How Do I Get My Furnace Ready for Winter?

October 20th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Furnaces are durable appliances that can keep a home cozy and comfortable through many years of cold weather. However, a furnace needs your help to keep it working its best, so take a few steps this fall to make sure the furnace is prepped for the upcoming cold weather. This way you will have few worries that the furnace might fail or begin losing efficiency during the coldest days of the year.

Here are some basic steps to take for furnace preparation during the fall. You will need some professional assistance to maximize your home heating, and the people to turn to are at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We have served the Puget Sound Area for more than 35 years with quality heating, from installation to regular maintenance.

Advice for Winter Furnace Preparations

The first step you should take to prepare your furnace for the time of the year when it does the most work is to replace or clean its air filter. The air filter is responsible for preventing debris that enters the return ducts from infiltrating the furnace cabinet and damaging the internal components. The filter will become clogged over time; if the furnace shares the same cabinet with the AC, they will also use the same air filter, and a summer of cooling can mean a blocked filter. If the furnace tries to operate with a clogged filter, it will start to drain power as it struggles to draw air through the return vent. It may even suffer internal damage. Remove and replace the filter; if the furnace uses a permanent filter, take it out, wash it off with a hose, allow it to dry, and then replace it.

Next, take the furnace for a “test drive” to see if you notice any issues with it. Pick a warm day when you won’t need the furnace and turn it on for about an hour. Check the airflow from the vents, see if there are any peculiar smells from the vents or the cabinet, and pay attention to any odd mechanical noises. Anything that seems out of the ordinary should have a professional investigate it. If the furnace refuses to come on at all—aren’t you thankful you found out about it now?

Regardless of what you discover during the test run, you need to take the next step: scheduling a routine maintenance visit for the furnace. Heating technicians will examine the system and take care of tune-ups and other adjustments to keep it in the best shape possible for the coming season. They will also investigate any possible repair issues and arrange for the work to fix them.

When you are ready for maintenance, or any repair need you may have discovered in your furnace, call the Lynnwood, WA heating experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. Sign up for our maintenance plan to provide your furnace with excellent yearly care.

3 Common Heating System Repairs

October 17th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

With the heating season coming up, it’s time to place your focus on the heater that will keep your home warm and safe for the winter. Make sure that you schedule a regular a maintenance session from skilled professionals to inspect the heating system and make sure that it doesn’t need repair work before it starts running regularly.

Below are a few of the more common heating system repairs that your heater may need before the winter begins. Some of these are difficult to notice or diagnose unless you have a maintenance technician examine the heater. Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to sign up for our pre-paid maintenance program to take care of your heating needs.

3 Heating Repairs You May Need For the Winter

  1. Thermostat repairs: Often the thermostat is at fault for heater problems. If the thermostat loses its connection to the heater or the fan, it can mean a system that won’t come on—or one that won’t turn off. Miscalibration in the thermostat will also lead to a heater that malfunctions and will provide you with poor comfort. It takes professionals to track down trouble to the thermostat and find the best way to fix it.
  2. Replacing damaged motors: Forced-air heating systems like furnaces and heat pumps are the most common found in homes, and they can suffer from problems with the motors that run their blowers. A build-up of dust or a loss of lubrication can cause motors to start to overwork, leading to them burning out. When this happens, the blower will cease working, and repair technicians will need to replace the bad motor.
  3. Replacing cracked heat exchangers: A cracked heat exchanger in a gas-powered furnace is one of the more worrisome heating repair issues, since it might lead to carbon monoxide leaks. Maintenance will catch this problem and allow for repair work to replace the cracked exchanger before the furnace needs to come on for winter. If you hear clicking noises from your furnace soon after the blower motor turns off, it could warn of a cracked exchanger; shut off the gas to the furnace and call for repair technicians right away.

Even apparently “minor” repair problems in a heating system need quick attention. The longer one of these smaller problems continues without professional attention, the more it will cause strain to other components. You will start paying more to run your heater, while receiving poorer comfort.

Never hesitate when it comes to arranging for repairs for a heater. To protect your source of home heating, look to the people who have provided professional heating service in Lynnwood and the Puget Sound area since 1977: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

What is an AFUE Rating and Why is it Important?

October 15th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

If you have been out shopping for a furnace or boiler recently, you may have noticed a sticker or sign on a unit that said “AFUE Rating:” followed by a percentage. It looks like an important number, and it is, but most AFUE labels don’t do a very good job of explaining what they actually mean. Read on for an explanation of why you should pay attention to an AFUE rating.

