G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Silvana’

Seattle Geothermal Guide: Problems Caused by Poor Water Quality in Open Loop Systems

Monday, September 10th, 2012

As geothermal heating systems go, an open loop configuration can be an excellent choice, provided the environment supports it. Open loop systems work very effectively and efficiently because the deep water is held at an almost constant temperature year round. This property makes it a very good source of heat for the geothermal system.

However, an important factor to consider before choosing an open loop system is the quality of the water coming from the source. Although you won’t drink the water, the quality still matters a great deal, as poor water quality can cause serious problems in your geothermal system.

Let’s take a look at some common water quality problems and the damage they can potentially do to an open loop geothermal system in Seattle.

Mineral Deposits

If the water is filled with minerals — frequently called “hard water” — those minerals can be deposited within the geothermal coils. As they build up on the walls over time, they can slow the flow of the water or even clog it completely.

Hard water does not necessarily preclude the use of an open loop system. It just may call for extra maintenance, such as periodically flushing the system with a mild acid solution to remove mineral build-up.

 Impurities

Impurities in water, especially metals like iron, can also cause clogs. Most frequently this occurs in the return well of the geothermal system. Again, these impurities do not necessarily mean an open loop system can’t work for you, but you should consult with the contractor prior to installation for solutions to this problem.

Particulate and Organic Matter

If you plan to use surface water such as a pond or spring as the source for your open loop system, make sure to test the water composition thoroughly. An excess of sediment or organic matter can clog up your geothermal system very quickly.

Ideally, these are all situations that your Seattle geothermal contractor will anticipate and discuss with you ahead of time, so that your open loop system can be installed in such a way as to preempt any problems with water quality.

For more information about geothermal installation in Seattle, give G & S a call!

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Energy Cost Comparisons: How Efficient is Your Seattle Heating System?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric is all too familiar with the rising energy cost trend. Inefficient systems paired with costly fuel sources have many consumers looking for more cost effective ways to heat their homes. G&S Heating likes to help keep our customer base in the Seattle, WA area well informed. Here is some energy cost comparison information about different systems to help you better evaluate the amount of money you spend on energy.

Cost Examples by Fuel Type for 1,000,000 BTUs

  • Propane, at 80% efficiency and costing $2.80/gallon will cost $50.72
  • At $2.50/gallon, 80% efficiency, Oil will cost $41.97
  • An Electric Furnace, 100% efficient at 8.367¢ per kilowatt-hour will cost $30.62
  • Natural Gas at 80% efficiency and $1.25/therm costs $20.83
  • Electric Heat Pumps, 226% efficient, cost $13.55
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps, 300% efficient, will cost $10.21

All of the above figures assume 25% duct loss. The trend is plain to see. As efficiency increases, costs can drop dramatically. If you’re looking for a cheap way to heat your home and also make it more eco-friendly in the process, a geothermal heat pump may be the right choice for you.

Geothermal Heat Pump Installation, Maintenance and Repair in Seattle by G&S

Despite their incredible efficiency, geothermal heat pumps are not necessarily the best heating and cooling choice for everyone. There are a lot factors to take into account before a geothermal installation should be undertaken, including the amount of property you own, proximity to water and the quality and texture of the soil. If you’re interested in learning if a geothermal system is a viable option for your home, call G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric today. Our geothermal experts will assess your property and, if appropriate, perform a high quality geothermal heating and cooling system installation. We also provide quality maintenance and repair service, so call G & S with all your Seattle geothermal needs.

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Edmonds AC Guide: Basic HVAC Terminology

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Ever try to look up basic information about your Edmonds heating and air conditioning systems? There are dozens of terms that might as well be Greek for all you know – a mishmash of words and phrases talking about energy efficiency and air flow ratios. To make your next upgrade a little easier and give you a baseline with which to work, here are a few of the most common HVAC terms you’ll hear in the industry:

  • AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – This is a simple measurement of how much fuel a furnace converts into actual heat in your home. So, if a furnace converts 92% of the fuel it consumes into heat, it has an AFUE rating of 92.
  • Watts – A single watt is a measurement of electricity. Commonly, your electricity use is assured in kilowatts or kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit – A BTU is a common measurement of how much energy is produced or consumed by an appliance. When referring to an air conditioner, one “ton” refers to 12,000 BTUs.
  • SEER/EER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio refers to how many BTUs can be produced with a single Watt of electricity per hour. So, an air conditioner with an SEER of 14 can produce 14 BTUs of cooling per watt consumed each hour.
  • HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor – Refers to the efficiency of the heating elements in your heat pump.
  • COP – Coefficient of Performance – A measurement of how effective your heat pump is at heating a space compared to standard electrical resistance heat. The lower the temperature gets outside, the lower the COP will be. Equipment is usually measured for COP at 47 and 17 degrees to give an idea of seasonal performance of a new heat pump.
  • Refrigerant – Refrigerant is any gas that is used to draw heat from the air in a particular environment through an air conditioner or heat pump. It has a much lower boiling point than water, allowing it to cool despite the temperature outside. Currently, most equipment uses R-22 refrigerant while the new standard will be R-410A (Puron), legally required in all cooling units by 2020.
  • CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute – Used to measure the volume of air passed through an air handler by an air conditioner or furnace.

