Fall Furnace Tune Up Tips

Fall Home Furnace Tune-up Tips

Having the ability to keep your home warm during the long and cold winter months is a luxury that the vast majority of us are able to take for granted. However, sometimes systems fail to produce up to their capacity and they need repairs and/or replacement. If your systems fails, it’s below freezing outside, snowing, and your house is getting colder by the minute what can you do? This certainly qualifies as an emergency, a dangerous one at that, and a service provider should be called ASAP. These situations unfortunately happen every year, and while we understand you can’t plan for emergencies to happen, you can take the time to give your unit some preventative maintenance this fall. Preventative maintenance is simply some things that you can do to help prolong the life of your furnace, while maintaining peak efficiency and keeping costs as low as possible, while ensuring your unit will be running at peak performance during the winter months when it’s greatly needed.

  1. MAKE SURE THE UNIT IS CLEAN.

When air is circulated through a home it picks up pet dander, hair, dust, dirt, and any number of other things that are present in the home. No matter how often you clean your home it’s going to have these particles in it, so don’t feel bad about your unit collecting them. However, over time these particles can accumulate in the HVAC system and can decrease efficiency, or even cause the furnace to stop running altogether. About 90 percent of furnace failures could’ve be prevented with regular maintenance and cleaning. Clean your home, clean your furnace, and increase the lifespan and efficiency of your unit. Easy fix there!

  1. MAKE SURE THE FILTER IS CLEANfilters

The filter is what cleans the air moving through the system. The longer a filter is kept in an HVAC system, the more dust, dirt, hair, etc. accumulates on the filter, causing it to restrict the airflow. As these particles accumulate, air can’t pass, or worse, the system overheats. The motor then has to work harder. By replacing the air filter regularly, the furnace will have consistent air flow and the filters will help catch most everything going through the system trying to clog it up.

  1. CLEAN THE FLAME SENSOR

 

The ignition assembly in your furnace is what gives the furnace the heat for the home. When the thermostat calls for heat in the home the ignitor lights the burners. When the burners ignite then the flame sensor will sense the flame and tell the gas valve to remain open. If it does not sense the flame then the gas valves will close prematurely and the system will get rid of any excess gases before it will attempt to reignite. If the flame sensing rod is dirty, or has been corroded then it won’t work properly. This may cause your unit to not turn on, or to shut off prematurely.Furnace Flame Sensing Rod

  1. CHECK THE CAPACITOR

The capacitor is what runs your blower motor in your furnace. Without a working capacitor the blower motor won’t work, and that can lead to a costly part or repairs. Typically we recommend to replace the capacitor every 3-5 years to make sure it keeps a consistent charge for the blower motor. If the motor won’t turn on it could be a bad capacitor. Try replacing it, and if that does not work feel free to give us a call at (866) 215-3831. We have technical support available.

  1. REMOVE THE DUST OFF OF THE CIRCUIT BOARDcontrol board

The circuit board is the brain of the furnace. It uses a lot of energy, and it can get hot if not treated well. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the board, and that can cause it to overheat. When it overheats the relays and circuits can become damaged, and that will cause the board to become bad. Using a can of compressed air, lightly clear off the dirt and dust from the board so the relays can breathe. This will give the board a longer life. When cleaning the board, be sure not to touch it without discharging any static electricity first. For more details check out our blog on static electricity.

6. IF YOU SMELL GAS OR SUSPECT THERE MAY BE A LEAK CALL A SERVICE PROFESSIONAL

We cannot emphasize this enough: if you suspect there is a gas leak, or cracks in your heat exchanger, PLEASE CALL A SERVICE PROFESSIONAL. They are very knowledgeable and can diagnose a cracked heat exchanger or a gas leak quickly upon arrival. These issues are serious enough that they could potentially cause your family to get sick, or at a bare minimum they will send costs rising.

Fall is upon us, and soon it will be time to fire up those furnaces. We want yours to run efficiently all winter, so hopefully these tips help you. If you have any issues or require more information feel free to give our office a call at (866) 215-3831. Or you can visit our website at www.hvacpartsshop.com. We’re happy to help out! Thanks for reading!site-logo

Can your Thermostat save you money?

