ACI Northwest Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Furnaces’

Understanding Upflow and Downflow Furnaces

Monday, March 27th, 2023

There are so many things to take into consideration when you’re purchasing a new furnace. What size do you need to keep your whole home cozy? What fuel will it use and is there anything you have to do to get that fuel, such as having your home connected to natural gas lines? How efficient is it and how much will it cost to run? One thing that you should definitely decide early in the furnace-shopping process is whether to get an upflow or downflow furnace.

What are the differences? What would be the reasons for choosing one over the other? Here is a primer for you so you can determine which makes the most sense for your home.

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5 Factors that Go into Sizing a New Furnace

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Finding a furnace that is just right for your home is more difficult than it seems. You might think that most furnaces operate about the same, but one that is just a tad too small or too large can run into some difficulties. These difficulties might not be noticeable at first, but your heating costs can become increasingly high due to the excessive run times of an over- or undersized furnace, and the system is likely to fail before its usual lifespan.

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Here’s How Your Furnace Really Works

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Many people don’t realize that furnaces have undergone quite a few changes over the last few decades. Because some people hold on to their furnaces for much longer than is recommended, they often believe that you must light the pilot light before making use of a furnace for the winter. While this may be true of furnaces and wall units that are decades old, modern-day furnaces do not have this kind of pilot light, which means they are much more efficient.

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A Common Heating System Misconception: Standing Pilots No Longer the Norm

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Lighting the gas furnace pilot light before the winter began used to be an annual ritual for most homeowners. But today, fewer and fewer people have to deal with this task. In fact, for the most part, heating systems are no longer manufactured with standing gas pilots, and it would be tough to find one even if you really wanted it. Learn why the standing gas pilot has been largely phased out in this guide, and find out how replacing a furnace with this feature is a good choice for your home.

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The Pros and Cons of Installing a Gas Furnace

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

It’s the most common type of whole-home heating system found in homes in this country today. The gas furnace uses an ignition system to ignite natural gas, and this combustion process sends heat to a heat exchanger within the system. A blower fan moves air over the heat exchanger, and heat transfers to the air, which then moves through the ducts to the rooms of the home. This type of system is right for many homeowners, but today’s homeowners also have the option of choosing an electric furnace, boiler, radiant system, heat pump, or geothermal unit. Is a gas furnace right for you?

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How a Clogged Air Filter can Cause Furnace Problems

Friday, March 13th, 2015

The air filter is a relatively small part of the overall structure of a furnace. It is basically just a woven mesh, stretched over a frame and installed in the air return duct. Despite its small and simple construction, however, the air filter plays a very important role. Let’s take a look at how the air filter works, and why neglecting yours could lead to problems with your furnace.

The Role of the Air Filter

There is a lot of dust and other debris that is frequently circulated through the ductwork of a home. If that debris is allowed to infiltrate the furnace, it can cause all sorts of havoc with the system. The air filter is there to prevent that from happening. As the air from the ducts flows into the furnace, any airborne debris is captured in the fibers of the filter. The air itself passes through the filter and into the furnace, now free of harmful debris.

There is one problem with these air filters, however: they have no way to rid themselves of the particles they capture. This means that if they are not cleaned or replaced every few months, they can become so clogged that they restrict the flow of air into the furnace. That’s where things start becoming problematic.

Furnace Issues

There’s one very big problem resulting from clogged air filters that you should be aware of: short-cycling. This is when your furnace keeps turning itself on and off over and over again throughout the day. When the air filter restricts airflow into the furnace, heat becomes trapped inside the unit. When that happens, the internal temperature of the furnace rises to dangerous levels. This activates the limit switch, a safety device that monitors the temperature of the furnace. The limit switch shuts down the system to prevent it from damaging itself by overheating.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the original problem. When the furnace cools off enough to start again, the clogged air filter causes it to overheat again and the short-cycling repeats indefinitely. This puts the entire system under a lot more strain than it is designed to handle, increasing the likelihood of a breakdown. If allowed to continue for a long enough period of time, short-cycling may damage the furnace beyond repair.

If you notice your furnace short-cycling, call ACI Northwest immediately. We provide furnace repair services throughout Sandpoint.

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What’s at Risk with a Poor Furnace Installation?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Today’s furnaces are very energy efficient and durable – but you won’t see these benefits or be comfortable in your home if your furnace isn’t installed correctly. Any home heating system should always be installed by a trained and certified professional to ensure proper installation. Multiple problems and even some risks can develop when your furnace isn’t installed correctly. If you are ready for a new heating installation and have chosen a furnace, take the next right step and hire a trained expert from ACI Northwest to install your new system.

Problems with Poor Installation

Here are some examples of problems that can develop when your furnace is installed poorly:

  • Fuel leaks – combustion furnaces have to be connected to a fuel source in order to work. Should this connection be performed incorrectly, you could be looking at issues with fuel leaks. Any kind of fuel leakage is a serious problem, and one that won’t occur with a trained expert.
  • Electrical issues – if you have an electric furnace, the furnace needs to draw considerable power from your home’s electrical box, so it will have to be connected to the electrical box by a breaker. If the breaker isn’t installed correctly, or is too small, it will trip constantly, affecting the operation of your electric furnace.
  • Problems with ductwork – furnaces need to be connected directly to your ductwork so that the heat can be blown into your home. This connection has to be sealed so that the air can make it through the ductwork as needed. If this connection isn’t made correctly, or the connection isn’t sealed, you could lose a great deal of heating.
  • Poor energy efficiency – if the system is installed incorrectly, it may not work as it is supposed to. This can put stress on the system, which forces it to work harder. Anytime a heating system works harder, it uses more energy.