There are a number of complicated details to keep track of when choosing a new air conditioner in Edmonds. If you have any questions, give G & S a call!

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Silvana Heating Contractor Guide: Causes of Delayed Furnace Ignition

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Delayed ignition is usually accompanied by a loud banging or booming sound that resembles a small explosion in your gas appliance. In your Silvana home’s furnace, this can be terrifying and should never be ignored.

What Causes Delayed Ignition

Delayed ignition usually happens when you first turn on your furnace, often after a long delay between use, so usually early in the fall or late in the spring when you don’t necessarily have it on every day of the week.

What happens is moisture builds up over the course of a period of inactivity and begins to corrode the firebox in your furnace. That corrosion builds up to the point that it starts to block the ports that feed gas into the burners. When these ports get blocked, the burners down the line cannot light and when you flip the switch, they won’t light immediately.

Of course, while rust and corrosion are a risk, lint and dust can be equally problematic (and are more common if you don’t have your furnace cleaned properly each fall). Sulfur build up is also a possibility, as it is left behind by burning natural gas. It will appear as a layer of white on the surface of the burners or the pilot light.

When all of this happens and the ports are not cleaned properly, gas will build up in the chamber after it is turned on and, when it finally ignites, create the small boom sound. It doesn’t just sound like an explosion – it is one – and if ignored, it can become incredibly dangerous.

Solving the Problem

Delayed furnace ignition is an easy problem to avoid. All you need to do is have your furnace cleaned properly before turning it on each heating season. A technician will clean the burners and ports and remove any dust, lint, rust or sulfur buildup that might block ignition and cause a delay.

When replacing your furnace, look for a device with corrosion resistant materials. You can learn more about these when it comes time to replace your furnace from a technician. Most importantly, be careful. It may be a small problem now, but if left to build up over time, that small boom can become a much larger one.

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What to do if Your Furnace Isn’t Producing Enough Heat: A Guide from Green Lake

Monday, November 14th, 2011

If your Green Lake home is cold, many blame the furnace for not bringing up the warm temperatures or they blame the thermostat for not working right.

It may very well be a thermostat issue – often caused by the location of the thermostat – that is causing the problem. However, sometimes root cause is found in the furnace or ventilation system.

Your indoor environment may be contributing to a seemingly slow-moving furnace. Your furnace may be working too hard to keep up with the heat demand because of an excessive build-up of dirt or debris on the filter or around the moving parts, such as the motor or fan belt. The most obvious thing to do is to keep the airflow unobstructed and keep all working parts clean.

First of all, you should regularly check your furnace filters and if they are dirty, replace them or clean them. Disposable furnace filters are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes and media ratings (ratings determine what size media is used and its ability to trap certain sized particulate). You can buy these individually or in bulk from a number of different resources. It is a good idea to replace the filters every three-six months.

Mesh filters can be removed, cleaned and reinserted. Like replaceable filters, mesh filters should be checked on a regular basis and then cleaned at least every three months.

You can remove the access panels to your furnace and inspect the components for any build-up of dust, dirt, or debris. Using a vacuum with an extension hose usually is all it takes to clean up the area.

Other reasons for poor heating performance include dirty or blocked ductwork. The harder your furnace has to work to push air through the ventilation system, the longer it takes to bring the heat up. Make your furnace work less and keep vents clear and ductwork clean.

Finally, the reason your furnace isn’t producing enough heat may not be the fault of your furnace at all – you may have a leaky house. But that’s a whole different story.

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The Hardest HVAC Maintenance: A Tip from Monroe

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Do you hate to work on your own mechanical equipment in your Monroe home, like furnaces and plumbing fixtures? You aren’t alone. Many people are not cut out to be do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). They prefer to hand off their maintenance and repair chores to qualified professional. That’s not a bad thing. But there are lots of DIYers who prefer to work on their own home repairs – and those are the people who aren’t afraid to take on the most challenging jobs.

If you are looking for good ideas on how to maintain your home’s heating and cooling (HVAC) system beyond the normal filter changeouts, here are some good things to check – things that will help with the overall performance of your HVAC system.

