Design Comfort Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Furnace’

3 Reasons Your Furnace Is So Expensive to Run

Friday, 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.

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Salt Lake City Furnace Tip: What Is AFUE and Why Should I Care?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If you’ve been shopping for a furnace in Salt Lake City, chances are you’ve noticed that each furnace has its own annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. These generally range from 80% to the high 90% s and the higher the number, the more fuel efficient that particular furnace is.

But what does this number really mean and just how much should you care? Well, the AFUE rating should actually have a significant impact on your furnace purchasing decision, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll always choose the furnace with the highest efficiency rating either.

For one thing, you’ll have to recognize that not every type of furnace is capable of running at the highest efficiency levels. Oil furnaces, for instance, can’t compete with the super high efficiency gas furnaces on the market today. That’s not to say that an oil furnace might not be the best choice for you under certain circumstances, but it does mean that you should take a close look at your furnace usage before you make a decision.

If you do choose a gas furnace, you will of course have the option of getting one that can reach up to 97% or so efficiency. However, that may not always be the best choice either. If you live in a place where with very harsh, long winters and you’re going to be using your furnace heavily, then it’s definitely worth investing in a higher AFUE furnace that can save you considerable amounts on your monthly heating bills.

But if you don’t use your furnace too often as your area has more mild winters it’s probably not worth it for you to invest in such a high efficiency product. That’s because the higher the AFUE of the furnace, the more expensive it is to purchase and install. Certainly you’ll save money every month because you’ll be getting more heat out of the fuel you’re paying for. But if you don’t use your furnace all that much, the savings really won’t be that substantial.

Don’t forget that a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating is still quite energy efficient. And once you get up that high, you have to use your furnace a lot for the difference between 80% and 90% to really become apparent. So if you don’t use your furnace heavily during the winter, it will take you many, many years to make up for the higher purchase price of the 90+% AFUE models.

 If you have any questioning regarding furnaces in Salt Lake City, Contact us today! Over the years, Design Comfort has provided Salt Lake City with quality heating services.

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Salt Lake City Heating Tip: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

You’ve probably heard about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

Over the years, Design Comfort has provided Salt Lake City with quality heating services. Contact us today!

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Salt Lake City Heating Question: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

When researching your Salt Lake City furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

 Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a Salt Lake City heating professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call Design Comfort immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

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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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Furnace Safety: A Guide from Bountiful

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

There are many advantages to a properly operating furnace.  Some of the most important are the safety and comfort of a Bountiful home’s occupants. Neither one of those things is something you can ignore, so here are several things you can do to ensure the  continued operation of your furnace.

  • Clean or change furnace filters on a regular basis. Replace disposable filters and clean permanent filters using water or cleaning solutions. Your owner’s manual or a qualified heating contractor can suggest a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Check the exhaust vent from the furnace. Clear obstructions such as leaves, clothing, or animal nests from the vent pipe or chimney. Keep roof exhaust vents clear of snow. If there is a faulty exhaust system (like a blocked flue), of if there are cracks and leaks in the pipes or improper adjustment of the burner, or if there is lower air pressure indoors than outside, the furnace can create serious indoor air pollution.
  • A clear air intake is important too, since furnaces need fresh air to “breathe” and complete the fuel burning cycle. Again, check for debris, snow, or animal nests in intake pipes.
  • If you have an older gas furnace, you may want to install a supplementary induced-draft fan that reduces the possibility of backdrafting. Some furnaces have automatic shutoff devices that turn off the furnace if it begins to backdraft.
  • Check internal components such as the blower motor and vacuum any dirt. Check belts and pulleys for excessive wear. You should consult your owner’s manual for any suggested maintenance tips on internal working components.
  • You may also want to check the pilot light to see if it is working and if it producing an even, blue flame. If the flame is uneven, it may be a sign of incomplete gas combustion, which can result in the creation of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Ensure that your thermostat is operating correctly by raising or lowering the temperature settings to make sure the furnace cycles on and off.
  • Install and maintain battery or hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Externally vented natural gas furnaces, when properly designed and installed, will operate safely for years. But if you detect a problem, use the most common solution – contact a qualified heating professional to check out your furnace.

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