Self HVAC Home Comfort Tips

HVAC Home Tips For Atlanta Homeowners

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Heating and Cooling Basics

There’s a lot to know when it comes to heating and cooling and with all the abbreviations and acronyms, the alphabet soup can seem too much to swallow. We hope this glossary of terms makes it all a bit easier to digest.

Repair Or Replace

Older furnaces are, unsurprisingly, less efficient. The average lifespan of a furnace is about 20 years. Depending on how much fuel your furnace wastes, you can calculate how much money you’re unnecessarily spending every month. The AFUE number describes the percentage of fuel consumed and how much is wasted. If you don’t know your furnace’s AFUE rating, you can call the manufacturer with your serial number to find out. The significantly lower energy bills that come with a newer, more efficient furnace can help you recoup the expense of replacing your system.

carrier dealer reparing equipment

The EPA recommends that you replace your air conditioner if it’s over 10 years old. A newer system will operate more efficiently and, in turn, can save you money on your energy bill. 

It might be time for a replacement if your old system:

  • Needs frequent repairs
  • Makes lots of noise
  • Scores below five on the EPA’s home assessment

Whether you decide to repair or replace, Self Heating and Cooling can help. 

Heating and Cooling Basics System types

System Types

SPLIT SYSTEM

A split system includes products that reside both inside and outside your home. This could include a furnace, evaporator coil and an air conditioner or a fan coil and heat pump system.

HYBRID-HEAT SPLIT SYSTEM

A system that consists of both a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. A hybrid-heat system gauges the outside air temperature and selects the fuel source that’s most cost-effective for the conditions. Despite its name, the heat pump can also work to cool the air.

DUCTLESS SPLIT SYSTEM

This specialty system is designed to heat or cool room additions or other places that may lack ductwork, such as home theaters, exercise rooms, garages or any other area where the existing system doesn’t quite cut it.

PACKAGED SYSTEMS

Some homes just don’t have space inside for a furnace or the coil needed for cooling. Packaged systems combine multiple components in a single unit that sits outside your home.

GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEM

Geothermal heat pumps tap into the consistent, moderate temperatures of the earth to heat or cool your home. Geothermal systems are among the most energy-efficient, cost-effective home comfort systems available today.

 
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Energy Efficiency

Despite the higher initial price, energy-efficient units invariably come with lower utility bills, helping you pay back your investment in only a few short years.

Basically, the higher the number, the higher the efficiency and the lower your long-term energy costs will be.

In January 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy enacted new minimum efficiency rating guidelines for split and packaged air conditioners, which vary by region (North, Southeast and Southwest). Please refer to the map and chart below, or talk to your local Carrier expert.

Energy standards map

SEER

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) indicates the cooling efficiency of air conditioner and heat pump systems. The higher the SEER number, the greater the efficiency and the greater the energy savings. All new products have a 13.0 SEER rating or better. At Carrier, we offer air conditioner and heat pump systems that can achieve SEER ratings of over 20.

AFUE

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) tells you how much of the fuel consumed by your furnace is used to heat your home and how much is wasted. The higher the AFUE number, the greater the efficiency. For example, a 90% rating means that 90% of the heat a furnace creates is used directly by the home while 10% is lost (usually through venting).

HSPF

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the heating efficiency of heat pumps. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency and the greater the cost savings. Today’s heat pumps must have a minimum rating of 7.7 HSPF.

EER

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) measures cooling efficiency and is calculated by dividing a product’s BTU output by the watts of power it uses. Generally, higher is better. (Noticing a trend here?)

COP

The Coefficient of Performance (COP) is used to measure certain heat pumps’ efficiencies while in heating mode. You’ll commonly see this measure applied to geothermal products. Like other efficiency ratings, higher is better.

 

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A damaged heat exchanger in a gas furnace is potentially dangerous to a home's occupants and should not be ignored. Broken and leaking heat exchangers are responsible for about 1,500 deaths per year in the United States, and many more people are poisoned by exposure to toxic gasses that go unfiltered by defective heat exchangers. It is impossible to determine if a heat exchanger is cracked solely by visual inspection, but these signs and symptoms can give you an idea of whether you should call a professional to inspect your furnace's heat exchanger.

