive energy and cost efficiency. Well, it condenses and recycles exhaust gasses to minimize waste while providing consistent warmth. A series of components work together to ensure proper fuel combustion, ignition, air flow, and venting.

A Condensing Gas Furnace Uses

Image: A condensing gas furnace

What’s the difference between a standard furnace and a condensing furnace? In conventional furnaces, exhaust gasses are wasted and expelled. But, with a condensing furnace, these same gasses undergo further combustion to generate additional heat before being expelled. Proper maintenance, including regular filter changes and pressure testing for gas piping and ductwork, can help improve efficiency even further. In short, a condensing gas furnace turns exhaust gasses into carbonic acid and uses that to heat your home.

How a Condensing Gas Furnace Works?


The condensing gas furnace takes fuel and air from outside, burns it, and exhausts it out safely. In this section, you will discover how the combustion process takes place, how the exhaust gasses are used, and how the secondary heat exchanger extracts additional heat. Additionally, you will learn about carbonic acid formation and how latent heat contributes to higher energy efficiency.

Combustion Process

A condensing gas furnace’s combustion process is key to its high efficiency. Natural gas is mixed with air, then ignited by an ignition source to create flames that warm the heat exchanger. As the exhaust gasses leave the furnace, they enter a secondary heat exchanger for extra heat extraction. Moisture is removed from the gasses and condensed into liquid before being drained away.

For efficient combustion, the right mix of fuel and air is essential. Modulating gas valves, adjustable speed blowers, and variable-speed motors are some technologies used to achieve the perfect balance. That way, emissions are minimal and you save money.

The real magic happens when the furnace reuses waste heat that would have otherwise been lost. This reclaimed heat can be used to preheat air or water, thus increasing energy efficiency even more.

Exhaust Gasses

The condensing gas furnace is a modern engineering marvel. It heats the air in your home, creating exhaust gasses which must be vented. 

These gasses are passed through a heat exchanger, where their heat energy is transferred to incoming fresh air. This produces cooler exhaust, which can be easily vented outside. This innovative technology pulls more heat than older furnaces with non-condensing tech.

Uniquely, this furnace uses PVC pipe for ventilation, instead of traditional metal pipes. This increases installation options no chimney or HVAC system needed. Just connect to your existing gas line and vent out the side of your house with PVC.

Secondary Heat Exchanger

The secondary heat exchanger in a condensing gas furnace is responsible for extracting extra heat from exhaust gasses. This allows improved efficiency and energy savings. It features a stainless steel or aluminum material which absorbs heat, a rifled design for increased surface area absorption, and a corrosion-resistant coating for unit durability and longevity.

Maintaining and cleaning are necessary for optimal performance. According to Energy Star, upgrading to a high-efficiency gas furnace with a secondary heat exchanger can save up to 20% on heating costs, compared to standard models. 

Carbonic Acid

Carbonic acid is the driving force behind furnace efficiency. Carbonic acid is a weak acid formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in water. It reacts with water molecules, releasing hydrogen ions, which lower pH levels, creating a more acidic solution. It is important for regulating pH levels in water bodies and buffering blood in organisms.

Components of a Condensing Gas Furnace


To understand the components of a condensing gas furnace, we will walk you through the different parts that make up this heating system. This section will go over the primary heat exchanger, gas burners, gas valve, blower fan, and the control system. These subsections will help you gain a better understanding of how a condensing gas furnace works and what its main components are.

A Condensing Gas Furnace Uses

Image: Components of condensing gas furnace

Primary Heat Exchanger

The primary heat exchanger is the heart of a condensing gas furnace. It extracts heat from combustion gasses to warm air throughout the home. Let’s look at the components and functions.

  • Tubular structure: A network of small tubes. Heat transfers from gas to air.
  • Collector box: Where spent gasses join and exit the furnace exhaust pipe.
  • Flame roll-out switch: A safety device. Sensing flames that can roll out, shutting off the furnace power.
  • Burner: Composed of tubes or ports. Natural gas and air mix, igniting to produce heat.

The primary heat exchanger is a sophisticated system, meeting stringent safety standards. The heating system uses a tubular structure with small diameter ports. Air passes over them, becoming warmed. Ensure regular maintenance. Schedule yearly checkups to prolong lifespan and prevent costly repairs.