Definition

AFUE stands for “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.” It is an evaluation of how well your heating system converts the fuel it burns into thermal energy on an annual basis. For example, an AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the fuel that unit burns is successfully converted into heat and distributed throughout the house. An AFUE of 90% is an extremely good rating. An AFUE of 70% or less is much less desirable. Most modern heating systems are at least 75% AFUE, while older systems can get as low as the mid 50’s. If you have an older heating system, like a cast-iron boiler, you might want to consider replacing it for a unit that won’t waste as much energy.

Impact

So why does this matter? Well, the AFUE rating of a unit determines how much fuel it will need to reach and maintain the temperature you want it to maintain. If a unit has a very low AFUE rating, it will burn much more fuel to heat the house sufficiently. This will cost you more money over the course of the year than if you had installed a unit with a higher AFUE rating. With this in mind, it is in your best interest to always look for a heating system with an AFUE rating of at least 80%. This should be relatively easy, as there are federally established requirements for all new heating systems that demand higher AFUE ratings. Even so, it behooves you to always be aware of the efficiency of the unit you buy for your home.

If you need help selecting the most energy efficient heating system for your home, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. If you need to schedule reliable heating service in Lynnwood, call us today.

What Happens During a Heat Pump Maintenance Appointment?

October 14th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

You know that you should get your heat pump checked at least once a year. Regular heating maintenance is the key to your heat pump having a long and healthy life, after all. What actually happens during a maintenance appointment, though? Read on for some of the most basic areas that are serviced during your appointment.

Air Filter

The first thing a technician will likely do is inspect your air filter. You should change your filter yourself every 1-3 months, depending on how often you use it. Even so, a technician will change it for you for the sake of being thorough. A dirty air filter can compromise the ability of the heat pump to cool or heat properly, so it is important that it be kept clean.

Refrigerant

Refrigerant is the fluid that enables the heat pump to cool air for circulation. As such, it’s a vital part of heat pump operations. Your technician will check the refrigerant level to make sure it isn’t low. The lines will also be checked to ensure that they aren’t leaking. If the refrigerant level is too low, it can be replenished fairly easily.

Thermostat

No matter what else may be wrong with your heat pump, your technician will always check the thermostat. The display and sensors will be inspected to verify that the thermostat is functioning properly. The temperature may also be briefly adjusted to make sure that the connection between the thermostat and the heat pump is working. Thermostat problems are common, but are also easier to repair than most issues with the actual heat pump.

Reversing Valve

The reversing valve is what enables the heat pump to act as both a heating and cooling unit. This is always checked, to ensure that both functions of the heat pump are operating as they should. First, the technician will make sure the solenoid is moving the slide properly. Then, the 4 lines into the valve will be checked for blockages.

If you need to schedule a heating maintenance in Lynnwood, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We can take care of all your heating maintenance needs.

When Is It Time to Call for Heat Pump Repair?

October 13th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Heat pumps are durable, reliable systems, but at some point, you will likely need to call for repair. Heat pumps work a little differently from other types of systems, so to determine whether or not it’s time for heating or heat pump repair, our G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., technicians have put together a list of signs that can indicate it may be time to schedule repair:

  • Loud noises – heat pumps operate pretty quietly. Hearing loud sounds can indicate that a problem has developed. Two common noises that usually indicate problems are clicking and grinding. Clicking sounds can indicate that an electrical problem has developed, very commonly with a capacitor, and grinding sounds can indicate that certain parts, like ball bearings, have become too dry and need lubrication.
  • Icing – ice development on the coils is indicative of a refrigerant leak. When the refrigerant level runs too low, certain parts of the system stay too hot and others stay too cold. Condensation develops and then quickly freezes on the cold parts, creating ice. Simply scraping the ice off does not fix the problem; the leak needs to be found and repaired.
  • Can’t switch modes – your heat pump can switch modes between heating and cooling because of a component called a reversing valve. Sometimes, this valve can get stuck in a mode or between modes. Whenever a reversing valve gets stuck, your heat pump can’t operate correctly. Sometimes the valve can be repaired, but sometimes replacement of the valve is required.
  • Reduced air flow – your heat pump needs good air flow in order to work properly. When the air flow is restricted, which can happen with dirty air filters, the air flow in your system can decrease.
  • Reduction of warm air – if your air is feeling cool, and it’s not supposed to, this can be a sign of a few developing problems. Lack of heat can be the result of a refrigerant leak, problems with the expansion valve or even problems with the compressor.

