Reasons to Get Rid of Your Fuse Box and Upgrade to a Circuit Panel

January 23rd, 2015 by Roger Thompson

There are many different names for the steel box that divides the electrical power to your home into smaller circuits. This box is sometimes called the distribution board, panel board, service panel, load center, breaker box, or the breaker panel, but it’s more traditionally and colloquially deemed a fuse box. That’s because older panels contained fuses instead of circuits. Circuits and fuses are overcurrent devices that shut down parts of your electrical wiring to protect your home from a fire if a wire draws in more current than it can handle. But today, fuse boxes are rarely in use, and circuit panels are often a more logical choice.

Experiences vary among homeowners, but you may decide to schedule professional fuse box upgrades in Mercer Island when you notice any of the following.

Fuse Boxes Are Outdated

The fact of the matter is that fuse boxes are tedious to maintain, outdated, and simply unnecessary. If a circuit were to take in more current than it was designed to, it could overheat and start a fire in your home. Instead, the fuse serves as a chink in the armor that “blows out,” shutting down that portion of your electrical system. Of course, this is a good thing, as it protects you from a potential fire, but you’ll have to go out and purchase a new fuse as a replacement every time. With a modern circuit breaker, the breaker simply “trips” and you’ll only have to go to the panel and reset it.

Fuse Boxes May Need Replacement Over Time

If you’re experiencing trouble with your existing fuse box, it’s probably best to replace the entire unit. Most experts recommend scheduling maintenance every year so that a technician can examine your fuse box and the rest of your electrical system for damage. You may also want to upgrade if want to increase the capacity of your service panel. When the electrical wiring in your older home was installed, the electricians did not anticipate that we would use our electricity to power so many large appliances today. When you add in new appliances or renovate the home with a new room, you may need a replacement in order to accommodate wiring changes.

At G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., we offer fuse box upgrades in Mercer Island for homeowners looking to improve their electrical system. Call us today!

How Insulation Improves Efficiency throughout the Year

January 22nd, 2015 by Roger Thompson

What do you know about the insulation in your home? Many homeowners purchase a home and assume that there is already enough insulation to get by. Insulation is often added with new construction, so most homeowners assume that the existing materials would be adequate. However, it’s possible that your insulation was not installed by a professional technician, and a lack in certain areas may contribute to quite a bit of inefficiency with your heating and air conditioning system. In this guide, learn what makes it so important year-round in Kenmore and why you may want a professional to add or replace the insulation in certain areas of the home.

Insulation Is Vital in Cool Weather

Most people automatically associate insulation with cooler weather because it’s an important factor in keeping the heat indoors. Heat naturally rises, so when you run your heating system, it tends to collect at the top of a room. If you don’t have enough insulation in the attic, or if you don’t have any at all, heat can easily escape through the ceiling, meaning it takes longer for your house to heat up and for your family to be comfortable.

But It’s Just as Important in the Summer

Insulation acts as a barrier through which it is difficult for heat to pass. Heat moves naturally into cooler areas, so in warmer weather, heat may infiltrate your home because the drywall is not enough to keep it out. Even though your AC is working hard to move heat out of the home, it can reenter through poorly insulated walls and from uninsulated ductwork.

Choose Insulation with a High R-Value

The best way to get the most out of your insulation upon installation is to check the R-value, a measure of a material’s effectiveness. Your technician will also make sure you get the right amount of insulation. While you generally want to fill a space completely, too much insulation in a small space may end up fruitless. The best contractors will make sure you are covered in all areas of the home, including the ducts if necessary.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to schedule an energy audit and discover whether your home suffers from insufficient insulation in Kenmore.

Problems that May Be Detected with an Energy Audit

January 21st, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Heating and air conditioning bills account for a large percentage of your utilities very month, and these systems can contribute greatly to greenhouse gases that pollute the air. Many homeowners would love to “go green” and cut back on spending, but they’re not always sure where to start. That’s where an energy audit becomes important. When you call on professionals to perform an energy audit in your home, they’ll perform the following tests to find out which areas of the home could use some improvements.

  • Inspecting HVAC Equipment: Technicians will thoroughly search your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment for worn down or loose parts, dirty components, and leaks.
  • Blower Door Testing: Blower door testing involves placing a device called an infiltrometer in the doorway to change the pressure in the home so that technicians can detect any leaks or areas of inefficiency throughout the home.
  • Evaluating Insulation for Effectiveness: Professionals will make sure you have an efficient amount and type of insulation throughout the home, and that you’re not missing any crucial insulation around the ducts or in the attic.
  • Assessing the Ductwork: The ducts should be checked for any leaks or cracks that could cause your HVAC equipment to run inefficiently.

