AFUE and Selecting a Furnace for Installation

December 10th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

There are a few choices to make when it comes to selecting a furnace:

  • Type of furnace – combustion or electric
  • Type of fuel – oil, gas, propane or electricity

And: efficiency level.

The best way to assess how efficient a particular furnace will be is to review its AFUE rating. AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and it measures a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. As an example, a furnace with an AFUE of 90% means that that particular furnace will generate 90 BTUs of heat for every unit of fuel that it burns. In other words, when this particular furnace operates, 10% of your fuel is lost to exhaust. Comparatively speaking, this is a pretty good AFUE rating. AFUE can range from the low 50s to the high 90s, so this is why it’s important to understand how AFUE works.

What AFUE Doesn’t Mean

Sometimes energy efficiency ratings like AFUE can be misinterpreted as being an indication that a certain type of furnace with a certain AFUE rating will heat your home better; this isn’t true. What AFUE tells you is that a furnace with an AFUE of 95% will heat your home the same as a furnace with an AFUE of 90% – the difference is that the furnace with the higher AFUE rating will heat your home for less money because it uses less fuel to accomplish the job.

So why not just purchase the furnace with the higher AFUE? With improved energy efficiency can come higher purchase cost: typically, the higher a furnace’s energy efficiency, the higher the cost of the unit. Working with a trained expert can help you determine how long it will take to recover the installation costs of a unit, based on its energy efficiency level. He/she does this by calculating how much you can save in energy costs based on the AFUE rating and comparing that to your installation costs. Taking the time to work on this calculation with your technician can help you save money in energy costs for the long-term.

If you need a new furnace installation in Roswell, don’t go it alone: call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts!

How Furnace Repair Maintains Safety

December 4th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

Furnaces are manufactured with a number of safety controls that make them very safe to operate. However, allowing a malfunctioning furnace to continue operating can create dangerous situations that can’t be remedied by safety switches alone. Depending on the type of furnace you have, different scenarios can develop that may potentially compromise the safety of your family and your home. Making needed repairs to your furnace as soon as possible allows your furnace to run not just optimally, but safely. Following are some reasons why waiting to make repairs to your furnace can be a potentially dangerous situation.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces do not generate combustion byproducts, but this doesn’t mean that certain risks can’t develop when issues with your electric furnace aren’t remedied. One of the more common problems that can develop with an electric furnace is an issue with the system’s circuit breaker. Electric furnaces draw enough power to warrant having their own circuit breaker in your home’s electrical box. If the breaker trips, this usually indicates that the furnace is drawing too much power and as a safety precaution, the breaker turns off. You can try to turn the breaker back on, but should you encounter resistance or the breaker trips again, don’t keep resetting it; instead, call for repair.

Combustion Furnaces

Combustion furnaces generate toxic fumes and gases, the most noteworthy being carbon monoxide. The heat exchanger is responsible for separating these toxic byproducts and venting them safely to the outside via the flue. However, should the heat exchanger or the flue develop cracks or serious corrosion, these fumes and gases can escape and circulate into your living spaces.

There are also a number of safety switches that cut off the fuel supply should unsafe conditions develop. Limit switches, flame sensors and thermocouples are all examples of safety mechanisms that are installed into your furnace to ensure that fuel supply is both monitored and managed. Operating your furnace knowing that certain safety switches and mechanisms aren’t working properly can put you, your home and your system at risk.

Your furnace helps keep you comfortable all winter. If you know that furnace in Duluth is in need of repair don’t wait. Call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

How Long Does Furnace Installation Take?

December 3rd, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

Replacing your furnace is a great opportunity to increase your energy efficiency and comfort levels. Many times our technicians will ask how long it will take to install a new furnace. As long as your existing ductwork is intact and works correctly, it normally takes less than a day to replace an outdated furnace. However, there are decisions to be made before installation that can and should take some time.

