You expect your heating system to provide you with heat. Just like a car or any other machine that uses engines to run, a heating system can overheat or suffer serious malfunctions that will eventually lead to a breakdown. We’ll look at some of the causes of heating system issues and what can be done to prevent it and repair the problems that it causes.
Cleaning your home’s boiler system is an important step as a homeowner to keep your heating system working properly. Regular boiler maintenance can lower your heating costs and extend the lifespan of your system.
Because boilers are constantly working and responsible for heating your home and providing hot water, dust and grime build-up can clog the pipes and tubes — lowering your home boiler’s efficiency. In this post, you’ll find how to clean your boiler, including the inside, in three easy steps. Let Oasis do the work for you! Call us today to sign up for our yearly maintenance plan which includes a deep cleaning of your boiler heating system.
The purpose of a household heating furnace is to warm your living quarters on an as-needed basis. As such, a furnace that is not blowing air through vents across your heating system is indeed problematic. Likewise, a furnace that is not blowing air in one room is a confusing issue that could stem from various factors, all of which require immediate attention.
Is a Furnace Supposed to Blow Air?
A furnace consists of a motor fan that blows air across heating coils, thus warming the air. This warm air is dispersed through the ducts of a household heating system to bring occupied living areas to the desired temperature. The furnace runs until the preset maximum temperature — usually at an owner-programmed level, such as 70 degrees Fahrenheit — has permeated the household interior, at which point the furnace shuts off to save energy.
Therefore, a furnace is built to blow air, but only warm air. A furnace blowing cold air is indicative of a problem. Funny as it may sound, a system set to “on” will not necessarily blow warm air. This is due to the programmed settings of a furnace system, which gauge the temperature within a living quarter and only disperse heat until the preset temperature is reached.
For example, if you have your furnace set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the furnace will shut off the heating coils once the ducts sense an ambient room temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fan will continue to blow cold air if it is set to “on” instead of “auto.”
How to Tell If Your Furnace Is in Trouble
If your furnace is on but no heat is coming forth, the problem could stem from issues with your thermostat. If your furnace is not blowing heat or even seeming to activate, you have a more serious problem at hand. Watch for the following tell-tale signs of furnace trouble:
Furnace Blows Nonstop
As outside temperatures drop, the confusion that the furnace-or-fan issue can cause is liable to be quite frustrating. If you constantly hear the sound of a blowing fan yet do not feel the level of warmth that you would expect from a furnace, you literally do have a case of cold air. Simply put, if the settings on your furnace system are not properly coordinated with the fan, the latter will blow irrespective of whether you need or want actual heat.
Furnace Not Blowing Hard Enough
If the furnace blowers are generating heat in insufficient quantities, the issue is likely due to either a dirty motor or a loose blower belt. The motor can accumulate dirt over time and the gradual buildup can wear down the system. This impacts the ability of the furnace to deliver heat on a consistent basis. Likewise, a worn belt could deprive the furnace of its proper rhythm and cause the heating mechanisms to drag or work in fits and starts.
Furnace Turns on but No Heat
If you feel no heat in the minutes after you activate your furnace, something could be wrong with the belt, heating coils or furnace settings. If the blowing mechanisms are inconsistent or non-functioning, there is probably an issue with the blower belt. If the blowers are working as normal but you feel no heat, the issue is probably due to the temperature settings or heating coils. The settings can easily be adjusted if you need to test the performance of the furnace but an issue with the heating coils will necessitate a call to your nearby HVAC service specialist.
Cold Spots in Home
If it seems that your furnace is only blowing air in certain rooms despite a well-dispersed heating system, chances are the furnace has not been activating with the same consistency as before. Perhaps the furnace ducts sensed the wrong ambient temperature within your house and deactivated prematurely? Or perhaps the time/day settings are being misread by your furnace system. Either way, you are liable to experience inconsistent indoor temperatures if a misreading of any kind occurs in your furnace system.
Reasons Why Your Furnace May Not Be Blowing Air
An electric furnace that is not blowing air could be the result of various problems. With so many complex mechanisms involved in a heating system, any given number of issues could cause the furnace to malfunction. Furnace problems, from minor to severe, generally stem from one of the following 10 issues:
The Temperature Is Incorrectly Set
In a multi-person household, there are liable to be different views regarding desirable indoor temperatures. For example, one person’s “warm” could be another person’s “chilly.” Disagreements like these often go un-discussed, even between married couples. Consequently, a thermostat might be turned down at some point during a given day, yet the action remains unbeknownst to the rest of the occupants.