Cornelius DrebbelThe thermostat is a wonderful device. Since its invention in the early 1700s by Cornelis Drebbel, a Dutch man, with one of its earliest uses being to regulate the temperature of a chicken incubator, the thermostat has been helping people regulate the temperature inside of their home and their office space. From Drebbel’s earliest incarnation of a thermostat, to today’s Wi-Fi enabled programmable thermostats, thermostats have been helping people stay comfortable inside of their home for hundreds of years. However, for such an important household device, a startling number of people do not know much about the types of thermostats that are available to them. Thermostats aren’t in the “one size fits all mold”, as some thermostats might be better suited to your household than others. In this blog we will look at the most common types of thermostats founds in today’s modern home.

 

As mentioned before there are several types of thermostats. Three of the more common types are:

Programmable                                        Non-programmable                                Smart thermostats

Wifi Stat

iComfort Wi-Fi Thermostat

Smart thermostats are used with a smart phone and the corresponding app. The process where a homeowner can control their thermostat, lights, etc. is called home automation. Home automation gives a homeowner control of their house. It also can help to save the homeowner money when it comes to controlling the temperature in their home. When someone is out of the house, they can decide what temperature to set their thermostat at, even if they forgot to change it while they were at home. If there is a day cooler than expected, a homeowner can turn off the air conditioner from their phone, and that will help give them more savings.

Programmable Thermostat

PRO IAQ Programmable Thermostat

Having worked outside, I can tell you that it is a fantastic feeling when you’ve got the A/C blasting, and taking that first step inside is glorious. However, to keep an AC unit running all summer can definitely send the electric bill through the roof. A programmable thermostat can help limit the rising costs of your electric bills. A programmable thermostat can be set for days in advance. Some can even be set for a week in advance, and that can drive costs down. A programmable thermostat works by setting times for it to cool or heat to different temperatures throughout a day. This works in conjunction with a consistent schedule, so it can be set to turn on right before you get home from work, but the unit is not running all day.

On the flip side, non-programmable thermostats are easy to use. The unit can be turned on with the flip of a switch. Put the temperature to what you desire, and feel the magic happen. The drawback to the non-programmable thermostat is that it is easy to forget about, so it can keep costs up on hot/ cold days.

Non-Programmable Thermostat

PRO Nonprogrammable Digital Thermostat

The further the outside temperature is from the setting on the thermostat, the more the unit has to work to keep the temperature constant. Our recommendation is to keep the temperature as high as is comfortable in the summer, and as low as comfortable in the winter. Also, baking and cooking with the stove heats the home as well, and that could rise the temperature in the home a few degrees. This can cause the unit to run more, so being aware of anything that can keep the unit running is important.

We hope these tips helped out, and if you have any questions we would love to answer them. Feel free to give us a call at (866) 215-3831 or contact us through our website at www.hvacpartsshop.com.

Beat the Summer Heat

As we enter August, which is typically the hottest month of the year, the heat is telling us that it is here to stay. At least in the Kansas City area, where we’re at, temperatures continue to stay in the Olathe Weather - Hot90’s, with the occasional dip into the high 80’s for some relief. These temperatures are causing excessive heat warnings, and with excessive heat comes hazardous health risks. Places with higher humidity have additional issues. High humidity slows the evaporation of the body’s sweat, and this causes our body to overheat, and could pose even more dangerous health risks if not monitored carefully.  Finding a way to stay cool in the hot weather is imperative for health reasons, as well as overall comfort.

The vast majority of heat-related illnesses are preventable. Some basic tips to avoid heat-related illnesses include the following:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If A/C isn’t available in your home call a service company ASAP, or use a public facility. DO NOT RELY ON A FAN AS YOUR MAIN COOLING DEVICE DURING A HEAT WAVE.
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially from the hours of 10AM-6PM.
  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Try not to use the stove or oven to cook, as it will make your house hotter.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have them do the same for you.

