Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What to do now

So the weather is great!!! or maybe it iis already getting a little warm or maybe you even still have some snow on the ground.
You don't have to worry about your Air Conditioner right, wrong. Now is the time to take action to make sure you have a trouble free cooling season, but how?
If you wait on your system to fail it will do it when it is hot, usually very hot. What happens when it is very hot. Service companies are very busy, some parts are not available, and your downtime will stretch, sometimes for days.
Now is the time for you to take some simple steps to save yourself a lot of heartache and misery later. Follow the link above to find some simple answers to frequently asked questions, start your system to check to see if there are any problems and clean it. Take a hose and clean as much debris as you can off the outdoor coils, also clean the drain and if you feel confident take the cover off the indoor coil, carefully slide it out and clean it.
These three simple cleaning operations will cure 90% of what could possibly go wrong with your system.
Then make sure you replace your filter with a clean one (monthly during peak useage)
and you can make your way to a trouble free and cool season.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Which way do I go

Questioner: Leroy
Category: Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC
Private: No

Subject: inducer fan running backwards
Question: QUESTION: While helping a friend replace the main fan motor of his gas furnace, I noticed that the inducer fan was turning the wrong direction. The unit had been operating like this for approx 6 years. we switched the wires, and the fan ran in the correct direction (verified by checking the airflow at the flue). what are the issues with this condition? was it pushing the exhaust into the house? are their efficiency issues? how could it have operated all this time with that condition?

ANSWER: It wasn't doing anything just spinning and I cannot imagine the furnace working like that so it must be a recent failure. If it is a capacitor motor (PSC) then the capacitor may be bad if it is a shaded pole motor (no cap) they will do that sometimes you need to go ahead and replace the motor as it will fail soon.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: This wasn't a recent failure... it has been operating like this for 6 years. we swapped the wires on the draft inducer fan motor and it was definitely pushing the air up the flue. only the main blower motor has a capacitor. We replaced both the main fan motor and its capacitor, and only after we checked that the new blower motor was working properly and everything was spinning down did I notice that the draft inducer fan was spinning in the wrong direction.

ANSWER: Like I said I have a hard time believing a furnace would run for 6 minutes let alone 6 years with a draft inducer running in the reverse direction.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I know it is hard to believe, but we both saw it spin the wrong direction. We switched the wires (there are only two wires for that motor) and when we started the heat cycle, it was turning the correct direction. we removed the sheet metal flue and could feel that it was in fact blowing out the vent. the only thing we didn't do was reverse the wires again (to their original configuration) to check the air flow at the vent.

Answer: I am not questioning that is was turning backwards, as I said shaded pole motors often do this when they are getting ready to fail. I just think it happened recently. A draft inducer utilizes a wheel instead of a propeller blade and if you turn a wheel backwards it doesn't move any air at all as the horizontal blades on the outside of the wheel are turning against the outside of the curve instead of the inside, it is like trying to shovel sand with the back of the shovel, it's easier to do but not quite as effective.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Making Your Money Work for You

If we are to believe that the economic times are the worst we have seen then you would be smart to make very good cost effective decisions concerning everything to do with your home, including the indoor comfort system repair and maintenance.
So how do you keep from getting taken advantage of. Well believe it or not just as in every other field of endeavour in this integrity challenged world. Most Heating and Air conditioning contractors are honest and trustworthy, but there are a few bad actors and you need a little knowledge to make sure you are making good, well informed decisions.
First of all don't be in a hurry. In anything you do if a salesperson of any character senses urgency on your part they will treat the situation differently. take your time you can find the answer to any question in minutes with the internet and there are many contractors willing to give you a second opinion.
Make sure you know a little before you call, there are many forums and manufacturers help sites available and people are willing to help you know what questions to ask and what to look for.
If a service company representative is not willing to help you understand exactly what is going on then call someone else. You need to find someone with the willingness to teach.
More on this subject in the next post.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Safe, Cost Effective Winter Comfort

A little winter time survival advice.

Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. For younger furnaces make sure the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is working properly and the pilot light is functioning. Homeowners can also hire an inspector to do the job and make sure the furnace is in safe working order.

Ducts should be cleaned once every two years. Homeowners should also consider adding insulation to any exposed ductwork. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it travels through unheated spaces.

Before lighting up, homeowners planning on using their fireplace come winter should have the chimney inspected for animals, debris and leaves that may have fallen in. BBB also recommends installing a screen over the chimney opening.