Gas Burners

Gas burners are a vital part of a condensing gas furnace. They come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, depending on the furnace and its BTU rating. Let’s explore their features, performance and maintenance.

Type of Gas BurnerDescriptionEfficiency
Single-Stage BurnersHigh or low flame settings80-85%
Two-Stage BurnersRegulate gas flow for efficient combustion90-95%
Modulating BurnersContinuous adjustments for precise heating control96-98%

Gas burner performance relies on proper installation, regular cleaning and maintenance. Dirty burners can reduce airflow, flame quality and increase carbon monoxide. Professional servicing can detect any issues early on, avoiding costly repairs.

To get the best from your gas burner, 

  • Replace air filters regularly, keep the furnace area clean and debris-free. 
  • Have an annual inspection with HVAC professionals to check components like burners and heat exchangers. 
  • Adjust gas pressure and optimize system airflow for seasonal tune-ups.

By following these steps, you can have a safe and efficient heating system that provides comfort and energy savings. 

Gas Valve

Gas Valves come in various sizes and capacities for different heating needs in a home. Furthermore, newer models have safety features such as automatic shut-off valves to prevent gas leaks. It is essential to maintain Gas Valves properly. Failure to do so can lead to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and higher energy bills. So, make sure to schedule regular professional maintenance check-ups for your condensing gas furnace. 

Blower Fan

The Blower Fan is a must-have component of a condensing gas furnace. It’s responsible for pushing warm air through the ductwork to your home. Let’s take a look at this important part.

  • It’s located in the furnace housing and also known as the “blower assembly.” It has a motor, an impeller or fan blade, and a control board.
  • It draws in cool air from the return ducts, warms it up over the heat exchanger, and forces it out through the supply ducts.
  • You can adjust the Blower Fan’s speed for more or less airflow. Some models even have variable-speed blowers that automatically adjust their output based on the temperature.

Plus, some Blower Fans offer extra features like quiet operation and energy efficiency. They may also come with filters for removing dirt and debris. Blower Fans were invented for industrial use in the late 1800s. Later, they were adapted for home heating and cooling systems. Now, modern Furnace Blower Fans are designed to be efficient and quiet. 

Control System

The control system of a gas furnace runs its operation. It makes sure the furnace heats up your home safely and correctly. It’s made up of a few components, such as the thermostat, ignition module, and safety switches. See the table below for the components and description.

ComponentDescription
ThermostatTo set the furnace’s temperature
Ignition ModuleFor the safe start-up
Safety SwitchesKeeps the furnace safe by switching it off if conditions are not met

It can also communicate with other parts of your home, like the air conditioning system. This means automated temperature regulation.

For maximum performance, ensure your gas furnace’s control system is maintained and updated often. Get a licensed technician to do it. Also, use modern updates, like smart thermostats, to improve efficiency and comfort in the home.

Energy Efficiency of a Condensing Gas Furnace


To understand the energy efficiency of a condensing gas furnace, you need to look at its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. This is where we will begin our discussion of the topic. We’ll also compare the AFUE ratings of condensing furnaces with those of conventional furnaces.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Ratings

Efficiency Level (AFUE)DescriptionHeating Efficiency (%)Annual Energy Savings
Minimum StandardsStandard for all furnaces80-82N/A
StandardStandard mid-efficiency furnaces83-891-12%
High EfficiencyCondensing furnaces: extract more heat90-98.515-39%
Ultra High EfficiencySpecialized models with advanced featuresAbove 98.5Above 40%

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Ratings measure a gas furnace’s energy efficiency. It shows how much fuel is used to heat the home, and how much goes to waste. A higher AFUE rating means it is more efficient.

A Condensing Gas Furnace Uses

It’s important to note that many other factors affect the system’s efficiency. Proper installation, ductwork design, and regular maintenance are needed to get the best performance. By understanding AFUE Ratings, choosing efficient furnaces, and following recommendations, you can save energy and stay warm during colder months. 

Comparison with Conventional Furnaces

Considering energy efficiency is essential when selecting between a condensing gas furnace and traditional furnaces. To help you make the best decision, we have made a table that shows the differences between them.

