ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for September, 2012

Heating Tip: Troubleshooting Boiler Problems

Monday, September 24th, 2012

If you have a boiler in your Coeur d’Alene home, whether it’s five years old or thirty-five years old, it’s important that you know how to troubleshoot common problems that might develop. These issues, when they occur persistently can represent a major issue with your system that could lead to extensive repair needs or early replacement. By noticing and responding to potential problems when they first occur, you can take action before the problem worsens.

Here are some common boiler problems and how to respond to them, whether taking action on your own or calling an ACI Northwest heating professional:

*  No Heat – This can be due to a number of problems. Start by checking your circuit breaker panel to see if a breaker is flipped. You should also check the pilot light and igniter to see if it works properly. If these are not problems and your thermostat is working properly, it may be a water or gas issue and you should call a professional.

*  Poor Performance – If your boiler is on a lot more than normal or your home simply isn’t getting comfortable, it can be due to improper water levels or a build up of minerals in the boiler. In either case, you should call a professional for an inspection.

*  Water Leak – If you notice water in or around your boiler, it can be due to a bad pump, valve or pipe connection. If it is a water pipe connection and you can find the source, call a plumber immediately. For any components related to your boiler, call an HVAC technician.

*  Radiators Not Heating – If your radiator is not getting hot, it may be because of trapped air in the line or because of air trapped in your radiator. Open the bleed valve to release excess air and see if it works. If not, it could be a bad zone valve or circulator and additional service may be needed.

The bottom line for most boiler issues is that a seemingly small problem can turn into a much large issue if not dealt with quickly. Follow the tips above and when you’re not sure or if work needs to be done on the actual boiler, call a Coeur d’Alene heating professional right away.

If you have any concerns or would like to schedule a boiler inspection, give ACI Northwest a call today!

Continue Reading

Heating Question: What is AFUE and Why Should I Care?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

There are quite a few numbers attached to the components of your home’s heating system. One number that you’ll see a lot when looking for a new home heating system is AFUE. Used to describe the efficiency of gas furnaces, AFUE is an important measurement that can affect both the cost of installation and the cost of operating your furnace over time.

What AFUE Means

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and refers to how much fuel a device consumes per year compared to how much heat it produces in that same period of time. This is often averaged over the course of a full  year to account for extreme conditions.

Effectively, what AFUE measures is the percentage of fuel consumed by your furnace that is converted into heat. So, if your furnace burns 1 therm of natural gas, how much heat energy is produced from that combustion? The closer it gets to 1 therm of energy, the higher the percentage.

How Much AFUE Is Good?

Modern furnaces range between 80% AFUE and 98% AFUE. The lowest legally allowed furnaces on the market carry a rating of 80% which is still quite good if you consider that most systems build in the 1970s and 1980s have ratings below 70%. So, if you have an older system in your Spokane home, you can almost guarantee that even the most basic replacement furnace will save you money on your heating bills.

At the same time, if you can afford the top of the line, today’s high end gas furnaces offer near perfect conversion of fuel into heat, with exceptional 97% and 98% AFUE ratings. These devices cost more to install, but the lifetime savings on your energy bills are such that they are often well worth paying that higher installation cost for. In fact, they often pay for themselves in 10 years or less, making them a good fit for anyone eager to cut their heating bills by as much as possible.

If you’re looking to upgrade your furnace, give ACI Northwest a call today! Our heating technicians are experts in furnace installation and repair.

Continue Reading

Heating Guide: How to Get Your Furnace Ready For Winter

Monday, September 10th, 2012

As the weather gets cold outside we need to warm the inside of our Coeur d’Alene homes. So for a warm inside we need to a well-maintained furnace. Here are a few tips to maintain your furnace so that it can keep your house warm and comfortable all winter long.

Guideline #1: Clean or replace the filter

The flow of heated air from the furnace is restricted by clogging in the filter, which makes your furnace work harder and release less heat. Simply cleaning this on a regular basis can greatly increase the effectiveness and energy efficiency of your furnace.

Guideline #2: Blower motor and blower belt

The operating time of a furnace may be increased due to loose belts, which lead to less heat being produced. Thus, replacing broken or frayed belts and oiling the motor with a few drops of lubricant will smoothen it and make it work more efficiently.

Guideline #3: Blower doors replacement

The replacement of the blower doors must be done properly to ensure healthy circulation of air in the house. These doors help keep the harmful gases such as carbon monoxide from entering the air circulation in your house.

Guideline #4: Check the vents of the house

The air in the house should be circulated well and easily through the vents. The furnace may not work properly if the flow of hot air is blocked by anything from furniture to debris.

Guideline #5:  The flue

Check the flue cap that is located near the furnace and carefully examine the outside with the help of the flue cap. Make sure the flue cap is replaced properly. If the furnace is in a closet, there should be enough ventilation, preferably in the form of direct vents to the outside to allow for efficient combustion.

Guideline #6: All flammable objects to be kept away from furnace

Flammable objects should not be placed near the furnace or water heater. Boxes, clothes, paints, gasoline, aerosols and similar items are most likely to catch fire if kept near furnace.

The above mentioned guidelines will definitely help you keep your furnace clean and in good working condition so you shouldn’t face a problem in the winter months ahead.

To schedule a heating maintenance visit in Coeur d’Alene today, give ACI Northwest a call!

Continue Reading

Electrical Question: How Often Should I Check and/or Replace My Smoke Detectors?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The smoke detectors in your home are immensely important. They are the first and oftentimes only line of defense you have against a fire in your home. You need to know they will work at all times so it is important to check them regularly and have them replaced on a rotating schedule.

 When to Check Your Smoke Detectors

You should check the batteries in your smoke detectors once every 6 months – often daylight savings time is a good day on which to do this because it occurs roughly every 6 months. You can also check them more often if they do not have an electrical backup source and are therefore using battery power constantly. The packaging instructions will likely recommend a time at which to have them checked.

It is also recommended to have backup smoke detectors (as well as CO detectors) that are on a slightly different schedule so that if a malfunction occurs, you know you will still have protection.

 When Is It Time to Replace Your Smoke Detectors?

Most smoke detectors have a natural lifespan of 3-6 years. At the end of that lifespan, the device will beep in a certain configuration that means it no longer works. If this happens, you should replace yours right away. To avoid a situation in which the system doesn’t warn you before it breaks down, consider having your smoke detectors replaced even more often – upwards of once every 2-3 years.

Whatever your Spokane home’s smoke detectors’ specifications, it is vital to have them properly maintained and swiftly replaced according to their manufacturer designated schedules. This is a device that will keep you alive in the event of a fire so be prepared. If you need any help with your home’s smoke detectors, give ACI Northwest a call!

Continue Reading