Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

Why Isn’t My Fan Blower Working?

November 25th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Every furnace has a large fan, called a blower fan, that helps distribute the warm air to your living spaces. When problems arise with this fan, you can experience a significant decrease in heating, or no heat at all. There are several components that allow the blower fan to operate correctly, making fan repairs somewhat complex to diagnose. This is why it’s important to make an appointment with your G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., technician when you experience an issue with your blower fan, or have other heating repair needs in Monroe.

Common Blower Fan Problems

Here are some of the more common problems our technicians see with furnace blower fans:

Worn/Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is the component that helps the blower to rotate. Fan belts wear down with normal use; as such, they can crack, stretch and break. In order to help the fan rotate properly, the fan belt has to have a certain amount of tension; if the belt starts to stretch, some of this tension is lost, resulting in slower rotation. Cracks in the belt can cause the belt to snap, resulting in a total loss of rotation. If a bad fan belt is the issue, replacing the belt will restore the fan’s operation.

Bad Capacitors

The blower fan in your system uses two components called capacitors. One is a start capacitor, one is a run capacitor. The start capacitor stores energy to give the motor the electrical boost it needs to start; the run capacitor makes sure the motor receives a steady, even flow of electricity while it operates. If either of these capacitors malfunctions or fails, the operation of the blower will be affected.

Bad Limit Switch

Every furnace blower has a switch on it that senses when the air in the heat exchanger is hot enough to distribute. This switch is a limit switch, and it also functions as a safety mechanism: it will turn off the burner if the warm air becomes too hot. Sometimes this switch can fail, causing problems with the blower fan.

While it can be tempting to try and find out what is happening with a faulty blower fan – especially if you have no heat – it is a job best left to a trained professional. If you experience an issue with your furnace’s blower fan, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., and schedule your heating repair in Monroe.

How Does Heating Maintenance Help With Energy Efficiency?

November 24th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Chances are you know that heating maintenance helps to improve the health of your system, preventing costly breakdowns and repairs. But did you also know that heating maintenance can improve the efficiency of your system? Read on to find out how.

Vigilance Pays Off

As a heating system gets older, it will naturally start accumulating wear and tear on its parts from regular use. Eventually, this degradation will cause the parts to fail and need replacing. Before it reaches that point, however, there is a steady decline in how efficiently each part functions. Perhaps not all the burners fire on your furnace, or mineral deposits start building up in your boiler. Even before these parts fail and necessitate replacement, they are consuming energy that is not being spent on heating your home. Regular heating maintenance can catch and fix these problems early on, ensuring that your system isn’t wasting energy with parts that aren’t working as they should. One common example of this is a clogged air filter.

Normally, the air filter in a heater serves as a buffer between the heater and the air being circulated. As the filter becomes clogged with dust and debris, however, it begins to restrict the air flow through it. This traps heat in the system, preventing it from traveling though the ducts to heat your home. Not only does this lower heating efficiency, but it can also cause damage to your heater. Regular maintenance includes replacing the filter, so this does not happen.

Another great example of this is duct cleaning. According to the US Department of Energy, forced air systems lose up to 30% of their heat on average to duct leaks. That is almost a third of your heat that is being wasted, translating to a sizeable cost increase on your heating bill. Many of these leaks are all but undetectable without close examination, so the only way to actually find and remedy them is through professional duct cleaning and maintenance. If you use a forced air system, repairing such leaks can result in an immediate drop in your heating bill.

If you haven’t had your heating system serviced in a while, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We conduct heating maintenance over the entire Monroe area.

The Importance of Cleaning the Heating Coil

November 21st, 2014 by Roger Thompson

The evaporator coil is an important component in your heating system, as it helps provide the warm air that blows into your home. Even though it is a large component, it has delicate, intricate parts that can be adversely affected when coated with dust and dirt. As such, it’s important to keep the coil clean to ensure comfortable, consistent heating. The trained professionals at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., are heating experts, and can help with any heating repair issues you may have.

