Furnace protection during Las Vegas summer

Keep Your Furnace Safe During the Summer Months

As the winter winds down and the summer months approach, thoughts turn to keeping the house cool instead of warm. As the summer winds on and vacations and pools fill your thoughts, you may not even think twice about your heater.

That is, until that first cool September night when it doesn’t turn on. If you take a few minutes here and there through the summer to keep an eye on your furnace, you won’t have to worry about it not working in the fall.

Keep Your Furnace Unit Clear of Debris

Since it isn’t running at all for those long summer months, it may be tempting to let things pile up around your furnace unit. Christmas decorations, sleds and boxes of winter clothes all might find themselves stacked up around the heating unit. This is very bad for your furnace.

First, clutter attracts dust and dirt. As that dirt and dust makes its way into your furnace, it can cause serious damage to the internal parts of your furnace. Motors can seize up, heat exchangers can get hot spots that damage them and fans can blow allergens all through your house.

Keep your unit free from clutter and periodically sweep or vacuum the area round your central furnace unit. This will ensure the unit is clean and free from harmful contaminates.

Keep Your Heater Off During the Heat

Even if this is done accidentally, turning on a furnace during the summer heat can seriously damage the unit. Furnaces are designed to add a certain amount of heat to the air. If the air that is pulled into the furnace unit is already hot, this can mean overheating in the heat exchanger.

Serious damage can result from overheating the air inside of the heat exchanger. Make sure to keep the heat off all summer long even if you have to tape over the “warm” switch on your thermostat.

Give Your Unit the Once-over

Just before you shut it down for the summer, take the time to give your furnace a good look. Check it for any signs of rust or corrosion. Listen to the fans and the motors on the inside to see if they sound like they are laboring to operate. Make sure there are no obviously broken or missing parts as well. If you find anything out of the ordinary, make sure to fix them immediately. Don’t wait until the fall rolls around.

Have Your Furnace Serviced before Operation

Before you fire your furnace up in the fall, contact a professional to come check it out and do any required maintenance. Having an annual inspection of your unit is the best way to prolong the life of your unit and make sure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Executive Air Conditioning has experts who can help you with any furnace or AC maintenance needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to have your furnace serviced!

The Importance of the Air Filter in Your Home

Man replacing home air filter

The first piece of advice any HVAC professional is going to give is to make sure that you have changed your filter. It gets said so much and yet people still do not seem to heed the advice. Why are filters so important? Let’s talk about the functions of the filter and the benefits of changing your filter regularly.

The Function of the Air Filter

While you might think that the function of the air filter is to clean the air for the home, this is actually a secondary purpose of the air filter. The first function of the filter is to protect the internal parts of the furnace from large particles that might get sucked inside of it. Dust and other particles that get pulled into the heating portions of the furnace can ignite causing damage to the furnace and ultimately shorten its lifetime.

Different Types of Filters

There are a few different types of filters that you can use in your furnace.

High-Efficiency or deep-pleated filters – These are thick filters made of electrically charged fibers. They do not fit in a standard sized filter box, but need a special enclosure in order to function. They are able to clean smaller particles out of the air than other filter types.

Fiberglass or Cellulose – These are the cardboard filters you may be most familiar with. They are lower cost, and very effective at getting out large particles. Their low cost is attractive, but they will not filter smaller particles like smoke or some molds.

Reusable Filters – These filters are made of flat plastic or sometimes foil pads. They are made to be washed out with a hose and placed back into the furnace after being cleaned. Depending on the furnace usage, they should be cleaned monthly. They can last up to 5 years if properly maintained.

Electronic Filter – This filter is actually a device that is attached to the furnace. It uses electrical current to charge particles and then attract them to an element that pulls them out of the air.

Polyester Filter – This filter is similar to the fiberglass filters but is made up of electrically charged fibers. They typically last about three months.

Benefits of a Clean Filter

Clean filters benefit a furnace in many ways:

Improved Airflow – Clogged filters can impede the airflow into the furnace causing the fan that draws air in to work harder. This can increase wear on the fan as well as increase electricity needed to run the furnace.

Better Furnace Performance – Having to work harder to draw air in can reduce the performance of the furnace in other ways as well. A clean filter ensures that the proper amount of air is drawn in and heated to be used to heat your home.

Improved Air Quality – A clean filter will catch more particulates and will keep the air cleaner. This means improved overall health for you and your family.

