G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for October, 2014

Why Choose a Professional to Wire Your Attic Fan

Friday, October 31st, 2014

When it’s warm outside, many people turn on fans in order to cool down. However, if you rely on this as your main source of comfort, there’s a reason you may not feel as cool as you should. When a fan blows on your skin, it helps sweat to evaporate from your body so that you feel cooler while the air remains the same temperature. However, with the proper ventilation, a large fan can move warm air out of the house and let cool air come in. This is the theory behind attic fans, which we will go over in today’s guide.

An attic fan is a great addition to any home, but you should always be sure to choose a quality electrician for the job, like the people at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

How Attic Fans Work

In order to understand how an attic fan works, you may first need to understand a couple of things about heat. First heat moves naturally from a warmer area into a cooler area. Second, heat rises, which is why your attic may be the hottest area of your home. When it’s warm outside, heat will move into your home and collect in the attic. If the warm air in the attic has nowhere to vent, it will collect until it seeps into your home, making the whole house feel hotter.

An attic fan moves heat from the attic to the outdoors and lets cooler fresh air enter into the attic. This prevents heat from building up and makes your whole home feel cooler. An attic fan uses only a small fraction of the electricity an air conditioner uses, but it will not be effective if you run both at the same time.

Why You Need an Electrician

Setting up an attic fan is not quite like setting up a standing fan or a window fan. While some models can be plugged in, a better choice is to wire it into the electrical system so that you can program it to turn on at various points throughout the day. Any time you’re working with electrical wiring, you need a certified electrician to follow the proper safety procedures and make sure there is the right amount of voltage.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to speak with a superior electrician in Marysville today!

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How Does A Geothermal System Provide Heat?

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Geothermal heating is one of the most energy efficient ways to heat your home. It relies on a renewable resource, spending only a fraction of the energy that most heating systems use to create and circulate heat throughout the house. How exactly does a geothermal system work, though? Read on to find out.

Installation

Geothermal installation involves digging a trench about ten feet deep in a wide loop. If space is an issue the trench could be dug deeper for a vertical loop. Pipes are laid in this trench, using either anit-freeze or water as a medium. A central unit, essentially a heat pump, is then installed in the house. The pipes are connected to the heat pump, and the heat pump is connected to the ductwork in the house.

How It Works

As the name suggests, a geothermal heating system works by siphoning thermal energy from the ground in much the same way that other heat pumps siphon it from the air. About ten feet under the surface, the temperature remains at approximately 55-60 degrees year-round. That may seem cold, but in most environments the outside air can easily sink well below that temperature. When a geothermal system is in heating mode, it uses the anti-freeze or water in the underground pipes to transport that 54 degree thermal energy to the central unit. There, the central unit uses that extra thermal energy to help it warm the air and circulate it throughout the house.

Benefits

The benefit to using this kind of system is that it doesn’t have to work nearly as hard as a traditional system to achieve the same results. A furnace, for example, will have to start from whatever the surrounding temperature is when it heats a home. A geothermal system, however, provides a much higher starting point of 54 degrees. This means that it won’t have to work nearly as hard or as long to warm air up to the proper temperature. By using a geothermal system, you can save an appreciable amount of money on your heating bills.

If you are interested in installing a geothermal heating system, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We install heating systems throughout Mill Creek, WA.

 

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Signs It May Be Time for Furnace Replacement

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

It is inevitable that your furnace will begin to develop problems as it gets older. The natural state of the universe is from order to chaos, after all. Still, with proper maintenance and timely repairs, your furnace can last a remarkably long time. Still, there are some things that really can’t be fixed. When you start to notice some of these signs, it’s probably time to replace your furnace.

Increase in Breakdowns

Pretty much the only type of damage you can’t stop from happening in any system is wear and tear. Over time, the strain of regular use will start to catch up to your furnace. This will start slow at first, a random part breaking here and there every couple of years. Eventually, though, you will start to see the frequency of these problems skyrocket. Every year, then every few months you will have to call your HVAC technician to mend or replace parts as they start to give out from age. At this point, the cost of repairs is probably worth more than the furnace. It’s reached the end of its life, and it’s time to replace it.

