Category: Heat Pump

Should You Repair Or Replace That Old Furnace?

Use These 3 Factors To Decide Whether You Should Replace Or Repair Your Gas Furnace

It’s sad to hear that your furnace is no longer working as it should.

The hard part howev, however,ves making a choice between spending your money on repairs or a new replacement.

Keep the three essential factors listed below in mind when making this decision.

1. How Long Has The Furnace Been In Use?

If your furnace doesn’t have a long life ahead, you don’t want to be spending too much money on repairs. Before you decide, make a comparison between its average lifespan and its current age.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average lifespan of furnaces is estimated to be somewhere between 15 and 20 years.

If you don’t know how old your furnace is, use the following tips:

  • Inspect the unit for a year of installation. This information is written on furnaces by some installation technicians.
  • You need to switch off the furnace and give it some time to cool down before you conduct the inspection. Check for a metallic identification plate, normally on the chamber door of the furnace. Copy the serial and model numbers there. To get a specific date on when the furnace was manufactured, contact the manufacturer using their customer service number.
  • You don’t have to replace the furnace if you find out that it was made more than 20 years ago. With proper maintenance many, furnaces deliver reliable performance long after the 15 to 20-year useful life.

2. Replacement versus Repair Costs

Make a comparison of these two costs while considering the age of your furnace:

  • Furnace repair cost.
  • Furnace replacement cost.

Remember the following to ensure that you arrive at the correct repair cost, Seek numerous quotes.

To find out if you can save on repair costs by paying for labor and getting parts for free, remember to find out what the warranty covers and whether it is still has some time before it expires.

Replacement costs are determined by:

  • Your preferred furnace size
  • Your desired Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency level
  • Single or two-stage and type of blower
  • You might have to spend anything between 1,100 and 6,000 dollars on a new replacement.

As a rule of thumb, if the repair cost of your furnace is a third, or more, of the replacement cost and it has already been in use for two thirds, or more, of its useful life, you should seriously consider having it replaced.

For instance, it is better to replace your furnace, in the long term, if it has been in use for 15 years or more and requires an 800 dollar repair cost, versus a 2,400 dollar replacement cost.

3. Your Current Situation

The most important factor to consider is your current situation. Some situations and issues may relate to you:

  • Your available budget: Your budget, at present, may not allow you to spend big on a new furnace, making repairs your only option. However, if you really need a replacement but can’t afford it, consider seeking financing.
  • Huge energy Bills: If you are looking to start making savings on your energy bills, consider getting a replacement. Depending on the energy efficiency of the new furnace you stand to make savings ranging between 10 and 25 percent off your energy bills.
  • Your Expectations: You might be better off having your furnace replaced if you it always struggles to meet your expectations.
  • Frequency of Repairs: It is best that you replace an old furnace that is always in need of some sort of repairs, regardless of how much they cost.

Contact us now or call us today for more information!

HVAC Repair Specialists Troubleshoot Your Finicky Furnace

Furnace Blowing Cold Air: A Homeowner’s Troubleshooting Guide

Homeowners live in a huge range of climates, and every house is different. Turning on your furnace universal, though. No matter who you are or where you are, the last result you want is a blast of cold air.

What could be behind this sort of mechanical betrayal? Lots of things! There are many issues that can push down the temperature of the air your furnace emits, and some of them can be easily solved without professional assistance.

Before you get on the phone to your preferred HVAC experts, here are four solid pieces of furnace troubleshooting advice:

Check The FAN Setting On Your Thermostat

If your heating system seems to alternate between hot and cold air, the culprit might be a blower fan running full time.

Check your thermostat’s fan setting. If it’s turned to “ON,” your heating system’s blower will be running around the clock, whether or not your furnace is actually warming up the air in the system. This can easily produce chilly air currents at unwanted times.

To solve this problem, simply set the fan to “AUTO” on your thermostat. This will link the blower to the furnace so that it only pushes out air when the furnace is running.

Check The Air Filter Of Your Furnace

An old, dirty, clogged-up filter can cause your furnace to blow cold air.

This happens because your furnace relies on a steady flow of air over its heat exchanger. If that airflow is impeded by a clogged filter, an automatic filter may be shutting your burners off to prevent damage. Allowing the heat exchanger to get too hot could cause it to crack.