Change in Flame Appearance
A correctly operating furnace has a clear, steady blue flame. A burner with a moving yellow flame can mean that the burner is dirty or that the heat exchanger is cracked. Flames that flicker or lean more as the house fan comes on (a couple of minutes after ignition), are possible signs of a cracked heat exchanger.
 
Cracks and Corrosion on Other Components
When the external components show signs of either minor or significant wear, the internal components could be damaged as well. Stress cracks can develop due to the components' expansion and contraction that occurs each time the furnace heats and cools. In addition, components can become corroded because of exposure to fumes that emit chloride or exposure to moisture from other sources.
 
Soot
The appearance of a black carbon buildup on the furnace interior is caused by a unit that does not burn cleanly. Soot can collect when combustion is incomplete. This can be caused by burners that are improperly adjusted or a cracked heat exchanger.
 
Unusual Aromas
A faulty heat exchanger will produce a strong and unpleasant odor that smells similar to formaldehyde. This odor alone can cause severe headaches and other physical symptoms in humans. If you smell a formaldehyde-like odor, you should immediately call a professional for a furnace inspection.
 
Other Physical Symptoms
Combustion gases leaking from a cracked heat exchanger can cause frequent headaches as well as flu-like symptoms. Combustion pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, can cause eye and nose irritation, disorientation, sleepiness and nausea. If you experience these symptoms only when you're at home and the symptoms abate when you leave your home, or if you share these symptoms with other people in your home, have the air quality of your home inspected immediately. Although these symptoms can have other sources, persistent symptoms may suggest a cracked heat exchanger.
 
If you notice any of these signs, please call us to schedule an appointment with one of our certified technicians today at 678-909-6377

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Heating systems are usually trouble-free and easy to maintain. Efficient operation is a function of good regular maintenance. No matter what type of furnace you have, there are several things you can do to keep your heating system in top condition. In this article, we will tell you how to service and troubleshoot your furnace, regardless of the type.

When a heating or cooling system malfunctions, any one of its three components -- heat/cold source, distribution system, or thermostat -- may be causing the problem. If the furnace or air conditioner doesn't run, the malfunction is probably at the source. The furnace or air conditioner may have lost power. Fuel may not be reaching the unit. If the fuel is gas or oil, it may not be igniting. If the furnace or air conditioner turns on but the warm or cool air isn't reaching the rooms of your home, the problem is likely to be the blower or distribution system. And a faulty control, or thermostat, could keep the system from turning on or could cause it to turn on and off repeatedly. Whatever the problem, start with the simplest procedures. In most cases, all it takes is patience and common sense. 

Before you start work on a heating or cooling system, take these preliminary steps:

  • Make sure the unit is receiving power. Look for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers at the main entrance panel. Some furnaces have a separate power entrance, usually located at a different panel near the main entrance panel. Some furnaces have fuses mounted in or on the unit.
  • If the unit has a reset button, marked RESET and near the motor housing, wait 30 minutes to let the motor cool, then press the button. If the unit still doesn't start, wait 30 minutes and press the reset button again. Repeat at least once more.
  • If the unit has a separate power switch, make sure the switch is turned on.
  • Check to make sure the thermostat is properly set. If necessary, raise (or, for an air conditioner, lower) the setting 5º.
  • If the unit uses gas, check to make sure the gas supply is turned on and the pilot light is lit. If it uses oil, check to make sure there is an adequate supply of oil.

There are also several important safety factors to remember:

  • Before doing any work on any type of heating or cooling system, make sure all power to the system is turned off. At the main electrical entrance panel, trip the circuit breaker or remove the fuse that controls the power to the unit. If you're not sure which circuit the system is on, remove the main fuse or trip the main circuit breaker to cut off all power to the house. Some furnaces have a separate power entrance, usually at a different panel near the main entrance panel. If a separate panel is present, remove the fuse or trip the breaker there.
  • If the fuse blows or the circuit trips repeatedly when the furnace or air conditioner turns on, there is a problem in the electrical system. In this case, do not try to fix the furnace. Call a professional service person.
  • If the unit uses gas and there is a smell of gas in your home, do not try to shut off the gas or turn any lights on or off. Get out of the house, leaving the door open, and immediately call the gas company or the fire department to report a leak. Do not reenter your home.
  • To keep your heating and cooling systems in top shape, have them professionally serviced once a year. The best time to have a furnace serviced is at the end of the heating season. Because this is the off-season, you can often get a discount, and service is likely to be prompt. Have your air conditioner checked at the same time.