Hopefully the tips above aren’t a huge worry to you, as you have a dependable air conditioning system in your home. If you do then your focus should be on staying cool, which is the result of a well-functioning and well-maintained system. However, another focus should be on saving money with your air conditioning system. Running your A/C all day every day for 3+ months (as is necessary during the regular Kansas City summer) can prove to be expensive. Here are some tips on lowering your monthly electric costs:iS30

  • Use your windows to your advantage. Keep your windows well insulated, as this will keep out unwanted warm air. Also, during rare cool periods turn off your A/C
    and open up your windows to cool your home.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. An often recommended temperature is 78 degrees when you’re home, and 85 when you’re out of the house. You can save 3% – 5% on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat in the summer.
  • Install a programmable thermostat as an alternative to constantly monitoring and changing the thermostat yourself. Programmable thermostats allow you to be in absolute control of the temperature in your home, day and night, home or away, saving you money in the process.
  • Keep your filters clean. Check your filters monthly, or as often as specified by the manufacturer. Replace filters when needed. Preventative maintenance is important to keep your equipment running efficiently.
  • Consider installing an energy efficient air conditioner. New energy efficient A/C’s have several advantages over their predecessors, including a longer lifespan, lower energy bills monthly, and the use of environmentally-friendly refrigerant.

Why is HVAC Preventative Maintenance Important?

Save money for the important thingsWhole-home heating and cooling systems are expensive, there’s no other way to put it. Replacing a whole-home comfort system, especially with a quality system that will last 10+ years, can cost thousands of dollars. Money like that, to use a popular saying, “doesn’t grow on trees.” An unexpected failure in either your heating or cooling system will dip into your emergency fund, and make you allocate that money from something you really want to spend your money on, also known as in our business as a “luxury” item (think a trip, new car, boat, bike, etc.). Here at HVAC Parts Shop we don’t want you to have to go through this, so that’s why we stress to our customers preventative maintenance. Simple, preventative maintenance can help lengthen the life of your air conditioner and furnace, and put off those costs, allowing you to spend your money on what you really want.

First and foremost, changing the filters for the system is a priority.  If a filter is clogged up, the air is unable to get through. If the air can’t get through the filter, components of the system begin to overheat. When they overheat, that’s when the system can start to shut down, or even break down, leading to costly repairs or a full out necessary replacement. Preventative maintenance, like regular filter changes, can lengthen the life of the unit and help it run more efficiently, saving you money in both the long and short term. Depending on the size of your filter, the time between replacements can vary.

Generally, we suggest a one-inch filter gets replaced every month, and some of the thicker ones can last up to three-four months. However, regular checks are recommended to make sure it is not too clogged up and the unit is still running efficiently. Click here to view our selection of filters if yours needs to be replaced.Run Capacitor

Another important item to change on a regular basis is your capacitor. The capacitor regulates the electrical current running through the equipment. We recommend replacing them every 4-5 years. After a few years a capacitor can get weaker. This can cause all sorts of problems for your equipment. A weak capacitor puts unnecessary stress on the motor and compressor. This stress can cause them to overheat, or not start at all. A weak capacitor can even cause the motor and compressor’s life to be shortened. Replacing them every few years is a relatively cheap and easy fix for do-it-yourselfers. When you switch out your capacitor, it is important to discharge yourself and the capacitor before removing it. This will make it safe to touch, and can prevent an unpleasant jolt of electricity.

Contactors are important to change every 4-5 years as well. Contactors are connected to all of the main electrical. They are connected to the compressor, fan motor, thermostat, and capacitor. When the thermostat calls for cooling, the contactor closes the circuits. These closed electrical circuits let the electricity flow through the contacts and power the unit. As a contactor gets older and dirt gets into the contacts, it becomes more difficult for the circuits to close. If they can’t close properly, the contactor tries to push electrical current harder, and that causes extra stress on the electrical contacts. With extra stress on the contacts, the electrical equipment is stressed too. In order to prevent the unnecessary stress on the air conditioner, it is recommended to replace the contactor every 4-5 years.

These simple tips are the type of preventative maintenance that will help keep your home comfort system running efficiently. Replacing these parts consistently will help lengthen the life of your system. Replacing these parts will help keep the costs to a minimum, and can let you focus on the important things in life. If you need any of these parts, or other technical support, feel free to check out our website at www.hvacpartsshop.com. We’ll be happy to help you out.site-logo

Hard Start Kits: Do You Need One?