Factors to Consider Before Installation

Combustion furnaces have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, so it’s important to make sure that you install a furnace that fits your needs and your home perfectly:

Size

Your home has specific heating needs, and these needs won’t be met if you install a system that is either too big or too small for your home. So how do properly size your furnace? By working with a trained professional on a heat load calculation. This calculation is comprised of things like:

  • Your home’s orientation
  • Levels of insulation
  • Floor plan
  • Number of occupants
  • Number and type of windows and doors
  • Square footage

Once the heat load calculation is done, you’ll know exactly what size furnace you’ll need to comfortable heat your home.

Type of Furnace

There are 2 main types of furnaces: electric and combustion. Combustion furnaces commonly use natural gas, but they can also use propane and oil. Electric furnaces can be good choices for homes that do not have immediate access to fossil fuels, or that don’t want to use a combustion system.

Energy Efficiency

Furnaces have become very energy efficient. The best way to check a furnace’s efficiency is to review its AFUE rating. The AFUE rating stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and it measures a furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. The higher AFUE rating, the greater energy efficiency of the furnace.

The installation of your furnace in Roswell should be the last step of a process conducted with a trained expert. Taking these steps helps ensure that you’ll install a new furnace that will heat your home as you need it to for years to come. Call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts!

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at Cool Air Mechanical, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Problems You May Encounter in Your Furnace’s Air Handler

November 20th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

One of the more active components of your furnace is the air handler, also known as the blower. Without this component, the warm air generated in your system cannot reach your living spaces. During the winter months, your blower operates a great deal, so it isn’t uncommon for problems to develop. But diagnosing and repairing those problems should be left to a trained professional. The certified technicians at Cool Air Mechanical can assist you with any heating need you may have, so call us today!

Common Problems with Air Handlers

Here are some of the more common problems our Cool Air Mechanical technicians see with furnace blowers:

Electrical Problems

There are a number of wires, relays and switches in the blower assembly and when these components wear down or break, the electrical flow can be interrupted. Wires corrode and fray over time, relays can become stuck and switches can break. Locating a specific electrical problem can be challenging, which is why all electrical repair should be left to an expert.

Motor Issues

The blower has a fan that allows it to rotate and push the warm air into your home. Common problems with the fan motor can be lack of lubrication, which causes friction, problems with the capacitors and overheating. Sometimes the fan motor can be repaired but there are instances when it needs to be replaced.

Belt Problems

Fan belts can wear and stretch, and when this happens with your blower, a worn belt can affect the rotation of your fan. In turn, this will decrease the amount of air flow in your system. Belts can make a screeching noise when they begin to wear down, so if you hear this sound coming from your furnace, call a technician for assistance.

Loose/bent/broken fan blades

Unsecured or bent fan blades can cause significant damage to your system if left unattended. This is because they can come into contact with other parts of your system as the fan turns. Leaving loose or broken fans to knock around your system can lead to damage and be potentially harmful, so if you hear a banging or clunking sound when your furnace operates, make sure to call for a technician.

When your fan doesn’t operate correctly, your entire system can be affected. If you are experiencing issues with your furnace’s blower, call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment for heating repair service in Alpharetta.

The Importance of Sizing a Water Heater for Installation

November 19th, 2014 by siteadmin

Though you may be looking forward to replacing your older water heater with a new more efficient high-performance system, many homeowners dread the installation process. Dealing with a contractor you know little about can be stressful as you don’t know whether you can trust an unfamiliar company to help you save money while finding you the most efficient system possible for your home and budget. Sometimes, homeowners cut corners by trying their hand at DIY installation or finding amateur technicians or family friends to do the work for them—which may prove to be a costly mistake later on.

Water heater installation might seem straightforward to some, but in reality it involves a complicated set of measurements and other factors to determine size, placement, efficiency and the type of water heater needed. Installation is not as simple as just hooking up components and turning on the water. First, a technician must decide which size works best in your home based on the layout of your home and plumbing system and the number of people who use hot water on a daily basis.