Dirt is the biggest enemy of your home's heating and cooling system. It can waste fuel and drastically lower efficiency. Dirt affects all three basic components of the system, so cleaning is the most important part of regular maintenance. Lubrication and belt adjustment at the furnace are also important. Have your unit regularly serviced. Call us today to hear about specials and our semi-annual maintenance contract. Self Heating and Cooling 678-909-6377

 

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Troubleshooting your furnace blower motor

A furnace blower motor is one of the most important components in your gas or oil furnace. Consider that the purpose of gas furnace is to warm the home, and realize that it is the blower motor that actually takes that heat and directs it from the very isolated, insulated furnace and in to the actual home. If you’re having problems with the blower motor, you’re not only left wanting for heating in your home, but you’re wasting energy as any gas you burn and heat your furnace creates that isn’t actually channeled in to the house that needs it is pointless.

Basic Troubleshooting

One of the most common problems is that the blower motor makes a humming sound. If this is the case, then the first thing you should do is turn off your motor and allow it to cool. When it has cooled down to a safe temperature, check the motor. Like with many devices that are in motion regularly, the humming could be the result of something as simple as improper lubrication.

To determine if this why your blower motor hums, try lubricating the motor but don’t overdo it. Then restart the blower motor and listen. If the hum persists, then so do you.

Humming at Slow Speeds

When your furnace blower has warmed your house to the set temperature, it begins to run on a slower speed. This is a normal energy saving mechanism that the motor is supposed to employ. But if your blower motor slows down unusually and makes a humming sound when it has slowed down, it might be due to a fault in the capacitor and the motor.

Check your motors amperage draw using a tool that reads electrical current such as a multi meter and then check the rating on the plate of your motor to see how much is required. If the draw is more than the required amount, it’s an indication that your motor is working extra hard just to work normally. You will have to replace the motor and the capacitor. This problem in your blower motor may have been caused by dust and dirt in your filter. An unclean and blocked filter makes the motor work harder to push out air. Make sure you check and clean the filter regularly to avoid this kind of problem from recurring.

 Motor Humming Without Turning

If your furnace blower motor hums when it’s switched on but at the same time does not actually turn, the capacitor may be damaged. This problem of getting a humming noise along with little to no spinning is very common with motors that do not have good quality capacitors. You should replace the capacitor with a good one and the blower motor will work smoothly. Once again, this may initially trace back to a simple blocked filter.

If your motor does not run even after replacing the capacitor, it is most likely that the unit overheated. You should reset the safety buttons located at the side of the unit.

Humming When the Blower is Off

This is usually caused by the wrong adjustment of the pilot light of your blower. Readjusting it to an appropriate level should solve this issue.

Humming When the Blower is On

If your gas burners are dirty, they will give out a low sound that may sound like something between a low rumble and a hum. Cleaning, adjusting or replacing them will make the irritating sound go away.

If you don't feel comfortable performing the diagnostic steps, please give us a call, so one of our trained technicians can make sure your system is running safely and efficiently. Self Heating and Cooling 678-909-6377

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Every year, when the weather turns cold, homeowners reach for household thermostats and turn on their heat. Most people give little thought to whether the furnace exhaust system – the chimney and connector pipe – is ready to provide safe, effective service. Annual maintenance of your heating system can determine if the flue pipe and furnace are safe for use. We also recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home and ensuring they are working properly before turning on your furnace.
Here's is a helpful guide to buying carbon monoxide detectors for your home. 
 
 
 
Call Self Heating and Cooling to schedule your furnace routine maintenance and make sure your flue pipe is safe for the coming winter season. 

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1700 Cumberland Point Dr
Marietta, GA. 30067
Phone: (678) 909-6377
Fax: (678) 909-6378
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