When a heating and AC system is working, it is marvelous. Having the temperature in your home exactly where you want it, regardless of the weather outside is a fantastic thing. However, like every other mechanical thing, some AC units are subject to wear-and-tear, and eventually breaking down. For many electrical units, the simple act of starting up is actually the hardest part in the lifespan of that unit. For example, many lightbulbs burn out when you start them, not when they’re on and running. This is due to the huge current that rushes in when a switch is thrown and power is first applied. Your A/C uses 5-10 times more power on start-up than it does when it’s running; this causes strain on its components. In addition to the power used to start-up your unit, a wave of heat rushes through and it could damage the compressor, terminals, windings and run capacitor; all vital components of your air conditioner.

One thing that happens when a compressor starts to wear down is an increase in electrical pull. As it wears down, it takes more and more electricity to shift the compressor from start-mode to run-mode. This extra electrical current can overload the capacitor, and it can stop working. In older units, start capacitors were required, and they helped shift the compressor into run-mode. Some units nowadays do not have start capacitors. If the compressor is having a hard time turning on, it could be drawing too much electrical current through the capacitor, and this will reduc71P48_300e the life of the capacitor significantly.

One way to prevent the extra pull of current through the  is to install a hard start kit, also known as a compressor saver. The hard start kit will shorten the start-up period of the compressor. It allows the compressor to start up quickly and use less power during the process of powering up your unit. Ultimately it will let you save money on your energy bill. You’re A/C may start upwards of 6,000 times in a single cooling season. Reducing the strain on your unit each time it starts will not only save you time and money, but it will also extend the lifespan of your unit.

Here at the HVAC Parts Shop it is our professional opinion that you consider adding a hard start kit for your unit. The hard start kit will allow your compressor to last longer, help your AC unit start and cool your home more efficiently, and ultimately cost you less money in power bills and the possible maintenance cost of a new compressor down the road. Here at the HVAC Parts Shop we sell hard start kits starting at $25; this is 90% less than replacing a new compressor, and 95-98% less than replacing you’re A/C unit. On our website the part number for the Hard Start Kit is a 71P48, and the direct link to the page is here. If you have any questions about the hard start kit, or anything parts related, remember we offer live tech support both on our website and over the phone.

Germicidal Light The Way To Cleaner Air

Fact of life: germs are present in every home, and no matter how much you clean there will be at least some germs in your home. The question then becomes what can you do to combat the germs in your home? One of the simplest ways to clean up the air in your home and eliminate those pesky troublesome germs is through germicidal lights. There are three different types of UV rays: UV-A UV-B, and UV-C. The germicidal lights give off UV-C rays. This level of ultra-violet light destroys a mold’s, virus’s, and bacteria’s ability to grow and multiply. When these cells try to divide and multiply, they die off, rendering them ineffective in your home.

Installing these germicidal lights is easy, and it will also clean up the air circulating throughout your home without any extra steps on your part.Germicidal Lamp Picture 1

These lights are installed inside the duct work for your heating and cooling systems. Because it is installed inside the duct work, as the air is pushed through the ducts, the air is passed through the light. When the air passes through the light, the germs and bacteria become incapable to reproduce. The result of these lights is a fresher, cleaner home because the pathogens die off.

As an added bonus to the air filtration these germicidal lamps provide, they also help your heating and cooling unit’s efficiency remain in tip-top shape. This will prolong the life of the unit considerably. All of the things floating throughout your home can reduce the efficiency and ultimately lower the lifespan of the system. This drives up your cost for running the system, and it puts unnecessary wear and tear on the unit. While the AC unit is running during the summer, these lights help the coil remain clean and pathogen free when it is fighting humidity during the warmer months.

These lamps will take care of those deposits of gunk and gross things in your home. As a result, the air you breathe will be cleaner, crisper, and fresher. This will lead to a healthier and more cost-effective lifestyle for you and your family. Who doesn’t want that?Germicidal Lamp

However, UV lights can be harmful to your eyes. We recommend before installing one of these to make sure all of your duct work is sealed off. A certified technician should be able to confirm that your duct work is sealed off correctly before the installation of the germicidal lights. This is done to ensure that no one’s eyes suffer damage from looking at these lights.

