Design Comfort Blog

What Furnace Noises Mean: A Millcreek Heating Guide

January 26th, 2015

Furnace noises are one of the most common ways that homeowners can identify problems with their heating system. Simply noticing a strange noise coming from your furnace isn’t enough, however. You need to know what to listen for if you are to react quickly enough to mitigate the damage to your furnace.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common furnace noises, and what they mean.

Grinding

If you hear a grinding noise coming from your furnace, it is very likely coming from the air handler. The air handler is a collection of parts that work together to circulate air throughout your house. The air handler motor is arguably the most important part of the air handler, as well as being the part put under the most strain during operation. In order to decrease the level of stress on the motor, it is equipped with lubricated bearings that lessen the amount of friction during operation. This prevents the motor from overheating. As the bearings age, however, they begin to wear down and lose their lubrication. This increases the friction on the motor, causing it to work harder than it should. Those worn-down bearings are the source of the grinding sound. If not fixed immediately, the motor could burn out and require replacement.

Booming

A booming sound coming from your furnace is often caused by a burner firing later than the others. The burner assembly is a series of flame jets connected to the gas line of your furnace. These burners are the source of the heat that the furnace provides. Though the primary byproduct of burning fuel is heat, there are many other byproducts that are created. Carbon particles are one of these byproducts. Over time, the carbon particles can build up around and in the burner assembly. Eventually, the buildup can become so advanced that it makes the burner difficult to light. When the burner finally does light, it creates that deep booming sound as it ignites the gas flow. If not cleaned off, the carbon buildup can eventually prevent the burner from lighting altogether.

If you are hearing strange noises coming from your furnace, call Design Comfort. We provide furnace repair throughout the Millcreek area.

Why Is Thermostat Upgrade Part of Heating Service?

January 19th, 2015

Thermostats have a lot of unacknowledged power. Why? Many people tend to overlook the fact their thermostat is the control center for their heating system, and as such, wields a great deal of power over the system itself. If you are installing a new heating system, why not take advantage of the opportunity to also upgrade your thermostat? Thermostat installation is an important part of our Design Comfort heating services in Sandy, and we’ll explain more about why this is below.

Why Upgrade Your Thermostat?

Here are some of the reasons why you may want to consider upgrading your thermostat along with other heating services you may be engaged with:

  • Precision – if you’ve been using a slide or dial thermostat, you know that you can’t set an exact temperature; instead, you have to aim for a range. While this may not seem like a problem, having your heating run at 2-3 degrees higher than you want it can be costing you money in energy usage. With a digital thermostat, you can set an exact temperature that is easily seen and read.
  • Programmability – do you drive yourself crazy trying to remember to turn down your thermostat as you leave for work every day and turn it back up when you get home? Wouldn’t it be nice to set a program that allows you to do that? With a programmable thermostat, you can do this.
  • Better energy efficiency – programmability and precision allow you to better manage your heating, which can result in better energy efficiency.

Types of Thermostats

There are three main types of thermostats:

  • Digital – precise face, intuitive, easy-to-use buttons.
  • Programmable – a digital thermostat that you can program, allowing you the convenience and benefit of programming your heating for a full seven days.
  • Smart – using smart technology, a smart thermostat allows you to remotely access your thermostat so that you can change settings, program, and monitor and track your energy usage.

Don’t let your thermostat be under-utilized; call Design Comfort today and see how upgrading your thermostat can help both you and your heating system.

Residential Heating Options in Salt Lake City

January 16th, 2015

As heating technology continues to improve, the options for home heating get more and more varied. There are so many options for homeowners these days that it can sometimes get quite overwhelming. No need to worry, though. Have a look at this short list we’ve compiled for residential heating options in Salt Lake City. Hopefully, this will be able to help you narrow down your choices for a new heating system.

Boilers

Boilers are hydronic heating systems, using water to distribute heat throughout the home. The most common form of boiler heating system is called “radiant heating.” It consists of a network of water pipes installed in the subfloor of each room. The boiler then pumps hot water through these pipes, which radiate heat through the floor and into the room itself. Radiant heating is prized for its energy efficiency, as well as its ability to evenly heat a room.

Furnaces

Furnaces are among the most popular home heating systems in the country, and for good reason. A furnace of one kind of another can operate in virtually any kind of climate. Gas furnaces are the most common, as natural gas gives off a great deal of heat per unit burned. In areas where natural gas lines are not available, however, electric furnaces can heat the home just as well. No matter what kind of heating needs you have, there is a furnace available that meets those needs.

Zone Control Systems

Zone control systems are not heating systems in and of themselves, but they are still an option of which you should be aware. They involve the installation of large dampers in the ductwork of your home, one for each room. A separate thermostat controls each damper, and each can have individual settings. When the thermostat calls for heat, the damper opens to allow warm air into the room. This allows each room to set its own climate, allowing a much finer degree of control than a normal central heating system provides.

If you’d like to know more, call Design Comfort. We provide heating installation throughout Salt Lake City.

