Basic Gas Furnace Operation

The gas furnace is the simplest to operate and understand. Therefore, we will use it here to look at a typical heating system. This type of natural-gas furnace is used to heat millions of homes in the United States.

Figure 2-1 is a simple circuit needed to control the furnace with a blower. Note the location of the blower switch and the limit switch. The transformer provides low voltage for control of the gas solenoid. If the limit switch opens (it is shown in a closed position), there is no power to the transformer and the gas solenoid cannot energize. This is a safety precaution because the limit switch will open if the furnace gets too hot. When the thermostat closes, it provides 24 V to the gas solenoid, which energizes and turns on the gas. The gas is ignited by the pilot light and provides heat to the plenum of the furnace. When the air in the plenum reaches 120°F (49°C), the fan switch closes and the fan starts. The fan switch provides the necessary 120 V to the fan motor for it to operate.

Once the room has heated up to the desired thermostat setting, the thermostat opens. When it opens, the gas solenoid is deenergized, and the spring action of the solenoid causes it to close off the gas supply, thereby turning off the source of heat. When the plenum on top of the furnace reaches 90°F (32°C), the blower switch opens and turns off the blower. As the room cools down, causing the thermostat to close once again, the cycle starts over again. The gas solenoid opens to let in the gas and the pilot light ignites it. The heat causes the temperature to rise in the plenum above the limit switch’s setting and the switch closes to start the blower. Once the thermostat has been satisfied, it opens, and causes the gas solenoid to turn off the gas supply. The blower continues to run until the temperature in the plenum reaches 90°F (32°C) and it turns off the blower by opening. This cycle is repeated over and over again to keep the room or house at a desired temperature.

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