We Know: All About Oil Furnaces Work

How do oil furnaces work?

Forced air oil furnaces burn oil that is stored in a tank as a fuel source. The oil flows through a pipe to a combustion chamber in which the fuel is atomized. High-voltage electrodes ignite the atomized oil. From the heat exchanger, it goes to the flue gas exhaust chamber. The heat is then directed by a forced air circulating fan. Some newer oil furnaces have a higher efficiency rating because they use a secondary heat exchanger and an auxiliary fan.


The appropriate furnace size for your house is dependant on the number of BTUs (British Thermal Units) it needs to maintain adequate warmth. Furnaces that are too small are ineffectual, while furnaces that are too large cost more and are less efficient because of constant on and off cycling.

What are the advantages to oil furnaces?

The advantage to heating with oil is that it may be available when other forms of fuel, such as natural or propane gas, are not.

What are the disadvantages to oil furnaces?

Each oil furnace is a little different, but here are some common problems:

  • Nozzles can clog with dirt even though they have a bronze screen.
  • Oil furnaces need to be regularly cleaned and the fuel filters must be changed.
  • Controlling heat output is more difficult for oil furnaces than for gas furnaces.
  • Oil furnaces consume more electricity than gas furnaces.
  • Most oil furnaces cannot compete with gas furnaces for super-high efficiency rates.

Other things to know about oil furnaces

To enhance the efficiency of an oil furnace, consider these points:

  1. Programmable digital thermostats will give you more control over the heating temperatures in your house while also reducing your heating bills.
  2. Two-stage burners and blowers run quieter, are more energy efficient, and prolong the life of your furnace.


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