ACI Northwest Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Furnace’

How To Decide on a Heater for Your Home

Monday, January 20th, 2020

couple-making-decisionHaving a reliable heater in Spokane isn’t really up for debate. It is a necessity. So when your heating system gives up the ghost, it is never an issue you can ignore. The bigger problem here is having to decide on which new heater you should install.

Maybe you are already set on what system you’d like to install or maybe you are struggling with your options. We want to help in either case. We have put together a list of the different heater types you should know about along with the factors that you will need to remember when selecting a unit for your home. Because let’s be honest, no one wants to shiver all day long but suffering inside a stuffy home is just as bad.

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Upflow vs. Downflow Furnace: What’s the Difference?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

There are a lot of choices when it comes to installing a furnace, and one of the choices has to do with how the warm air will flow from your furnace. It may seem like a small detail, but the way the air flows – either up or down – directly affects the placement of your furnace. If you are looking to install a new furnace for this winter’s heating, it’s important to know some basic functions of a furnace so that you can make an informed decision. Working with trained heating professionals in Coeur d’Alene, like the ones at ACI Northwest, helps to ensure that you install a heating system that fits your home and your needs, so call us today.

Upflow Furnace

An upflow furnace takes in air from the bottom of the unit, warms it in the heat exchanger, and then blows it upward into the ductwork of your home. Upflow furnaces need to be placed in a basement or crawlspace to be energy efficient, as they work on the principle that warm air rises. Some of the benefits of an upflow furnace are:

  • Better energy efficiency – because heat rises, upflow furnaces tend to be more energy efficient than downflow ones.
  • Comfort – upflow furnaces heat from the floor up, and many people find this a little more comfortable than from the ceiling down.
  • No need for extra flooring – upflow furnaces can rest directly on the concrete of your basement; with a downflow system, flooring needs to be reinforced, as downflow systems are typically placed in attics.

Downflow Furnace

As you may have guessed, a downflow furnace takes in air at the top of the cabinet, warms it, and then disperses it down into your home’s ductwork. As such, the placement of a downflow furnace is commonly in attic space, although it can also be placed in a garage or on the main level of a home. Some of the challenges with a downflow furnace are that installation can be more complicated, as there are stricter requirements for downflow furnaces (they also need reinforced subflooring), and they fight the natural tendency of hot air to rise. However, not all homes have a basement or crawlspace, so the benefit of a downflow furnace is that it fits with every kind of home.

Understanding your choices can help you choose a heating system that best fits your home. Call ACI Northwest today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

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Furnace Tip: Take Care of Your Furnace Before the Heating Season Ends

Monday, May 6th, 2013

During the heating season in Spokane, WA, you put your home heating system under a lot of stress. All of that use can really take a toll on your heater. Many people understand that they should have their furnace inspected and maintained regularly. What many homeowners fail to realize, though, is that their furnace should be serviced at the end of the heating season, as well as beforehand. If you think that your furnace can just be shut off and forgotten about after a season of operation, think again. Contact the furnace pros at ACI Northwest to learn more.

Towards the end of the heating season, your furnace has seen a lot of action. Over the course of operation, some general wear and tear has no doubt built up. While it may be tempting to think that you’ll just take care of it at the start of the next heating season, this is just not a good idea. What happens if a sudden cold snap hits after a week or two of mild temperatures? Have you ever gone for a long run or bike ride without stretching before or after? Getting up the next morning may not have been a pleasant experience. If your heating system is compromised and then given some time off, you cannot expect it to jump right back to action again, whether it has been a week or an entire season.

Plus, there are a number of components that your heating and air conditioning systems share, such as your thermostat and ductwork. By having any damages that may have developed over the course of the heating season resolved, you can begin the process of getting your cooling system ready for summer. Not to mention the fact that, if there is a problem with the gas supply or pilot in your furnace, you should not be waiting months to have it addressed. You may not notice it in the off season.

For more tips on how to care for your furnace, call the Spokane, WA heating experts at ACI Northwest. We have all the information you need. Let us help you protect your comfort and your HVAC equipment.

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Furnace Tip: How To Get The Best Performance Out of Your Furnace

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Of all the home heating options available in the Spokane area, furnaces are one of the most popular. The great efficiency that furnaces are known for and the comfortable, even heating they provide with a professional installation has garnered them quite a reputation. Many homeowners do not enjoy the full potential of their furnaces, though, and oftentimes this is due to the fact that the make errors in the way in which they operate their furnace. Follow these simple tips from the furnace experts at ACI Northwest to get the best performance possible from your furnace.

First of all, make sure that you understand how to use your thermostat properly. Many homeowners either fiddle around with their thermostat too much or do not utilize capabilities such as programmability and wind up getting a less efficient performance from their furnace as a result. Take the time to read your owner’s manual and use your thermostat properly for increased heating efficiency.

