G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from Your Puget Sound Area Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve! Have a great time welcoming the New Year tonight! We hope that you are able to achieve all of your resolutions for this upcoming year. Fun fact: the ancient Babylonians were the first to establish the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. That means that people have used this time of year to set goals for themselves for thousands of years!  If one of your resolutions is to be more environmentally friendly, remember that an upgrade to your HVAC system can make a big difference in your house’s energy efficiency!

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Question from Mukilteo: What Are the Different Types of Furnace Maintenance?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

If you haven’t done so already, take your automobile owner’s manual out of your glove box and check out the section where it lists regularly scheduled maintenance. You will probably see that the most frequent maintenance tasks are changing the oil, checking fan belts, changing windshield wipers blades, checking all fluids, and checking tire pressure. These are regular, routine tasks. You will also see other tasks like changing fuel filters, flushing radiators, and changing transmission fluid.

Depending on its frequency, there are different types of maintenance tasks associated with keeping your automobile in tip top shape. Did you also know there are tasks that can be performed at various intervals to keep your Mukilteo home’s furnace in peak running condition?

For example, the most frequent maintenance task is checking the filters in your air handling unit. These are often called furnace filters but in reality, they serve the same function to filter air to and from your air conditioner, too. It might be easiest to just call them air filters. The frequency of replacing or cleaning air filters usually depends on the type of indoor environment you live in – like humidity levels, number of household pets or occupants, etc. In general, filter maintenance should occur every one to three months.

A less frequent maintenance task is cleaning the moving parts of the internal mechanism. You may only need to have your furnace cleaned every six months to a year, depending on its use. In some cases you can perform the cleaning yourself or it is included in an annual cleaning as part of a service agreement with a qualified heating and cooling contractor. A furnace can typically run at peak efficiency when it is cleaned on an annual basis.

You can also make it a regular habit of checking the motor bearings and fan belt, too. You can lubricate the bearings and tighten or replace the fan belt on a same schedule as cleaning the moving parts.

Other maintenance tasks related to your furnace, which may require longer interval times include ventilation system cleaning, or more commonly known as duct cleaning. Some homes don’t require this type of maintenance more than every five to ten years – perhaps longer. Unless there are unusually high levels of dust, allergens, or contaminants in the air, most ventilation systems can remain clean for several years.

Of course, you can turn all of your maintenance tasks over to a heating and cooling contractor – and have the most peace of mind.

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Wallingford HVAC Tip: How to Tell if Your Air Ducts Are Leaking

Monday, December 26th, 2011

There are lots of ways for your Wallingford home to lose energy – through leaky door frames, cracks in window trim, loose or missing insulation, etc. A lot of your indoor heating and cooling winds up outdoors and drives up your utility bills.

One part of your home that is susceptible to leaks and energy loss is your ventilation system, typically metal or flexible ductwork. Older homes generally experience more duct leakage because seals and joints may have loosened over the years or may have not been properly connected when they were installed. There are some ways to check and see – or hear – if the air ducts in your home are leaking.

The most obvious way to check is by listening. Stand, sit, or kneel close to your ductwork. Listen for any hissing noises when the furnace, air conditioner, or blower motor is in operation. A hissing noise is usually an indication of a leak in a seal or joint. Since ductwork comes in a variety of lengths and contains a number of different connectors, there are likely many joints where pieces have been connected. Some joints are sealed with small sheet metal screws while other joints are sealed with duct tape or mastic. Whatever the connection is, the joints may have come loose over time from vibrations, settling of the home’s foundation, previous repairs, or by someone simply bumping into the ductwork.

Another way to check for a leaking air duct is by looking at insulation which may be wrapped around the ductwork. If an air duct is leaking it will leave dark stains on the insulation over time – giving an exact location of the leak.

Leaks in your air ducts can cause areas like your crawlspace, attic, or garage to be abnormally cold or hot. If you are conditioning unused parts of your home inadvertently, it may be because your ductwork is leaking in those areas.

Finally, a not so easy way to check for leaking ducts is to compare utility bills. If there is a big spike in your heating or cooling costs, it may be because of temperature extremes – but it also may be because your ductwork is leaking. You may not be able to see a big difference in your bills unless there are large leaks or breaks in your ductwork, but keep an eye on your energy costs anyway.

