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

What Happens When Your Furnace Isn’t Sized Correctly?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

If you’ve ever tried to wear an article of clothing comfortably that was either too big or too small, then you know in the end it just doesn’t work; this is the same with your heating system. Just as you need to know the correct size for your clothes, you need to know what size furnace fits in your home. Some people may wonder, could it be so bad to have a furnace that’s too big or too small? Let’s take a look.

Too Big

It may seem counter-intuitive, but bigger isn’t better when it comes to your heating system. The first problem you can encounter with a system that is too big is heating that comes on too fast; for many, this can be uncomfortable, especially with a forced-air system. This can lead to a second problem that can develop: short-cycling. Short-cycling refers to the constant turning on and off of your heating system, and with a heater that is too big, your home will heat fast and cool down fast, resulting in short-cycling. Short-cycling can create a high level of wear and tear, which can lead to malfunction; it can also lead to a significant increase in energy bills.

Too Small

The biggest problem with a heating system that is too small is that it can’t achieve the heating needs for your home. As such, the heating system can run constantly as it tries to achieve the temperature setting on your thermostat. This level of operation can lead to wear and tear, malfunction, overheating and eventual breakdown; it can also prematurely age the unit. Lastly, your energy bills may skyrocket with the additional energy usage.

Calculate for Heat Load

The best way to avoid installing a furnace that isn’t the right size is to have a professional calculate your home’s heat load. The heat load is the amount of heat your home needs in order to be comfortable. There are a number of factors included in this calculation, including your home’s orientation, insulation levels, floor plan and square footage.

If you are having trouble with your furnace in Everett, make an appointment with your G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., technician today.

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Signs It’s Time for Heating Replacement Service?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

While replacing your heating system isn’t really looked at as a good thing, it can be. Why? Replacing a failing and/or aging heating system provides you an opportunity to increase your energy efficiency, be more comfortable and have a reliable system. However, it’s not always clear that it’s time for a heating replacement, so here are some factors to consider if you are on the fence:

High Energy Bills

If your energy bills have increased dramatically but you haven’t changed how you use your heating system and fuel costs haven’t gone up, there’s a good chance your system is costing you extra money. High energy bills can indicate that your system is no longer energy efficient, has a problem or both. Today’s heating systems are highly energy efficient and can save you money each month with lower energy bills.

Too Many Repairs

Has your system needed one repair after the next? It can be easy to get into a pattern of repairing an ailing system, but before you know it, you may have spent as much nursing along your current system as it would have cost to replace it. If your system has needed a lot of repair, or you are facing costly repairs to keep your system running, it may be time to see if your money is better spent on a new, reliable system.

Age

Age is a factor with any kind of heating system. Why? As any electro-mechanical system ages, its components wear down and eventually can’t perform as well as it used to. There is a shelf life with home systems, just as there is with most other home products. The average lifespan of a combustion heating system is 15-20 years; if your system has reached this age or is older, and is experiencing the problems listed above, it may be time to consider replacement.

Don’t wait for a complete breakdown of your heating system to consider replacement. If you are seeing the signs that replacement may be a good idea, contact G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule heating replacement service in Marysville with one of our experts.

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Modern Safety Components Found in a Furnace

Monday, December 29th, 2014

People sometimes worry over a new furnace installation, as they may have heard some unpleasant stories about furnace safety hazards in the past. Long ago, furnaces were not the safest fixture to keep in your home, risking gas leaks, fires, and even explosions. And while modern furnaces do still have the potential to be hazardous, this is only true if they are left in the wrong hands. Furnace installation, repair, and maintenance are all jobs for a skilled professional only to prevent safety hazards from endangering your home. Fortunately, modern furnaces also have a few safety measures in place, 3 of which are described below.

  1. Furnace Limit Switch: The safety components of a furnace are connected to the furnace control board in order to communicate with the unit when it is time to shut off or take alternative safety measures. The furnace limit switch is set to a specific temperature, and a sensor monitors the temperature in the plenum (where the ducts meet the furnace unit). When the temperature is too high, the gas valve closes, effectively preventing the furnace from overheating.
  2. Flame Sensor: The flame sensor is a probe that simply detects whether or not there is a flame going. Of course, you don’t want the gas running if there is no flame to burn off the fuels, as a gas leak is extremely dangerous. When no flame is detected from the burner, the gas valve is closed off for safety.
  3. Air-Pressure Switch: Modern furnaces contain a draft inducer, a component that blows any excess combustion gases from the combustion chamber to ensure that nothing is left behind. If any soot or residue were to remain in the chamber, it could make the next combustion cycle less efficient and could allow for soot to develop and block the burner. The draft inducer also helps to make sure that gases are venting properly. When the air pressure from the draft inducer drops too low, the air pressure switch shuts off the gas valve, and you’ll need a technician to come diagnose the problem.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. will make sure that any furnace installation or service is done using only the safest means possible. Give us a call to learn more about servicing your furnace in Everett.

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Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from G&S Heating!

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Vertical or Horizontal Installation: Which Is Best for My Geothermal Unit?

