Design Comfort Blog

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.

The Benefits of an Energy Recovery Ventilator

November 7th, 2014

Energy efficiency is always important when it comes to heating our homes, but sometimes we can make our homes so air-tight that poor ventilation becomes a problem. How can you achieve energy efficiency while keeping your home well-ventilated? Consider the installation of an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Upgrading your HVAC system with an ERV can help with both heating and cooling, as we’ll explain below. But to truly gain the benefit of an ERV, it’s important to hire professionals who can properly install the device into your system. Since 1982, Design Comfort has helped install every kind of upgrade available for heating systems in Salt Lake City, so call us today!

How Does an ERV Work?

An energy recovery ventilator works by transferring the heat energy and moisture from your stale indoor air to drawn-in fresh air. During the winter, the ERV vents your stale, warm air to the outside; at the same time, a small fan draws in fresh, cool air from outside. As the warm air is expelled from your home, the ERV removes the moisture and heat energy from this air and pre-treats the incoming cool fresh air with it. In the summer, the opposite happens: the cool, stale air is exhausted to the outside, but the dehumidified, exiting air pre-treats the incoming moist, warm air. The result is fresh, pre-treated, clean air entering the air flow of your HVAC system for dispersal throughout your home.

The Benefits of an ERV

Why install an ERV? Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • Increase in energy efficiency – pre-treating the incoming fresh air helps reduce the amount of work your HVAC system has to do, which helps reduce your system’s overall energy usage.
  • Balanced humidity levels – during the summer, the ERV helps remove excessive moisture from the incoming air; during the winter, the ERV adds needed moisture to the dry cool air, helping to balance the humidity levels in your home.
  • Improved indoor air quality – the steady stream of air the ERV brings in can significantly improve your indoor air quality.

Make your heating and cooling work for you: consider the installation of an energy recovery ventilator. The technicians at Design Comfort are ready to help, so call us today!

What Are the Main Components of a Boiler?

October 24th, 2014

Boilers have been around for over a century, and while today’s boilers are very energy efficient, many of the main components that make up the system are still the same. Having a basic understanding of the components of your system can go a long way toward helping with the maintenance and repair of your heating system. To help you better understand your boiler and its components, our Design Comfort technicians have put together a list for your reference.

Main Boiler Components

  • Burner – the burner is the area where the air mixes with your fuel source and combusts.
  • Combustion chamber/firebox – this is the chamber where the combustion from the burner heats the heat exchanger; this chamber can reach temperatures of several hundred degrees.
  • Heat exchanger – the heat exchanger allows the heat from the combustion chamber to heat the water in the boiler’s tank.
  • Aquastats – these components sense the temperature of the water in your boiler and tell the burner when to start and stop.
  • Expansion tank – the expansion tank is a small tank off the main boiler that helps protect your system from excessive pressure.
  • Backflow valve – a backflow valve is a safety device that allows water to flow in a single direction only.
  • Circulator pump – a circulator pump is used with boilers that use hot water to heat; the circulator pump pushes the hot water through your system, allowing it to circulate to the various outlets.
  • Supply lines – supply lines are the pipes that deliver the heated water or steam to the distribution points.
  • Return lines – when the water cools, or the steam cools and changes states back to water, the return lines bring this water back to the boiler for re-heating.

Common Boiler Outlets

There are 3 main outlets for a hydronic heating system:

  • Radiators
  • Baseboard heating
  • Hydronic radiant floor heating

As you can see, there are multiple key components to a boiler, so if you are in need of repair, it’s always best to call for a trained professional. The Salt Lake City heating experts at Design Comfort are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so if you are experiencing problems with your boiler, call us today!

3 Common Boiler Repairs

October 24th, 2014

Boilers have been around a long time, and they are still a very popular heating option for many homeowners. As with any heating system, regular operation can take a toll, and at some point your heating system will need repair. There are some problems that occur more often than others when it comes to boilers, but for any heating repair, make sure to call the people you can trust: Design Comfort.

3 Common Reasons for Boiler Repair

A boiler can need repair for many reasons, but here are some problems that can occur more than others:

  • Leaks – boilers use water to provide heating to your home. There is water in the holding tank, water in the piping and water in the distribution outlets; at some point, it is very likely that a leak will develop. Common leak locations are circulating pumps, which help move the water through the pipes; valves, which are in a number of places around the system, including radiators; and on the intake pipe, where the water from your water line or well brings water into the boiler’s holding tank.
  • Problems with the pipes – one of the problems that can develop with the pipes of a boiler system is scaling. Scaling occurs when the minerals in the water start to build on the inside of the pipes (this tends to be a bigger problem with areas that have hard water). An acid flush of the system can usually remove the build-up. A second problem can be air lock, which occurs when a pocket of air gets trapped in the system. Air pockets block the circulating warm water, which interrupts the heating.
  • Circulating pump issues – as mentioned above, circulating pumps are necessary to help push the water through the piping. Each pump has a valve and an electrical component, and both components can develop issues that affect the pump’s operation. Circulating pumps can also develop leaks, which can lower the pressure needed in the system.