Why Dirty Coils Are a Problem

Coils become dirty during regular use. Dirt and dust settle in many places in your system, and they can collect on the coils because of condensation. When your coils aren’t cleaned bi-annually, the dirt and dust can become a thick layer. Several problems can develop from this, including:

  • Mold and mildew development – mold and mildew thrive in moist, dark places, and a dirty coil makes a great home. Having these contaminants on the coils can decrease your indoor air quality as the spores are blown into your home; these contaminants also produce unpleasant odors.
  • Problems with refrigerant cycle – during the summer, the evaporation coil helps cool the refrigerant, and during winter, it does the opposite. Excess dirt and dust accumulation can act as an insulating layer on the coil, preventing the refrigerant from releasing heat as needed. This can disrupt the heat transfer process and reduce the temperature of the air blown into your home.
  • Icing – if the refrigerant cycle is disrupted enough, ice can build up on the coils. Icing occurs when the warm parts of the system stay too warm and the cool parts stay too cold. The disparity in the temperatures creates condensation, which quickly freezes on the cold parts, creating ice.

The Best Prevention: Maintenance

During a bi-annual maintenance appointment, the components in your system are cleaned, including the coils. Bi-annual cleaning helps ensure that dust and dirt don’t build on the coils, greatly reducing the possibility of the problems listed above.

If you haven’t made an appointment for heating maintenance, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today. Schedule maintenance for your heating system in Marysville and our technicians will make sure your system is ready to heat your home comfortably this winter.

What Is a Thermocouple?

November 19th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Have you ever wondered about how your pilot light actually works? Ever had it refuse to stay lit for some strange reason? One of the most vital parts of your furnace or boiler is the pilot light, but one of the most vital parts of that is the thermocouple. It is this small part that allows the pilot light to do its job, while simultaneously keeping you safe. Let’s examine the thermocouple more closely.

Construction

A thermocouple is actually a rod or wire made of two different metal conductors. One end of this wire is close to the pilot light, so it can absorb its heat. The other end is hooked up to the gas valve that controls the flow of gas to the pilot light, keeping it lit.

Because of a principle called the “Seebeck Effect,” any conductor will produce an electric charge when submitted to varying levels of heat. The thermocouple is made of two different conductors to both increase the heat gradient and allow more precise tuning. Essentially, this wire acts as a sort of electric thermometer.

Operation

When the thermocouple senses heat from the pilot light, it generates an electric charge that is relayed to the gas valve. The gas valve opens, providing a steady stream of fuel to keep the pilot light going after it has been lit. This is how the pilot light stays burning 24/7. As long as the thermocouple is absorbing heat from the pilot light, the pilot light will keep going.

So what happens when the pilot light blows out? When the thermocouple no longer senses the heat from the pilot light, it loses its electrical charge and the gas valve shuts. This is a safety feature to prevent the home from filling with gas when the pilot light is out.

A bad thermocouple will have trouble keeping a pilot light lit, because for whatever reason it is unable to sense the heat from the flame and produce a charge. If your pilot light won’t stay lit, you likely need to replace the thermocouple.

If you are having problems with your pilot light, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. Our heating professionals cover all of Everett.

How to Spot an Electrical Hazard in Your Home

November 14th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

What would our lives be like without electricity? Electricity is a necessary utility in today’s world, required for a variety of work and entertainment tasks and to power the appliances used throughout the home. However, if your wiring is not set up properly, you may be facing an electrical hazard that could cause a family member to become injured or start an electrical fire.

In general, you should follow standard safety procedures around the home to prevent problems, like shutting off the power from the service panel before attempting any electrical repairs and making sure not to overload electrical outlets. Furthermore, any unusual power surge or unusual behavior from your lights and appliances indicates a problem that requires immediate attention from an electrician. The following guide contains just a few indications that your home may be at risk for a major electrical issue.