Condensing Gas FurnacesConventional Furnaces
Fuel EfficiencyUp to 98%80-85%
Vent SystemRequires PVC pipe venting systemUses metal flue venting system
Cooling CapabilityAble to provide cooling functionality in some modelsLacks cooling functionality in all models

Plus, condensing gas furnaces have improved indoor air quality because of their sealed combustion design. They are usually quieter than regular furnaces, so they are great for those who want peace and quiet. To get the best out of your condensing gas furnace, clean or replace its air filter often. Doing this will increase energy efficiency and prolong the life of your furnace. 

Installation and Maintenance of a Condensing Gas Furnace


To ensure a safe and efficient installation and maintenance of a condensing gas furnace with proper venting and chimney requirements, gas piping and ductwork, air filters and blower motor, ignition system and thermostat, and outside maintenance and service is essential. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each subsection that covers everything you need to know to install and maintain a high-efficiency furnace for optimal performance.

Proper Venting and Chimney Requirements

A condensing gas furnace needs proper venting and chimney requirements for the safety and efficiency of your home’s heating system. Vent pipes let combustion gasses escape while keeping air pressure at the right levels, and protect everyone from bad fumes. A correctly installed chimney is necessary for efficient gas release. It’s essential to get a pro to inspect and maintain your venting system yearly.

Check for blockages or restrictions in airflow. This can reduce efficiency or even cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The pipe must have the right pitch for ideal drainage and insulation to avoid corrosion. An external intake pipe brings fresh air into the combusting fuel, for complete combustion.

ENERGY STAR says a well-maintained condensing gas furnace can save you up to 10% on energy costs. So, by keeping your venting and chimney systems in good shape, you could save on heating bills and safeguard your home. 

Gas Piping and Ductwork

Gas piping and ductwork are key parts of setting up and maintaining a condensing gas furnace. Good installation and upkeep guarantee a better furnace performance, a longer lifespan and improved safety.

AspectDetails
Gas Piping– Adapt to local codes and regulations- Made from approved materials- Adequate support and protection
Ductwork– Right size for air distribution- Insulated to reduce heat loss- Sealed to stop air leakage

When installing gas piping, the BTU input of the furnace must be considered. Gas piping should be handled by expert professionals who have knowledge of local codes and regulations. Similarly, ductwork must be created to transmit heated air effectively throughout the house. To keep gas piping and ductwork in good condition, it is vital to have regular maintenance carried out by a certified technician. 

Air Filters and Blower Motor

Air filters and blower motors are essential for condensing gas furnaces. Air filters keep air clean, and the blower motor circulates hot or cold air.

Check out this table for different air filter types and their lifespan:

Air Filter TypeLifespan
Fiberglass1 month
Pleated3 months
ElectrostaticWashable

Some can be washed and reused, while others need replacing every few months. Not changing them can cause system damage. You need to keep up with blower motor maintenance too. An expert should inspect and adjust it yearly, and lubricate any moving parts. They should also check for any resistance which may mean it needs replacing.

Ignition System and Thermostat

A condensing gas furnace needs a reliable ignition system and thermostat to run smoothly. The ignitor lights the burners for heat, while the thermostat regulates the temperature. An ignition system with a hot surface ignitor or intermittent pilot is more efficient than a standing pilot system. A digital programmable thermostat can be controlled remotely via a smartphone and is Energy Star rated for energy savings.

Regular maintenance is important to ensure efficient operation and avoid energy bills and safety hazards.

Outside Maintenance and Service

Keep your condensing gas furnace in top condition! Here’s what you can do for exterior maintenance and service:

  • Inspect the exhaust vent pipe regularly for blockages or damage.
  • Clear the area around the furnace of debris and obstructions.
  • Check that the furnace is level and securely in place.
  • If you hear strange noises or smells, get a professional to take a look ASAP.
  • For any issues, call an experienced technician.

Each manufacturer’s guidelines are different. Read the manual carefully before attempting any repairs. Schedule yearly cleanings and inspections by a licensed HVAC technician. This will keep your furnace running at its best and extend its lifetime.

Conclusion 


To wrap up, as a customer considering a condensing gas furnace for your home’s heating and air conditioning, you may want to check out reviews and consulting services such as those from Phil Consultant and Just Answer. Reading balanced feedback from satisfied customers and exploring the place of a condensing gas furnace in your home’s HVAC system can provide the information you need to make an informed decision.

About the author

Debarghya Roy: A heating systems author, Passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability, Sharing insights and empowering readers through informative blog articles.