If you live in a household of two or more people, call everyone together for a discussion about mutually agreeable indoor temperatures throughout each period of a typical day. Moreover, check the temperature settings of your thermostat to make sure that the numbers are what you intended, especially if you feel colder than expected and you suspect that the settings might have been altered without your knowledge.
The Furnace Is Not in “Heat Mode”
One of the more elementary oversights that homeowners make is to activate the furnace but leave the thermostat in air conditioning mode instead of heat mode. Thing is, a lot of homeowners overlook these setting options and go about not knowing that the mode is wrong. The confusion is due, in part, to the increasingly complex nature of today’s programmable thermostats, which offer an array of options that make it possible for users to confusingly misprogram their systems in various ways.
Your DIY Thermostat Installation Went Awry
If you have recently installed a new thermostat on your own, it is quite possible that the installation did not take as well as it appeared. Even if you followed the directions, there is a strong likelihood that certain adjustments are needed that can only be performed by an HVAC service specialist.
Alternately, it is possible that the thermostat you chose is simply not compatible with your pre-existing heating system. Situations like these have become all-too-common as the market is flooded with fancy self-install thermostat kits that are incompatible with older household heating systems.
The Date and Time Are Incorrect
If you are not getting the temperatures you expect, the problem could be due to the day and time settings on your thermostat. Homeowners with programmable thermostats often go about not knowing that the hour and day settings are way off.
For example, it might be 8 p.m. Sunday in your area, but your thermostat believes that the time is actually 1 p.m. Tuesday. Consequently, the thermostat thinks that you are at work instead of home reading a book. To save energy, the thermostat sets the temperature low. After all, you wouldn’t likely need the house warm during the afternoon of a typical workday.
The Battery Is Dead
When the date and time are improperly set, the issue often stems from dead batteries in the thermostat. Without battery power, the thermostat has to rely solely on the power supply of your house. Consequently, the thermostat settings will reset following a blackout or brownout, whereby the time and date default to 12 a.m. Sunday following a mid-week power outage. In some cases, a thermostat will dump its settings when the battery runs low.
You could easily go several months not knowing that the time understood by your thermostat is four days and 18 hours behind the actual date and time in your area, all because of a dead battery. Meanwhile, that same period could see your heating bills increase as you crank the heat to overcompensate for the lack of warmth from your furnace.
The Circuit Breaker Is off
Some of the more complicated furnace issues involve the circuit breakers. A heating system will have one or possibly two or three different circuit breakers, any one of which could trip and cause the furnace to stop. For example, if the circuit breaker to the furnace is off, the furnace will not generate heat. Likewise, if the circuit breaker to the blower fan is off, warmth will not be spread from the heating coils.
If tripped, circuit breakers should not be tested more than once. An issue of repeat tripping should be reported to an HVAC service person immediately.
The Filter Is Clogged
A clogged furnace air filter can cause two types of problems, one involving blocked airflow and the other concerning tripped shutoff functions. In some cases, the buildup of dust and debris can thicken to the point where the passage of warm air is blocked by the filter. Therefore, while it might seem as though the furnace is not blowing air, the only real problem is that the furnace needs a new filter.
The second, more common problem that arises with clogged furnace filters is when the restricted airflow causes the furnace itself to overheat and trigger the system’s safety shutoff. Thus, while you are left with the impression that the furnace won’t blow heat, the furnace has actually overheated and stopped due to a clogged air filter.
The Blower Fan Is Not Working
If the furnace isn’t blowing air with any degree of warmth — and the thermostat settings, circuit breakers and air filter have all been ruled out as possible causes — the problem could stem from the blower fan itself. The function of the blower fan is to blow air across the furnace’s heating coils and disperse that warmth through the air ducts. If the blower fan stops working, you have a more serious problem at hand.
You can test the blower fan by turning off the heat — or, depending on your system, setting the thermostat to “fan only” mode — and switching the fan from “auto” to “on.” Wait for a few minutes to see whether any fan breeze comes forth.
The Limit Control Switch Is Damaged
In a household heating system, the limit control switch — alternately known as the fan limit switch or furnace fan control switch — controls the automatic on/off functions of the heating coils and fan. If you turn your furnace off or the room becomes sufficiently heated to the point where there furnace halts automatically, the limit control switch shuts the blower off to save energy. Likewise, when the heating coils warm, the control switch kicks the blowers on to disperse the heat through your household air ducts.
If your furnace does not seem to be working, the limit control switch could be responsible in one of two ways. If the furnace overheats, the control switch will shut off the system as a safety precaution. This could be due to an overheating issue but it could also stem from a misreading on the part of the limit control switch. In the latter scenario, you probably have a damaged limit control switch.
