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Why Do You Need a Draft Check and Combustion Analysis?

by Blake Wiltshire | Oct 17, 2018 | Heating, Residential Services, Residential Heating, HVAC, Residential HVAC | 0 Comments

Gas fired appliances like furnaces, boilers and water heaters create gases as a byproduct of the combustion process. In order for these appliances to work safely, they must be vented properly and maintain a proper draft to make sure the gases exit your home. Gas leaks, high carbon monoxide levels, and improper drafting can all be dangerous if not addressed.

Gas fired appliances like furnaces, boilers and water heaters create gases as a byproduct of the combustion process. In order for these appliances to work safely, they must be vented properly and maintain a proper draft to make sure the gases exit your home. Gas leaks, high carbon monoxide levels, and improper drafting can all be dangerous if not addressed.

These gases are made up of oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. A safe burn is represented by having the correct mixture of these components. An improper mixture can mean poor performance of your system and worse a safety concern. Only by using a combustion analyzer can these be checked.

Draft and combustion should be checked every year to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your gas-fired appliances. Here’s why you should make sure your annual furnace maintenance includes these two elements.

What is a draft check and why is it important?

Draft is required to draw flue gases and carbon monoxide safely out of a living area. This is generally accomplished through a chimney or vent system.

This flue draft will occur naturally in properly installed appliances unless it is affected by some outside force. Outside forces can include an attic fan, kitchen fan, the removal of a vent cap during high winds, or even a birds nest or other animal intrusion into the chimney.

If the flue draft gets interrupted or is impeded, carbon monoxide can back up in the chimney, eventually leaking or “spilling” into the home through the draft hood.

Verifying draft and checking for spillage is an important safety consideration for your furnace. Using a draft gauge to measure draft pressure inside the flue can determine:

  • If the furnace has sufficient combustion air to operate properly
  • If the flue gases can flow freely out of the home

If improper draft is found, the cause should be remedied to protect your household from carbon monoxide and to ensure proper operation of the equipment.

What is a combustion analysis and why is it critical?

Your gas furnace is manufactured to repeatedly and automatically ignite its burners throughout the winter, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home. To accomplish this safely and efficiently, the right amount of combustion gases must be present.

A combustion analyzer measures the amount of carbon monoxide, the amount of oxygen, and the temperature of the flue gas in your furnace. This information is important for the following reasons:

  • Safety. Levels of carbon monoxide outside of the manufacturer guidelines can be dangerous.
  • If there is an imbalance or abnormality in the measurements, it helps the technician zero in on the underlying problem. Some hidden problems are impossible to diagnose without a combustion analyzer.
  • It provides an accurate measure of the efficiency of your furnace.
  • It reveals issues related to over firing and under firing. Both cause poor performance and shortened lifespan of your equipment if not corrected.

See a draft gauge and combustion analyzer at work.

This video shows how the draft gauge and combustion analyzer work to ensure your home is safer and your furnace is operating efficiently.

Make sure your annual furnace tune-up includes a draft check and combustion analysis.

Not every HVAC company doing furnace maintenance includes a combustion analysis and draft check as part of their gas furnace tune-up package. These steps are too important to skip, so always make sure you ask if they’re included before booking.

If you’re in the Greater Chicago area, schedule your heating system tune-up with Althoff Industries. Every gas furnace tune-up we perform includes a draft check and combustion analysis. We do it because it’s the only reliable way to assure the efficient and safe operation of your gas furnace.

Contact us at (815) 455-7000 to schedule.

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