If you would like to order one of these lights, we’d be happy to provide one for you. You can look at our selection of germicidal lights at http://www.hvacpartsshop.com/germicidallampequipmentandpartsuv.aspx. If you would like to discuss the benefits of having one of these lights more, or would like to order one, feel free to give us a call at (866) 215-3831. We’d love to hear from you!

How Cool is your Thermostat?

An important part of every heating and cooling system, the thermostat is how a homeowner regulates the temperature inside their home. Some thermostats have settings to allow week-long programming. Others, they aren’t quite as advanced. Some of the top-of-the-line thermostats can be connected to a smart phone via Wi-Fi and an app. The homeowner can be hundreds of miles away and still control their thermostat.

But what does a thermostat actually do?iS30

When it comes down to it, the thermostat is the temperature regulator for the home. Thermostats are a tool to control the level of comfort/temperature in a particular setting. Some people prefer warmer temperatures, and others prefer cooler ones. With the weather starting to heat up, it is important to make sure your thermostat is in proper working order to keep you comfortable during the warmer months.

If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure it is set for the temperatures you want. And, if you know you will be out of the house for long periods of time (going to work, for example), set it to stay off during those times. This will lower your electricity bill, and who doesn’t want that?

1f971277Some furnaces modulate their airflow. These modulating furnaces have variable speed motors. A variable speed motor is meant to be running 24 hours a day. When it is not heating or cooling it is cycling about 200 cubic feet of air per minute. This keeps the entire house the same temperature. Another added bonus to having the furnace constantly running is the constant filtration of the air.
With a thermostat placed on each level, some units are capable of keeping different levels at different temperatures. The thermostat tells the dampers to shut or open accordingly, and when the temperature called for is met, they close and run on low power mode. An added advantage to the variable speed motors is the conversion of an AC electrical current to DC.  This conversion of energy makes the unit considerably more efficient, and cost-effective.

Thermostats dictate the comfort of the home. Having a functioning thermostat and one that best fits your needs is important to have the highest level of comfort possible. We have a wide range of thermostats to choose from. Come check out our selection at http://www.hvacpartsshop.com/thermostatsandcontrols.aspx! We at HVAC Parts Shop hope to serve you soon! Give us a call at (866) 215-3831!

Shocking Truth Behind Static Electricity

control boardA furnace circuit board uses two types of voltages. First is the control voltage. This always operates at 24 volts. Second is the line voltage. This is used to run the motors, and the voltage required for the line voltage depends on the unit. Typically, this is around 120 volts. With just one touch, a technician or homeowner can burn up the electrical components of a furnace. To avoid this type of incident it is important for anyone working on the furnace to discharge their self of any static electricity before working on the furnace.

Static electricity can build and burn up electrical components without any warning. Typically, when a person feels a static shock, they are feeling at least 3,000 volts of electricity. That is 20-25 times the normal capacity for that board to handle! If static discharges to the board with less than 3,000 volts, but more than the amount needed to run the board, the board can become ruined without any warning.

Grounding the electrical current out of the body is important to prevent shorting out any electrical components of the furnace. To ground the static electricity from the body, before doing any work on the electrical components, touch a metal object away from the furnace. The current will move from the body’s point of contact to the metal surface. This happens because metal is a better conductor of electricity than the human body.control board

 

Once the electricity is discharged from the body, working on the furnace is less dangerous to the electrical parts. And, if there are issues with electrical components or any other technical questions, we do offer technical support at (866) 215-3831. We have videos posted online for our most common parts, and we add more videos periodically. They can be viewed at www.hvacpartsshop.com. Feel free to give us a buzz if you need any parts for your furnace!

Basic HVAC home troubleshooting

H1: Basic HVAC Heating and Cooling System Troubleshooting

Your home heating and cooling system is a vital piece of your home that makes sure you and your family can feel comfortable year round. If it isn’t maintained properly, you run the risk of your system becoming less efficient that will not only wasting costly energy, but make it difficult to maintain that perfect, comfortable environment in your home.  When something goes wrong, there are a few common things to check in the HVAC system for some quick troubleshooting.