Working with a trained expert from start to finish helps ensure that your furnace will be installed correctly and work just as it should. If you need help with your heating installation in Spokane, call ACI Northwest today!

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Common Problems with Furnace Air Handlers

Friday, December 5th, 2014

All furnaces have air handlers, also known as blowers, which push the warm air into your home. These large fans have several moving parts, so at some point during your ownership, you may have to repair your blower. A number of problems can develop with your furnace air handler, so it’s best to allow a trained technician handle any problem that may develop with your blower. The experts at ACI Northwest can handle any heating repair you may have, so if you are experiencing a problem with your heating, call us today!

Common Blower Problems

Here are some of the more common problems our technicians see regarding furnace air handlers:

  • Worn/broken belts – it is important that your blower rotate at the rate is was made to in order to maintain proper air flow; the fan belt is a critical part of this process. When the belt becomes loose, wears out or breaks, it needs to be replaced. Wearing belts may make a screeching noise, so if you hear this sound, call for a technician.
  • Problems with fan blades – fan blades can become loose or even break during use. While your fan can still operate with a bent or broken blade, they can cause damage to other parts of your system.
  • Motor issues – your motor can overheat, experience electrical problems or loose lubrication, which can cause the moving parts to grind. Sometimes fan motors can be repaired, but other times replacement may be required.
  • Electrical problems – relays, frayed or corroded wiring or a stuck limit switch can cause electrical problems that affect the operation of the fan and motor. It can be challenging to locate an electrical issue, so it’s best to allow a trained expert to detect the problem and repair it.

If your furnace is turning on but you find yourself without heat or with a serious decrease in the volume of heat coming into your home, you may have an issue with your air handler. It’s always best to have a professional handle any repairs you have. Call ACI Northwest to schedule heating repair service in Spokane today!

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Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces: Which Is Better?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

A furnace is an efficient, reliable way to heat a home. When choosing a new heater, the first step is deciding which type of system is best for your house: a boiler, furnace, or heat pump. And if you’ve already decided that you want a furnace installed in your home, the next question involves which type of power source to use: gas or electric?

Many homeowners wonder whether a gas furnace or an electric furnace is a “better” choice. Often, however, the question is not this simple. In many homes, a gas furnace may be the best option, but in some cases an electric unit may be a better choice, or possibly the only option available.

Making the Decision

Gas and electric furnaces both distribute heat in the same way. A blower moves the warm air through the ducts and into your home. However, the two generate heat much differently. A gas furnace uses an igniter to create heat in a combustion chamber. An electric model instead generates heat with a current that runs through series of electric heating coils which heat the air as it moves past.

In general, people choose gas furnaces over electric furnaces because they are less expensive to run. In most areas, the cost of electricity is simply too high to justify purchasing an electric model, and operating a gas furnace will save a lot of money over time. However, there are some homeowners who don’t have access to a gas line. And there are a few more advantages to electric models. The initial cost of electric units is usually lower, and they are safer to run since they pose no risk of gas leaks.

Other Considerations

Deciding whether to purchase a gas or electric model is not the only choice you will need to make. You should look into the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of your unit to find out how much energy your unit uses to heat your home and how much is lost during operation. Proper sizing is also key to ensuring an efficient system. Talk over your concerns with an expert, like the folks at ACI Northwest. To find out more about professional heating services in Coeur d’Alene, call us today!

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3 Key Furnace Safety Features

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Furnaces have an underserved reputation among heating systems for poor safety, particularly gas-powered furnaces. There is no question that carbon monoxide leaks are dangerous, and faulty wiring on an electrical furnace might lead to a fire. However, these occurrences are rare because furnaces have safety features to prevent hazards. If you keep your furnace well maintained, it should pose no more danger to you than any other comfort system.

Rely on ACI Northwest for the maintenance and heating repair in Spokane, WA that will keep your furnace in the safety zone.

Here are three key safety features we’d like to highlight:

  1. Thermocouple/mercury sensor: A potential safety hazard in a furnace that uses a pilot light is that the pilot light might go out and stop burning the gas from the burners. If this happens, gas will flood the combustion chamber, and then a single spark could cause an explosion. To prevent this, the gas valve is hooked to a device called a thermocouple, which records the heat coming from the pilot light. If the pilot light goes out, the electric current in the thermocouple stops, causing the gas valve to close. Recent furnaces use a mercury sensor to perform the same job.
  2. Limit switch: This device serves a function similar to the thermocouple/mercury sensor. It is located just below the plenum of the furnace and detects its temperature. If the plenum grows too hot, the limit switch shuts off the burner to prevent flames from getting outside the cabinet. The limit switch can be adjusted, but we do not advise you do this on your own: let a technician decide the best setting for it.
  3. Circuit breakers: For electric furnaces, the most important safety feature is one that applies to much of your house: the circuit breaker panel.  To prevent a power overload or possibly a fire, the circuit breaker will trip and shut off the furnace. If your furnace repeatedly trips the circuit breakers, you should have a repair technician examine it, since something larger may be wrong.

A furnace isn’t an inherently dangerous piece of equipment as long as it has its safety features working. It’s essential to schedule regular maintenance for a furnace so that all these fail-safe devices are functioning correctly. You should have a maintenance check-up once a year to catch any possible failures, safety concerns, or upcoming repair needs.

At ACI Northwest, we want your family to stay safe throughout the winter. We are ready to bring you the heating repair in Spokane, WA you need to keep your furnace working without danger—and we can answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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