Remember, clean filters and regular maintenance by a professional are the best ways to keep your furnace in top operating shape.

Make Sure Not to Void Your Furnace or AC Warranty

AC units and furnaces with void warranties

Most new HVAC systems come with a warranty to cover any problems that might come up with your system in the first few years of ownership. Typically there is not a lot to do to maintain your furnace in the first few years after you purchase it. Here are some mistakes to avoid in order to keep your warranty intact for the full term.

Remember to Register

One of the most obvious mistakes to avoid is failing to register the warranty after the system is purchased. Most warranties can be registered online or by mail, depending on your preference. Be sure to fill in all the information accurately. If your home is recently purchased and the warranty on an existing unit is being transferred to you, you should check with your real-estate agent or the person selling the home in order to find out what the procedure is to have the warranty transferred to you.

Hire Professional Installers and Maintenance

When having the furnace installed, remember to use certified professionals. Many manufacturers will not honor their warranty if the furnace is installed by professionals. Modern furnaces have complex parts that require experts to install and set up.

Along with using professionals to do the install, all but the most routine maintenance should be done by professionals as well. Most new HVAC systems have a schedule of required services that need to be performed on it. Regular maintenance is the best way to reduce wear and tear on all of the parts of the furnace.

A yearly inspection by a professional can help to keep the system running in top shape. This helps to diagnose any problems the system might be having early, and may prevent more severe problems down the road.

Also remember to regularly change the air filter based on the instructions provided by the manufacture. These times can also vary depending on the type of filter you have chosen to use with the HVAC system. A clean filter will also ensure that your HVAC system is running properly and at peak efficiency.

Keep Accurate Records

Keeping all the receipts for any work that you have done on the HVAC system is a good idea. This can also help professionals see any trends in the types of issues you may have with your HAVC systems.

Use Authorized Parts

– While it might seem like a good idea to save some money by buying replacement parts that are not approved by the manufacturer this might actually void your warranty. Make sure to use only approved parts any time you service your HVAC system.

Know Your Gas Furnace

Gas Furnace in Home
The furnace can seem like a large mysterious box that lives in your basement and provides magical heat to your home.

While it is true that your furnace is a complicated piece of equipment that should be maintained by a professional, it is important to know what the different parts of your furnace are and what they do. This can help you when something goes wrong to diagnose the problem, figure out how serious the problem is, and can help you direct your professional in what sort of repairs might be involve when they arrive on site to help you.

What Your Furnace Does

Most modern furnaces work by taking some form of energy, gas or electricity and use that energy to heat the air in the furnace. The warm air is circulated through your house using some type of blower or other mechanism.

If your furnace is also used to cool your home, there will usually be an outside unit that functions as the air conditioner. The heating and cooling parts are built to work together, but not at the same time. The outside AC unit is a topic for another article.

Furnaces will have an efficiency rating associated with them to show you an average of how much energy they are going to consume when heating your home.

Parts of a Gas Furnace

Gas furnaces function by burning natural gas to heat up air and circulate it around your house. This means that all gas furnaces have the same basic parts:

  • A Flu, Chimney or Vent Pipe that will exhaust combustion byproducts outside of your house. This prevents hazardous fumes like carbon monoxide and excess methane from building up inside your house.
  • The burner functions much like a burner on a gas stove. It mixes gas and air and creates a flame. This flame heats the air that will be used to heat your home.
  • A heat exchanger to take the heat from burning gas and warm up air. Burning of fuel is done in the heat exchanger, where the air is warmed and then moved over to the distribution system which pushes the air through the house.
  • Ducting is how the air distribution system pushes the air through your home. You may be able to see exposed ducting in your basement, but in the finished parts of your home it is generally hidden behind the walls and under the floors.
  • The air distribution system is what moves the air through your home. This system is made up of three parts:
    • The Pilot light or igniter is what lights the burner to begin the heating process.
    • The inducer is what draws the proper amount of air into the heat exchanger so the blower can push it throughout your home.
    • The blower is a motor and fan that push the heated air out of the heat exchanger and force it into the ducts and into the rooms of your home.

As you can see, there are quite a few parts to a gas furnace. Knowing the basics can help you diagnose problems and get a professional from Executive Air Conditioning on site to help you fix any problems you might have.

What is That Smell?

HVAC System smells bad
The first time that your furnace or air conditioner comes on in a new season, you may notice strange smells coming out of your air ducts. This is normal for seasonal disuse.