H2: Time to Swap Filters

A filter that is full of dirt and dust cannot properly move the air your HVAC system needs to operate efficiently. Even if the air still is flowing, the mechanics of the system might be working harder than they need too, prematurely aging your equipment. Plan to change your filters once a month in high-use seasons and every three months the rest of the year.

H3: Thermostat Is BrokeniS30

If your house is suddenly too hot or too cold and nothing seems to be wrong with the HVAC equipment, the culprit might just be your thermostat. Fortunately, this is a simple and relatively inexpensive repair to make.  Make sure that you check the status of your thermostat and see if it’s functioning properly before you start looking into other pieces of your system or planning a bigger repair project.

 

H4: Tripped Breaker

HVAC equipment that is completely unresponsive might throw you into a panic, but the reason might just be a tripped breaker. Be sure to immediately check out your breaker panel before doing anything other detective work. Flip the appropriate breaker back to the “on” position. That should get your system back up and running unless there was another problem inside your system.  It is possible that a breaker switch could be a fluke, but if the breaker continues to trip, contact a professional to help you address what may be causing the issue.

H5: Unbalanced Dampers

Dampers in your home heating and cooling ducts restrict the airflow into any section or room. If it seems like a particular space is always too cold or too warm, you might need to adjust the dampers that lead to that room.  If adjusting the dampers doesn’t completely solve the issue, you may have another issue on your hands.

H6: Leaking Refrigerant

If your home cooling system doesn’t seem to be producing air that is as cold as expected, you might have a problem with refrigerant leaking from the AC unit. If so, you will need to call a professional out to reload the system and repair any leaks.

Whole-House Humidifiers: Bypass vs. Power

whole-home humidifiers: bypass vs. powerIn an earlier blog post we explained that the best way to fight dry air is to install a whole-house humidifier. We also mentioned two different types of whole-house humidifiers – the bypass humidifier and the power humidifier. So which should you install? Let’s get into the nitty gritty of which is right for you.

Both the bypass humidifier and the power humidifier have the same task at hand – to add moisture into the air of your home. Both do that by working in conjunction with your furnace or air handler, but there are some major differences in how they deliver the humidity to the rooms of your house.

The bypass humidifier is connected to the return of your furnace or air handler. It does not have a motor of its own and instead relies on the blower motor of the furnace to push warm air through it. The warm air is then pushed through the water panel that is within the humidifier and absorbs moisture from it. That moisture is then delivered back into the air stream and back into your home.

The bypass humidifier is probably the more common of the two, but the power humidifier is quickly gaining popularity and is replacing many bypass humidifiers in many of our customers’ homes.

When comparing the power humidifier to the bypass humidifier, the major differences are that it has its own blower motor and does not rely on the furnace blower motor. The fan delivers moisture to the supply, which sits above the heat source. Once humidity is created it is sent through the ductwork to the rest of the house and does not have to recirculate through the furnace and heat exchanger, as is the case with the bypass humidifier.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Bypass Humidifiers

Pros

A bypass humidifier is more affordable, it adapts to various water types (i.e. hard, soft) and requires very little maintenance.

Cons

It has to be connected to a bypass duct, which is aesthetically unpleasing and unfortunately can eat up more space. Also, since it uses the blower motor of the furnace the humidity that it creates has to be redistributed back through the furnace and heat exchanger again and again in a continuous loop. Therefore, a notable amount of moisture and humidity is lost. In other words, it is less efficient than the power humidifier.

Power Humidifiers

Pros

The power humidifier produces more humidity than the bypass humidifier. In fact it creates about one gallon of humidity more per day than the bypass humidifier. Another pro is that it can humidify more square feet and is ideal for larger homes.

Cons

The one downside to a power humidifier is that it is much more expensive to repair than the bypass humidifier.

We hope that this information is helpful in choosing the right whole-home humidifier for you and your home. And if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us. HVAC Parts Shop is here to help!