Heat pumps are complex systems that should only be repaired by trained HVAC professionals. If you need to schedule heating repair service in Mill Creek, WA, call the professionals with over 3 decades of experience: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

Some Reasons Why Your Furnace Burner Won’t Stay Lit

October 13th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Nothing can be more frustrating on a cold winter day than to have your furnace start to heat your home, then shut off due to the burner losing its flame. There are a few reasons why a burner won’t stay lit, and while you shouldn’t endeavor to repair a malfunctioning burner on your own, it is helpful to understand why it can happen. Your gas furnace is your main heating source, so whenever you experience problems, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., for repair. We’ve been performing heating repair for 37 years, and we bring all of this experience, knowledge and expertise to every job we have.

Reasons Your Burner Won’t Stay Lit

Here are a few reasons your burner may not stay lit:

  • Dirty flame sensor – the flame sensor is a safety component in your furnace that detects whether or not there is a flame in the combustion chamber. If this sensor is dirty, the dirt can cause the sensor to operate intermittently; when this happens, your furnace will most likely light, but because the sensor can’t properly detect whether or not a flame is present, the sensor may signal the ignition cycle to end, which will extinguish the flame.
  • Broken thermocouple – a thermocouple is a safety component that uses two different types of metal wire to measure the temperature of the flame so it can manage the gas flow to the burner. When the thermocouple senses that the flame isn’t hot enough, it shuts off the flow of gas so that your home isn’t filled with flammable gas. If the thermocouple malfunctions, it can incorrectly shut off the gas, resulting in your burner not staying lit.
  • Tripping pressure switch – a pressure switch is another safety device, mostly on newer systems, that will shut your system down if it detects the venting in your system isn’t operating correctly. Improper venting can be caused by dirty air filters, blockages or obstructions in the ductwork, or blocked registers.

Having your gas furnace work properly during winter is critical to your indoor comfort. If you are experiencing problems with your furnace, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., and schedule service for your gas furnace in Lynnwood with one of our experts.

Why Won’t My Heat Pump Switch Modes?

October 10th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Heat pumps are pretty ingenious devices, as they provide both heating and cooling. They are able to do this because they are made with a component called a reversing valve. The reversing valve allows the heat pump to switch between heating and cooling because the valve changes the direction of the refrigerant flow. Unfortunately, there are times when the valve can get stuck, either in a mode or in between. No matter what position the reversing valve is stuck in, the result is a heat pump that won’t work. One of the best ways to avoid this kind of repair is to schedule bi-annual heat pump maintenance, and to schedule it with a company you can trust: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

Reasons for a Heat Pump to Be Stuck

The reversing valve is a complex component, and there are a few reasons that can cause it to become stuck:

  • Bad solenoid – every heat pump has a solenoid. The solenoid is a small electrical component that helps move the heat pump from one mode to another. If the solenoid malfunctions, this can cause the heat pump to become stuck. Solenoids can be replaced, so if your heat pump is stuck because of a bad solenoid, the repair is fairly easy.
  • Refrigerant leak – refrigerant leaks can develop inside the reversing valve. While refrigerant leaks can be repaired with air conditioning systems, this is not the case with a reversing valve. Unfortunately, if your reversing valve develops a refrigerant leak, the valve will need to be replaced.
  • Problems with thermostat – when you have a heat pump, the thermostat in your home is the instrument that allows you to switch modes – just press the button. However, if your thermostat is malfunctioning, due to frayed, disconnected or corroded wiring, the heat pump may not be getting the message to switch modes.

Because your heat pump works year-round, it should be scheduled for maintenance twice a year. If you haven’t scheduled maintenance for your heat pump in Lynnwood, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. and schedule an appointment today!

Why is There Ice on my Heat Pump?

October 9th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

The last thing you want is for your home’s heating system to stop working during Washington’s cold winter months. With that in mind, it can be a little disconcerting to walk outside and discover that your heat pump is covered in ice. Don’t panic yet, though. Ice being present isn’t necessarily a sign of something wrong, with a couple of exceptions.

Why does it happen?

Ice or frost on a heat pump is formed by the heat pump’s natural operation. A heat pump works by drawing heat from the air surrounding the unit and directing it throughout the house. When the air supply around the heat pump is cooler, the water vapor in the air condenses on the unit and freezes. This is what causes frost to build up on the unit over time.

