Monthly Archives: October 2016

5 Common Winter Heating Problems

Now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to turn off the air conditioner and prepare for the chilly winter. As you pile up the blankets and dust off your winter coats, you may fire up the heater and settle in for a cozy winter inside.

But even if your heater worked perfectly last year, it may have a few hiccups this year. To learn more about common problems heaters have during the winter, take a look at the information below. We’ll discuss a number of different issues and what might be the cause.

1. Heat Cycling

If you notice your heater is turning on and off far more often than usual, this is called heat cycling. Heat cycling lowers system efficiency and raises your utility bills, so even if you think you’re getting enough heat, you’ll want to get your heater fixed as soon as you can.

Heat cycling can indicate an excessively dirty blower or filter, or it could be the result of a
malfunctioning thermostat. Change your filter or take a look at your thermostat. If you notice your thermostat is broken or a fresh filter doesn’t solve the problem, call a professional to take a look. They can easily pinpoint the problem and clean various areas of the heater.

2. Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Whether your heater is brand new or a decade old, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide can easily go undetected if you solely rely on human senses. It’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless, and it can be deadly in the right amounts.

Carbon monoxide leaks are most common in furnaces that are 10 to 15 years old, so if your furnace is at least a decade old, have it inspected just in case. Or, if your carbon monoxide detector catches a whiff of carbon monoxide, call a professional immediately. They’ll know how to effectively find leaks and provide proper repairs.

3. Dry Air

Dry air can be troublesome and uncomfortable, especially if your skin is sensitive or already unusually dry. When your home has an unusually low humidity, your skin might feel dry and itchy. The lower humidity levels can also dry out and crack woodwork and wood furniture. But dry air can affect the efficiency of your heating system too.

Dry air holds less heat, so it may take more for your home to be comfortable and cozy. To remedy this issue, use a humidifier. You can use an individual humidifier in a main room, or you can install a humidifier in your HVAC system for more even moisture levels throughout the home. Not only will this protect your wood furniture and features, but it will also make your home warmer and cozier through the winter.

4. Inconsistent Heating

Most likely, you want your whole house to be properly heated, so walking from a warm room to a chilly one can be irritating. While this could certainly be a result of a malfunctioning part or heating system, it could also be a problem with your home.

Look around doors and windows for holes or cracks, and ensure your weather stripping is intact. You could have a problem with your insulation.

If everything looks properly sealed and insulated, the system’s coils or filter might be overly dirty. The uneven heating can also be a result of grimy air ducts or clogged vents. Check the filter and get your system cleaned to see if that solves the problem.

Should you still experience problems with inconsistent heating, your air handler may have some issues. Air handlers help circulate air throughout the house, and when your air handler needs repairs, you might hear a grinding sound while the heat is on.

Sometimes, whole floors can be warmer than others. When your upper stories are warm while the lower floors are cold, consider closing the upstairs vents to direct warm air to the bottom levels. Because heat rises, the cozy heat downstairs will eventually drift upwards.

5. Lack of Heat

Inefficient heating can be troublesome, but at least it still keeps your home warm. When your heating system isn’t warming your home at all, it could be due to a number or problems. Before you check anything else, look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working and has fresh batteries. A lack of heat could easily be caused by a faulty thermostat.

If you have a heat pump, it could be struggling with the winter weather. Icy wind and snow can put heavy frost on your heat pump, which can prevent the heat pump from functioning properly. Be sure your heat pump has defrost settings to keep the ice and frost at bay. If it doesn’t have the right settings, you’ll have to clear the ice and frost yourself.

For a furnace, you may have a problem with your pilot light. If your pilot light isn’t on, check to see if it has a steady power source. If not, there may be a bit of gunk and grime in the assembly, and you should call a professional to carefully clean it out for you.

When your pilot light is on but you’re still experiencing a loss of heat, you may have problems with the main burners, gas valves, control board, or flame sensor. An HVAC specialist, such as Getzschman Heating, can detect the problem and offer the best solution. We may suggest you replace your furnace, or we may recommend a few simple repairs.

Furnace Troubleshooting – What to Do First

Furnace Troubleshooting PictureOctober is almost over and chilly weather is on the way. What do you do that first chilly morning when you go to turn on the heat but it’s not working? Before you call a heating and cooling technician, here are some furnace troubleshooting tips from the G-Force team that may solve your issue without having to pay for a service call.