If strange smells persist, they can indicate serious issues with your HVAC system that need to be addressed by a professional. Here are some tips to help you identify what a smell might be telling you.

Damp or Mold Mustiness

The first thing that these types of smells can indicate is that you may have leaking duct work. If water gets into ducting and sits there, it makes the perfect place for mold and mildew to grow.

Musty smells could also indicate that your dehumidifier is inadequate for the level of humidity in the house. Air conditioners remove water vapor from the air. If there is too much, this function can be overloaded and create an odd smell.

A smell like this might also indicate a leak in the internal plumbing of your HVAC system.

Electrical Burning Smell

Wire insulation and circuit boards have a very distinct smell when they are burning. These types of issues can be caused by loose connections internally in the system. More often than not, these smells are indications of a very serious failure of mechanical parts of your HVAC system.

Pumps, motors, blowers and vents can get stuck if they are not regularly serviced. When you attempt to use your heat or AC, these stuck parts will cause these types of smells. It means they are attempting to do their job, but are unable to.

These odors can also be caused by a clogged air filter. Changing out the filter might resolve the issues. If the smells persist, contacting a professional is a good idea.

Natural Gas

A system that runs on natural gas can have issues. Since natural gas is a combustible substance, smelling it can indicate a very dangerous situation.

The first thing to do is check the pilot light for your furnace. If the pilot is out, turn the gas off and vent the area. Once the area has been vented, attempt to light the pilot following the instructions on your furnace.

If this does not clear up the gas smell, open all of your windows and leave the building. Call 9-1-1 or the gas company as this could indicate very serious problems that need to be addressed by emergency crews.

Oil Smells

If your system runs on heating oil, you may have a heating oil smell that in the house. This smell might indicate a leak in your oil burner or possibly in your oil tank.

Sometimes these leaks are caused by something simple, like a loose fitting. If you cannot find the source of the smell and find no indications of a leak, you should contact a professional to have your heating system looked at.

In many cases, odd smells could be fixed by you with simple maintenance. Any time smells persist, contact a professional to enact repairs.

Is Your Furnace Asking for Help?

Diagram of Home Furnace
You do not want to wait until a cold night to find out your furnace is not working. Before it breaks down completely, it might be trying to tell you that it is in distress.

There are several telltale signs that your furnace might need looked at by professionals. Here are some signs to look for that can indicate serious issues with your furnace.

Hesitant or Intermittent Starts

This can be one of the most difficult issues to notice or diagnose. Typically, a furnace has some hesitation before it turns on. If you notice an overly long hesitation, in multiple minutes this can indicate problems with several parts of the furnace.

Easy solutions could be thermostats or thermostat wiring. More serious issues could be failures with the gas regulation system (if you have a gas furnace), or the motors and fans that circulate the heat through your house. If you notice very long hesitations or even complete failures to turn on, have your furnace looked at by a professional.

Increased Energy Costs

Yes, you should see a regular increase in your heating bills in the winter. If you notice an extreme increase in your electric or gas bills, then you might have a serious problem with your furnace. Take a look at the previous year’s bills. Compare bills for months where temperatures were the same. This might help you spot a problem if your energy bills are higher than they should be.

Another good place to start is looking at how your thermostat is set. Make sure that the temperature showing on the thermostat matches the temperature of the air in your home.

If your thermostat is working correctly, there could be issues with your ducting preventing proper air flow, or even the fans and motors in your furnace not operating at 100% efficiency. If issues continue after changing your filters or thermostat, professional help is likely needed to diagnose more serious issues in your furnace.

The Pilot Keeps Going Out

In a gas furnace, the pilot is what lights the burner. If it is not lit, then your furnace is unable to heat the air inside it to warm your home. Pilots can be hard to find and are not something you would look at on a regular basis.
Typically the pilot is located in the bottom of the furnace cabinet. There should be instructions on the access panel to see how to light it. When looking at the pilot, the flame should be blue. If you see yellow or red, this could indicate issues.

If there is no pilot, follow the instructions to relight the flame. If the pilot keeps going out, this could indicate issues that need looked at by a professional.

Our furnace keeps us warm in the winter, but it needs your help to keep operating when you need it. Contact us today if you suspect your furnace might not be operating in top condition.

Keep Heat Inside Your Home

How to keep heat inside your house
With winter on the way, thinking about keeping warm is one of the first thoughts in your mind. When your furnace kicks on, make sure that it is not working harder than it needs to in order to heat your home.

