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Akams Heating & Plumbing

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A new furnace involves a big investment and it is a must that you make the right decisions when purchasing one.

No household can survive winter without a good quality furnace. But you don’t need just any furnace; you need the “Right” furnace that is reliable and meets your needs.

Choosing the right furnace can be a tedious and complicated task. In this article, discover the various types of Akams Heating & Plumbing furnaces and the 10 most common mistakes to avoid.

Forced Air Furnaces

Many households use forced-air furnaces fired by natural gas to heat their homes. A few homes, though, opt to use propane or oil.

In a forced-air furnace, a burner heats cold air, after which a blower pushes it through your home’s ductwork (used to remove and deliver air).

Forced-air furnaces are popular for these reasons:

  • Heat homes quickly.
  • The ductwork needed to distribute warm air, can also carry cool air throughout the home in the summertime.
  • Doubles as an air filter (filters particles of dust, airborne particles and soot); a fresh-air ventilator (removes stale air); and humidifier (keeps the air moist).

Despite its advantages, forced-air furnaces also have their downside:

  • Air blowing out of the vent can be drafty and can also circulate dust.
  • The blower can be noisy.

Notwithstanding, forced-air furnaces dominate the market and continue to improve through technological advancements arising from continuous research and development.

Some upgrades include:

  • Electronic Ignitions. The shift from pilot lights to electric ignitions.
  • Two-Stage Gas Valves. The shift from a single-stage gas valve to a two-stage gas valve. A single-stage gas valve only has one speed (top speed). While a two-stage gas valve allows your furnace to run at its lowest capacity the majority of the time and shifts to full capacity on the coldest days. Thus, it provides better efficiency and comfort.
  • Variable-speed Fan Blower. Modern variable-speed fan blowers run at lower speeds, reducing noise and energy consumption.
  • Efficiency Ratings. Older furnaces have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of only between 60 to 65 percent, which means that 40¢ of every $1 you spend on fuel goes up the chimney as exhaust gas. Today, the minimum level of efficiency for furnaces is 90% (90% of the natural gas a furnace uses is converted into heat). The AFUE measures the ratio of heat output vis-a-vis the total amount of energy consumed by the furnace. The Canadian government has issued a ruling that furnaces manufactured today must have a minimum AFUE of 90%.

Types of Furnaces

There are currently two types of furnaces available in the market – the mid-efficiency and the high efficiency furnace.

Mid-efficiency Furnace

Mid-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of about 80 percent. In this type of furnace, the warm air circulated by the blower through the heating ducts is heated by a combustion chamber located under the heat exchanger. The combustion gasses are released through the chimney.

High-efficiency Furnace

High-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of between 90 – 98 percent. This type of furnace has a built-in recycler that attract as much heat as it can from the flue gasses before these gasses leaks through the chimney.

A high-efficiency furnace for a typical home may cost about $1,000 more to purchase than a mid-efficiency furnace. However, if you take into consideration the 20 – 50 percent difference in your monthly natural gas bills over the lifetime of the furnace (15 to 20 years), you come out ahead.  Plus, high-efficiency furnaces are better for the environment.

10 Common Furnace Mistakes

In buying a new furnace, it is important that these mistakes be avoided so that your investment will not go down the drain:

  1. Choosing an Unlicensed or Unqualified HVAC Contractor. The contractor must have the required trade license and registration for Technical Safety and Standards (TSSA). The contractor must also comply with the applicable environmental regulations, the Dispute Resolution Process and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
  2. Considering Only One Estimate. Requesting written estimates from at least three contractors will allow you to compare furnace quality, prices, services and guarantees to get the best deal possible.
  3. Buying More Furnace Than You Need. It is important that you compare the output of the furnace with the amount of heat your house needs. The lack of load calculations is the number one reason that furnaces, air conditioners, and duct systems are not sized properly.  Demand that the HVAC Contractor conducts a load calculation.
  4. Choosing the Contractor with the Lowest Price. The lowest price is not always the ideal choice. The price difference between contractors might spell the difference between good installation, better after sales services and emergency responses. The cheapest furnace you find may give you more inconveniences rather than comfort. The energy efficiency of the furnace and the noise level of your new furnace are factors you must not forget to consider.
  5. Ignoring the Warranty Fine Print. It is important that you are aware of the extent of the warranty of your furnace – parts only or both parts and labour; and after-hours service labour.
  6. Not Asking About Insurance Coverage. The contractor you choose to install your new furnace must have all the necessary insurance so you will not be held liable for any damages to the installers, equipment or to your home while installation is ongoing.
  7. Making a Big Deposit. 20% of the total cost paid directly to the company is the most you should give as deposit. In excess of that amount may mean imminent danger of fraud.
  8. Not Asking for References. Always make sure to do a background check on the contractor you choose to have the peace of mind that they can indeed do a good job.
  9. Not Asking About After-Sales Services. Choose a contractor that has the capability to provide after-sales services should your furnace bug down anytime.
  10. Not Asking About the Right Way to Operate the Furnace. After installation, most contractors will not bother to brief you on the right way to operate your new furnace. If you do not ask, you will have to figure it out yourself and run the risk of not doing it right and in the process not enjoy the full comfort the system can provide.

Choosing the Right Furnace

Determining which furnace is the right fit for your home can be a challenging task. Here are some tips to help you start on the right foot:

  1. Choose a furnace that has a 20-year or more warranty on its heat exchanger. This will tell you that the manufacturer is willing to make a long-term commitment to back up the quality of its product.
  2. Investigate each component of the furnace including heat pumps and integrated systems to make sure the unit can heat your home effectively and efficiently and at the same time provide good ventilation.
  3. Choose a furnace contractor that has a long and good track record. Check for references that will prove that the HVAC contractor you are choosing will be able to provide reliable service at least after five years from the installation of your new furnace.

Summary

A forced-air type furnace fueled by natural gas is the most commonly used furnace by households.

Forced-air furnaces have the capability to heat your home quickly.  Furthermore, the same ductwork used to distribute warm air can be used with air conditioners as well. In addition, they act as an air filter, a fresh-air ventilator and a humidifier.

Because of its dominance in the market, forced-air furnaces have undergone numerous upgrades to make sure the system is convenient and highly efficient.

A furnace can either be a mid-efficiency furnace or a high-efficiency furnace depending on its annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating.

A furnace is a big investment, thus being conscious to avoid buying mistakes is extremely important to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. In choosing the best furnace for your home, you need to closely study the furnace itself and the contractor who will install your system to ensure maximum heat efficiency and comfort at the least possible cost.

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