3 Reasons Your Furnace Is So Expensive to Run

January 9th, 2015

Your heating bill is bound to fluctuate from month to month, because your need for heating is going to be different from month to month. If your heating bill starts showing a consistent rise, however, then something is probably affecting the efficiency of your furnace. There are any number of reasons why your furnace could start becoming more expensive to run. In the interest of brevity, however, let’s focus on the top 3.

Your Ducts are Leaking

The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that forced air heating systems lose almost 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the ductwork. That’s a massive amount of wasted heat, almost a third of your furnace’s total heat output. Leaks in the ductwork of a home are often small, but if there are enough of them the impact can be quite large. If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned or sealed in a while, there’s a very good chance that you are paying for heat that is never actually making it to its destination.

It’s the Wrong Size

Properly sizing your furnace is extremely important when you first start shopping for one. If you install a furnace that is either too big or two small, you open yourself to issues that you wouldn’t have had to deal with otherwise.

An oversized furnace has a tendency to provoke short-cycling. That is, it trips the safety switch for an emergency shutoff because its higher heat output makes the system think it’s overheating. This locks the furnace into a very rapid on/off cycle, where it never has the time to actually provide a steady stream of warm air before shutting down and starting up again. An undersized furnace, on the other hand, will simply stay on for a much longer period of time because it doesn’t have the heat output to heat the home properly.

It’s at the End of its Life

The last possibility is that, quite simply, your furnace is reaching the end of its lifespan. The longer a furnace operates, the less efficient it becomes at heating. This decline continues until the furnace finally gives out, and is often indicated by higher heat bills. If your furnace is over 15 years old, it might be time to replace it.

If you’d like to know more, call Design Comfort. We provide heating services throughout Salt Lake City.

When Is Drain Cleaning Necessary?

December 19th, 2014

No one ever really wants to call a professional plumber to their home. It’s not that plumbers aren’t nice people, but that their presence indicates that there is a big and likely gross issue with your home’s water system. This fear of plumbing problems that may require a professional fix can lead a lot of people to ignore the signs of an increasingly serious issue. One of these issues is drain cleaning. Drain cleaning is one of those necessary evils that may seem like a pain, until you compare it to the alternative. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can identify when drain cleaning is necessary.

Drains aren’t Draining

We know, it’s obvious. Still, if your drains aren’t draining at all you should pick up the phone and call a professional to schedule a drain cleaning. Most people don’t have any problem with immediately calling a plumber when a drain isn’t draining, but they’re perfectly willing to ignore the warning signs that precede that issue.

If your drain is draining slowly, that’s a sign that there is some sort of blockage that is obstructing the water from flowing freely down the drain. This is where a lot of homeowners should be calling a plumber, but many of them don’t because the drain is still technically working. Don’t wait! Call a plumber as soon as you notice that the drain isn’t working as well as it should be.

Backflow

This is a pretty disgusting issue that a lot of homeowners run into when they have blocked drains. If water or sewage is coming back up through any drain in your house, you’ve got a blockage that needs to be dealt with.

Bad Smell

A bad smell coming from your drains indicates that the trap in the drain isn’t closing properly. This is usually caused by something either physically obstructing the trap or it getting stuck in the open position. If the trap is stuck open, the smell from the sewer line can drift up into your home through the drain.

If you’re having problems with your drain, call Design Comfort. We provide plumbing services throughout Salt Lake City.

Why Do Combustion Heating Systems Need a Flue?

December 12th, 2014

Everyone knows why a chimney is necessary for a wood-burning fireplace. Burning wood produces a lot of smoke, which is quite harmful if inhaled. The chimney exists to vent the smoke out of the house, while still allowing the heat from the fire to radiate through the room. Why do modern heating systems need exhaust flues, though? They mostly burn natural gas, not wood, so there’s no need to vent smoke. Read on for an explanation of how combustion systems work, and why you should be very glad that they make use of exhaust flues.

Incomplete Combustion

Most home heating systems utilize some form of combustion. That is, they burn a fuel of some kind to generate heat for the house. What many homeowners don’t know is that all of these systems use incomplete combustion. As the name suggests, incomplete combustion is when the fuel is not entirely consumed by the process of burning it. There are leftover bits and pieces, called “combustion byproducts” that remain after the fuel is burned. It is these byproducts that the exhaust flue is meant to address.

Combustion Byproducts

There are a number of different combustion byproducts of burning natural gas. Most of these are harmless, but the three most dangerous byproducts are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. All three of these gases are dangerous to humans if inhaled, and can cause a number of harmful side effects including death. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous of the three, due to humans’ inability to detect it. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. The only way to detect carbon monoxide is to buy a sensor (which is a good idea) or recognize the signs of exposure. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sudden dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. If you begin to feel any of the preliminary symptoms in your home while the heat is on, get out of the house immediately and call emergency services.

This is why the exhaust flue is so important. These combustion byproducts are an unavoidable result of combustion heating. The exhaust flue is what siphons these pollutants out of your house and keeps you safe. If you have any reason to suspect that your exhaust flue is having issues, call Design Comfort as soon as possible. We provide heating repair throughout Salt Lake City.