There are several ways you can help your furnace heat your home more efficiently. Here are some tips and tricks to keep the heat in and the cold outside.

Check Those Doors and Windows

The first place that cold air can sneak in is the same place that people can enter a home; the doors. There are seals around the door jambs and along the tops and bottom of the door. The first place to look is at these seals. If they are ripped, loose or missing, it can be an indication that cold air is leaking through the doors.

Another place to look is your windows. Older windows that are not identified as energy efficient can be sources of leaks. Even new windows can leak cold air if they are not properly insulated and sealed. Look around the sides and tops of the windows to make sure they close securely.

Check the caulk sealant around the outside of the windows. If any of the seals are cracked or missing, these can be sources of leaks. Updating your windows or redoing the seals can help decrease your heating costs and the work load on your furnace.

Check Your Vents

Hot air gets into rooms via vents and ducts. If those vents are blocked or covered, this can prevent the air from getting where it needs to go. Make sure that there are no pieces of furniture, curtains or other things blocking your vents.

If your vents are clear, remove the grates and see if they have any dust, dirt or debris in them. This can also prevent the air from getting into rooms. Take a vacuum cleaner and use it to pull out any dirt or dust that might be in the vents and the grates under them. This should clear the way for the warm air and allow the furnace to do its job.

Furnace Maintenance

Simple maintenance like changing your filter and cleaning out the cabinet are important tasks. These are easy homeowner fixes to make sure your furnace runs properly. A clogged filter can make your heater run much harder than it needs to in order to heat your home.

Air intakes are another place that can cause issues with your furnace. Much like your vents, this is where your furnace takes in the air that it heats and recirculates through the house. If the intake is blocked, your furnace has to work harder.

Maintenance can also mean having the internal components of your furnace checked by a professional. The motors, fans and pumps that operate inside your furnace can also become dirty, clogged or need repairing. Professionals will be able to diagnose these problems and take care of them for you.

Contact us today for any of your furnace maintenance needs, or to find answers for any questions!

Gas or Electric Heating: Which Kind of Furnace is Best?

Electric Furnace or Gas for Heat

With winter right around the corner, it might be time to consider getting a new furnace installed. Whether that old furnace just does not have much life left, or you would like to replace an old energy draining system with a new efficient model, there are a lot of options to choose from.

The first thing to consider is if you want a gas or electric furnace in your home. Here are some of the differences (and similarities) that might help you make a better decision on what will work best for you.

What is the Difference?

The main difference between the two is the energy source used to produce heat. A gas furnace uses a flame. This means that all of the byproducts of natural gas burning, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gases are present when using a gas furnace.

All modern gas furnaces have ways of handling these gasses through a device called an exchanger. The exchanger vents these gases safely out of your home.

An electric furnace uses heating elements that get hot as electricity is applied to them. Just like your toaster, but on a much larger scale. There are no open flames or “burning” inside of a properly functioning electric furnace.

Efficiency

Generally speaking, both types of furnaces are very efficient. Gas furnaces are given annual fuel ratings, and electric furnaces are given energy star ratings.

It is rather difficult to compare the two efficiencies directly; these ratings are very different. A better way to look at it is what the costs of your local utilities will be.

Some easy projections can show you just how much natural gas would be needed to keep your home warm through the winter. The same calculation can be done using electricity. Depending on your utility rates, the solution might come down to what is going to cost less to operate

Flexibility

A gas furnace is going to require ducting, a place for the furnace to reside, piping for the natural gas and venting for the byproducts. If these are not already in place in your home, they will need to be installed.

While there are electric furnaces that take advantage of ducting and a central location, there are other electrical heating solutions that will fit in a home not set up with ducts. Take the time to look into what existing infrastructure already exists in your home to determine if one solution could be better than the other.

In the end the choice can come down to preference. Perhaps the brand you wish to purchase only comes in one form or the other. If you need some help in deciding, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help you pick the best solution for your home and install it today!

Fall Furnace Checklist: Get it Fixed before Winter Hits

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Fall is here, which means winter is swiftly approaching. Now is the time to check over that furnace to make sure that when the real cold of December and January hits you aren’t taken by surprise with a broken furnace.
Here are some of the main elements of your heating system; you will want to make sure they are in their best condition before it gets cold outside.

Air Filter

– The air filter is what catches all the dirt and dust in the air and makes sure it does not get blown all over your house. A clogged or dirty filter can also cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, decreasing its efficiency and increasing your cost.