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Geothermal units heat and cool the air by using one of the most efficient means possible. Geothermal systems are a type of heat pump, and heat pumps do not need to generate any heat at all. Instead, heat pumps move heat from one place to another, usually from the air. However, with a geothermal heat pump, the source of heat comes from the fixed temperature underneath the ground, a reliable source of temperate conditions. Because of this, you probably realize that geothermal installation will require a little bit of digging. A very long loop system must be installed in the ground during the installation process, but whether the trench is dug horizontally will depend on the conditions around your home.

How It Works

Geothermal systems use heat pump technology to move heat from the ground into your home in the colder months and from your home back into the earth during the warmer season. This is an effective way to heat up a home because the earth’s temperature is nearly constant when you dig deep enough into the ground—around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A transfer medium, usually water, moves through the loop system, and refrigerant in the indoor unit uses the temperate starting point of the water to heat or cool the air.

Outside Installation

This closed loop system obviously involves some excavation, so many homeowners worry about the potential level of damage to the landscaping. You can install an underground system either vertically or horizontally, and, given the choice, most homeowners would likely pick vertical installation. Installing the loop system straight down into the ground seems like an ideal situation as it would not muss up much of your yard. However, this isn’t possible in every situation.

For one, vertical installation may be more costly as it requires special equipment to drill into the earth rather than dig a large trench. More important, however, is whether the composition of the earth can even accommodate drilling vertically, as the makeup and density of the soil sometimes makes drilling too complicated. Vertical installation is ideal for homeowners without much space on the property, but may not always be viable.

Call the geothermal heating and cooling experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to learn how you can get geothermal in Everett.

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Is It Too late to Schedule Winter Maintenance for My Heating System?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Scheduling maintenance for your heating system isn’t like wearing white after Labor Day: there is no hard and fast rule. While certain times of year can be more opportune to schedule heating maintenance in Everett, such as spring and fall, the truth is that anytime is a good time, especially if it’s been more than 12 months since your last maintenance visit. Why is maintenance so important? We’ll outline some reasons below, but first, let’s take a look at what a routine maintenance appointment entails.

What Happens During a Maintenance Appointment?

Every maintenance appointment is tailored to the type of heating unit you have, but there are certain tasks are done during a routine maintenance appointment with every kind of heating system:

  • Thorough inspection of entire system
  • Cleaning and adjusting of components
  • Small repair (frayed wires, worn fan belts)
  • Check thermostat
  • Tighten all electrical connections
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Check system controls
  • Check condensate pipe (if system has one)
  • Check all fuel connections
  • Check system pressure
  • Check burner and pilot assemblies
  • Inspection of flue
  • Change air filter
  • Conduct performance and safety tests

What Are the Benefits of Maintenance?

As you can see, maintenance isn’t just a once-over of your system; it is a full tune-up and it offers several important benefits for you and your heating system:

  • Better energy efficiency – every heating system is made to operate at a certain level of energy efficiency. When the components are dirty and worn from seasons past, your heater can’t achieve the energy efficiency level is was made to. The tune-up your system receives during a routine maintenance appointment allows it to operate at the energy efficiency it was made to.
  • Prevents repairs – one of the reasons your heating system is thoroughly inspected during a maintenance appointment is to identify any existing or developing problems; by getting ahead of problems, and taking care of the system with cleaning, lubrication and adjustment, you can stave off repairs.
  • Extends life of equipment – maintenance keeps your entire system in good working order, which helps prevent premature aging.

Don’t let unwritten rules stop you from scheduling heating maintenance. Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule a maintenance appointment with one of our experts.

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What Is Scaling in a Geothermal System and How Can It Affect My Heating?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Geothermal systems can use either water or the ground to heat your home. Additionally, ground-source geothermal systems may use a water-based solution in the ground loop to facilitate heat transfer. Why does this matter? Because in many areas of the US, water can be “hard”. Hard water is a term used to describe water with high mineralization. While these minerals aren’t harmful to you, they can carry minerals that calcify, i.e., harden, which can affect water flow. What does this mean for your geothermal heating system? Let’s take a look.

Scaling

Scaling can happen to any kind of piping or tubing through which hard water passes. Specific to your geothermal system, scaling is the gradual build-up of mineralization on the inside of the loop or even in your water-source heat pump. The build-up is hard, similar to pieces of concrete, and if left to build over time, this build-up can seriously restrict water flow. If you have a geothermal system, this kind of restriction can affect how the whole system operates. Common results of restricted water flow are a decrease in heating ability and poor performance of your system. But there’s a simple solution for scaling – the acid flush.

Mineral build-up is heavy on alkaline, so the best way to fight it is with acid. The acid used in the flush is safe, but is effective in removing the scale build-up from the inside of your loop. It’s best to have a trained technician perform the acid flush to ensure that it is done correctly and that your loop is thoroughly cleaned.

Water Softener Helps

Your water will be tested before your geothermal system is installed. If the water is found to have high amounts of minerals, you may want to consider the installation of a water softener to minimize the effects the hard water may have on your geothermal ground loop. Check with your geothermal technician to see if installation a water softener is right for you and your system.

