Does a Gas Furnace Work Without Electricity?

During the winter months, strong storms can result in a loss of electrical power. Many homeowners in Sarasota, FL believe that their homes will still be warm and cozy even if there is a loss of electrical power. Unfortunately, in most cases, the gas furnace will not work without electricity. Even so, there are some actions that homeowners can take to prepare for electrical outages and ensure their health, safety and comfort during such events.

Parts of Gas Furnaces That Use Electricity

There are several components of a furnace that operate on electricity. These parts include:

  • Circuit boards that relay information between the furnace and thermostat.
  • Relays, which are switches within the system that control gas flow and safety devices like the fuel regulator and thermocouple.
  • Blower motors. These power the fans that propel the heated air into the air duct system and propel the waste products from the combustion process out through the flue.

Rarely, some homes are outfitted with floor furnaces. These furnaces do operate on natural gas but use a thermopile generator to produce DC current that allows the furnace to communicate with the thermostat. Convection is used to propel the heated air into the living space of the home, so no electricity is used in this type of a furnace.

What Happens When the Power Goes Out?

For the vast majority of homeowners who use a furnace with natural gas for heat, an electrical outage means the furnace won’t work. The furnace’s safety system will not allow it to turn on during an electrical outage. It is not safe to try to rig the furnace for heating, as this can compromise health and safety. Homeowners who are concerned about the possibility of electrical outages might consider having an HVAC service technician and an electrician connect the furnace to a generator that can power the furnace’s electrical components. This should only be done by an experienced, licensed and certified service team.

What To Do During a Power Outage

During an electrical power outage, turn off power to the furnace. When the electricity is restored to your home, the electrical grid may have some power fluctuations that could damage the electrical components of the furnace. Other sensitive appliances and electronics should be unplugged as well. It is safe to leave a light in the “on” position so that you will know when power is restored. Once electricity is back, it should be safe to turn the furnace back on.

Now is the time to prepare for upcoming winter weather that could affect the functioning of your home’s furnace. For more information about how to prepare your home’s heating system for winter or to learn about our current service and installation specials, call us at Custom Air Heating & Cooling any time.

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