To fix this problem, check the furnace filter and replace it if it’s dirty. You’ll need to shut your furnace down (at the thermostat) first. Note that resetting the furnace may require professional assistance.

Check Your Pilot Light

In older-model furnaces, the burners need a standing pilot light to switch on. If the pilot light has been extinguished, the heating system won’t function.

You can relight your pilot with this simple procedure:

  1. Turn your furnace off.
    Switch your thermostat to the “OFF” position.
  2. Locate the plot light and reset switch.
    These pieces of equipment are usually at the bottom of the furnace. If you’re having trouble finding them, check your manual. The furnace reset switch is typically behind an access cover you’ll need to open. The switch will have three settings: PILOT, OFF, and ON.
  3. Set the reset switch to “OFF” and wait 5 minutes.
    This step shuts off the gas flow. You need to wait to let any remaining gas dissipate.
  4. Set the switch to “PILOT” and press it down.
    This restarts the gas flor to the pilot light.
  5. While holding the switch down, hold a lighter at the pilot opening.
    When the gas catches and the flame lights, you should see a steady blue flame. If it’s working properly, it should hit the furnace’s thermocouple (a small copper bar) right in the middle.
  6. Set the switch to “ON.”
    This will allow your furnace to function properly.
  7. Turn your furnace back on at your thermostat.
    Set the thermostat to “HEAT” again. Start with the temperature setting 5 degrees below your normal room temperature and check for hot air.

If Your Pilot Light Won’t Light Or Hold A Flame

If the pilot light isn’t functioning properly, you need professional help. The problem may be a broken thermocouple (which is a cheap, fast repair) or something more serious.

Check Your Condensate Line

If your home has a more modern, high-efficiency furnace, you may have a condensate line blockage. The blocked line will cause your furnace to shut down automatically. The telltale sign of a blockage is puddled water around the furnace.

High-efficiency furnaces produce water (the condensate) while they’re running. This has to drain out of the furnace, typically through a PVC pipe. If water can’t leave, it will trigger a kill switch and shut down the furnace so that the water can’t damage it.

Condensate lines can be blocked by dust, dirt, mold, or (if the line runs through an uninsulated area) ice. Your furnace may also suffer condensate overflow if its condensate pump breaks down. This is another problem that requires a professional fix.

You can use this in-depth Energy Vanguard tutorial to help you unclog a condensate line. If your line is being clogged with ice, use pipe insulation and heat tape to wrap it where it runs through unconditioned spaces.

Contact us now or call us today for more information!

Furnace Being Indecisive? AC Man Of Houston Can Help!

What Causes A Furnace To Turn Off And On Frequently

Short cycling is when a furnace stops and starts more often than it should. Your furnace can suffer a lot of damage if it’s short cycling. Not only that, but your utility bills can increase.

What Causes Short Cycling

Overheating can cause it. So can issues with the thermostat. Also, an over-sized furnace could be the reason. We’ll go into these in more depth and how you can take care of them.

Overheating

If your furnace is shutting down, then the exchanger could be the culprit. The furnace shuts itself down when the exchanger overheats. This is to protect it from cracking.

Eventually, the heat exchanger can crack. It is very expensive to replace an exchanger, and it is sometimes better to replace your entire furnace than replacing the exchanger. Unless you have a parts warranty, then you’ll want to consider replacing the furnace.

What Causes Overheating

A dirty air filter can cause the heat exchanger to overheat. What you should do is check the air filter 1-2 times per month. Make sure to change it if it looks dirty.

Blocked Off Air Vents

An exchanger can overheat if air vents are blocked off. When you close the vents or if they are blocked off, then the air ducts are subjected to more pressure and this can lead the blower not blowing out as much air as it should. When the airflow is low, then less heat is exchanged and this can lead to more heat to build up. If you want to fix this problem, then keep the vents open and do not block them.

Blocked Exhaust Vents

Certain gases gave to be exhausted, which your furnace does via its exhaust vents. However, there are a number of things that can block these vents, and this includes leaves, nests, and debris. This can lead to furnace overheating, which is dangerous. Furthermore, carbon monoxide could end up being released into your home.

Do you know where your furnace’s flue pipe is? If so, then inspect it to make sure nothing is clogging it up. Be careful if the vent is located on the roof.