The Heating Coils Aren’t Functioning
Beyond any possible issues with the blower fan, the most serious problems with a furnace are those that stem from the heating coils. If the coils are faulty, no thermostat settings, clean filters or switch adjustments will do the trick. If you have ruled out all the previous possibilities and even replaced the limit control switch, only to find that the blower fan still switches off, there is something wrong with the heating coils.
There are a few steps that homeowners can perform to determine the source of a furnace problem. If the issue is minor, it can sometimes be fixed singlehandedly. In other cases where serious problems are involved, professional service is necessary, especially when a gas furnace is not blowing air. In any event, check the following:
Check the Thermostat
Before you declare any serious problem with your furnace, check the settings on the thermostat to see whether everything is set to the desired modes and levels. Given the possibility that someone else in your household might have changed the thermostat setting, check to make sure that the thermostat is set to “heat” instead of “cool.”
To test the quality of the heat itself, raise the thermostat temperature by five degrees and wait for the system to activate. Do you feel warm blowing air? If the batteries are old, replace them — remember, if the time or date settings are off, the battery is likely dead. Also, clear away dust from under the thermostat panel.
Check the Air Filter
The air filter is one of the more obvious parts to check since it is easy to see how a clogged filter would impede the flow of air from a furnace. In a sense, it is like the lint trap in a laundry dryer, which needs to be cleared between each usage cycle. With your furnace filter, do an inspection every three months and replace the filter if dirt buildup has taken hold.
Prior to accessing the air filter, shut off the furnace and thermostat.
Check the Gas Supply
If you have a gas furnace, check the gas supply to see whether the fuel supply is sufficient. Also, check the gas valve to make sure that it is set to “on.” Every now and then, a gas valve is accidentally left off after a round of maintenance and others in the house are confused when the furnace does not work as expected.
If you discover a gas leak, turn off the gas valve and all the switches to your heating system and report the issue immediately. Do not light any matches or lighters near the furnace. Gather everyone in your household and exit the premise until help arrives.
Check the Pilot Light
Pilot lights are used on older, pre-electronic ignition gas furnaces. If the pilot light fails to remain lit, the problem might stem from a clogged orifice, which can be poked clear with a small piece of wire. Before you try this step, turn off the furnace and shut off the circuit breaker.
Aside from simple remedies to minor furnace issues, the majority of problems involving a furnace are best handled by service professionals. At Oasis Heating, A/C & Refrigeration, we have been servicing furnaces in northern Virginia households since 1998. We perform furnace repairs and replacements on a variety of heating systems.
As a homeowner, it’s important that you know what type of heating system you have in your home. Knowing what type of heating system you have ensures you can keep your machinery properly maintained, which extends its lifetime. It also lets you potentially lower your monthly heating costs.
We’ve compiled the five most common heating systems installed in homes to help you determine what kind of heating system you have. If you’re still not sure, Call Oasis today!
When the weather outside is cold and windy, there’s nothing as enjoyable as a nice warm furnace inside your home. After all, it’s much more reliable than a baseboard heater or other form of electric heat, right? If you lose power in a storm, those electric types of heat will falter and leave you with a cold house. Your natural gas furnace would never do that, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. If you’ve ever asked yourself if a gas furnace works during a power outage, the answer is that it is just as susceptible to power outages as electric heaters. While it might seem counterintuitive and confusing, your gas furnace still depends on electricity to power itself and heat your home. If the power is out, the odds are good your furnace will be out as well.
There are plenty of reasons why your furnace works the way it does and how you can interpret what’s going on in your current situation. There are also many options you can try if it seems like the power has returned, but your furnace hasn’t. If you’re experiencing a gas furnace with no power and wondering what to do when the power’s out, we’ve compiled this quick and easy guide just for you.
When it’s cold outside, we want to stay comfortable inside. To ensure comfort during the winter months, nothing is as essential as a furnace — the great workhorse of domestic heating in the United States. For the furnace to work properly, however, it must be the right size. Buying the wrong furnace size for your home is an all-too-common mistake that can lead to uncomfortable temperatures and unnecessary expenses. To avoid these headaches, follow our detailed guide on how to accurately calculate the furnace size that is most suitable for your home.
The size of a furnace is based on how much heat it can produce in an hour, as measured in BTUs, or British thermal units. A BTU is the energy required to heat a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU rating a furnace has, the more warmth it can provide.
Are heating bills keeping you down this season? A variety of items in your home are most likely contributing to your high heating costs, including keeping your thermostat on high, spaces in your door and window thresholds that allow air to escape or having an older or poorly maintained furnace.
This winter, take a look at these tips to save money on your next heating bill.