  1. Check the ventilation system. The ventilation carries conditioned air from a main source throughout your home.  It takes a little time and effort to check your ventilation system for things like cracks or leaks around joints, but it is an important maintenance task. You may even find separations between joints or holes caused by nails. A leaky ventilation system could be sending conditioned air into attics, walls, or crawlspaces and making your furnace work extra hard just to keep your living areas warm and comfortable. Take time to visually inspect as much of your ventilation system as possible – usually metal or flex duct – and repair using joint glue, metal filler, or duct tape.
  2. Inspect the insulation. Your heating system works in conjunction with the insulation in your home to provide comfort and warmth while saving you on high utility bills. A home that is poorly insulated or not insulated at all will cause a furnace to work harder and not only send utility bills higher, but increase the possibility of mechanical failure. Replacing or adding insulation in walls and crawlspaces is a relatively easy, yet time-consuming task. You can roll down or tack up fiber insulation or blow in insulation into walls. You can also seal up cracks on your home’s walls, roof, or foundation with a number of different products. Once again, your goal is to make your heating system work less and save you money.
  3. Check the visible components of the furnace. A build-up of dust and dirt can make the moving components of your furnace work even harder, such as the motors, fan belts, contactors, etc. If you live in an area where there is lots of dust and humidity or if your home has several occupants and/or animals, it is particularly important to check your system on a regular basis. This can be done by removing the access panels and taking a vacuum cleaner hose into as many areas as possible. A good, thorough vacuuming should produce immediate results and make your furnace run much more efficiently.

Try these three steps and you may not have to repeat them for another year or so – possibly not ever again while you live in your home.

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How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Guide from Preston

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Being cold in the winter is normal – as long as you are outside. But you shouldn’t be cold inside your Preston home. If that happens, the first place to look to is your furnace, which may not be working correctly. Furnaces are like any other piece of mechanical equipment. They need to be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and warming your entire home at your desired comfort level.

The best time to get your furnace ready for winter is not during the cold winter months – it is before the winter season even begins. There are several way to get your furnace ready for winter and let’s explore some of them.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule and maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

You can also help the airflow by vacuuming the vent cover or removing it and vacuuming any of the ductwork that you can easily get to. For a more thorough job consider calling a qualified and professional duct cleaning contractor. Many heating and cooling contractors also offer duct cleaning service, too.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition. And do it today – while everyone else is waiting.

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How a Furnace Works: A Guide from Seattle

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of Seattle homeowners probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.

The most common furnace is fueled by natural gas but there are other examples of heating equipment such as boilers, electric baseboard, or geothermal. But let’s look at how a gas furnace works since natural gas is found in most U.S. households. Gas furnaces use natural gas or propane to provide energy used for generating heat.

When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.

Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.

Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.

Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.

In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.

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A Question From Silvana: Why Avoid The Lowest Bidder?

Friday, September 30th, 2011

They are often called “garage mechanics” or “Johnny one-trucks.” In layman’s terms, these are the men who moonlight from their regular jobs in the mechanical services trades or who set up their own businesses with little or no overhead – to keep costs down.

They are the perfect people to call if you want a job done cheaply. True, many are qualified and do good work. But many more are simply looking for work and will do almost anything to underbid or “lowball” their competition. And why not? They can afford lower prices because they don’t have the fixed costs like larger, more established contractors. Unfortunately, some of these fixed costs include training and licensing, which are a necessity for any contractor.

Here are some things to look for when bidding out a service/replacement job or a new installation. The bidder you hire will answer yes to most of these questions (except the obvious). The lowball bidder likely will not.

  • Can the bidders give you references from former customers and show details of work they have done?
  • Can the bidders verify if they are licensed to do their work or have any certifications?
  • Do the bidders include the cost of pulling permits and paying for inspections for their work?
  • Are the bidders members of any professional organizations and can they show credentials?
  • Do the bidders belong to any local Chambers or other civic organizations?
  • Are the bidders rated favorably by the local Better Business Bureau?
  • Do the bidders offer an option of products and services to choose from, rather than just one choice they say “is best for you?”
  • Do the bidders take measurements and do mathematical equations to determine what size equipment you need (called load calculations or heat loss/heat gain measurements to determine the proper sized furnace or air conditioner, for example).
  • Do the bidders listen and ask questions?
  • Do the bidders require a large deposit or all of the money up front?
  • Do the bidders have a neat appearance, i.e. well-groomed and clean clothes?
  • Are the bidders’ vehicles clean and free from obvious rust or body damage?

There are likely several other considerations but the point is, the bidders should be professional and businesslike. They should “act like they’ve done this before.” The low bidders may appear to put on a good face, but dig below the surface and ask a lot of questions. The low bidders may quickly lose their happy disposition.

A low bid can sometimes work but the odds are not in your favor. The main things are – you want piece of mind and fewer callbacks because of service or installation problems.

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Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money? Some Pointers From Stanwood

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems in Stanwood today and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

Traditional heat pumps, while they also cost very little to operate, do sometimes need to be supplemented by more conventional forms of indoor heating like a furnace when temperatures outdoors get too low. This is not the case with geothermal heat pumps, so if you live somewhere that has colder winters, a geothermal heat pump may be just what you are looking for. Of course, you can always opt for a furnace instead, but these will definitely cost more to run than either type of heat pump.

When you are trying to assess whether or not switching to a geothermal heating system will save you money, you first have to start with the heating bills you currently have. Then, factor in the cost of the geothermal heat pump installation as opposed to the installation of a more conventional system.

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