Thermostat Issues

Thermostats let your furnace know when to turn on and when to turn off. If short cycling is happening, then the thermostat might be faulty. There are two common issues that affect thermostats, and this includes:

  1. Malfunctioning- A thermostat that malfunctions need to be replaced. It might be able to be repaired. A professional can help you out here.
  2. Improper Placement- The thermostat might be tricked into thinking your home is warm enough. This can happen if it’s installed near a heat register, direct sunlight, the kitchen or other heat sources. This is why you want to make sure the thermostat is installed in a proper place.

Oversized Furnace

Did you install a new furnace recently? If so, it might be too big. A furnace that’s too large can heat your home up very fast, but this can actually cause your energy bills to skyrocket.

What you need to do is contact the professional who installed your furnace. Tell them what the problem is. They should be able to correct the problem, such as reinstalling a furnace that is a suitable size for your home or they will offer another solution.

Contact us now or call us today for more information!

Houston HVAC Company Addresses Heat Pump Maintenance & Their FAQ’s

Learn More About How Houston Heat Pump Maintenance Can Benefit You

We’ve been discussing in our blog all month that heat pump technology is rapidly evolving, and heat pumps are picking up in popularity in colder climates. In fact, you may be considering a heat pump yourself, if you’re interested in:

  • Supplementing your existing heat system
  • Replacing your existing combined systems with one combined solution
  • Reduce your carbon footprint and boost your energy efficiency
  • Reduce your regular energy costs and enjoy the heat pump tax credit

However, if combining heating and cooling into one system concerns you, especially when it comes to maintenance, you don’t need to worry.

This week, we’d like to go through the questions that we get asked most often, as well as offer some standard heat pump maintenance tips to help you feel more at ease.

Do heat pumps require service?

Like any other heating or cooling system, your heat pump will benefit from regular preventative maintenance. The difference between a system that is well-maintained and a system that is neglected can range from 10% to 25%, according to energy.gov.

Heat pump maintenance on a routine basis will help ensure that the system performs at its best. It will also help limit damage to the components, including the compressor, making sure that your expensive investment is well protected.

Routine service limits the risk of the heat pump needing unexpected and expensive repairs, as well as helping the system to run more reliably.

What does it cost to maintain a heat pump?

The cost of maintaining a heat pump will vary quite a bit, depending on where you live, how often you have the service performed, the age of your system, and who provides the service.

To understand why the preventative maintenance is worth the ongoing investment, let’s examine the difference between the cost of this important preventative measure and replacing a heat pump after it’s gone bad.

The national average cost for residential heat pump repair ranges from around $350-$1250.

The cost of preventative maintenance on the heat pump averages $170, making this service both cost-effective and a smart option. You can also save on the price of this routine maintenance if you sign a contract for ongoing service with the same HVAC provider.

Can I troubleshoot my heat pump on my own and do my own maintenance?

You should definitely keep an eye on your heat pump for specific issues that commonly develop so that you can prevent future issues.

For example, the defrost cycle will typically run when it is quite cold outside. However, if you notice that the defrost mode keeps coming on, or stays on for more than fifteen minutes, it may be time to call in a professional to evaluate your system.

You can also keep your heat pump running at its best by taking care of routine tasks like dusting around the vents and replacing the air filters.

The reality is that preventative heat pump maintenance is not a job that you can do on your own. If you’re not experienced and trained, it’s very dangerous to work with refrigerant and high voltage electricity. You could wind up doing more harm than good. In these cases, it’s important to turn to a skilled professional for ongoing HVAC maintenance.

How often should the heat pump service be scheduled?

Professional heat pump maintenance should be scheduled at least once per year.

If you use the heat pump for the main heating and cooling system, as opposed to a supplemental system, it may mean that you need to schedule this service twice yearly – once in the spring and once in the fall.

Contact us now or call us today for more information!

Choosing Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner In Houston

Heat Pump Or Air Conditioner: Which Is Better?

To give it the simplest possible definition, a heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat the air it delivers as well as cool it down.

The benefits of a heat pump start getting interesting when you find yourself in need of a replacement air conditioner or even an all-new HVAC system. Under the right circumstances, a heat pump can replace an air conditioner and even a heating system at the same time. You have to have a clear understanding of your needs and the capabilities of a heat pump before deciding whether or not one’s right for your home.