Issues that May Be Uncovered in Your Home

Not only will technicians find areas that make your HVAC equipment run inefficiently; you may also find out about potential health and safety effects.

  • Inadequate Insulation: Poor insulation can allow heat to easily escape from your home in the winter or infiltrate your home in the warm season.
  • Cold or Warm Spots: Cool or warm spots in the home force you to crank up your HVAC system unnecessarily, so you may find that you need to seal door or window leaks.
  • Improper Ventilation for Gas Appliances: If gases don’t vent properly from your home, you risk a fire hazard or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Leaky or Inefficient Duct Design: Leaky ducts can hinder efficiency, reduce the indoor air quality, and heat or cool the home unevenly.
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality: A technician will also look for other factors that may affect the air quality such as high humidity and poor air ventilation.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to schedule an energy audit in Mukilteo and start taking the right steps towards a more efficient home.

Do I Have to Schedule Maintenance for a Geothermal System?

January 16th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Geothermal systems do not burn any kind of fuel to operate, nor do they have many moving parts. Additionally, the main components that comprise a geothermal system have long lifespans: the ground loop can last up to 50 years and the heat pump can last up to 25. Many people interpret this as meaning that a geothermal system does not need annual maintenance; this is not true. All heating systems, and especially ones that also cool, should always be scheduled for annual maintenance to ensure proper operation, among other things. If it’s been more than 12 months since your geothermal system was scheduled for maintenance, schedule an appointment with the people you can trust to handle the job: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

What’s Involved with Geothermal Maintenance

Geothermal maintenance is a little different from the maintenance performed on more traditional heating systems, but it’s just as necessary. Components that are checked are:

  • The heat pump – whether your geothermal system uses a ground-source or water-source heat pump, the unit needs to be checked for any potential leaks, dirty air filter, the condensate array needs to be inspected, etc. Basically, the same kind of maintenance that is performed on an air-course heat pump system will be performed on your geothermal heat pump.
  • Measure of electrical components – it’s important that all wiring is in good shape and that all electrical components are delivering the right level of amperage and/or voltage they are supposed to. During a routine geothermal maintenance appointment, these items will be checked for this.
  • Check pressure of ground loop – closed-loop systems may need repressurizing to keep working as needed, so your technician will check the pressure level and adjust it if necessary.
  • Check antifreeze levels – geothermal systems use environmentally-friendly refrigerant or antifreeze to facilitate heat transfer; in fact, the systems require an exact amount to work correctly. As such, your technician will check the level of antifreeze or refrigerant to make sure it is at the correct level.

Your geothermal system is a durable one, but to get the most out of it, it’s important to schedule your geothermal system in Everett, WA, for annual maintenance.

Has it been a while since your system has had maintenance? Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today!

How an Old Thermostat Contributes to Inefficiency

January 15th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Thermostats are an absolutely necessary part of home heating. They are the control centers, the brains of the whole operation. Without them, you would have to manually turn your heater on and off every time you wanted to adjust the temperature. That’s not to say that all thermostats are created equal, however. Let’s take a look at how older thermostats are constructed, and how they contribute to inefficiency.

Thermostat Construction

All thermostats have a couple of basic parts shared between them. There’s always a sensor and a control circuit, along with a dial or other kind user interface. Older thermostats were pretty crudely constructed. Instead of the more precise electronic sensors thermostats have today, they used heat sensitive coils or ampules filled with mercury. A lot of these older thermostats have now been replaced, but there are still a few homes where they are used. It is this older construction that contributes to heating system inefficiency.

Old Thermostat Issues

The main problem with older thermostats is that of accuracy. Older thermostats were largely mechanical in nature, which meant they were more prone to failure when one of those mechanical parts experienced issues. The heat sensitive coils used to monitor temperature acted as circuit switches. When the temperature got warm enough, the coil would expand until it touched a lead at either end of the chamber and closed the circuit, starting the air conditioner. When the temperature cooled enough, the coil would contract, breaking the circuit to shut down the air conditioner. The problem is that these coils had a “dead zone” where it’s not hot enough for them to expand, but still hotter than what the thermostat is set for.