Standing Pilot vs. Intermittent Pilot: What’s the Difference?

December 5th, 2014

The pilot light has been a staple of home heating systems for decades. The continuous flame underneath furnaces and boilers across the country has gained wide recognition as the ignition source for the heater. It has also become notorious for going out for no apparent reason. This, combined with recent advances in technology, have led to the rise of intermittent systems. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two systems.

Standing Pilot

The standing pilot light is the traditional ignition source for most natural gas-fueled combustion heating systems. It is comprised of a small burner, a gas valve to supply the burner, and a thermocouple. When the pilot light is first lit, usually by a button on the outside of the heater, the thermocouple registers the heat and sends an electrical current to the gas valve. This current keeps the gas valve open and supplying fuel to the pilot light. As long as the thermocouple keeps registering the heat from the pilot light, the flame can stay lit indefinitely. When the flame goes out, the current stops and the gas valve closes. This is a safety measure to prevent the home from filling up with gas.

There are a couple of issues with this kind of system, the first of which is wasted energy. The pilot light stays lit 24/7, consuming fuel even when you aren’t using the heater. It’s a small flame, but when you consider the months that you likely aren’t using your heater it can add up quickly. The second issue is the pilot light’s propensity for blowing out. While it can often be relit easily, if the pilot light does go out it prevents the entire system from starting.

Intermittent Pilot

The intermittent pilot light is an electric system, designed to combat some of the biggest flaws of the standing pilot. Rather than keep a flame burning all the time, the intermittent pilot only lights when needed. The system responds to the command for heat by using an electric spark to ignite the flame. A sensor registers the flame and lights the main burner, at which point the pilot light goes out.

This technology solves both of the standing pilot light’s main issues. However, it is a much more complicated system, and often more costly and difficult to fix.

If you’d like to know more, call Design Comfort. We provide heating services throughout Salt Lake City.

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Design Comfort, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

3 Signs that it’s Time to Replace Your Heating System

November 21st, 2014

In less than a month winter will officially make its debut for the season. Knowing that you have a reliable heating system to get you through the cold months is critical to your peace of mind. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether or not to install a new heating system, let us give you some factors to consider below.

Signs It’s Time to Replace

Here are some of the common signs that it may be time to replace your existing heating system:

High Energy Bills

Are you using your heating system the same as usual but seeing a big spike in the cost of running it? This is indicative of a heater that is not energy efficient. Today’s heating systems are very energy efficient, with many averaging 95% or higher efficiency levels. If you are paying more this year for the same heating as last year, and your fuel costs haven’t gone up, it may be time to consider a new heating system.

Too Many Repairs

Did you have to repair your system frequently last year, and are you potentially looking at more repairs this coming season? Repairs add up quickly, sometimes to the cost of a new system. Nursing a heating system along can cost you money that may be better spent on a durable, reliable new system.

Age

Age is always a factor to consider, especially if you are experiencing the issues above. The average lifespan for a combustion heating system is 15 to 20 years. Once a heating system reaches this age span, it is likely you’ll see the need for more repairs, less efficiency and overall decreased performance. These problems can affect your comfort, energy efficiency and your wallet.

Replacing a malfunctioning and/or aging heating system can be a great opportunity to increase your comfort level and overall energy efficiency; you’ll also have the peace of mind that you have a reliable heating system in your home. If you are seeing the signs that it’s time to replace your heating system, call Design Comfort today and schedule heating replacement service in Salt Lake City with one of our installation experts.

Signs It May Be Time for Furnace Replacement

November 14th, 2014

With proper care and maintenance, your furnace can easily last a couple of decades. Even with the best preventative care, however, there will come a time when you’ll need to replace your furnace with a new one. The following are some of the signs that it may be time to replace your furnace.

Age

The simplest indicator that you may need to replace your furnace is its age. Generally, once a furnace gets past 15 years old it begins to decline more and more rapidly. If your furnace is older than 15 years, you should definitely get it checked by a professional to see if it needs replacing.

Increase in Repair Frequency

All furnaces need repairs sometimes, but there is a big difference between the odd part breaking down and needing to replace something every few months. As a furnace gets older, the cumulative wear and tear on its individual parts begins to cause them to break. This tends to manifest in a much higher frequency of breakdowns and malfunctioning parts. If it seems like every time you turn around your furnace is acting up, it may be time to replace it.

Short-cycling

Short cycling is what happens when your furnace keeps rapidly turning itself on and off without stopping. This is caused by the system thinking it’s overheating. The furnace will turn on to heat the home, reach an internal temperature level above the safety standard, and shut itself off as a safety precaution. Later, after it has cooled off a little, the furnace will start up again and repeat the cycle endlessly.

Unlike the previous two signs, this one is not normally associated with the age of your furnace. There are a few possible causes for short-cycling. One of these causes is that your furnace is simply too big for your home. The other possibility is that of a clogged air filter, exhaust flue, or even a gas imbalance. No matter what, though, you should call your HVAC technician if you notice your furnace doing this.

If you think you may need to replace your furnace, call Design Comfort. Our HVAC technicians provide heating services all of Salt Lake City.