It is also important that you keep the duct registers and grills that your duct system uses to distribute air throughout your home free of blockages. Furniture shifts around, and your furnace will have a much more difficult time circulating air throughout your home if it is trying to do so through a sofa. Allowing for open, easy airflow reduces the wear and tear on your furnace as well as energy expenditure. That can help reduce your energy bills at the same time.

By far the best tip that anyone can give you when it comes to your furnace is to schedule regular, professional maintenance service. There is no better way for you to keep your furnace working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Give your local heating technician a chance to tune up your furnace and enjoy the most reliable service that your furnace can offer. Schedule routine maintenance to heat your home with confidence.

Call the Spokane furnace experts at ACI Northwest to improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which your furnace works. Contact ACI Northwest today for more information. Your comfort is our top priority, and we look forward to the opportunity of improving your home heating experience.

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Heating FAQ: How Are Furnace BTUs Measured?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

One question that we get from customers on a regular basis is how to size a furnace and how BTUs are measured to help determine the right size. Your furnace’s heating capacity is measured by a unit called a “British Thermal Unit” (BTU). A BTU unit is essentially a measurement determined by the amount of heat it would take to heat one pound of water by one degree; therefore, the BTU capacity for a furnace can help determine fuel costs by converting it into cost per 1000 BTUs.

When you are comparing furnace models, you should see a BTU number provided in the general information section. You’ll also see AC capacity measured in BTUs, but there are variations in the calculations according to whether you are purchasing a heating or cooling system.

The type of fuel will have an effect as well. For instance, natural gas is usually metered in CCF (hundreds of cubic feet) of energy consumption, so about one thousand BTUs of natural gas is provided by 1 cubic foot, so when you divide the cost of the fuel by 1000 BTUs of propane heat you can determine how cost-effective it will be to run a furnace on natural gas. Propane would require the same type of formula. Only combustible fuels are measured in BTUs. Determining the cost of an electric furnace will involve other factors.

Here are some additional factors to consider when sizing according to BTU output for a particular furnace model:

  • Location, size, and layout of the home.
  • How well the home is insulated and sealed.
  • The amount of natural light the home gets in the winter.
  • How many rooms require heating.
  • Ventilation and moisture levels.
  • Condition of all other heating components and equipment in the home.

For new home constructions, you’ll need to work with your builder to help determine square footage and the other factors mentioned above before choosing a furnace. Having the right furnace size is vital to maintaining high performance and efficiency levels.

Don’t hesitate to call the Spokane furnace experts at ACI NORTHWEST if you have any questions about selecting the right furnace for your home.

Call ACI Northwest for all your Spokane heating questions and services. Whether you want to know more about sizing a new heating system, or you would like to discuss your options for replacing your furnace, one of our friendly staff members will be glad to help you out.

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A Question from Worley: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

When researching your Worley home’s furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

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How a Furnace Works: Some Pointers from Bayview

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of Bayview homeowners probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.

The most common furnace is fueled by natural gas but there are other examples of heating equipment such as boilers, electric baseboard, or geothermal. But let’s look at how a gas furnace works since natural gas is found in most U.S. households. Gas furnaces use natural gas or propane to provide energy used for generating heat.

When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.

Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.

Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.

Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.

In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.

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Common Furnace Problems: A Tip From Harrison

Friday, October 7th, 2011

When it comes to the furnace in your Harrison home, you simply want it to work all of the time. But just like any other piece of equipment, your furnace will have problems from time to time. A few of these are relatively simple to fix on your own, but for the most part you’ll need to call in someone to take care of the repairs for you.

However, before you can do that, you’ll need to recognize that a problem exists at all. And the earlier you notice the warning signs, the better off you’ll be. It’s always better to get a furnace problem taken care of right away than to wait until your furnace stops working completely.

It’s also good to remember that quite often the problems you’re having with your furnace are really originating with your thermostat. This is usually welcome news, as thermostats are much cheaper and easier to repair and replace than many other parts of your furnace. In fact, even if your furnace isn’t working at all, it may only be the result of a faulty thermostat.

Another problem you may start to notice is that one part of your house is being warmed more than another part. When this happens, it can be a sign that there is something wrong with the furnace, but it may also be that the pressure in your duct system is not balanced properly. A simple rebalancing of this system can have your house heating evenly again in no time.

You may also realize that your furnace seems to be cycling on and off too often. When a furnace is working properly, it will come on for a considerable period of time and then shut off until the temperature in the house drops below the desired level. However, some problems can cause your furnace to complete many short cycles rather than fewer short ones.

If this is happening to your furnace, there are several possible causes. Something might be wrong with the blower on the furnace or the thermostat might not be feeding the furnace the correct information. Another possibility is that your furnace’s air filter is dirty or clogged.

While there are sometimes simple and straightforward solutions to these types of common furnace problems, it’s best to call in a professional to have them take a look if you’re not sure where to start searching for a problem. In most cases you’ll need them to come out and make the necessary repairs anyway.

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