Mercury ampules had similar problems. As the temperature fluctuated in the home, it would cause the mercury in the ampule to fluctuate as well. This would tip the ampule one way or another to start the heater or the air conditioner. The problem is that this ampule could actually get stuck inside the thermostat, rendering the entire thing unable to operate.

Older thermostats are inefficient because of the archaic way in which they operate.

If you want your heating or air conditioning system to work much better than it normally does, contact G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

Furnace Repair Guide: The Limit Switch

January 14th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Though it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, the furnace limit switch is one of the most important parts of the entire system. Without the limit switch, your furnace would be running without a major safety measure, one that could prevent a major breakdown or even a fire. Let’s take a look at what the limit switch is, what it does, and one of the major ways in which it can warn you that something is wrong with your furnace.

What the Limit Switch Does

The furnace limit switch is a small device that is connected to the main chamber of the furnace, called the plenum. Its job is to monitor the furnace’s internal temperature. If the temperature inside the furnace plenum gets too high, the limit switch activates and shuts down the entire system. It does this in order to prevent the furnace from overheating, which could create a fire risk and cause damage to the system. Though this seems like a pretty straightforward function, there’s a reason that you need to know about it as a furnace owner. Though the limit switch can prevent the system from overheating, it does not treat the cause of the problem. That leads to a furnace behavior known as “short-cycling.”

Shot-Cycling

When the limit switch shuts down the furnace, it’s really only a stopgap measure. The switch cannot diagnose or solve whatever issue is causing the temperature in the furnace plenum to rise beyond the safety limit. That means that when the furnace cools off enough to start up again, it will more than likely exceed the temperature limit again. The limit switch will then shut the system down again, and this cycle will keep going indefinitely. This places a huge amount of stress on the furnace, and if it goes on for too long it can drastically shorten its lifespan. For this reason, it is very important to call a professional immediately if you notice that your furnace is turning itself on and off over and over again throughout the day.

If you think your furnace may be overheating, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We provide heating repair throughout North Seattle.

How a Zone Control System Benefits Your Heating

January 9th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Despite their popularity, central heating and air conditioning aren’t perfect. The most common complaint with central forced air systems is that they offer a one-size-fits-all solution, and those rarely ever work well. Central air systems are often connected to one thermostat, usually located on an interior wall, which can only sense temperature changes in the immediate vicinity. When the system turns on, it heats or cools the entire house at once, regardless of whether or not people are occupying one room or many. It’s broad, inaccurate, and wasteful. That’s where zone control comes in. Read on to find out more about zone control systems, and why you should consider installing one.

What is it?

A zone control system consists of a series of dampers, installed in the duct junctions leading to each room in the house. A damper is essentially a large valve that opens or closes to allow air to travel down that section of ductwork. A thermostat is installed in each room, which corresponds to the damper leading to that room. When the temperature in a room provokes a response from the thermostat, the damper in the ducts opens to allow air to be circulated into the room.

Why Should I Install One?

Zone control systems offer much finer control over the environment in a person’s home. As each room has its own thermostat, it can choose whether it receives warm or cold air from the central system instead of being subjected to it every time the system turns on. This eliminates the hot and cold spots that often happen when the whole system is relying on one thermostat, which cannot sense the temperature in every room of the house.

Zone control systems also eliminate energy waste, by directing the air only where it is needed. If you and your family are all sitting in the living room, there is no need for the heater to warm the guest bedroom across the house. This way, you only spend money heating or cooling the areas that you are actually in.

If you’d like to know more about zone control systems, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We install zone heating systems throughout Monroe.

What Are these Noises Coming from my Furnace?

January 8th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

If you notice noises coming from your furnace, you may initially be alarmed. However, some homeowners decide that the unusual noise is not worth the stress of finding a heating service for repairs; they can deal with the noise as long as there is still a bit of heat coming from the vents. But this can be dangerous ideology, as a furnace that is in need of repair could actually break down, even if you still feel some heat in the home.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. for expert advice, repairs, installation, and maintenance for heating in Monroe.

Furnaces may make noises for any of several reasons, but it usually indicates a pretty serious heating issue. And when one part of your heating system is in a state of disrepair, any of the other parts may struggle as a result. You may hear any of the following from your heater this season, all of which require immediate repairs.