This article will give you a thorough run-down on the differences between air conditioners and heat pumps and explain the benefits and potential drawbacks of a heat pump.

The Key Differences Between Heat Pumps And Air Conditioners

Heat pumps and air conditioners operate exactly the same way in hot summer months when their job is to cool down an indoors space. They both extract heat from the indoor air and dump it outside the building.

When the weather turns cold, though, the traditional air conditioner’s job is done. In most homes and businesses, air conditioners are teamed up with furnaces or electric heaters to deliver the heat required for keeping indoor spaces comfortable.

A heat pump gets its name from its ability to inject heat into space as well as take it out.

How does a heat pump do this? As we’ve already suggested, it’s capable of running in reverse to put heat into an indoor space instead of taking it out. That means that a heat pump has the ability to gather heat from the outside air, even in cold weather.

That sounds a little crazy, right? Rest assured, the technology is in there to make it all work. While the outdoor air certainly feels chilly in the winter, it still contains plenty of heat energy. Heat pumps are built to scavenge up that heat energy and transfer it into a building.

The Benefits Of The Heat Pump

Heat Pump Operation Is Very Affordable

One of the most common reasons for owners to install a heat pump instead of a traditional air conditioner plus furnace combo is that the heat pump is cheaper to operate. Thanks to outstanding energy efficiency, heat pumps can reduce your utility bills significantly. (Want the technical details on heat pump efficiency? Check out energy.gov’s article on the subject.)

Heat Pumps Have Lower Environmental Impact

A lot of the traditional options for heating a home or business oblige you to burn fossil fuels, like gas or oil. Heat pumps deliver useful heat energy without this reliance on non-renewable resources. While heat pumps still require power, which might be derived from fossil fuels depending on your local energy provider, overall they are much more environmentally-friendly tools for heating an indoor space.

A Simpler System Means Easier Maintenance And Repairs

When you use a heat pump to provide both heating and cooling, you have a significantly simpler system to take care of. Maintenance is faster and cheaper on a heat pump than a combination system. It’s also easier to diagnose heating and cooling problems. This simplicity translates into overall savings on operational and maintenance costs.

Heat Pumps Are Compact

Relying on a single system for both heating and cooling saves you space as well as money. The lower space requirements of heat pumps make them particularly popular in urban environments where every square foot is precious.

The Potential Drawbacks Of Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Efficiency Has Its Limits

The biggest limitation that holds heat pumps back is the unavoidable fact that they become less efficient the colder the weather gets.

Check our very basic description of heat pump operation above. It heats an indoor space by pulling heat energy from the outdoor air. The colder that the air is, the harder the heat pump has to work to produce the heat you’re looking for. The cost of operating a heat pump can rise significantly if it has to deal with very low temperatures for long periods of time.

Supplemental Heating May Be Required

While heat pump efficiency is improving all the time, they have not yet become viable all-year, all-climate sources for indoor heating. In regions where temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for a long time, you may have to make alternate arrangements to ensure that your home or business remains comfortable in the coldest months.

This applies particularly to home and business owners in the Northeast. It is common in these sorts of climates to add a backup heat source (like a furnace or central electric heater)to a heat pump. This adds to the overall cost of your HVAC system.

Heat Pump Vs. Air Conditioner: The Cost

The initial cost of equipment and installation is higher for a heat pump than an air conditioner. The difference between the two can run into the multiple thousands of dollars.

If your climate makes it feasible to use a heat pump for all of your heating and cooling needs, though, you may end up saving money by ditching the heating components of your system.

TIP FOR COMMERCIAL HEAT PUMPS

Up to the end of 2018, you have the opportunity to save big on a heat pump installation. A special tax rule allows you to deduct the full cost of heat pump equipment and installation from your 2018 tax return. Previously, tax incentives only allowed you to depreciate the cost of a heat pump across the equipment’s lifespan.

The net effect? You get a big tax break up front instead of a smaller one delivered over time.

Additional Guidance

Choosing a heat pump instead of a traditional air conditioner is a big step. It’ll have an impact on your home or business for many years, so seeking out expert guidance is a good idea. Talk to us when you need an HVAC replacement or upgrade! We’ll carefully review your specific needs and make sure you get the best equipment (at the best price!) to meet them.

Call us now if you have any questions on what you should choose!