In modern plumbing and heating systems, there are various types of devices that maintain the temperature of your home to a comfortable level. Being confronted with multiple systems at home, there is a need for you to understand the right one for you. For purposes of this article, we are going to look more into the features of a furnace, how it works, and the different types of such which you can utilize in order to feel comfortable.

What is a furnace?

In plumbing systems, a furnace is typically concentrated combustion contained in boxes which are considered an efficient form of heating. The majority of Canadian homes have furnaces since it is much easier to install and manage. A furnace is a gas-powered air system that heats the air in one area and distributes it throughout the home in an even manner and releases the air via vents or ductwork. The forced warm-air distribution system keeps homes warm and maintains a specific level of temperature.

How does a furnace work?

A furnace works by forcing air to work as a heating system that utilizes a “thermostat” to nudge the furnace to begin heating a property when the temperature drops below a certain level. In other words, a furnace works by blowing heated air through ducts or events that deliver the warm air to different parts of the house via air grills or registers. This type of heating system can be powered by electricity, natural gas, or even fuel oil. In further understanding how this works, the flames inside the furnace heat a heat exchanger and produce the right amount of warm air. 

In addition, the furnace should be properly installed and maintained to keep the right temperature in your home. Combustion efficiency is the simplest system that you can have at home without needing much complexities along the way. Just make sure that the internal controls are not compromised and are working properly. 

What is the difference between a furnace and a heat pump?

To secure a comfortable temperature inside your home, you need to understand the difference between a furnace and heat pump system. Both systems have unique features. A furnace mainly generates heat in a traditional way that is familiar to most Canadian homes. And this traditional way is by burning natural gas and sending the resulting heat into different areas of your home. Heat pumps, on the other hand, don’t generate heat from any fuel source. Instead, what is mainly used in this type of system is electricity and any refrigerant that can transfer heat from outdoors to the inside. In heating mode, heat pumps work much like any air conditioning unit, but in reverse. Simply put, they produce double effort in cooling mode during summer days.

Downflow vs Upflow Furnace

If you choose to install a furnace for your home, then you need to know the basics of downflow vs. upflow furnace. In a downflow furnace, the air flows from above and flows all the way down into the home. The upflow, on the other hand, flows in the opposite direction. Air comes through the furnace from the bottom all the way up. 

Downflow furnaces are more efficient than its counterpart if you are living in an area with a relatively hotter climate as the cooling season is more humid and longer. But keep in mind that heat naturally rises, making the upflow furnace a more energy-efficient option if you already want to take advantage of the natural heat flow. Downflow furnaces are usually placed in an attic or at the highest level or part of your home, giving you a much greater versatility if you do not have basements. Moving onto upflow furnaces, this option can give you the advantage of the natural tendency of the air flow. This means you get to have lower energy costs in winter days and you get to have more heating comfort as the air naturally comes from below or at the floor level of any interior. Many people find this to be more warmer and comfortable. 

Main Types of Furnace

Here are the main types of furnaces that you can choose from before installing one in your home: 

Natural Gas

This is the most traditional type of furnace which is also highly economical. Natural gas is used to ignite and create hot combustion that raises the temperature of the air, which can be circulated and evenly distributed through vents and inside any part of the building.


If natural gas is not readily available in your area, consider an oil furnace. Oil furnaces are commonly used in cold environments. While this may also work like a gas furnace, this type of furnace has an additional step of vaporizing the oil into a fine mist mixed with air. The mixture is then used to ignite the burners that create heat and enter any heat exchanger, which ultimately transfers heat to the air and thus, raising the temperature desired for your home. 


An electric furnace does not require a natural gas line coming into your home. What is used instead is an electric-powered furnace that uses electric heating elements to provide heat that is transferred to the air. Electric furnaces are usually more inexpensive than others as they do not need bulky combustion heaters. This maximizes your space while also being more efficient.


Propane is known to be the byproduct of oil and gas production. This can easily be stored in tanks and is a great option if gas and oil are not easily available in your area. In addition, propane furnaces contain more heating capacity than natural gas and deliver a more comfortable heat in any climate. Studies have shown that propane-forced air furnaces have a more warm heat ability provided to homes than with heat pumps. If you are living in an area with mixed climates, propane is used as a backup system that delivers a proper temperature.


What to do if my furnace won’t turn on?

If your furnace won’t turn on, you can check the circuit breakers as some components run on electricity, check the main supply (can either be natural gas or oil), check the thermostat, check the furnace filter, check the drain pan, check the pilot light (if there is any), and check the blower motor. If none of these things work, it’s time to call local professional heating experts to help you out as the underlying issue may need expert services. 

What happens if your furnace leaks water?

If your furnace leaks water, this can lead to further damage, costs and unnecessary expenses. To avoid this issue, you will need to figure out the root of the problem. Furnace leaking can be traced back to issues with condensation, humidifier, clogged filter, and heat exchanger problem. If the leaking is more than you could handle, then it is best to call a heating and plumbing professional near you to diagnose the issue quickly and efficiently. 

How often should I change the furnace filter?

Changing the furnace filter is important as this can ensure the proper working system of your furnace. You should change your furnace filter depending on the type of furnace that you have and the size of the filter. Typically, thicker filters require less frequency when it comes to changing. For 1-2 inch filters, replace every 1 to 3 months. For 3-4 inch filters, replace every 6 to 9 months. The list goes on. If you are still unsure of the changing pattern, you can ask your local heating company or manufacturer of furnaces for recommendations. 

How much does a furnace cost?

The cost of the furnace depends on the size, type, and installation needed for your home. On average, expect a total of $2500 (at minimum) for a new furnace including installation expenses. If you will opt for a high-efficiency furnace that can last you longer, most homeowners in Canada will pay somewhere between $3000 and $5000. In addition, the complexity of the installation and the brand of furnace also have respective portions on determining the cost that you will be preparing for a furnace. 

What size of furnace do I need?

The size of the furnace that you need depends on a lot of factors such as the size of your home, the type of furnace you want, and the number of people living inside. You can also avail the professional services of a heating expert to help you calculate the size of the furnace you’ll be needing for your home. In simple terms, you need to measure your home’s square foot measurement to get the desired thermal units. 

Why is my furnace blowing cold air?

If you notice that your furnace is blowing out cold air, consider checking your furnace filter. A dirty furnace filter blocks the airflow over the heat exchanger, causing overheat to occur and shutting down your burner completely. Other issues may be problems with the thermostat, valve problems, broken electronic ignition, compromised flame sensors, and even leaking ducts.  If the blowing of cold air persists, professional help is needed so consult your local expert heating company. 

How long does a furnace last?

A high-quality, properly installed furnace can last up to 15 to 20 years. The lifespan can be lengthened if you schedule annual furnace maintenance and follow the proper cleaning and changing procedures required for your furnace. Much of the longevity of the furnace, however, lies in properly maintaining them and replacing the filters when necessary. If any upgrades are needed, then an expert and their proper equipment are needed for these upgrades to be done.