Winter is here and with it brings chilly homes, high heating costs, and leaving people to wonder if there are any money-saving steps they could take. The key to improved home comfort (and more money in your pocket) is understanding common heating mistakes you might be making and how to fix them.
Did you know that your heating and air conditioning unit will need to run through a defrost cycle at various times of the year? This important feature is designed to help your unit work properly throughout the cooler winter months. In fact, without the defrost cycle, and the regular maintenance provided by trusted professionals, your HVAC won’t be able to operate properly.
A heating and air conditioning system is one of those pieces of equipment that we all take for granted and expect to be working to cool or warm our home whenever we need it. However, like all pieces of equipment, HVAC systems are susceptible to issues every now and again. One of the more troublesome problems that homeowners may face is a lack of adequate heating. To further complicate matters, this lack of heating may occur after a summer season where the air conditioning worked just fine.
As temperatures continue to cool in Jacksonville and homeowners kick on the heat for the first time since last winter, it’s common to notice a burning smell coming from the vents. This can be very unsettling, but luckily the smell (usually) only lasts for a short period of time.
The temperature in your home struggles to reach the temperature you have set on your thermostat, and some rooms may feel a lot colder or warmer than others. For many people, the first assumption is that there is a problem with the air conditioning or heating system—which has mechanical, electrical, and/or gas components and is likely to suffer some damage over time. But few suspect that the main culprit may actually be something that does not have all of these moving components—the air ducts.
Any HVAC technician will encourage you to change the filter in your heating and air conditioning systems each and every month. But just as important as cleaning or changing the filter is schedule maintenance with a trained professional. HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) maintenance appointments help to keep your heating and cooling equipment in top shape, and most professionals recommend that you do this twice a year.
A heat pump is a great choice for a home heating system. They are energy efficient, safe, and versatile. However, heat pumps are also vulnerable to just as many repair issues as any other kind of heating system. As heat pumps tend to be more uncommon than furnaces or boilers, many homeowners are unaware of the symptoms that indicate a problem with them. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common heat pump problems, and how you can easily identify them.
Loss of Heating Function
When a heat pump loses the ability to heat, it can often be contributed to one of two factors. The first factor is that the heat pump’s outer unit has lost access to the ambient thermal energy that it needs to heat the home. The second factor is that a leak in the refrigerant line has deprived the heat pump of the medium it uses to transport heat.
A good way to check for the first factor is to examine the outer unit. Oftentimes, the unit can be deprived of thermal energy by ice building up on it in cold weather. Normally, a defrost cycle activates periodically to melt any ice off of the unit. If the defrost cycle stops working for whatever reason, however, the unit can ice over and begin to blow cold air instead of warm.
Refrigerant leaks are often identified by a gurgling sound or pooling liquid around the heat pump units. If you see either of these symptoms, call a professional immediately.
Becoming Stuck in One Mode
Heat pumps are unique among heating systems, in that they can switch between heating and cooling modes. This is accomplished through the use of a part called the “reversing valve,” which reverses the flow of refrigerant through the system. Inside the reversing valve is a slide that directs the flow of refrigerant. If that slide becomes stuck for whatever reason, the heat pump can become stuck in either heating or cooling mode. If you notice this happening, you’ll need to have a professional look at your reversing valve.
Broken Air Handler
The air handler is the part of the heat pump responsible for circulating air through the house. The motor that turns the fan in the air handler is put under quite a bit of stress during operation, as it has to move quite a bit of air over a long distance. In order to help compensate for the strain, air handler motors are equipped with lubricated bearings that lessen the friction. As these bearings wear down, however, the stress on the motor increases. If not treated quickly, the motor can overheat and burn itself out. If you hear a grinding sound coming from your heat pump, that is the sound of the bearings wearing out. Have a professional look at it immediately.
It’s one of those distinct feelings: you can tell, just from your toasty morning bed, that the air in your home is just too chilly. You slough off your covers, go down into your basement, and sure enough, your heater is as quiet as a church mouse. Why? Because it’s off – and it shouldn’t be. Before you jump into panic mode and run to the phone to call for heating repair for your Jacksonville home, there are a few things you should check first:
Is There a Pilot Light?
If you have a furnace with a standing pilot, crouch down and check to see if it’s on. While we don’t recommend trying to re-light it on your own, knowing that the pilot is out will help you to describe the problem to the repair person when you call.