  • Banging: A banging noise may be a result of dirty burners. When the burners are too dirty, it could interfere with the way the system operates, causing ignition to be delayed. Delayed ignition can lead to a loud banging noise, something akin to a small explosion. Burners should only be cleaned by professionals for safety purposes and to inspect the heat exchanger for cracks that may have developed.
  • Buzzing: A buzzing noise may be the result of an electrical problem. Yes, even your gas furnace can run into electrical trouble, as it has a motor and several safety devices that all require electricity to operate. On the other hand, it could indicate a loose panel that is lightly rattling or another loose part that needs tightening. In either case, you should have a professional check it out to see if any further damage was sustained.
  • Grinding: A grinding noise most likely indicates trouble with the blower motor. The blower fan uses a motor to operate, but there are a number of factors that may affect its functionality. Whether it’s debris in the motor, an electrical error, or a motor that is simply too old, it could affect the level of heat you feel in the house.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. can repair any type of heating system in Monroe. Give our skilled technicians a call today!

When Is the Right Time to Schedule Service for a Geothermal System?

January 8th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are praised for their ability to last for many years and run efficiently with very few repairs. Because of this, you may assume you won’t have to call an HVAC technician to your home for years to come after installation, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are a couple of instances when you should have a technician visit your home, and most experts recommend scheduling service at least once a year. The following advice can help you to decide when it’s the right time for geothermal service in Redmond.

Annual Maintenance

While you may be able to get by without many repairs for several years, neglecting to call for geothermal service can come with a cost. Although your system may appear to be in top working order, you’ll never know unless you call an expert for a maintenance visit. Professional maintenance can help your unit to run more efficiently, reduce the potential for repairs, and keep your unit in top shape for the rest of the year. Experts will clean and adjust various components of your system and perform a thorough inspection so you can have some peace of mind about the working order of your unit.

When to Schedule Repairs

It’s important to remember that you should never wait to schedule geothermal repairs. If you notice any sort of problem with your geothermal system, from a major breakdown to a small noise in the ducts, you should call for service right away as the problem may be more than you expect. While reduced cooling or heating power, for example, could be due to a loose part, it could also mean a major refrigerant leak that is causing other parts in your unit to struggle.

Make sure to schedule repairs as soon as possible with professionals who know the ins and outs of geothermal systems. These units are much different from standard air conditioners and could take the inexperienced contractor too long to diagnose and repair. Call as soon as you notice strange noises, reduced heating, or any other problem with the unit—big or small.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. offers superior geothermal service from professionals trained on both vertical and horizontally installed geothermal units of all sizes models.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to schedule geothermal service in Redmond.

Why Is There No Hot Water in My Home?

January 8th, 2015 by Roger Thompson

Because the water heater in your home is typically located away from your view, you probably never consider its many parts and components—until there is a major problem. When there is no hot water coming from the faucets and fixtures in your home, you may begin to wonder which parts are responsible and what repairs you can make on your own. Generally, it’s best to leave these repairs to professionals, for safety and operational reasons and since the repair need can be difficult to determine.

Now water from your tank or tankless unit in the Puget Sound area? Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. for professional tank or tankless water heater repair.

Storage Tank Water Heater Repair Problems

If you own a storage tank water heater, there can be quite a few reasons for a lack of hot water, some of which are listed here.

  • Broken Dip Tube: The dip tube lets cold water in to the bottom of the tank so that it can heat up at the burner or electric heating element and rise to the top. If this fragile piece breaks in half, you may run out of hot water too quickly.
  • Faulty Burner: The burner may not function properly if there is a faulty thermocouple on the pilot, a broken burner, or a faulty electric heating element.
  • Safety Shutoffs: There a few safety controls in a water heater that may cause the gas valve to close if the pressure in the tank is too high or if the gas flow is somehow restricted.

Common Tankless Water Heater Issues

Tankless water heaters are meant to last for many years, but the following problems can explain a lack of hot water.

  • No Power to the Unit: The tankless heater could simply not have any power to the unit due to a tripped breaker.
  • Thermostat Malfunction: It may be the case that the thermostat in the unit is not properly detecting the temperature of the water. Furthermore, a unit can struggle in colder weather if the temperature is set too high.
  • A Dying Unit: Unfortunately, the computer system that powers your water heater may eventually simply fail without warning. Professional replacement is sometimes the best option.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. has the expertise to diagnose your water heater troubles and make the necessary corrections as quickly as possible. Contact us today for tank or tankless water heater repair in Bellevue.