Talking About Furnace Maintenance and Repairs

How To Repair Your Evaporator

Many people think that the only way to fix their AC or heater is to call an HVAC professional. While there are a lot of possible technical issues that should only be fixed by professionals, there are a few simple things that you can do to increase the functionality of your HVAC system. This article explains a couple of easy DIY HVAC repair jobs that could dramatically increase the airflow and improve the air quality in your home. Cleaning the evaporator is one of the easiest, yet most vital, maintenance tasks for good HVAC maintenance. It could also end up reducing your electricity bills. Finding the Evaporator Finding the evaporator can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. The evaporator is not always in the same place in different units. In most systems the evaporator is in a separate box attached to the furnace cabinet. This box is usually very easy to open up because it has a hinged door or removable access panel. Most evaporators for residential homes are a little bigger than a shoe box. Once you open up the compartment you should be able to easily see the evaporator. It is an A-shaped metal device that has aluminum fins on the outside walls with copper coils coming out. Cleaning the Evaporator The aluminum fins on the outer edges of the evaporator are the most vulnerable when it comes to dust, mold, or debris build up. If the evaporator is not working properly, there is a good chance that there could be moisture in the box. The usual result is that dust floats in and gets stuck. This is a common problem, especially if your evaporator is located in a dusty room. This is often the case since furnaces are often in garages, basements, and storage rooms. The best way to clean off your evaporator is with a vacuum. Since the space is confined, you will usually need a hose vacuum with a narrow attachment to fit inside. You can also try to wipe it down with a rag, but this can actually push dirt into the space between the fins, causing further problems. You need to be careful when working around the fins because they are delicate and easily bendable. You should clean out the whole evaporator compartment before you close it back up. It is a good idea to clean your evaporator every […]

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Year-Round Energy Savings From Trees

If you are looking for a way to reign in your heating costs, you may think that you have to go out and find the most technologically advanced, energy-efficient equipment that you can find. This is not a bad idea; it is also not a cost-saving idea. Replacing heating and cooling costs with financing costs does not necessarily free up room in your budget. However, if you start by upgrading your landscaping, you may be able to make room in your budget for newer equipment.  Trees for Warmth During the winter months, a strong arctic wind can blow across the outside of your home and siphon away heat. While good insulation can help to prevent heat loss. Your windows will not have the same insulating benefits as the rest of your home and can be a weak spot that allows the wind to siphon heat away. By planting trees on the north and west sides of your home, you can can create a windbreak that will reduce the wind’s velocity and reduce your heating costs by up to 30%.  The Best Furnace If you are looking for the most energy-efficient furnace on the market, then you need look no further than a condensing furnace. A condensing furnace differs from the design of the classic furnace in that it has a second heat exchanger. This gives the furnace the ability to extract so much heat from the exhaust gases escaping from the furnace that they water vapor in the gas condenses back to a liquid. Once the water condenses, the remaining gases dissolve into the water, then drain out of the furnace through a drain pipe. This allows the furnace to achieve efficiency ratings of close to one hundred percent. In other words, almost one-hundred percent of the potential energy in the fuel your furnace burns goes to heating your home.  You might be thinking that using trees to reduce heating costs seems like a nice but impractical idea. After all, who has forty years to wait for trees to reach maturity before you can start enjoying their cost saving benefits. Some trees can grow as much as 12 feet in a year, so if you buy the right tree, you don’t necessarily have to wait decades to start receiving the energy saving benefits the trees provide. Once you combine the reduced heat loss you get by planting trees with the […]

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Signs You Might Need A New Furnace This Winter

With the cold weather hitting soon, it’s a good idea to make sure your furnace is in tip top condition. You don’t want to put off fixing a problem and then end up in a freezing cold house. That is uncomfortable and will create an emergency heating situation where you’ll have to hire a HVAC contractor to come in on a moments notice, which will be expensive. So, if your furnace is exhibiting any of the following problems, you should bring in a heating repair tech, rather than wait until your furnace breaks down. Your Heater Does Not Adequately Warm Your House If you’re heater doesn’t adequately warm your home, no matter how high you set the thermostat, then your furnace might be malfunctioning. Instead of just turning the thermostat up to a hundred degrees to get the room tolerably warm, have a specialist see if the filters are clogged. Often times a dirty filter or clogged filers can cause a furnace to overheat. This, in turn, causes the furnace to switch off prematurely. If this happens often enough, the furnace can become damaged. So, it’s not enough to clean out the filter, since you need an expert to determine why the filters are getting so dirty and figure out a solution. The Pilot Light Keeps Going Out This can be quite a problem. If you constantly have to relight the pilot, then you might either have a dirty or broken pilot light or a bad gas supply line. These are delicate items and you need to be very careful about working on them yourself. You don’t want to mess around with the gas supply line. So, if you relight the pilot light once and it goes out soon afterwards, contact an HVAC professional to assess the situation. It might be as simple as cleaning out a dirty fixture. The Pilot Light Is Blue If the flame on the light is blue, instead of yellow, then it means that carbon monoxide is being burned. This is a potentially deadly situation. If the furnace is creating carbon monoxide and it drifts upstairs to your family bedrooms, you really are in trouble. So, bring in a professional to handle this issue immediately. It might be a case where there is too much moisture in the air, but it could also be the case that a toxic fume is being generated. Your Heating […]