Radiant heating is an unusual and efficient means of warming your house. It consists of pipes full of warm water or electrical coils directly beneath the floorboards of your house, warming the furnishings (and people) through the direct transfer of energy. When it comes to heating your home in Arlington VA you have a lot of options, but radiant heating offers a number of advantages to offset the cost and effort of installation. Here’s a brief rundown of the benefits of a radiant heating system.
Efficiency. Radiant heating doesn’t rely on forced air to warm the room. It transfers energy directly, which means it does its job much more efficiently than forced air furnaces. You can save a considerable amount of money each month on heating bills, helping to offset the cost of installation.
Comfort. Unlike forced air furnaces, there are no drafts or cold spots to contend with with radiant heating. That tends to create a more comfortable environment overall, as well as preventing the spread of dust and allergens (which forced air furnaces are notorious for).
Cost Saving. Radiant heating systems have comparatively few moving parts, which means they require repairs less often on the average than other types of furnaces. Perhaps even more importantly, they can last a long time with proper maintenance, which not only extends the benefits of your investment, but can improve the resale value of your home when the time comes to sell.
The benefits of radiant heating installation are considerable, though it’s not for everyone. When it comes to heating, Arlington VA residents need to match their homes and their circumstances with the heating system that’s right for them. When making that decision, it helps to have trained experts on your side. Here at OASIS Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc. we understand radiant heating systems, as well as a plethora of other heating options for your home. We can discuss your choices with you, the set up an installation plan that meets your needs. If you want to see the benefits of radiant heating installation, then pick up the phone and give us a call today!
If your furnace uses a standing pilot light, you may not know it, but you’re behind the times. Standing pilot lights are being steadily phased out as more modern electronic ignition systems come into play. There are many reasons for this. Standing pilot lights are notorious for going out at the drop of a hat, mostly due to their being almost completely unprotected from air flow in the house. They are also surprisingly massive energy wasters. Even a small flame can waste quite a bit of fuel if it is on 24/7. Read on to find out how electronic ignition fixes these issues, and why you may want to consider upgrading.
The first kind of electronic ignition devices we’re going to look at is the intermittent pilot. As the name suggests, this is an ignition system that still uses a pilot light, but not all the time. When the thermostat tells the furnace to turn on, the intermittent pilot opens a gas valve and creates a small spark. This spark is generated by an electrode that is installed close to the burners. It is this spark that ignites the burners and starts the system.
The intermittent pilot solves a lot of the issues that plagued the standing pilot. No more worrying about the pilot light blowing out, or failing because of a bad thermocouple. Its sensors are more accurate, it doesn’t waste nearly as much energy, and it is relatively low maintenance. If something does break, it will be a bit more expensive to fix due to the more complicated nature of the system. However, it is worth it for all the benefits it provides.
Hot Surface Ignition
This type of electronic ignition relies on a heating filament, rather like a light bulb filament, to light the burners. Just like the intermittent pilot, the hot surface ignition system is not on the whole time. When the heating system receives the command to turn on, the hot surface ignitor runs an electric current through the filament installed under the burners. This filament gives off enough heat to ignite the gas and start the system. Just like lightbulbs, heating filaments can burn out over time. They are relatively easy to replace, though.
If you’d like to know more, call OASIS Heating, A/C & Refrigeration, Inc. We provide furnace installation throughout Alexandria.
Furnace problems always arise at the least convenient times. We need reliable heating to keep our Fairfax, VA homes toasty and comfortable when the snows start to fall. And they don’t always need to involve a full breakdown either. In some cases, problems can lead to subpar performance, where the furnace continues to function but requires a lot more time and energy to do its job. What kind of issues lead to subpar furnace performance?
Some of it comes down to plain old-fashioned dust and build up. If you don’t have your furnace routinely maintained, then dust and dirt will accumulate on it. That increases friction on moving parts, as well as coating the pilot light and other key components with grime that might affect the furnaces performance. It will thus work harder in order to do the same basic job, and your monthly costs will go up as a result.
Similarly, a leak in the ducts, or a problem with one of the burners or another component will slowly leech your furnace’s productivity. Say, for example, that your furnace uses six burners. If one of those burners is faulty, the remaining five should still be able to generate enough heat to cover your home. Only they will have to use more fuel to do so and will take longer to heat your home. Again, this will end up costing you more in terms of your monthly heating bills, and the issue will likely get worse the longer the faulty component is left unrepaired.
Finally, sometimes simple age is enough to create a subpar performance. An older furnace not only has years of wear and tear to deal with, but may not be able to take advantage of new advances in technology, leaving it less efficient than more contemporary models.
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