Sudden Health Changes

Part of the byproducts that every combustion furnace produces are a series of toxic gases, with carbon monoxide being the foremost among them. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Practically the only way to detect it is by using a carbon monoxide detector. If a crack develops in the heat exchanger, or the exhaust flue becomes blocked, these gases can become trapped in your home. Symptoms of exposure to this gas include sudden headaches, nausea, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death. If you turn on your heater and experience any of these symptoms, get out of the house and call emergency services immediately. An HVAC technician will need to examine your furnace to confirm the problem, but in most cases the solution is to replace the entire furnace.

If you think your furnace might be reaching the end of its lifespan, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. Our heating experts cover the entire Monroe area.

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How Can An Energy Audit Help Heating?

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Energy efficiency is always a priority during heating season, and for good reason: it can save you money. But what if you aren’t sure how to improve your energy efficiency? It may be time to consider an energy audit. An energy audit can pinpoint the exact areas in your home where you are losing energy, and how you are losing it. This type of information can be tremendously helpful in making your heating both more efficient this winter, while also potentially saving you some money. Energy audits should only be conducted by certified and trained experts, and the technicians at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., are BPI-certified building experts. If you need help determining where you are losing energy in your home, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today.

What Is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is a series of tests and evaluations done in your home to pinpoint areas where you are losing heating (or cooling). The types of tasks that can be performed during an energy audit are:

  • Full evaluation of equipment
  • Assessment of insulation levels
  • Testing for air leaks
  • Assessment of ductwork, including air flow

The auditor may also review past energy bills to assess the trend of energy usage and cost over the last year.

Benefits of an Energy Audit

Here are some of the benefits you can gain from scheduling an energy audit:

  • Better energy efficiency – as mentioned above, an energy audit helps pinpoint the areas where you are losing the heating in your home. Being able to remediate the exact areas of air loss can help you regain tremendous energy efficiency. In fact, Energy.gov states that the energy efficiency you can regain from an energy audit ranges from 5%-30%.
  • Improved comfort – when you reduce air loss, the heating in your home becomes more even and comfortable.
  • Less stress on your system – when you lose energy anywhere in your home, your heating (or cooling) system has to work harder to achieve your set temperature. This can create excessive wear and tear and contribute to premature aging.

If you are concerned about preserving the energy efficiency of your heating system, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule an energy audit or heating service in Lynnwood with one of our BPI-certified building experts.

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What is a Downflow vs Upflow Furnace?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

There are a lot of different factors to weigh when you are picking a new furnace to install. What’s size is right for your home? What kind of fuel does it use? Should you stick with combustion or try an electric unit? What’s the AFUE rating? One important question that most overlook, however, is whether a furnace should be an upflow or a downflow furnace. Read on for a description of each, and which would best fit your needs.

Downflow Furnace

The primary difference between an upflow and a downflow furnace which direction they take in and expel air. A downflow furnace takes in cold air at the top of the unit, and expels air at the bottom. By doing this, the downflow furnace directs heat downwards towards the area that requires it. This makes downflow furnaces naturally suited to being installed in attics. They can also be installed in the upper floors of a house if you don’t have an attic.

This makes them very versatile, able to be installed in almost any type of home. The downside is that a downflow furnace is less efficient than an upflow furnace. Heat naturally rises, so the downflow furnace must constantly fight against the natural tendency of the air it’s circulating.

Upflow

An upflow furnace takes in cold air at the bottom of the unit and expels warm air upwards. This makes them more efficient than downflow furnaces, because they are working with the natural tendency of heat to rise upwards. Upflow furnaces tend to heat spaces more comfortably, since heat moves from the floor of a room upwards. This keeps the actual living area of each room more comfortable than a downflow system, which wastes heat on areas like ceilings.

The downside is that upflow furnaces have more strict installation requirements. Oftentimes you’ll need a basement to get the most out of an upflow furnace. This precludes a lot of homes in areas like the west coast.

If you are having trouble picking the best furnace for your home, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We install and maintain heating systems throughout the Mill Creek, WA area.

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How Do I Get My Furnace Ready for Winter?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

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.

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3 Common Heating System Repairs

Friday, October 17th, 2014

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.

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What is an AFUE Rating and Why is it Important?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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.

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What Happens During a Heat Pump Maintenance Appointment?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

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.

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When Is It Time to Call for Heat Pump Repair?

Monday, October 13th, 2014

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.

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