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How To Replace A Central Air Condensate Pump

If you have a central air system that has stopped cooling, or you find puddles of water around the unit, check the condensate pump. A condensate pump is an important safety component as it removes condensation through a pipe, and it will shut off before the water damages the unit. Replacing a condensate pump doesn’t require advanced HVAC skills. Here are tips to replace an HVAC condensate pump. Prepare to Work For this project, you need: work gloves bleach screwdriver wrenches wet vacuum replacement rubber hose (optional) condensate pump Let the unit run several cycles to remove oil. Before you remove the pump, try replacing the breaker switch that controls the unit. Sometimes, replacing the switch could fix the problem. A breaker switch commonly slides off, or if it has screws attached you can remove with a screwdriver. Turn the power back on to test the unit. If the unit still doesn’t work, proceed to replace the pump. Shut off power from the breaker box, and turn the thermostat down to the lowest setting. Remove the Old Pump The condensate pump is located inside the service panel on the outside unit. Use the screwdriver to detach the screws from the service panel. Look for the pump near the coils, or somewhere next to the unit. Condensate pumps have two sets of wires. A low-voltage wire set shuts off power when the drip pan is full, and the high-voltage wire set operates the motor. Disconnect the drain hoses or tubes attached to the pump. You may want to take a picture of the wiring to use as a guide for connecting the new pump. Unplug high-voltage wiring. Remove the wiring from the low-voltage wires by untwisting the wire nuts. Loosen the screws on the pump to detach it, taking care not to spill the water in it. Install the New Pump Replace damaged hoses or tubes. If the hoses or tubes are still good, clean them with bleach and warm water, and let them dry. While the panel is off, check the drip pan attached to the coils. Depress the clips, or remove the screws to slide the pan out. Avoid touching the water in drip pans with your hands, because it could be contaminated. Use a wet vacuum to remove water. Insert the new pump in place of the old one, connecting the wires and securing the connections with wire […]

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How Regular Maintenance Can Help You Save On AC Repairs

Most homeowners have heard that they need to have an HVAC technician check out their cooling system before the start of warm weather season each year. However, if you’re like most people, paying for a service call when your system seems to be working fine might seem like an unnecessary expense. Nothing could be further from the truth. Making sure to schedule that annual cooling system maintenance call can not only help make sure that your system keeps you cool and comfortable all season, but can even save you money in the long run. Ways your annual AC service call can save you money During the service call, the technician will check all of the moving parts and make sure that they are well lubricated. He or she will also clean the system and remove all of the dust and dirt that naturally collects in most units. Lastly, the technician will check on the power source to the system and make sure that the condenser has enough air circulating around the outside unit to work efficiently. 1. Help prevent expensive repairs. Catching a potential problem early is almost always less expensive to fix than when you wait until it causes the system to malfunction or shut down completely. 2. Reduce your monthly electric bills. One of the chief advantages to having your cooling system cleaned thoroughly each season is to help reduce your monthly cooling bills. A dust-filled system will generally use more energy, since it has to push conditioned air through all of that dirt and grime. 3. Help extend the life of your cooling system. A dirt-clogged system is also one of the major causes of cooling system failure. When the motor on your system has to work harder, it shortens its lifespan, forcing you to replace your system sooner than you may have liked. 4. Make sure that you and your family stay cool all summer. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a well-maintained cooling system will insure that your system keep you and your household cool land comfortable during those sultry, humid days of summer. While that annual AC service call may seem like a luxury you can do without, having your local air conditioning and heating repair technician check out your system at the beginning of the warm weather season can help prevent expensive repairs later in the season, help your system to last longer and […]

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Air Conditioning Refrigerant Issues: How To Tell If You Need More Refrigerant, How To Fill It And What Costs To Expect

