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Will a Furnace Run Without Electricity?

circuit-box-electrical-electriciansDuring a winter storm, many homes in our area are left without power. While there are certainly ways to cope with the lack of lighting, there’s one system you cannot go long without: the furnace. However, if you have a gas furnace, you might not worry too much about this possibility. After all, the natural gas line is not affected by a power outage, right?

While it’s true that you should still have natural gas coming to your home during a regular power outage, that does not mean all gas appliances will still work. Unfortunately, most furnaces will not work in the event of a power outage in your home, and we explain why (and what you can do) in today’s guide.

Electrical Components Within Your Furnace

There are many components within a furnace that simply could not operate without electricity. These include the following:

  • Blower fan: The blower fan is what sends warm air from your furnace into the home. But that doesn’t mean you could simply crowd around the furnace in an event of an emergency; there are other important electrical components as well!
  • Thermostat controls: Without power, there’s no way for your thermostat to communicate to your furnace that it’s time to turn on! The circuit board controlling the furnace from the thermostat will not work otherwise, even if it runs on batteries.
  • Relays: Within your furnace, there are several relay switches that control things such as gas flow and all of the safety switches that ensure your furnace does not run in case of a safety concern. Due to advanced manufacturing, your furnace simply will not run without these backups in place.
  • Electronic ignition: Think you could simply light the pilot and still get heat from your modern furnace? Think again. Most of today’s furnaces use electronic ignition—even natural gas furnaces. A hot surface ignitor or electronic spark gets the furnace going so that a pilot light does not have to stay on all day and night.

Whether you have an older furnace with a gas pilot or a newer system that uses electronic ignition, there’s no way to keep a furnace running without any means of power.

Furnace Safety During an Outage

We have heard of homeowners attempting to rig the furnace to work without electricity, and this is extremely dangerous. Only a licensed technician should work on your natural gas appliance, no matter what.

Keep in mind that, when the power comes back on, a surge of electricity could damage some of the components of the furnace. We recommend turning the system off during an outage, but keeping a light on somewhere in the home so you know when power is restored.

How to Keep the Heat On

The most important safety tip we have is to keep the heat on for your family’s health and wellbeing. The best way to do this is to call in HVAC technicians to connect the furnace to a generator so that it will work when you need it!

You can get a portable generator that can connect to one or two appliances in the home via extension cords during an outage. However, we recommend a whole-house automatic standby generator that repowers your entire home! Ask us how to get one of these systems for your home.

Schedule generator services or furnace repair in West Chester, OH with the pros at Bartels Heating & Cooling today!

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