Scaling takes a while to develop, but if you have concerns that you may have a scaling issue, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule an appointment for heating repair in Monroe.

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Can I Do My Own Heating Maintenance?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Scheduling heating maintenance every year is one of the most important things you can for the life of your system. Heating maintenance is a professional service, which involves a technician adjusting some of the parts of your system that may be bent out of shape and cleaning dirty parts that can get in the way of the efficiency of your system. An inspection also helps you to discover whether any part of your system risks breaking down soon.

Professional heating maintenance can help you to save some money on heating repair bills and your energy bills. But these days, many people hope they can save some more money on the job by skipping calling the expert and doing the task on their own instead. However, we’d like to encourage you to choose professionals who know the proper safety procedures to follow and who care about ensuring the lifespan of your unit.

Professionals have the expertise to follow through with the job in the safest way. Modern gas furnaces are generally very safe, but when they are handled improperly, you still run the risk of electrical danger, gas leaks, and more. A trained technician simply knows what to look for and what may be a potential hazard.

And a technician is trained to recognize when a component of your heater is not quite right. You may not know what to look for or how to recognize a bent component like an out-of-place thermocouple or flame sensor. Technicians also know which parts to clean and the proper methods to use for cleaning.

In fact, even if you plan to read every guidebook on the subject, you would still be unable to perform some key maintenance tasks, such as checking air pressure and measuring voltage, which require special tools. Luckily, professionals already have the right equipment. The cost of a maintenance visit is certainly worth avoiding the cost of these professional-grade maintenance tools.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to sign up for our maintenance plan. You’ll get two tune-ups a year for your heating system and a 10% discount on parts and service when you join. For complete heating maintenance in Monroe, get in touch with our talented team.

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Tired of Expensive Heating?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Most homes have a heating budget for each winter season, but if you are finding that your heating isn’t staying on budget this year, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the costs:

  • Install ceiling fans – ceiling fans do two important things: first, they circulate the air, helping to even out the heating in your home; second, they help push down the heat so that it stays in your living areas instead of rising, as it will do naturally.
  • Cover drafty windows – if you have drafty windows, winter drapes or plastic window kits can help to cut down on cold drafts. Many retail stores carry winter drapes, and plastic window kits are available at most hardware stores.
  • Conduct an energy audit – according to Energy.gov, energy audits can reduce your overall energy usage anywhere from 5-30%. Energy audits pinpoint your exact areas of energy loss and offer recommendations on how to fix them.
  • Check your insulation – having the right amount of insulation in your home can make a huge difference when it comes to saving energy. A trained insulation specialist can check the level of your current insulation and assess if your home can benefit from more.
  • Install a programmable thermostat – programmable thermostats allow you set times and days for your system to turn on and off, enabling you to control your heating whether you are home or not. Most programmable thermostat allow you to program for up to 7 days with a maximum of 4 temperature changes per day. You can also loop the program continuously so you don’t have to update it every week.
  • Schedule maintenance – if you haven’t scheduled maintenance for your heating system, you may be missing out on savings. During a routine maintenance appointment, your system is given a full tune-up that can help prevent repairs and allows your system to run optimally. It’s never too late to schedule a maintenance appointment, so if it’s been more than 12 months since your last one, schedule maintenance with your technician.

If you are tired of expensive heating services, and are looking to save money this winter on your energy costs, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule heating service is Monroe with one of our HVAC experts.

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Rust on a Furnace: What It Means

Friday, December 12th, 2014

If you own a furnace, you may be surprised to learn that this unit can actually develop rust over time. Rust forms when iron reacts with oxygen and water, but a furnace doesn’t use any water to operate, right? While this problem may seem to be more common with a hot water heating system like a boiler, corrosion can actually happen with older furnaces as well. Homeowners are surprised to learn that their furnace has developed corrosion on the flue, heat exchanger, or elsewhere in the system, and this can actually be due to a few separate factors.

The heat combustion process that takes place in a chamber in your furnace produces gases that must be vented outdoors so that they do not form a health hazard when gathering in the house. The gases that form as a result of this process can actually contain corrosive elements. Water vapor and oxygen can interact with the inside of the flue pipe used to vent gases and cause rust to develop, so this pipe may need to be replaced from time to time. Similarly, condensation can occur as the flue passages cool down when the furnace cycles off and form iron oxide.

Rust on the furnace may also be caused by condensation dripping from an improperly installed air conditioner or even from moisture in the air. If your ducts are not properly sealed, moisture may move into the ducts and collect as condensation along the furnace.

In general, if you notice rust on the furnace itself, it means your unit most likely requires replacement. Rust and corrosion are just too big of a risk for your furnace, as they can cause gases to leak into your home if the corrosion causes a serious enough leak. In any case, a rusty furnace is probably several years old, and could benefit from replacement either way. New furnaces are far more efficient than older ones, particularly if you choose one with a high AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency), and your new installation may have advanced power and safety features that cannot be beat.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to learn more about what rust means for your furnace and how you can schedule heating repairs or replacement in Marysville with an expert technician.

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