Most homeowners typically assume that any refrigerant in a central air conditioner is endless. Actually, it is not. Depending on the make, model, size and age of your central air unit, the refrigerant could last a couple years or it might last ten summers. It may also dissipate faster if you live in a state where it is fairly hot and uncomfortable all year round. The following helpful hints will alert you to when you need more refrigerant in your air conditioner, how to fill it, and what costs to expect. How to Tell If You Need More Refrigerant If, one summer, your central air conditioner is doing great, but the next summer you switch it on you suddenly have lukewarm air, the refrigerant may be quite low. This is especially true if you have never had any maintenance performed on your unit, and you have been living in the same house for many years now. If the air exiting your vents also wavers between breezy-cool and no cool at all, this is also a sign that the refrigerant is very low and struggling to do what you expect it to do. How to Fill It Refrigerant problems are only diagnosed by an HVAC contractor specialist. Additionally, only an HVAC contractor/specialist can fill the refrigerant because it is a very dangerous gas that can cause severe injuries to your skin and eyes if accidentally mishandled. Once your contractor diagnoses the problem with the refrigerant, he or she can then fill the low or empty refrigerant coils so that your air conditioning can keep running and you will not need any air conditioning repairs for a little while. What Costs to Expect When You Have Your Air Conditioner’s Refrigerant Refilled Usually, there is a cost for the contractor to just come to the house for an inspection. Then there might be a diagnostic fee, which varies from under fifty dollars to over one hundred dollars, depending on where you live and the type of central A/C unit you have. Finally, there is the cost of the refrigerant. Freon is the refrigerant of choice, since the EPA has all but banned many other refrigerant options for air conditioners. The price for this refrigerant is inconsistent, given a multitude of factors, but usually it costs anywhere from sixty dollars a pound to close to one hundred dollars a pound, and given that most […]

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Clean The Opening To Each Duct That Is Connected To Your Home’s Central Air Conditioning System

If dust is blowing out from the vents in your home’s flooring each time that you turn on your central air conditioning system, the quality of the air inside your home may be diminished and it may take longer for your home’s interior to cool down. Clean the opening to each duct by completing the following steps. Afterwards, the air system may work more efficiently. Materials screwdriver bucket of warm soapy water handheld scrub brush water hose towel disposable gloves vacuum cleaner with hose attachment flashlight industrial strength cleaner lint-free cloths Clean The Vent Covers Turn off the central air conditioning system. Use a screwdriver to loosen and remove the screws from each vent cover. Place the dirty covers in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Use a handheld scrub brush to remove debris from both sides of each cover. Take the covers outside and rinse them off with a steady stream of water to eliminate any soapy residue or dust that remains on each one. Set the covers on top of a towel so that they can air dry. Remove Dust From Each Duct’s Opening And Eliminate Stains Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Insert the end of a vacuum cleaner hose as far as you can into the opening of one of the ducts. Shine a flashlight inside of the duct to help you locate any areas that are covered with dirt. Suck up loose debris while moving the hose around the interior of the duct’s opening. Once you have removed as much dust as possible in this manner, spray some industrial strength cleaner on a lint-free cloth. Wipe the cloth over the interior walls of the duct’s opening to remove any dirty residue or surface stains. Use a cloth that has been dampened with plain water to remove any of the cleaning solution that remains on the interior walls. Dry the interior with another cloth. Clean the openings to the remaining ducts by completing the same steps.  Secure The Vent Covers And Turn On The System Line up a covers over each duct opening and insert screws in all of them before tightening them. Turn on the power to the central air conditioning system and adjust the thermostat to one that you prefer. If cool air is emitted through each opening and you do not see any dust particles coming out from them, the cleaning steps […]

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Furnace Flame Burning , But The Heat Isn’t Turning

