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Furnace Repair and What Fuels Your Furnace or Heating Source

In the US, furnace repair and heating pros deal with several fuel or energy types. Some basic data will help you understand more about each one and help to guide your choices.

Existing Furnace and Heating Sources Faced by Furnace Repair Technicians

Natural Gas: By far the most prevalent, natural gas heating is reliable, clean, and usually accessible. It gas contains propane, as well as several other gases in various quantities, so is a diverse mixture and not a single gas in itself.

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  • With natural gas, furnace repair tends to be minor and infrequent. The primary needs are standard cleaning, system checks and replacement of filters. Regular cleaning of ducts, vents and furnace blower areas, including intakes, is highly advantageous in preserving efficiency and furnace life.

  • Newest versions include highly efficient models with efficiencies up to 97%.

  • Competitive economically. Comparisons with other major sourcesvary regionally as to price and availability, but overall, according to the American Gas Association, fuel costs, depending on furnace efficiencies of each type, are approximately:

  • 58 –73% of a heat pump

  • 33-48% of a propane furnace

  • 30-40% of an oil furnace

  • 30-39% of an electric resistance furnace.

  • Natural gas supplies are available through an infrastructure of pipes and delivered at relatively low pressure.

  • The same fuel can also run dryers, decorative fireplace fires, cook stoves, water heaters and other appliances.

Propane: Propane is a specific gas separated from the overall gasses recovered by wells. It is at least 90-95% pure and nearly identical with natural gas in its cleanliness, furnace repair and operational needs.

  • As a result of its purity and natural attributes, propane can put out about 2.4 times the BTUs of natural gas, and is ozone friendly.

  • Due to the extra expense of production and differences in delivery infrastructure, it is more costly.

  • Propane is delivered in liquefied form to high-pressure tanks and demands a regulator to reduce the pressure to useful limits between tank and appliance.

  • Small portable tanks allow it to be used for portable appliances, such as barbecues.

  • Regulations may limit its availability to certain distances from existing natural gas services.

  • Propane is common in homes in rural areas where natural gas is not available.

Electricity:While electricity is considered relatively clean and demands only regular maintenance of equipment, there are some difficulties to its reputation.

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  • It is a secondary source; that is, the primary source of electricity is from other fuels or systems that produce it. For instance, 93% of all the coal in the US is used to produce electricity in coal-fired plants. In California, even with its emphasis on clean technologies, 20% of the energy in the state comes from coal.

  • Electricity is highly versatile, allowing alternate heating methods without the use of a furnace.

  • The same electrical service can run most other appliances and utilities in and outside the home.

Oil: This fuel is still popular in many areas, but accounts for a fairly small percentage of heating throughout the US.

  • Newer oil furnaces are reasonably efficient and much cleaner than their predecessors.

  • Spills and leaks can be costly to correct.

  • Some areas mandate expensive remediation for moving or removing buried tanks due to environmental concerns.

  • Not as clean as gas, so more service needed. Costs about equal to electric, though this varies regionally.

Solid Combustibles: This includes wood, sawdust, pellets and coal.

  • New designs in fireplace inserts, pellet and wood stoves and furnaces have greatly improved efficiency and cleanliness.

  • Depending on the source of the wood, overall cost can be very competitive. There are 320,000 wood fireplaces and furnaces in Sacramento County alone! Note, however, that there are restrictions on their use during winter months due to the toxic emissions and particulates they create.

No matter what your home’s heating source, keeping on top of furnace repair and maintenance is definitely your best bet as the cooler weather approaches.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Alley Heating & Air Conditioning and a clickable link back to this page.

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