If a water heater is too small, it won’t be able to get the job done. You may notice that the hot water runs out too soon, and find yourself with a head full of shampoo and only cold water for rinsing, an unpleasant experience for most people. So, it seems as though you should be able to buy one of the largest systems possible and that will ensure you always have hot water, right?

Of course, if you get a system that is larger than you need, you end up paying more. Not only is installation more costly, but so are your monthly expenses. A storage tank water heater keeps water heated at all times, using up gas or electricity throughout the day to do so. A larger tank will need more energy to heat up, which means you may spend far more than you need to every month.

Make sure your water heater is sized and installed properly by relying on professional technicians only for installation, repairs, and annual maintenance. Get professional water heater installation in Atlanta by calling the folks at Cool Air Mechanical today to schedule a service appointment with us!

How a Faulty Thermostat Will Affect Your Heating in Dunwoody, GA

November 12th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

The thermostat in your home is the instrument that controls when your heating system turns on and off. It may be a small device, but it is an important one, and when your thermostat malfunctions it can cause several kind of problems for your heating system in Dunwoody, GA. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose a faulty thermostat, because the problems that develop can look like other issues. We’re going to outline below some of the more common effects a faulty thermostat can have on your heating system, but for all your heating repair needs, call the people you can count on: Cool Air Mechanical.

Problems Caused by a Faulty Thermostat

Here are some of the more common problems that can develop from faulty thermostats:

  • Short-cycling – short-cycling is the rapid turning on and off of your heating system. Short-cycling can cause overheating and damage, so it’s important to repair short-cycling as soon as possible. A couple of reasons why a thermostat can cause short-cycling is faulty wiring and too much dirt and dust on the instrumentation inside the thermostat.
  • No heat – there are a couple of ways a thermostat can cause your home to be without heat. If your thermostat uses batteries and the batteries die, this will cause the thermostat to turn off completely. Another problem can be the settings; make sure your thermostat hasn’t accidentally been switched to off or cooling. If you have a programmable thermostat, check to see if the program has been changed. Lastly, corroded or faulty wiring can result in no heat as the connection between the thermostat and the furnace may be damaged.
  • Reading the wrong temperature – older thermostats need to be calibrated properly in order to work correctly. If the calibration of your thermostat isn’t correct, it can misread the temperature inside your home, leading to incorrect temperature setting.

Your thermostat is the control center for your heating system in Dunwoody, GA. If you experience problems with your thermostat, or feel it may be time for a new one, call Cool Air Mechanical and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Signs It’s Time to Schedule Duct Cleaning

November 6th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

One often-overlooked, but important, part of your heating system is the ductwork. Ductwork gets just as dusty and dirty as the components in your furnace, and, with time, the buildup of dust and dirt can become significant. While your ductwork doesn’t need to be cleaned annually, it is strongly suggested that it is cleaned every 3-5 years. If your last duct cleaning in Atlanta was more than 5 years ago, you may see the signs that your ductwork has significant dirt and dust build-up. Remember that, for all of your ductwork needs, the trained and certified technicians at Cool Air Mechanical are ready to assist, so call us today.

Signs It’s Time for Duct Cleaning

Here are some of the common signs that your ductwork needs cleaning:

  • Increase in energy bills – when excessive dust and dirt line the inside of your ductwork, they can restrict the air flow in your system. This restriction forces your heating system to work harder; as a result, it uses more energy.
  • Noticeable amounts of dust in your home – is your home getting dustier even though you regularly clean it? The excessive dust from your ductwork has a direct route into your living spaces and can accumulate on furnishings.
  • Increased allergies/cold symptoms – are you seeing a lot of extra sneezing and coughing in your home? The dust and contaminants from your dirty ductwork may be causing irritation for those in your home, particularly the allergy sufferers.
  • Strange odors – do you notice unpleasant smells coming through your vents when the heat comes on? There may be pollutants in your ducts, and unless it is removed and your ductwork cleaned, it will continue to flourish.