Are you in the odd predicament of having a furnace that has a pilot light that is clearly lit, but your heat will not activate when you initiate the thermostat? If so, you are likely concerned about whether or not a safety hazard is preventing you from operating your firnace or if another potion of the heating system is malfunctioned. Perhaps you furnace is showing signs that it is trying to come on, but it simply makes the sound and does not fully turn on. The following are examples of some things that could be causing your furnace not to come on. Pilot Light and Thermocouple Issues If you lit the pilot light yourself, it is possible that you did not perform the necessary step to ensure that the thermocouple and pilot light are “communicating” correctly. For example, some furnaces have a safety feature that involves depressing the pilot button for a set amount of time after lighting the pilot. Keeping the button pressed makes the pilot light warm the thermocouple, and this makes the components of the furnace “know” that it is safe to light the burner and make heat. If you have done the steps correctly, it is possible that the thermocouple has malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. Broken thermocouples cannot sense that the pilot light is lit, and therefore, heat cannot be initiated until the thermocouple is replaced.  Gas Pressure Issue If the thermocouple of your furnace is not receiving adequate gas pressure, then it will not initiate heat. The amount of gas needed to cause the furnace to turn on will vary due to size and other factors. This is a situation that will require professional analysis, but it may not involve a labor intensive repair. For example, a contractor might be able to fix a low gas pressure issue by adjusting the gas valve. If the issue occurs more than once or if it appears the pressure issue is valve replaced, the contractor might recommend replacing the current gas valve.  Faulty Ignition Board This is a portion of the furnace that could be considered the brain of the unit. It “tells” the furnace what other parts of the furnace are “doing.” When there are ignition board issues, the furnace will not know when it is safe to ignite. Replacing the malfunctioned board can get the unit back working properly.  An HVAC contractor is the best […]

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Can A Heat Pump Water Heater Save You Money?

If you’re like many families, having a ready supply of hot water — enough to allow multiple consecutive showers or the ability to shower and do a load of laundry or dishes simultaneously — helps keep the household humming along smoothly. However, the cost of keeping 50, 80, or more gallons of water heated to a consistently high temperature can cause your energy bills to skyrocket over time. Are there any energy-efficient ways to heat water in your home without compromising its temperature or supply? Read on to learn more about heat pump water heaters, as well as some other ways you can help reduce the amount of energy your water heater consumes. Are heat pump water heaters more efficient than standard electric or gas water heaters? While heat pump water heaters still maintain a constant supply of heated water, they’re more than twice as efficient as other water heaters due to the way they generate heat. Instead of using propane, an electric conductor, or natural gas to heat the water tank from the outside, heat pump water heaters remove heat from the air in the room and use this heat to warm the water supply. This efficient method of energy generation can help you cut the amount of electricity your water heater consumes by half to two-thirds — and because water heaters make up around 18 percent of the average utility bill (or even more if your current heater is inefficient), this simple switch can help cut your energy bills by more than 10 percent. What are your other efficient water heating options?  Heat pump water heaters won’t work for every home — in order for the pump to be able to gather the heat needed to generate hot water, the interior temperature of the room (or closet) in which this heater is installed has to be between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also need at least 1,000 cubic feet of space around the heater to ensure a sufficient air supply. If a heat pump water heater isn’t a good fit for your lifestyle or home setup, you may want to look into a tankless or on demand water heater. Rather than keep a large amount of water constantly heated, these water heaters spring into action only when you turn on the tap. Most tankless water heaters are equipped to handle multiple demands on the hot water supply at […]

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Cold Weather Is On Its Way: 2 Ways To Prevent Heater Break-Downs

Winter is just around the corner and with it comes the cold weather. Before it gets too cold, you want to make sure your heater is working properly. If your heater has not been properly maintained, it could break down during the cold weather. Unfortunately, furnace repair technicians tend to get booked quickly during the winter. If that happens, you might have to wait a while before you can get your heater repaired. One way to prevent winter breakdowns is to inspect and service your heater before you turn it on the first time. Here are some easy-to-follow instructions that will help you avoid those cold-weather break-downs. Clean the Burners Dirt and dust can build up around the burners in your heating unit. That build-up can cause malfunctions and can reduce the air flow through your home. Here’s a quick way to clean the burners on your heater. Supplies You’ll Need Vacuum Hose extension Dust mask Clean paint brush Directions Put the dust mask on to keep dirt out of your nose and lungs. Carefully remove the front panel from your heating unit. Place the hose extension on your vacuum. Turn your vacuum on and clean the front on the furnace. Place the hose extension on the end of your vacuum nozzle. Use the hose extension to remove the dust from behind the furnace. Use your paint brush to brush away the dust that’s hiding in the grooves near the fan blades. Inspect the Fan Belts Your heating unit contains several different fan belts. Over time, the belts can wear out, get weak and break. While you have the front panel off the heater for cleaning, take a few minutes to inspect each of the heater belts. Look for cracks, breaks and areas along the edges that might be fraying. You’ll also need to check the tension on each belt. Place your index finger on each belt and press down firmly. Belts with proper tension should not move down more than the width of your finger. If the belts show signs of damage, or have decreased tension, you’ll need to replace them as soon as possible. You depend on your heater during the winter months. Unexpected break-downs can leave you in the cold until the heating repair technician can get out to your house. Before the cold weather sets in, use these simple instructions to help avoid emergency heater repairs. […]

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