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Merry Christmas Eve from Your Puget Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Merry Christmas everybody! Santa is delivering presents tonight and we hope you get everything you want under the Christmas tree. The holidays are all about spending time with your friends and family, we hope you have a great day full of love and laughter. To help make your Christmas as good as it can be, here is a recipe for Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps:

Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps

“Spicy and chewy Ginger Snaps made with all whole wheat flour. Yummy!!”

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup molasses

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 cup white sugar for decoration

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs, and then the molasses. Combine the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, heaping the measures if you like a lot of spice. Stir the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture just until blended.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls, and dip the top of each ball into the remaining white sugar. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are cracked. Bake longer for crispy cookies, less time for chewy cookies. Cool on wire racks.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

And if you haven’t done so yet, remember schedule the annual maintenance of your heating system. Maintenance will cut down on future repairs and keep your system working as efficiently as possible, saving you a lot of money in the long run. Don’t be left out in the cold this winter!

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Lake Stevens Heating Contractor Guide: How to Fix a Faulty Furnace Blower

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The blower fan on your furnace is designed to distribute warm air through the ductwork in your Lake Stevens home evenly, ensuring you use all of the energy consumed by your furnace. If the blower doesn’t turn on when the furnace turns on or it continues to run when the furnace is off, it can cost you money and result in cold rooms. Here are some tips on how to fix a faulty furnace blower.

What is the Problem?

First, check to see what the problem is. If your furnace blower remains on all of the time, it may be a thermostat issue. Make sure the fan isn’t set to stay on continuously (a common setting for most air handlers). You should also check the limit control switch to make sure it is working properly. If this is broken, it needs to be replaced which is a relatively simple fix.

If the furnace blower isn’t turning on at all, you may have a belt problem. This can be fixed by you if you have the proper tools. To repair the belt problem, first turn off all electricity to the device. You’ll need to remove the old furnace blower belt, so release the tension in the pulleys before removing the belt.

Installing a new belt is not unlike doing so for your car. Make sure to check the blower or your user manual for proper tension when you install the new belt. Make sure you purchase the right size belt and set it to the right tension. If you cannot or you do not feel comfortable doing so, you should call a professional to inspect and repair the problem for you.

Getting the Blower Back Up and Running

Once your new belt is in place, test the system carefully, starting with the lowest setting (if there are variable settings). If it does not yet work or if something sounds strange, call a technician right away. You don’t want the motor to burn out or something else more substantial to go wrong with your furnace or air handler during the middle of the winter.

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Happy Hanukkah from Your Puget Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends! We hope you have an amazing Festival of Lights and enjoy spending time with your friends and family. The holidays are a great time to be thankful for all of the good things in life, and we thank you for helping our business prosper.  Since of one the traditions of Hanukkah is great food, here is a recipe for Potato Pancakes:

Potato Pancakes

“Keep this one in your recipe file because it ‘s perfect and simple Grated potatoes, a bit of onion, an egg, and enough flour to hold this masterpiece together. Shape into patties and fry to a crusty, brown crispness.”

INGREDIENTS:

4 large potatoes

1 yellow onion

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

ground black pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Finely grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid.
  2. Mix in egg, salt, and black pepper. Add enough flour to make mixture thick, about 2 to 4 tablespoons all together.
  3. Turn oven to low, about 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
  4. Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drop two or three 1/4 cup mounds into hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain, and keep warm in low oven until serving time. Repeat until all potato mixture is used.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

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How to Make Your Fall City Heating System More Effective

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Everyone wants an effective heating system in Fall City – one that will provide steady, reliable heat without you having to spend hundreds of dollars each month on gas, oil or electricity. And while the best way to improve the efficiency of your heating system in most cases is to upgrade it, there are some simple things you can do around the house to boost its effectiveness. Here are some of the best:

  • Rearrange Furniture – Just having the heat on doesn’t necessarily ensure the heat entering your room is being distributed evenly. Move your furniture in such a way that there is a clear, unimpeded path from the registers and radiators to the rest of the room. Done properly, this will make it much easier to and faster to heat every room of your house.
  • Maximize Air Flow – Air flow can be maximized in a number of ways. Make sure you close any windows near a register or radiator and that you remove any large objects that might block air flow. You should also install things that can help move air like fans and always call someone in for changes to the arrangement of your vents or radiators.
  • Clean Registers or Radiators – The cleaner your radiators or dust registers are, the more efficiently they release their heat. Not only have that, but clean radiators and registers resulted in better indoor air quality. Weekly cleaning of each room’s heating source is highly recommended.
  • Install Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans switched to blow down are incredibly effective for distributing air throughout the room. This will keep push warm air down and keeps cold air up – in effect, reducing the need for constant running of your furnace or boiler.