Thermostat

– The thermostat is the brain of your heating and cooling operation. It can also wreak havoc on your heating bills if it is malfunctioning. If the thermostat is reading wrong, then your temperatures inside will be wrong causing you increased heating bills.

Gas Lines

– If you have a gas furnace then having your gas lines checked regularly can prevent dangerous gas leaks. Some leaks can be small enough that you do not detect the smell of gas, but that does not make them any less dangerous.

Combustion Air Intakes

– Air is needed for the natural gas in your furnace to burn. If these intakes are clogged then you might not be burning all the fuel that is being injected into your furnace. This can cause dangerous buildup in your furnace, a cause of home fires.

Flue

– The Flue pipe is where all the noxious byproducts from your furnace’s burning of gas escapes the home. If this is clogged or corroded, dangerous combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide can make their way back into your house instead of heading into the outside air like they should.

Fan Switch

– The fan is what circulates all that warm air through your house. If the switch for the fan is corroded or broken, then your furnace cannot warm your house.

Pilot

– The pilot is a small mechanism that allows the gas burner in your fireplace, your stove and your furnace to light. A pilot also burns continuously throughout the season inside your furnace. The pilot can build up dirt and carbon that prevents it from staying lit, making your furnace stop working.
Burners – Just like a gas stove your furnace has burners. They more resemble the burners on your gas grill than they do on your stove, however. These can become clogged, corroded or broken and need repair to ensure proper operation of your furnace.

Furnace Panels

– The panels on your furnace need to be secure and sealed. If not, this can hamper the efficiency of your furnace causing it to work harder than needed and increase your bills.

Motors and Bearings Lubricated

– Your furnace is a complex system with a lot of moving parts. To ensure those moving parts move when you want them to, they need to be cleaned and properly lubricated.

Remember, while some of these items can be inspected by the home owner, a professional eye can find things that might be missed by the amateur. Contact us today to have your furnace inspected before you are left out in the cold.

Saving money by adjusting ac thermostat

Choosing the Right Thermostat

Saving money by adjusting ac thermostat
When it comes time to upgrade your thermostat or replace a broken one, you’ll want to make sure that the one you choose is ideal for fitting your HVAC system. Different buildings have different types of systems; within those systems are many options and variations. Selecting the correct thermostat for your system can save you a great deal of time and money in the future. Selecting the wrong one can present problems.

Your HVAC System

There are several varieties of systems on the market, and the first thing you’ll want to do is determine which type your building uses. The types of HVAC systems are:

• Single Stage: These systems are of the traditional variety and are the most commonly encountered. They boast a single output from the furnace. Homes that use forced air, gas or electric air conditioning which is kept separately from the heating system use this type of HVAC.

• Multi Stage: These systems use two heating levels—combining a traditional furnace with solar power, for example. The second method of heating is generally a backup or emergency generator for heat.

• Heat Pumps: These systems handle both heating and cooling in one unit, but it draws coolant from a separate air conditioning system. If you have a heat pump system in your home, you’ll know.

• Multi-Stage Heat Pumps: These are the most advanced HVAC systems on the market. They use a heat pump for an emergency backup when heating and cooling. Normally, the heat pump will be attached to a traditional heating and cooling system, helping to further regulate the system.

• Line Voltage: This type of HVAC system does not use low-voltage wires like most systems, but draws direct current from the home. Generally speaking, line voltage systems are used in older homes, and runs on 120 or 240 volts. If you have an old-fashioned dial thermostat, you may have a line voltage system.

Features

The next step is to decide which features you want in your new thermostat. Various models allow you to program at different levels, with different combinations for days, hours and weeks. Make sure that you list the options you need—do you need hourly programming? Twice a day? Daily? This will narrow down the list of potential thermostats.

You may also, depending on the type of HVAC system you have, decide not to use a programmable one, but a digital or mechanical system which features a basic on/off switch. Digital models will have an easy-to-read display which resembles a digital clock, while mechanical ones are old-fashioned systems that simply use a straightforward switch to turn the system on and off.

Selecting the Model

You know the system you have and the features you want in your new system. It’s now time to do a bit of homework. Hit the internet, and talk to some HVAC professionals. Narrow down your list of options based on price, reliability, consumer reviews and professional recommendations.

Choosing the right thermostat for your HVAC system is key to keeping your utilities bills low, and your home warm in the winter and cool in the hot summer months.