Fall is the perfect time for maintenance on your heating system, so why not include duct cleaning? Professional duct cleaning in Atlanta can help improve your energy efficiency and comfort, and keep your indoor air quality high. Call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Heat Pump Repair Needs: Broken Reversing Valve

November 5th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

A heat pump is a fantastic choice for your home heating system. It’s energy-efficient, cost-efficient, and safer than combustion-based systems. Just like any other system, however, a heat pump will develop issues from time to time. One of the most common problems is a broken reversing valve.

What is a Reversing Valve?

A heat pump, as you probably already know, is capable of both heating and air conditioning functions. It accomplishes this by altering the flow of refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units. This switches which unit is the compressor and which is the condenser. In heating mode, the outdoor unit draws in heat and the indoor unit expels it into the house. In cooling mode the opposite happens, with the indoor unit siphoning heat out of the house so the outdoor unit can expel it. Without the reversing valve, the refrigerant would only be able to flow one way. This would limit the heat pump to either heating or cooling, just like other forced air systems.

The reversing valve itself is a 4-way junction, with lines to the central unit intake and output lines as well as the indoor and outdoor unit lines. Inside is a slide, which by moving to one side of the valve or the other controls the direction of the refrigerant flow. This slide is attached to a solenoid, essentially an electromagnetic coil. When a current is run through the solenoid, it pulls the slide to one side. When the current is cut off, the slide moves back to its default position.

What Causes a Broken Reversing Valve?

There are a couple of possible causes for a broken reversing valve. The slide could simply be stuck, in which case the solenoid is unable to force it to switch positions. The second possibility is that the solenoid is broken, which likely means it will need to be replaced. This is often caused by the solenoid losing its magnetism, which usually just happens with age.

So, how can you tell if your reversing valve is broken? It’s not something you can tell just by looking at it. Usually the best way to tell is if your heat pump becomes stuck in one mode or another. That is a good indication that the refrigerant is only flowing one way, which means a problem with the valve.

If you’re having heat pump problems, give Cool Air Mechanical a call and schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained technicians. Our professional heating repair service covers all of Kennesaw, GA.

What Are the Advantages of a Furnace Installation in Decatur?

October 29th, 2014 by Stephen Andrews

A new furnace installation in Decatur can help you increase energy efficiency and comfort, all while offering a level of reliability that can last for years. But there are additional benefits to installing a new furnace, as we’ll outline below. Fall offers a great window of time in which to install a new furnace, and hiring experience professionals ensures that your installation will be done quickly, efficiently and correctly. If you are ready for a new furnace, call the people you can count on: Cool Air Mechanical.

Two Types of Furnaces

We carry two types of furnaces at Cool Air Mechanical: electric and gas. Each has its own way of operating and benefits:

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces use heating elements to heat air directly. A large intake fan at the bottom of the cabinet draws air into the cabinet and blows it over the hot coils. The newly-warmed air is then blown into the ductwork to your living spaces. Some of the benefits of an electric furnace are:

  • Very good energy efficiency – because electric furnaces do not burn fossil fuels, they can have an energy efficiency rating as high as 100%.
  • You do not need a gas line – some homes do not have access to a natural gas line, whereas electricity is widely available.
  • Safety – while no heating system is guaranteed to be 100% safe, there is no need to worry about toxic fumes with an electric furnace.
  • Clean – because an electric furnace doesn’t burn fuel to operate, the system stays clean, which is helpful when it comes to annual maintenance.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces tap into the natural gas line near your home. The gas is fed into the combustion chamber where it meets with air and a flame erupts. This flame heats the heat exchanger, where the warm air is then blown into your home. Some of the benefits of a gas furnace are:

  • Fast, hot heat – gas heat is about 130 degrees. As such, it heats your home quickly.
  • Good energy efficiency – gas furnaces can have an energy efficiency rating as high as 98%.
  • Burns cleanly – gas burns the cleanest of any fossil fuels.

If you need help deciding what kind of furnace is best for your heating installation in Decatur, call Cool Air Mechanical today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.