Effective heating is important to keep your home comfortable, reduce the cost of heating and prolong the lifespan of your furnace. You should also make sure your heating system is properly maintained throughout the year. Skipping maintenance visits (which are highly recommended annually) will put unnecessary stress on your system and shorten its lifespan substantially, not to mention the decrease in efficiency when heating your home.

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$250.00 Off Kohler Generators

Friday, December 16th, 2011

If your house is subject to frequent power outages, a generator might be a good investment for your home.  A generator will keep everything in your house functioning, no matter what the weather. Some heating systems are also tried into your electrical system, so a power outage can be more than just inconvenient, it can make your house unlivable. Since we know that winter is the worst time to be without power, we are offering a special deal: $250 off purchase and installation of a 14kw or 20kw Kohler generator! A generator can save you from a lot of problems and inconvenience this winter, making it a great upgrade for your home. Don’t wait to take advantage of this great offer!

Offer expires 12/31/2011

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How to Handle Your Finicky Kirkland Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

A heat pump is designed to keep your Kirkland home comfortable. Warm weather, cold weather – it doesn’t matter. It should turn on when you need it and turn off when you don’t. So, when the device starts turning on and off without reason or when you need it to stay on, what exactly is the problem and how can you fix that problem without losing the heating or cooling capacity of your device.

Common Causes of the Problem

There are a number of reasons why your heat pump would turn off shortly after turning on, and most of the time this occurs in heating mode. If it occurs in cooling mode, you should have the device inspected immediately because there is likely something wrong with a core component like the compressor. For heating mode issues, here are some common problems:

  • Dirty Coils – If the coils are dirty, the device won’t be able to properly operate, especially if it has been some time since the last cleaning. Both sets of coils need to be cleaned at least once a year to avoid this becoming a problem.
  • Low Refrigerant Charge – If the refrigerant gets low, you’ll need to have it recharged because the pressure in the device will drop and it will therefore turn off after a few minutes of use.
  • Defrost Timer – If the defrost timer is forcing the device into a defrost cycle too often (usually it is set to 30, 60, or 90 minutes), the fan might turn off every few minutes after turning on. This is a common problem and is usually due to a thermostat or switch issue which can be fixed relatively easily.

Another thing to ask yourself when this problem occurs is whether the device is heating properly when on. Defrost timer issues don’t usually impinge on the heating ability of the device, while low refrigerant can. You want to make sure the device is working properly when on and not just cycling on and off without heating capacity.

Based on what you find, you’ll need a technician to take a closer look and ensure everything is working properly. Most repairs for this type of problem are relatively simple. If you need any repairs, talk to your local contractor.

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Green Lake Heating Tip: Signs of an Undersized Furnace

Monday, December 12th, 2011

If you’re purchasing a new furnace for your Green Lake home, you want to avoid buying one that is undersized for your particular space. To do that, here are some common signs that the furnace isn’t powerful enough for the heating needs of your home. These signs might appear for an older furnace as well, especially as it ages and loses its ability to provide adequate heat for your home.

Maintaining Temperature

The most common (and in many cases only) sign that your furnace is undersized is that the device simply doesn’t maintain the temperature in your home properly. This means that when turned on to full and left for a few hours, your furnace doesn’t heat your home to the thermostat setting.

This can be due to an improper load calculation or a load calculation that wasn’t taken at all. The perfectly sized furnace will heat your home evenly on the coldest day your area is likely to have. So, undersizing should be pretty evident – if it doesn’t heat your home evenly and it’s not exceptionally cold outside, you might not have enough BTUs under the hood.

How to Fix the Problem

The problem is one that varies depending on the severity of the undersizing. Modern furnaces are often available with two stages, meaning they can operate at both a low BTU rating (often around 40K or so) and a higher BTU rating (70K or higher). This is the perfect solution for homeowners worried about undersizing because it ensures that your home always has enough heat in reserve should the weather get exceptionally cold.

For example, most furnaces are sized for extremely low temperatures, but if the temperature jumps up to 50 degrees F outside, your furnace is now oversized for that weather. A two stage furnace offers solutions for both common conditions and extreme conditions and will resolve most of the concern you have about undersizing and not having enough heat to offset outdoor temperatures.

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