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.
Even Florida’s balmy climate can go on vacation during the winter months, and many Sunshine State residents find themselves reaching for the thermostat when temperatures dip into jacket weather. If you find that your furnace is constantly cycling on and off or just doesn’t seem to be getting your home as warm as it normally does, you may be facing a heat pump problem.
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.
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.
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.
Heat pumps operate slightly differently from more traditional systems, which makes them a bit more complicated when it comes to potential problems popping up. Before you call your heating repair technician, however, it helps to see if you can find the problem beforehand. Below are some of the things you can do before your HVAC technician gets there.
Check the Thermostat
There are tons of heating problems that can be attributed to a malfunctioning thermostat. Your heat pump might be perfectly fine, but without a properly working thermostat it won’t matter. Check the display to make sure that the thermostat is in heating mode and the temperature is set properly. If it is, the heat pump is more likely to be the problem.
Check Your Outdoor Unit
Depending on how cold your environment is, ice can form on the outside of your outdoor unit. Normally, this isn’t a problem. All heat pumps are equipped with a defrost cycle to regularly melt the ice around the unit. If this defrost cycle isn’t working for whatever reason, the ice can build up and eventually encase the entire unit. This prevents the unit from absorbing thermal energy from the surrounding air, leading to a drop in temperature inside the house. If you see a large amount of ice on your heat pump, covering at least ¾ of the unit, your defrost cycle is probably not working.
Look for Leaks
Most systems rely on an internal “charge” of refrigerant to transport thermal energy where it is needed. A leak in the refrigerant line can drain this charge, severely depleting the heat pump’s ability to heat properly. If you see fluid leaking from either your indoor or outdoor unit, you may have a leak in the refrigerant line. You’ll want to get this fixed right away, as fluid leaking onto other parts of the heat pump can easily cause more problems if left alone.
If your heat pump seems to have lost its ability to heat properly, call AC Designs Inc. We provide quality heating repair services throughout the Jacksonville area.
Here in sunny Florida, heating problems are pretty low on our list of concerns. Our summers are long and hot, our winters short and mild, which means that air conditioners play a bigger role in our comfort on the whole than heaters. But problems with your heating system do happen, and that can be a big concern on a cold winter night. So what are the best ways to avoid heating repair in Jacksonville, FL? .
The best method is to schedule regular maintenance visits from a trained technician. These tune-ups are intended to reduce overall wear and tear. The technician cleans the dirt and grime off of the interior components, which reduces friction and helps them perform at their best. He also tightens any loose bolts or fittings (which also reduces wear and tear) and runs he heater to check for any specific problems. If he spots one, he can then schedule a repair before the issue gets out of hand. Ideally, you should schedule you tune-up before heating season begins, but it is never to late to have someone perform maintenance on your heating system.
Along those lines, you should pay close attention to any warning signs your heater gives, which usually indicates growing repair problems. This can be anything from unusual noises to reduce air flow to higher monthly energy bills despite not using the heater any more often than normal. Catching those problems early means getting a big jump on repairs, and preventing large bills in favor of smaller preventative ones.
If you need heating maintenance or repair in Jacksonville, FL, contact A/C Designs Inc. for help. Pick up the phone and call us today to make an appointment.