What’s Happening with Your Thermostat?
Your thermostat is the control center for your heating system: it tells your heater when to turn on and when to turn off. First: if it has batteries, have they died? Second: what mode is the thermostat in, heating or cooling? Third: if you use a programmable thermostat, has the program changed? Your goal is to try and rule out that your thermostat may be the issue.
How Dirty Is the Air Filter?
If you have a furnace or heat pump system, then you have an air filter, too. It’s recommended that air filters are changed every three months in order to keep it effective. Otherwise, the air filter can become clogged and restrict air flow in your system, which can cause a shut down.
Check the Fuel Levels
If you have a heater that runs on oil or propane, make sure that you’ve got fuel for your system. If you have natural gas, you may want to make sure that the valve is in the “open” position.
Check Your Electrical Panel
All heating systems need some kind of electricity, especially electric furnaces, so it’s a wise move to check your electrical box to see if any circuits pertaining to your heating system have tripped.
Once you complete the run-down of possibilities, and find that these aren’t the origin of your problems, call the people you can count on for heating repair in Jacksonville: AC Designs Inc.
Everyone hears strange noises coming from their furnace at one point or another. Though not all furnace noises indicate that something is wrong with your furnace, there are quite a few sounds that do. If you don’t know which noises indicate a serious problem, you won’t know when to call a professional until it’s too late. Therefore, we’ve assembled this list of the most common furnace noises that indicate a need for repairs.
Within every furnace is a collection of parts referred to as an “air handler.” This is the section that is responsible for circulating the air through the system and throughout the house. The motor that operates the air handler is under quite a lot of stress while the furnace is operating. In order to ease the burden on the motor, lubricated bearings are installed inside it to decrease the friction. These bearings can occasionally dry up, however, which increases the resistance on the motor. The grinding sound coming from your furnace is likely the sound of the bearings in the motor wearing down. If the bearings are not fixed or replaced, the motor will eventually burn out from the strain of running without them.
A loud booming sound coming from your furnace could be a couple of different things. In some homes, the warm air in the ducts can cause them to expand and flex. This creates a booming, thunderous sound that echoes through the ducts. This isn’t really anything to be worried about. However, the sound could also be coming from your furnace’s burner assembly.
The burner assembly is the part that actually burns the fuel to create heat. Over time, carbon particles that are left over from the burning fuel can build up on the burner. Once a burner becomes sufficiently caked in carbon, it can have trouble igniting on time. When it finally does ignite, it burns through the excess gas build up all at once. This miniature explosion can also make a loud booming sound.
It really stinks to have your furnace not come on when you really need it. Though the problem is likely beyond your ability to fix, there are a few things you can do before calling an HVAC technician to look at it for you. After all, investigating the issue is better than sitting in your cold house, waiting for the problem to resolve itself. Let’s take a look at what you should do when your furnace refuses to come on.
Check the Thermostat
The thermostat is one of the core components of your furnace. It is responsible for controlling pretty much everything your furnace does, including turning on and off. This means that if your thermostat malfunctions for any reason, it can pretty easily stymie an otherwise healthy furnace from operating. Have a look at your thermostat’s display and make sure that the temperature and settings are correct. Solving your problem may be as simple as pressing a few buttons. If everything seems to be correct, then the problem might lie elsewhere. Your professional HVAC technician will check the thermostat more thoroughly, to make sure it’s operating properly.
Check the Pilot Light
Not all furnaces use standing pilot lights anymore, those tiny flames that continuously burn underneath the burner assembly. If your furnace happens to still use one, though, look and see if it’s still burning. If the pilot light is out, that is probably the source of your problem. You can try re-lighting it yourself, if you know how to do so. If you don’t, don’t worry. All HVAC technicians know how to re-light pilot lights. If your pilot light refuses to stay lit after you try lighting it, then you probably have a faulty thermocouple.
The thermocouple is a device that is designed to regulate the amount of gas the pilot light receives. If the pilot light is lit, the thermocouple makes sure that it receives a steady flow of gas to keep it alive. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas valve as a safety measure. A faulty thermocouple will often smother a pilot light by cutting off the gas flow prematurely, smothering the flame. If your thermocouple is broken, you’ll need a professional to replace it.