No GFCI Outlet in the Kitchen or Bathroom

The GFCI outlet helps protect you and your family members from electrical shocks. You may recognize this type of outlet—equipped with both a “test” and “reset” button—from the inside of many kitchens. These are located in the kitchen because, as we all know, water and electricity do not mix. Water interrupts the regular flow of electrical current so that it may flow through you instead. When the GFCI outlet senses that the electrical current is not flowing as it should, it immediately shuts off. If this type of outlet is missing from your bathroom or kitchen, you should call an electrician as soon as possible.

Hot Dimmer Switches

Another cause for immediate electrical repair is excessively hot dimmer switches. If you have dimmer switches in your home and one or more feels very hot to the touch, this is not normal. It most likely means that the dimmer switch is overloaded, exceeding the maximum allowable wattage.

Circuit Breaker Trips Frequently

If the circuit breaker seems to frequently trip for no reason, it could indicate an overloaded circuit or a short circuit. This can be caused by something plugged into an outlet or by the wiring itself.

When you suspect an electrical emergency, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. for electrical repairs in Marysville.

The Benefits of Ductless Heating

November 13th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Looking for a new home heating solution that won’t require major renovations? Ductless heating may be the right choice for you. In fact, there are many benefits that go along with an absence. Let’s take a look at a few of these benefits and how these unique systems work.

How Ductless Works

Ductless systems don’t need ducts because individual air handlers are mounted throughout the home with their own blower fans. Ductless systems use a refrigeration process to heat and cool the home. Refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoors in the summer in order to release it outside. In the winter, refrigerant pulls heat from the outdoors to move it inside. The indoor air handler contains a coil and a blower fan. Generally, you need multiple units to cool or heat the entire home.

The Benefits of Going Ductless

  • No Ductwork: One huge benefit of ductless heating is the lack of ductwork. Ducts are notorious for poor insulation or for developing cracks and holes, causing warm air to leak out over time. This means you spend a lot more on heating or cooling than is necessary as warm air moves into the attic or other hidden areas instead of directly into your home. Besides, adding ductwork can be costly and time-consuming, while ductless installation only requires drilling a small hole in the wall for the refrigerant line.
  • High Efficiency: Ductless systems may save money because there is no ductwork, but the technology may also be more efficient than other ducted systems. Ductless heating systems have an extremely high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for cooling and a high HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). This is because moving heat around is more efficient than generating heat.
  • Zone Control: A final benefit that comes standard with any ductless system is zone control. Each air handler is wired to its own thermostat, so you can adjust the temperature separately in each area of the home. This keeps your family members comfortable in any part of the house and helps you save on your heating bills; simply turn off the heat in any room you’re not using!

For more on ductless heating in Everett, call the experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today!

Furnace Repair Guide: Is It an Electrical Problem?

November 10th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

Your furnace needs electrical power to operate. It can be challenging to determine whether or not an electrical problem exists. If there is an electrical problem, it can be hard to locate. These are just two reasons why it’s important to call an expert for heating repair service. G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., has the certified technicians who can properly diagnose and repair your heating system no matter what the issue, so call us today.

Common Electrical Problems

Here are some of the more common electrical problems our technicians see:

Problems with Electronic Ignition

Newer furnaces use electronic ignition to light. There are two types of electronic ignition: hot surface ignition and intermittent pilot. Hot surface ignition is more widely used, but both need electricity to ignite the gas jets. With an intermittent pilot ignition, an electrical spark crosses a small gas jet; if the electricity isn’t flowing properly, the pilot won’t light. Hot surface ignition uses a probe that heats to a temperature that is hot enough to light the gas. The probe is encased in porcelain or silicone; the heat comes from two metal strips inside the probe that are electrified. Sometimes the metal strips can corrode, causing malfunction, or there can be an issue with the flow of electricity to the igniter. In either case, you’ll likely experience ignition failure or delayed ignition.

