Will My Furnace Work During a Power Outage?

Sudden power loss is never fun and is something that’s experienced by people all over the world. In Oregon, it sometimes feels like we can expect to lose power at least 3 times a year. This is common during winter when the weather can interfere with the power grid. This can be an issue for those of us who rely on our furnaces for heat. So what happens to gas heat during a power outage?

Short Answer - It stops working.

In this post, we’ll explain why a gas furnace needs electricity and offer some tips to help you stay warm during a power outage.

 

Why A Gas Furnace Won’t Work During A Power Outage

Simply put, a gas furnace needs electricity. There are a bunch of electronic parts in a gas furnace that allow it to push out air and create heat. All those parts cannot work without power.

Parts That Require Power

A diagram showing the flow of electricity through a furnace

  • Circuit Board - This is the brain of your furnace. It gets information from all the different sensors and tells the furnace when to turn on.
  • Relays - Relays carry power to the parts of your furnace that blow air or create heat.
  • Blower Motor - The blower motor pushes air (hot or cold) through your ducts and into your house.

As you can see, if none of those parts are getting power, then your furnace will not work.

 

How To A Get Furnace That Works Without Power

There are two ways to get gas heat at home during a power outage. Unfortunately, they are both costly.

Floor Furnace

A floor furnace is an option for some people, but it is not available in all areas because of housing codes. It uses natural gas to create heat like a traditional furnace. The difference is that it uses a thermopile generator and convection to create heat and push it into your ducts. That just means it creates its own electricity.

Do some price research with your local HVAC companies. It may not be worth it to buy a whole new furnace if you are only without power for a day or two in temperate weather. If you experience frequent blackouts in a cold climate, then a floor furnace could be a worthwhile investment.

Back-Up Generator

There are two ways to go about implementing a backup generator. You could get a generator that is just powerful enough to power your furnace for a time. The other option requires an enormous investment of both money and space. You could get a generator that can power your home for a time.

Keep generators out of enclosed areas and check with local zoning laws to see if either option is available to you.

 

Tips For Safety And Comfort

If neither of those options is available to you, there are a few things you can do to stay warm.

Turn Off Power To Furnace If You Expect Fluctuations

Depending on where you live, it may be smart to turn off the power to your furnace. The power grids in some areas can experience fluctuations once power is restored. The constant on and off of power can damage parts of the furnace.

If you live in an area where you do not expect fluctuations, then you can leave power running to your furnace.

Check with your power company to see what they recommend.

Use A Wood Or Gas Fireplace If You Have One

A fireplace in the dark

Most wood and some gas fireplaces can work without power. You should be able to ignite one with just a lighter or match. While they are not the most efficient way to heat a home, they can be a literal lifesaver in a power outage.

Keep Your Blinds Closed Except To Let In Sunlight

Keeping your blinds closed will help trap some of the heat inside your home. Only open your blinds or curtains to let in sunlight since that can help heat the interior of your home.

Move To One Room

Penguins huddle for warmth in the cold and you might just need to do the same. Maybe not literally. Keeping everyone in your household in one room will help keep the room warm as humans do create ambient heat. It is also much easier to keep just one room warm. Break out the board games and use this time to bond with your family or roommates.

Keep Doors Closed

Keeping the interior doors in your home closed can trap heat. If you’ve already all moved to one room, you will want to trap as much heat as possible in that room.

Keeping the exterior doors closed seems obvious. Keep in mind, heat will escape outside every time a door gets opened. Keep trips outside of your home limited to only what’s necessary.

Indoor Safe Propane or Kerosene Heater

You can get propane or kerosene heaters that are indoor safe. Not every camping heater will do, as some will release toxic chemicals or pose a risk of fire. Make sure it is labeled as Indoor Safe. Using a safe heater can make you much more comfortable during a power outage.

Look for Warming Centers

A winter warming lodge

A warming center is your best bet if you live in an area with dangerously cold winters or if the power outage is going to be prolonged. The city or county you live in could have warming centers set up for free use during a weather or power emergency.

Your home will stop being safe if the interior temperature gets close to or below freezing. Use these shelters to keep you and your family warm and healthy.

 

Important Points for Gas Heat and Power Outages

Remember, your gas furnace will not work during a power outage.

Some options can provide home heating without electricity. Those options are subject to your budget and local zoning laws, so some additional research is required to see if they are necessary or possible.

There are steps you can take to stay warm and comfortable at home.

If your home is no longer safe, look for shelter.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to stay warm and safe during a power outage. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!