Related Read: 3 Tips for Preparing Your Furnace for Fall

What to Do When the Furnace Won’t Turn On

Check the Thermostat

Look at the thermostat and make sure that it is set to “Heat.” After checking that it’s set to the right position, try setting the temperature at least 5 degrees warmer than the current room temperature. If you still don’t hear the fan turn on after a few minutes, bump your thermostat up to 90 degrees and listen for the fan to turn on again.

Check the Breaker Box

Is your furnace getting power? Check the circuit breaker box and make sure that the switch hasn’t tripped. Also, check that the furnace power switch is flipped to “on.” Look around your furnace for a regular wall switch. That switch must be switched to “on” in order to power your furnace. Another place to check is the blower motor switch. Look for a switch around the motor’s housing and try resetting it.

Check the Filter

A common troublemaker for furnaces is a dirty filter. Would you breathe easily with a dirty cloth over your nose and mouth? Most filters should be changed monthly, so double check that your filter isn’t covered in dirt or debris. Furnaces will not operate at maximum efficiency with dirty filters and some of today’s high-efficiency furnaces will shut down completely.

Related Read: Furnace Filters: Just the Facts, Ma’am

Check the Airflow

Look around and check all of the registers and returns in your home to ensure that they are open and not blocked. A sofa pushed up against or sitting on top of a return vent restricts the airflow through the furnace and throughout your home. If you have ductwork that can be inspected, check for any disconnections or leaks, which also hinder the furnace’s performance.

Trouble – Furnace Is Blowing, but No Heat

Check the Condensate Drain
The condensate drain may be clogged or restricted. Algae can build up and stop the flow of water. Clean out or flush the drain blockage to troubleshoot this issue.

Trouble – Furnace Is Making an Unusual Noise

Call a Technician

Could be a belt, a fan motor, a broken or loose part. There are many possibilities. Whether it’s clanking, squealing, thumping, etc., your furnace should not make unusual noises. In this case, call Getzschman so a technician can properly diagnose the problem.

If you try all of these tips and still have trouble, contact us online or call us at (402) 554-1110 today and one of our G-Force technicians will have that furnace up and running in no time!

Is Geothermal Energy the Future of Home Heating?

As scientists and policy makers gain knew knowledge about climate change, there’s increasing focus on developing and implementing eco-friendly ways of producing energy. One proposed and promoted solution is geothermal energy. In fact, quite a few homeowners already use this type of system to heat and cool their houses.

Are you curious about how viable geothermal energy is as an alternative to fossil-fuel-generated electricity or natural gas heating? Consider this blog your introductory course: Geothermal Heating 101.

How Geothermal Heating Works

Did you know that soil around your home contains heat? While this soil isn’t nearly as warm as the layers of magma deep inside the earth, it still holds onto plenty of heat energy. Also, that warm layer of dirt (and sometimes water) keeps a consistent temperature, about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter the season of the year or the changes in the weather.

Given the constant temperature of the ground beneath our feet, scientists and engineers have figured out ways to use that heat as a source of energy. For homeowners, the most important use involves installing geothermal heat pumps. These heating systems transfer heat between the ground and a building such as your home. The heat pump replaces your traditional HVAC system and can both warm and cool your house.

It’s important to understand that geothermal heat pumps are distinct from geothermal power. To install a heat pump, a trained technician places pipes in a relatively shallow area beneath the ground. In a horizontal system, the pipes typically lie no more than 10 feet underground. In a vertical system, the pipes may extend down several hundred feet.

In contrast, geothermal power setups use hot underground rocks to transform water into steam. The steam then turns a generator and produces electricity. Generating electricity with this method requires holes that extend much deeper into the earth’s surface, usually about a mile or more down. This blog focuses on geothermal heat pumps, not geothermal power.

Benefits of Geothermal Heating

Geothermal heat pumps have many benefits for homeowners who choose to install them. These benefits include all of the following:

  • Renewable energy source. Unlike coal and natural gas, which are often burned to generate electricity, geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy. This amount of energy available from this source does not deplete when we use it, and the ground regularly absorbs more heat energy from the rays of the sun. This renewability makes geothermal heat pumps sustainable.
  • Efficient energy use. According to an article on Energy.gov, geothermal heat pumps use significantly less electricity than comparable systems-25 to 50 percent less. (That small amount of electricity moves the heat transfer liquid through the system’s pipes.) Consequently, geothermal heat pumps have a smaller carbon footprint than HVAC systems and boilers.
  • Humidity control. The amount of water in the air, or the relative humidity, affects how cold or hot air feels. In addition to heating or cooling your home, a geothermal heat pump also influences the relative humidity indoors, helping your house maintain a more consistent and comfortable temperature.
  • Durability. Although geothermal heat pumps are a relatively new technology, they have a long working life. This longevity occurs because the system has few moving parts, meaning less wear and tear overall. Plus, most of the system (except the parts underground) is placed inside your home, rather than outside where weather or vandalism could damage it. These systems can easily last 20 years or longer.

