Design Comfort Blog: Archive for January, 2012

Salt Lake City Heating Installation Question: What Is an Electric Furnace?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

There are many types of furnaces in Salt Lake City that use a variety of energy sources to operate. Gas furnaces use natural or propane gas, boilers and radiators use water, heated by electricity. And then there are electric furnaces, which may have an advantage over other energy sources based on energy costs.

Simply put, electric furnaces function through the use of electricity. They do not require the use of any type of fuel – but function through wires and chords. An electric furnace uses heating coils, sometimes referred to as “resistance calrods” to create heat directly in the air flow. Inside the furnace cabinet are controls, a blower, and the circuit breakers for the heating elements. Some furnaces have the breakers accessible from the outside of the cabinet.

Other add-on accessories may include an electronic air cleaner, air filter, humidifier, high performance media filter, and air conditioning evaporator coil.

The heating process begins with the home’s thermostat. A drop in temperature is sensed by the thermostat, which alerts the electric furnace. The coil then warms up, thanks to the electric current that passes through it. The heated coil in turn heats the temperature of the air around it, which is then blown into the house through a blower. The pressure that is exerted by the blower on the heated air, warms it further. The blower is able to overcome the resistance of the duct work and replace unheated, colder air with the heated air. In most homes there are various return air ducts that are used to bring in the colder air to the furnace. This cold air travels through the furnace, through an air filter, the blower, and finally through the heat exchanger. After this it will then be pushed back into the house as warm air.

To maintain a supply of fresh air in the house, some furnaces also suck air from the atmosphere outside. After the air in the house reaches a particular temperature, the thermostat automatically shuts off the electric furnace.

An electric furnace may be less costly to run, depending on the price of electricity versus other sources like natural gas, propane gas, or oil. Gas and oil are fossil fuels and burning them leaves a “carbon footprint” – the release of carbon compounds and gases into the atmosphere. An electric furnace does not burn fuel and thus does not leave a carbon footprint. This electric warming process results in fewer particulates and contaminants in the air, too.

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Salt Lake City Heating Contractor Guide: Troubleshooting Furnace Air Flow Problems

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Whenever you notice furnace air flow problems in your Salt Lake City  home, you can usually do a little troubleshooting and solve the issue on your own. Most air flow problems can be fixed easily and quickly. Here are a few guidelines to get you started, but if you need help or notice other problems with your furnace, call a qualified Design Comfort heating technician.

Furnace Filters:

Checking the furnace filter is the first step you should take when there are any issues with your furnace, but especially with air flow problems. If a filter is dirty enough, the furnace will not come on at all. Ultimately, a clogged or dirty filter restricts the air flow, and this is the source of air flow problems ninety percent of the time.

Supply Registars and Cold Air Returns:

Once you’ve replaced or cleaned the filter, check your cold air returns, which are the vents that draw in the cold air in forced air systems. When a cold air return is blocked  by furniture or other obstructions, they cannot draw in enough air to allow the furnace to put out an adequate amount of hot air. Make sure they are open if nothing is blocking them.

Next, check your supply registers, which are the vents that supply the warm air, and make sure they are open as well. Whenever your heat is on, all of your supply registers should be open. Closing some vents will not increase the air flow in other vents in the house. Closing off one or two in areas where heat is not always needed will not hurt your system; however, when you close too many supply registers, it can cause problems with the ductwork and eventually damage the furnace if the air pressure is not correct.

If you continue to experience air flow problems, call a certified heating technician at Design Comfort. There could be a more serious issue, or if you have a newer furnace, your original ductwork could be the wrong size for that furnace model.

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Happy Martin Luther King Day from Your Salt Lake City Area Contractors!

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King Day! This holiday is not just about celebrating civil rights but also about serving your community. If you have the day off today, why not try spending it helping others? From volunteering at an animal shelter to helping the homeless, there are hundreds of ways you can make your community a better place to live. Have a great holiday!

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Salt Lake City Heating Installation Guide: Benefits of Replacing Your Furnace

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

You are about to make one of the largest purchases in your life – a new furnace for your Salt Lake City home. Maybe your old furnace is on life support and needs immediate replacement or you are looking for a better, more efficient furnace that will raise the comfort level of your home while reducing utility bills and carbon emissions.

If the furnace in your basement, crawl space, or attic is 15-20 years old, it may be a single-stage 80% percent efficient model, which doesn’t meet the higher efficiency standards of today’s models. It uses more energy, i.e. gas, oil, or electricity, to operate. And a single-stage furnace does not always provide even heating to all rooms in the home, based on the varying winter weather conditions. There may be large temperature variations from room to room.

Your new furnace will likely be more efficient and environmentally friendly than the one it is replacing – which are the two biggest benefits to replacing an old furnace. So, let’s take a closer look at these benefits, which link energy efficiency to the latest technology – namely two-stage furnaces and variable speed motors.

Two-stage furnaces start out by running in a first stage, which uses less than 70% of its capacity. This stage works well on moderate winter days. On colder days, the furnace will meet your extra heating demand by adjusting to the second stage in the heating cycle. Since the furnace spends most of its time operating in its lower capacity (first or single stage), it burns less fuel than a traditional furnace that always runs at full capacity and then shuts off when heating demand is met. You will see lower utility bills and a shorter payback period on your new furnace investment.

Variable-speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bill as they consume less electricity than standard motors. Variable speed furnaces save you money by having a higher SEER rating. SEER is the abbreviation for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. The low operating costs of a variable speed furnace can allow you to run your furnace blower. With the low operating costs of the variable-speed furnace you can constantly run your blower without the worry of driving up your utility bill, allowing for continuously filtered air.

And when you shop for a new furnace, look for add-on equipment such as electronic air filters, humidifers, and programmable thermostats. Each will raise the comfort level you will be enjoying from Salt Lake City home’s your new furnace.

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Salt Lake City Heating Tip: What to Check If Your Furnace Isn’t Lighting

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

If your Salt Lake City home’s furnace isn’t lighting properly and your family is starting to suffer because of it, there are a number of possible problems you should check for before calling a professional. Some of these issues can be fixed quickly by you while others may be signs of a serious problem that needs professional attention right away.

Checking the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, the first step is to check the pilot light and ensure it is still working properly. If the pilot light is still on but goes out when you try to light the furnace or simply won’t stay on when you relight it, you may need to have the gas valve replaced. In some cases, it is as simple as the pilot light not being large enough and the gas blowing out the light.

This happens when gas enters the chamber and doesn’t ignite right away. When it does ignite, which happens after more gas enters the chamber, the extra force of the ignition will blow out the light. This is still a problem and should be inspected to ensure you don’t have any potential gas related issues.

Still Not Lighting

If you don’t have a pilot light or the unit still isn’t lighting, it may be an electrical issue. Electrical ignitions for gas furnaces should spark when the thermostat is turned on, so if it doesn’t you know that the switch or relay are bad.

If you smell gas or anything similar in the room where the furnace is located, you should immediately turn off the unit and call your gas company, followed by a technician. There could be a leak causing low pressure that results in your pilot light going out. Whatever the case, you need someone to look at it immediately.

Your furnace should always turn on when you flip the switch and if it does not, assume there is a problem. If you cannot find the problem yourself and easily fix it, you should call a Salt Lake City heating contractor. The risk inherent in an improperly working furnace (especially gas or oil) is too high to ignore.

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