Is it a problem?

Yes and no. All heat pumps are designed to go through a defrost cycle to regularly melt any frost on the unit. This is done by briefly reversing the flow of warm air out of the house instead of inward. This should be enough to manage any frost on the unit. However, a large amount of frost present on the unit is a sign that the defrost cycle isn’t working properly. There are a number of possible causes for this, all of which will need a professional to diagnose and repair. Without a working defrost cycle, the heat pump has no way to remove the build-up of frost. Eventually, this will cause the entire unit to ice over and stop working properly. Without access to the ambient thermal energy in the surrounding air, the heat pump will have no way to heat the house.

What to do about it

If you notice that the frost on the heat pump is not disappearing after a couple of hours, or if most of the unit is covered by it, you may need your heat pump repaired. It is a good idea to contact a heat pump professional as soon as you see signs that the defrost cycle may not be working.

If you are having problems with your heat pump icing over, call us to schedule repair service for your heat pump in Mill Creek.

Do I Need an Electrician for Generator Installation?

October 6th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

When it comes to generators, you don’t require the assistance of an electrician for small portable units: the type you keep in your car for emergencies or which you take on camping trips. For larger generators, particularly whole-house standby generators that must take care of powering multiple systems in a house in case of a power outage, you absolutely must have installation from a licensed professional electrician. The risk of the system failing to work, or causing damage to the appliances in your home due to faulty installation, is too high with amateur work.

For generator installation or any other electrical installation in Lynnwood, WA you may need, call up the professionals who have served the Puget Sound Area for more than three decades: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

The Importance of Professional Installation for Generators

No matter what type of fuel a standby generator uses—natural gas, propane, oil, diesel—it still connects to the electrical system of your home to provide sufficient power in the case of an electrical failure.

Hiring an electrician for generator installation is essential to match the wattage of the generator to your needs. Residential generators have a large size range, from 6,000 to 40,000 watts. Not everyone will want to power all the appliances in their home during a black out: some homeowners will only want necessities working (the heating system, a few lights, electrically-powered medical equipment), while others will want more luxuries operating. When you have your generator installed, the electrician will take into account your specific needs, and find a unit to will provide it. Amateur installation could end up installing a generator that won’t deliver the power you need, or worse, provides too much power and end up tripping circuit breakers and damaging your appliances.

An electrician must make certain of all the connections between the generator and your electrical system. This is a complex process, and even minor mistakes could lead to a generator that won’t work. Only entrust this job to licensed electricians who are familiar with the work and will help keep your generator up to local electrical codes.

When you choose G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. for your generator installation, you’ll receive top-quality work. All our generator installations include a one-year maintenance plan that provides a check at 6 months and a change of engine oil, oil filter, and air filter at 12 months. We will make sure that your generator stays ready for you when you need it. Contact us for all your needs for electrical installation in Lynnwood, WA.

The Importance of Heating Maintenance

September 26th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

The heating season is here, and soon, your heating system will be running for large portions of the day and night. Because your system will get so much use, it’s important to make sure it is well-maintained so that everything continues to run as it should. And the best way to keep your system in the best shape possible is by scheduling annual heating maintenance. With heating maintenance, a technician will clean and inspect your system and let your know of any looming repair needs. And the benefits of this service are far more valuable than the small cost of maintenance. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should schedule maintenance today.

Some Benefits of Heating Maintenance

  • Reduce Repair Needs: Scheduling repairs is a hassle, especially when you don’t have any heat on a particularly cold day. That’s why you want to catch repair needs before they turn into larger problems. When damages are left alone, they may worsen over time, which means you may be dealing with a far more costly repair. When maintenance technicians catch any small problems, they may either make adjustments or let you know that repairs are needed.
  • Increase Efficiency: When there is dirt and debris in your furnace filter, heat pump coils, or anywhere along your heating system, efficiency may suffer. This is because your unit must run for longer periods of time in order to make up for deficiencies, which makes a huge impact on your utilities. Similarly, parts that are out of place or need repair may also drive up your bills, but with heating maintenance these parts are cleaned and adjusted for maximum efficiency.
  • Extend the Lifespan of Your System: The lifespan of your unit depends on a variety of factors including the type of system you own and how often it’s used. But regular maintenance may extend the lifespan of any heating system, and can give you a better idea of when it’s time to replace.

When you decide it’s the right time to schedule heating maintenance in Mill Creek, WA, call our team of trained heating specialists at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.