ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for October, 2014

Upflow vs. Downflow Furnace: What’s the Difference?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

There are a lot of choices when it comes to installing a furnace, and one of the choices has to do with how the warm air will flow from your furnace. It may seem like a small detail, but the way the air flows – either up or down – directly affects the placement of your furnace. If you are looking to install a new furnace for this winter’s heating, it’s important to know some basic functions of a furnace so that you can make an informed decision. Working with trained heating professionals in Coeur d’Alene, like the ones at ACI Northwest, helps to ensure that you install a heating system that fits your home and your needs, so call us today.

Upflow Furnace

An upflow furnace takes in air from the bottom of the unit, warms it in the heat exchanger, and then blows it upward into the ductwork of your home. Upflow furnaces need to be placed in a basement or crawlspace to be energy efficient, as they work on the principle that warm air rises. Some of the benefits of an upflow furnace are:

  • Better energy efficiency – because heat rises, upflow furnaces tend to be more energy efficient than downflow ones.
  • Comfort – upflow furnaces heat from the floor up, and many people find this a little more comfortable than from the ceiling down.
  • No need for extra flooring – upflow furnaces can rest directly on the concrete of your basement; with a downflow system, flooring needs to be reinforced, as downflow systems are typically placed in attics.

Downflow Furnace

As you may have guessed, a downflow furnace takes in air at the top of the cabinet, warms it, and then disperses it down into your home’s ductwork. As such, the placement of a downflow furnace is commonly in attic space, although it can also be placed in a garage or on the main level of a home. Some of the challenges with a downflow furnace are that installation can be more complicated, as there are stricter requirements for downflow furnaces (they also need reinforced subflooring), and they fight the natural tendency of hot air to rise. However, not all homes have a basement or crawlspace, so the benefit of a downflow furnace is that it fits with every kind of home.

Understanding your choices can help you choose a heating system that best fits your home. Call ACI Northwest today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

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Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces: Which Is Better?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

A furnace is an efficient, reliable way to heat a home. When choosing a new heater, the first step is deciding which type of system is best for your house: a boiler, furnace, or heat pump. And if you’ve already decided that you want a furnace installed in your home, the next question involves which type of power source to use: gas or electric?

Many homeowners wonder whether a gas furnace or an electric furnace is a “better” choice. Often, however, the question is not this simple. In many homes, a gas furnace may be the best option, but in some cases an electric unit may be a better choice, or possibly the only option available.

Making the Decision

Gas and electric furnaces both distribute heat in the same way. A blower moves the warm air through the ducts and into your home. However, the two generate heat much differently. A gas furnace uses an igniter to create heat in a combustion chamber. An electric model instead generates heat with a current that runs through series of electric heating coils which heat the air as it moves past.

In general, people choose gas furnaces over electric furnaces because they are less expensive to run. In most areas, the cost of electricity is simply too high to justify purchasing an electric model, and operating a gas furnace will save a lot of money over time. However, there are some homeowners who don’t have access to a gas line. And there are a few more advantages to electric models. The initial cost of electric units is usually lower, and they are safer to run since they pose no risk of gas leaks.

Other Considerations

Deciding whether to purchase a gas or electric model is not the only choice you will need to make. You should look into the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of your unit to find out how much energy your unit uses to heat your home and how much is lost during operation. Proper sizing is also key to ensuring an efficient system. Talk over your concerns with an expert, like the folks at ACI Northwest. To find out more about professional heating services in Coeur d’Alene, call us today!

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What Is the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

The most common types of heating systems—both of which have warmed homes and businesses for well over a century and a half—are furnaces and boilers. Chances are high that you have one or the other working to keep your home cozy during the winter. The two systems have little in common, however, except that they can use similar energy sources. Otherwise, they have completely different methods of providing heat for a building, and each requires specialists to install, repair, and maintain it.

If you are looking to have new heating system in installation, your choice may come down to a boiler or furnace. The one that will work best for your home heating will depend on many factors, and you should always rely on professionals to handle the installation so you end up with the right heater for your needs. Call ACI Northwest and put your trust in our many years of experience finding heating solutions for the greater Coeur d’Alene and Spokane area.

Furnace: Forced-Air Heating

The principle of a furnace is “forced-air heating,” which means that the system heats up air and then distributes it with a blower through a ventilation system. How the furnace heats up the air in its cabinet depends on its fuel source. The most common furnace type uses natural gas piped into the home. The furnace burns the natural gas to create a hot combustion gas. This gas enters a metal heat exchanger, which then heats the air blown past it and into the ductwork. The cooled-down combustion gas safely vents outside through a flue.

A popular alternative to gas is electricity. In these units, electric coils in a series of heating elements glow hot as current runs through them. The heating elements raise the temperature of the air through resistance heating, and the blower sends the air into the ventilation system.

Boiler: Hydronic Radiant Heating

Boilers do not use forced air or ductwork to provide warmth. Instead, they use heated water—and in some cases, steam—distributed through pipes to various terminal points in a home that then radiate heat waves into rooms. Boilers often use natural gas to create the heat to raise the temperature of the water in their water tanks, although some rely on electrical heating elements within the tank itself. Radiant heating in general is cleaner than forced-air heating because it does not require ductwork that can contain dust and dirt that will mix into the air stream.

Which One Is Best For My Home?

Both systems have advantages and disadvantages: furnaces can achieve high levels of heating, while boilers tend to use energy more efficiently and can last longer. If your home already has a set of ducts, it’s probably easiest to install a furnace. For a newer home without ducts, a boiler is an attractive possibility. The best way to know for certain is to work with a heating professional, who can measure the best way to efficiently and effectively provide comfort for your home.

ACI Northwest has a team ready to help with your needs for heating services in Coeur d’Alene, WA. Call us today to help choose between a furnace and a boiler.

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How Does a Gas Furnace Work?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

One of the most popular and common types of heating systems is the furnace. If you use a gas furnace for your heating, you are in good company: approximately 60% of homes have a gas furnace heating system. Understanding how your system works is important, so our ACI Northwest technicians have taken some time to explain below how your gas furnace brings warm air into your home.

How Does a Gas Furnace Work?

In a gas furnace, air is heated and blown into your home through ductwork. The process starts with ignition: the thermostat senses that the temperature in your home has dropped and cues the furnace to begin the ignition cycle. A component called the draft fan inducer motor draws air into the burner assembly; the burners are ignited and the heat from the burners warms the heat exchanger. The air from inside the burner assembly is exhausted to the outside while a second fan, known as the blower fan, turns on. The blower fan is attached to the return duct, and as such, brings in the return air from your living spaces and blows it over the hot heat exchanger. This blown air is warmed, and continues its way into the supply ducts where it is delivered, warmed up, back into your living spaces. This process continues until the set temperature has been achieved.

What Are the Benefits of a Gas Furnace?

Here are some benefits of gas furnaces worth considering:

  • Convenience – natural gas is piped into homes, eliminating the management of deliveries.
  • Clean burning – natural gas burns cleanly, unlike other fossil fuels.
  • Gas heat is very warm – the heat given off by gas-fueled heating systems is anywhere between 25 and 35 degrees warmer than other systems. This means your home will heat up quickly.
  • Good energy efficiency – the average gas furnace has an efficiency rating of 90% , and can go as high as 98%.

If you have questions about your gas furnace heating system, or need repair, call ACI Northwest today and schedule heating service in Coeur d’Alene with one of our HVAC experts.

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