It can be tempting to ignore problems with your heating system, but problems don’t get better on their own. If you are experiencing heating problems, call Design Comfort today and schedule boiler repairs in Salt Lake City with one of our HVAC experts.

 

Why It’s Important To Use Professionals for Heating Service

October 17th, 2014

When you arrive home from work on an especially chilly night, you expect your furnace or boiler to keep your house cozy and warm. But if you schedule heating service with an unskilled technician, you may come home to a unit that just doesn’t do the trick. Similarly, if you attempt to repair, maintain, or even install a system on your own, you risk damaging your system further or requiring premature heating replacement. This guide details why these heating services should only be completed by a professional.

Heating Maintenance

There are a few steps you can take to maintain your heater, such as changing the furnace filter every month and watching out for any repair needs. But this is not enough; the components of your heating system wear down over time and use a lot more energy to run, raising your heating bills and increasing your risk for repairs. With professional maintenance, a technician cleans and adjusts some components and reports any major problems back to you. Using a professional with a trained eye for maintenance may lower your utilities and prevent problems from occurring later on.

Heating Repairs

Many do-it-yourself guides attempt to teach those without experience about common home repairs. Unfortunately, these guides are not always written by experts. Issues such as loud noises or reduced heating may be symptomatic of a whole host of problems, and a trained technician is the only person who can pinpoint the damage and decide on the most reliable repair method. If you attempt repairs on your own, you may not target the correct component and you risk damaging your system even more.

Heating Installation

Finally, heating installation is a complicated process that always requires the help of a professional. If you choose the incorrect boiler or furnace size for your home, you may not get the heating ability that you need or it could consume a lot of energy. Choosing a professional installer lends peace of mind that you have the heating power you need and a system that won’t fail suddenly.

If you need heating service in Salt Lake City, call on Design Comfort for quality installation, maintenance, or repairs.

Why is NATE Certification Important with Heating Service?

October 10th, 2014

When you hire an HVAC technician to conduct maintenance or repairs, you want to be sure that you’ve hired a certified professional. Improperly maintained heating systems can cost you thousands of dollars, and even be a threat to your health. With that in mind, it is always a good idea to check your technician’s credentials before scheduling a heating service appointment. That’s where NATE comes in.

What is NATE?

NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. It is the largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC professionals. In order to become NATE certified, HVAC technicians have to pass a series of tests to demonstrate expert knowledge in their field. These tests are themselves developed by a committee of HVAC professionals, so they accurately represent the challenges that technicians will face in their day-to-day jobs.

Why does it Matter?

NATE certified technicians have been tested by their peers and confirmed to be professionals. When you hire a NATE certified HVAC professional, you know that they are qualified to conduct any kind of repair or maintenance you might need. This is also a sign of commitment. A certified HVAC technician is a consummate professional, willing to put extra time in to prove to you how reliable he or she is. There may be some heating professionals who don’t think NATE certification is worth the effort. Who would you rather hire, though: Someone who seems capable, or someone who is proven to be capable by a third party?

Ultimately, NATE exists not only for the benefit of the customer but that of the entire industry. When a company hires a NATE certified technician, they know that person is qualified for the job. When that technician conducts a service call at your house, you know that the job will be done right the first time.

If you are looking for a company to service your heating system, look no further than Design Comfort. We only employ the most experienced HVAC technicians, all of whom are NATE certified. Our team of professionals conducts heating service throughout Salt Lake City.

When is a Good Time to Schedule Heating Maintenance?

October 3rd, 2014

As we get closer to the winter season, people are getting ready to fire up their heating systems on a daily basis. Before we get there, however, it would be a good idea to talk about heating maintenance. You should get your heating system checked at least once a year.

When is the best time to actually conduct maintenance, though? Read on to find out.

Optimal Maintenance Season

The optimal time to conduct maintenance is during the fall season. There are a number of advantages to this, the first of which being timing. The best time to check and repair any appliance is just before a period of heavy usage. In the case of heating systems, that period of heavy usage is in winter. Therefore, it makes the most sense to check your heating system in fall before you intend to use it daily. This ensures that your heating system is in top condition when you need it most.

The second advantage of fall maintenance is that of convenience. Fall season is the most popular season for heating maintenance. Everyone is getting their heating checked before winter starts, and there are fewer lengthy repair calls. This makes it more likely that you will get timely service. Once you get into the winter months, however, it becomes the repair season. Everyone who hasn’t had their heating system checked and had it break down will cause a spike in demand for HVAC technicians. If you wait until the winter season to conduct maintenance, you’ll have to wait much longer on average to get a service call. You also run the risk of your own heating system breaking down, which you definitely do not want happening in the middle of winter.

So, if you haven’t scheduled your annual heating maintenance for this year yet, call Design Comfort. Our HVAC technicians are experts in diagnosing and fixing any heating problems you may have. We offer heating maintenance in the Salt Lake City area, so call now. We’ll make sure that you spend the winter warm and comfortable.