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Furnace 101: What you need to know about your furnace

With the increase in homeownership throughout the OakvilleMilton, and Burlington area, we’ve been receiving many questions about how a home furnace works, what it is, tips and tricks to maintain it, and how to extend the lifespan of one. After all, when you live in a colder climate that requires a heat source during the winter season, it’s important to know what it is you’re dealing with. 

So whether you’re a first-time homeowner or are just noticing some concerns about your furnace, have no fear! We’re breaking everything down so you can understand the basics of your furnace system.

What Is A Furnace?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived in a home all of your life or have just moved from a condo with radiant floor heating, it’s important to know what a furnace is. Funny enough, “furnace” actually comes from the Greek word “fornax” which means oven, and while a furnace is not exactly an oven, it definitely acts like one.

A furnace is a device that is used to provide heat for an entire home, which is an ideal and useful process for those who reside in colder areas. The most common type of furnace is a gas-powered central air system, where heat is created in one place and then distributed throughout the ducts and vents, working to heat up the entire home.

Different Types of Home Furnaces

There are four main types of furnaces that are important to know for when you’re either purchasing a new home furnace, scheduling a furnace repair, or trying to maintain one.

Natural Gas Furnace

This is the most popular way that Canadians heat their homes, given that they are highly economical. Now older gas furnaces are only about 65% efficient however, newer models have been developed which are now found to be about 98% efficient. So if you have an old model, now would definitely be the time to upgrade.

Oil Furnaces

These types of furnaces are efficient, however, it is worth noting that they are less efficient than gas furnaces (only about 80 – 90%). Though many prefer them as the upfront cost for installation is lower.

Electric Furnaces

Cheap to purchase, easy to install, and will last you around 10 years. However, the cost of your electricity bill will be much higher each and every month. So although many feel as though they are saving on the upfront fees, they are actually paying it back with the month-to-month energy bills.


If gas or oil is not available in your area, then you probably have a propane furnace. Though it’s worth pointing out that less than 15% have a furnace like this in North America.

Tips and Tricks to Increase Heat Flow In Your Home

Now that you know what a furnace is and the different types of HVAC furnaces available, it’s time to explore some tips and tricks that will help to increase the flow of heat throughout your home and lower your monthly energy bill.

1. Change your Furnace Filters: this will not only increase heat flow throughout your home, but it will also save you anywhere from 5 – 15% on energy costs and increase the lifespan of your HVAC furnace. Rule of thumb, change the filter every 1 to 3 months.

2. Keep items away from your furnace: do not store any objects or items, especially those that are combustible near your furnace.

3. Vacuum and Clean Your Furnace: Dust and debris often get caught in your furnace. Use a paintbrush or a soft brush to gently remove the first and debris in the inner surfaces of your furnace unit and then vacuum the debris away.

For more tips and tricks on how to increase airflow in your home, check out our recent blog post here.

3 Telltale Signs Your Furnace May Be Going

Another thing you’ll want to monitor and watch for with your furnace system are the telltale signs that it is going out. While there are more than 3 different signs that indicate that its time has come, here are the 3 most obvious ones to watch out for:

1. High Furnace Age: the average age of your furnace unit is 15 – 20 years old. While some models will last a little longer with great maintenance and yearly tune-ups, odds are that around 20 – 25 years, your furnace is probably becoming inefficient causing higher energy bills and less heat.

2. Signs of Soot: Notice soot in and around your furnace? This is a clear sign that your furnace is going bad and it’s time to get it replaced.

3. High Energy Bills without Explanation: Notice that your energy bill has skyrocketed over the past few months or even a year? It could be that your furnace is no longer efficiently working and is going bad.

We always encourage proper care and furnace maintenance, however, it’s important to note that even with service, repairs, and a great deal of care, furnaces were not made to last forever. If you need a check-up or have questions about your furnace, feel free to contact us.

When to Call an HVAC Furnace Mechanic

Your furnace can experience a number of issues, from leaking values to noises to inefficient heating. But that does not mean you should call a repairman for every single issue at hand. If you’re not sure whether you should call for a furnace repair service, here are three inexcusable times in which one should be called:

1. If you smell gas: this is a serious issue! If you smell gas coming from your furnace, leave the area and call us immediately for an inspection.

2. Heating issues: If you notice that your heating bill has spiked in costs recently without any explanation, or if you notice noises coming from your furnace, it’s best to call us.

3. Regular Maintenance: To ensure longevity with your HVAC service or to prevent any unexpected costs later down the road, it’s best to schedule furnace servicing at least once a year.

While furnaces can be complicated to understand, they definitely are beneficial to every Canadian’s home. With some simple seasonal maintenance and yearly servicing, your furnace will easily heat your home, year after year, without any issues. But if any problems or issues do arise, or if you know that it’s time to get a replacement, be sure to contact us, the experts!

Related : Furnace Repair MiltonFurnace Repair BurlingtonFurnace Repair Oakville Furnace Repair Mississauga