Based on these benefits, it’s easy to see why scientists, government agencies, and home heating professionals consider geothermal heat pumps a viable way to reduce our reliance on less renewable forms of energy.

Costs and Considerations

Although geothermal heat pumps have many advantages, there are several factors that affect how quickly homeowners adopt this green form of heating and cooling:

  • Installation price. The price to install a geothermal heat pump is higher than the price to install more traditional heating systems, such as furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners. However, the higher initial investment can be made up in lower utility bills. Energy.gov estimates that for many who switch to geothermal heat pumps, the installation costs can be recovered in 2 to 10 years.
  • Retrofitting. For homeowners who live in a house that is already several years old, switching to a geothermal heat pump may seem inconvenient. Installing a heat pump involves digging into soil and disturbing existing landscaping. However, these systems can be retrofitted into existing houses, and some only affect a small portion of the home’s yard space.

While a geothermal heat pump may not be within the budget of every homeowner right now, many are likely to adopt this technology in the next several years, including homeowners who live in existing houses.

Geothermal Heating in the Future

As people continue to search for greener, renewable forms of energy, geothermal heating looks to become a
major player. More than a million geothermal heat pumps already operate within the United States, and these systems can be installed practically everywhere.

Are you curious about how your home would benefit from a geothermal heat pump? Speak to the professionals at Getzchman-we proudly consult with homeowners who are interested in this cutting-edge heating and cooling method.

Furnace Filters: Just the Facts, Ma’am

Furnace Filter PicAs a homeowner, you depend on your furnace to regulate a comfortable temperature for you and your family. This is especially true as the winter months draw nearer. But what can you do to maintain your system’s integrity between those all-important professional tune-ups? The answer: regularly change your furnace filter! Read on for more important furnace filter facts from the team at Getzschman.

Related Read: 3 Tips for Preparing Your AC for Fall

What Is a Furnace Filter?

If you have a furnace, you have a filter. This fiberglass sheet has one purpose, to filter the air that flows through your return ducts. You see, your furnace draws in air through these return ducts, warms it, and blows it back out as heated air. Of course, air is not the only thing the return duct sucks in… dust, hair, and other airborne particles also get swept up, but they are stopped from affecting the blower fan by (you guessed it!) your filter.

Why Do I Need to Change My Filter?

Changing your filter is an integral step in ensuring your furnace is running efficiently. Too much particle buildup will force your furnace to work harder in order to pull air through the intake. There are also some filters that help improve the air quality in your home by removing pollen and bacteria from the air. The bottom line: too much buildup could prevent your filter from doing its job and cause your system to shut down.

Related Read: What Will Be Trapped All Winter in Your House with You?

How Often Should I Change My Furnace Filter?

This question is best answered by your furnace user manual. Recommendations may also vary depending on what kind of filter you use, how many pets you have, if you suffer from allergies, etc. If you use disposable filters, it is generally recommended that you change them once a month. Pleated filters typically have a longer lifespan and last anywhere from three months up to a year.

What Kind of Furnace Filter Should I Buy?

There are several kinds of furnace filters available and it depends on the machine you have and the strength of filtration you are hoping to achieve. As mentioned above, pleated filters tend to last longer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use them. If you are looking for the cheapest option, fiberglass disposable filters are your answer. It should be noted, however, that fiberglass filters are much less sturdy and typically have lower ratings (remove fewer particles) than pleated filters.

Related Read: Allergens in Your Home and How to Get Them Out

Ratings? What Ratings?

That’s right! Filters have efficiency ratings too. It’s not related to the efficiency of your furnace, but a clean filter will certainly help keep your furnace’s efficiency rating up as well. Filters are given Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings. These ratings measure the “worst-case efficiency performance” or how well the filter can still perform while choked in dust. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the efficiency.

If you have any questions about your furnace or filter, please contact us today! And don’t forget that the G-Force team is available for all of your heating and cooling needs. Just give us a call at (402) 554-1110.