Circuit Breaker Issues

Your furnace is powerful enough that it requires its own circuit breaker in your home’s electrical panel. Circuit breakers can have problems, such as being undersized, loose or faulty. When there is an issue with the breaker, the electrical flow to your furnace may be interrupted, causing operational issues.

Problems with Wiring

Electrical wiring can fray, corrode, and loosen or disconnect, causing shorts, problems with consistent electrical flow and possible shutdown.

Heating repairs should always be left to trained professional, particularly on a combustion unit like a furnace. If experience problems with your furnace, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., immediately and schedule your heating service in Everett with one of our experts.

3 Common Issues with Furnaces

November 7th, 2014 by Roger Thompson

If you own a furnace, it’s important to keep it in top shape in order to make sure it performs at its best throughout the heating season. In fact, now is the best time to schedule furnace maintenance in order to ensure that your unit continues keeping you warm and cozy all season long. During an annual scheduled maintenance visit, a technician will visit your home and inspect your furnace for any problems that may affect performance or efficiency. They will clean and adjust some components ad may also help you determine whether you are at risk for gas leaks.

But if your system is experiencing problems, it’s time to call a technician for repairs right away. Even if the issue seems somewhat bearable, it may cause a lot of extra wear and tear on your system, causing parts to break down, increasing your heating bills, and possibly leading to premature replacement. Call a technician right away when you notice any of the following heating issues.

  • Not Enough Heating: If you feel little heating power from your furnace, it could be due to a number of issues. For example, it could be because of a faulty fan motor, which reduces airflow through the ducts. Or it may mean your thermostat is having wiring issues or trouble with the sensor.
  • Short Cycling: Short cycling is when your system only runs for a short period of time before the cycle is complete, turning on and off too frequently. This could also be due to an issue with the thermostat or fan, or it could even indicate a dirty furnace filter.
  • Noisy Operation: A high-pitched screeching sound could indicate a problem with the blower fan belt. Loud banging noises could indicate loose parts or problems in the ducts. Or you may hear your fan run constantly, which could just be due to an incorrect thermostat setting.

In any case, gas furnace repairs are simply not a job for an amateur. Professional technicians have the tools and expertise to diagnose and repair any problem, or recommend furnace replacement when necessary. Furthermore, prompt professional repairs may make your unit run more efficiently. Remember to schedule maintenance this year, and look out for any repair needs. For more advice about heating services in Snohomish, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

Why Good Insulation Is Important for Heating

November 3rd, 2014 by Roger Thompson

No one enjoys paying for heat that isn’t effectively heating your home, and one of the best ways to make sure you don’t do this is to have good insulation from top to bottom. Why is insulation so important? It blocks the transfer of heat, so during the winter months, it keeps your heat from escaping to the outdoors while also keeping the cold air from infiltrating. While it may be tempting to add insulation to your home yourself, it really is a job best handled by professionals. G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., has been helping customers since 1977 with all their heating and indoor quality needs, so if you need help with your insulation, call us today.

Understanding Heat Flow

To understand how insulation slows heat transfer, you need to understand the 3 ways that heat can flow in your home:

  • Conduction – the way heat moves through materials
  • Convection – how heat moves through liquids and gases
  • Radiant – heat that travels in a straight line and heats any solid object capable of absorbing the heat

Heat will travel through your home in each of these three ways, and the job of insulation is to slow this transfer. Some types of insulation are better at slowing certain kinds of heat over others, so many homeowners will use a combination of insulation types to properly insulate their homes.

Benefits of Good Insulation

As we’ve discussed, good insulation is critical for energy efficiency. But there are additional benefits that are also important:

  • Better comfort – reducing your heat loss helps make your indoors more comfortable
  • Reduction in noise levels – insulation helps block sound both between rooms and from the outside
  • Good for the environment – using the proper amount of insulation helps reduce your energy usage

As we head toward winter, now is the perfect time to see of your insulation levels are where they need to be for your home and heating system. Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule heating service in Lynnwood with one of our HVAC installation experts.