Gutters should be cleaned to prevent any clogs that would cause rainwater to back up and freeze, making the gutters expand and crack. The ridge vents need to be cleaned as well in order to allow the house to "breath" correctly. Otherwise, air will stagnate and create an unhealthy environment.

The average home has air leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall. To prevent leaks, homeowners should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, ensure that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn down weather stripping.

Emergency kit. When a winter storm strikes, an emergency kit should have all essential materials in one handy place. An emergency kit should include flashlights, candles and matches, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio. Create the same emergency kit for the car as well, including several blankets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Heat is a poppin

Hi there, last night I noticed that it was really warm in the living room. I went to the thermostat(digital) and noticed it was 23 degrees! I turned it down to like 18, but the baseboard heater would not shut off. It kept running and running no matter how low I put the thermostat. All of a sudden I heard PACK! at the baseboard heater. I ran to the electrical room and noticed the breaker did not shut, so i shut it right away.

I checked the baseboard heater and found the ground wire and blown off the screw.

I have one new 2000watt baseboard heater and one new 1000watt basebard heater running off the one new digital thermostat.

Any sugestions on what caused the baseboard heater to keep running, and why the ground wire blew off, and why the breaker did not shut down?

Any info is greatly appreciated, it will be really cold tonight and I still have't turned the breaker back on!!!

The breaker did not open because the circuit is imprperly grounded, the wire blew off, probably because ther is a short in that heater. It is kind of coincidental that a thermostat would go bad at the same time as the heater failure so I would blame the overheat on that heater for now until you prove different. A few possibilities are that the heater is improperly wired or that there was just a failure inside but my guess is improper wiring.

Follow up.
Hi Mike. Thanks for the quick response.

Just to clarify a few things...when you say the circuit is improperly grounded, do you mean at the baseboard heater?

A breaker will not trip if it is not grounded correctly?

I forgot to mention that both baseboard heaters would not turn off, so more likely it is the thermostat??

If the circuit is properly grounded and there is a short circuit, the breaker will trip. That is the way it is supposed to work. I do think the thermostat is probably bad it is just kind of coincidental. I think the grounding problem is between the heater and the breaker box

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Heating or Air Conditioning the world starts staying inside

I of course am in the air conditioning business we work on furnaces and refrigeration equipment also, but I must be honest and tell you I feel that indoor comfort control while a nice luxury has drastically changed society, and not for the better.
I just read an Australian report since 1994 residential air conditioning has increased from 15 to 58% this mirrors what happened in the U.S. in the 80's. I witnessed this and like everything else we do you never know what the impact will be until you are in it.
I remember people who grew up in major metropolitan areas in the 50's and 60's and they would tell stories of the summers when they could walk down the sidewalk during any summer day and never miss pitch of there favorite teams ballgame that day because everyone had the game on the radio and of course their windows were open. All the kids were on the street and all the mothers were in the yard.
I myself grew up in a small town we never had air conditioning until I was 14 years old all the families were in their yards or on the porches until late evening and our relatives in the country the same way every house you drove by you knew who lived there because they were all on the porch and waved at you when you went by.
Yes I know things change and I am tilting at windmills but this is just an observation from someone who sees our kids living completely different lives than we did and neighborhoods with little or no connection except for the water, sewer and electrical.
I'm just sayin.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It's getting cold out there, hopefully not inside your house. If so it is time to start thinking about what you are going to do about it. If you have a gas furnace you can call your utility provider and they should come and start it up without charge. If there are any serious issues they will alert you then you can decide whether to call a service company or to try to fix it yourself.
Most times a good cleaning will go a long way. Opening up the combustion chamber on an older furnace and cleaning it out with a shop vacuum does not take a technician. You can check for loose or burnt and corroded wires. Look for any evidence that the heat from combustion is where it is not supposed to be. If it is you can look for any obvious issues with your venting (rusty or perforated vent pipes or blocked or disconnected vents) if you do not see anything obvious you will probably want to call a pro here because you may have a failed heat exchanger and this could lead to cobustion product getting into your home.
If you have an electric system you will want to shut the power off and check every!! electrical connection inside the unit. Electric heat by it's very nature (wires getting hot) generates heat on the wires. This is made worse by loose or corroded connections which generate more heat. If you are successful DO It Yourselfer there are many places to get help if you have specific problems. Here are just a few,