Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC Blog : Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween! Candy and costumes make any day fun; we hope you have a fantastic time trick or treating! Remember to be safe this holiday, and don’t forget it is time to start thinking seriously about fall maintenance for inside and outside your house. A quick tune up of your heating system will save you some trouble during this upcoming holiday season!

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What to do if Your Heating System Breaks: A Tip from Cartersville

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Everyone at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems wishes you a Happy Halloween weekend! We hope you have a great time dressing up and eating lots of candy! And since your furnace breaking can ruin any holiday, here is what you should do if your heating system stops working.

What if the heart of your Cartersville home’s heating system – the furnace – stops working? The warm air that used to flow from your vents has been replaced by a chilly draft. It isn’t time to panic, but it is time to take action. Before you do anything, determine why the furnace stopped working. It may be something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Check the circuit breakers first.

The pilot light in your furnace may have blown out. It can be re-lit if you follow the directions in your furnace owner’s manual. You can find answers on how to re-light a pilot light on the Internet, too.

If the shutdown has not been caused by an electrical or pilot light failure, there is still no need to panic. But another obvious question is: did you pay your last gas bill? Maybe you had a shutoff notice and either ignored it or forgot about it.

Now that you are convinced that the furnace has pooped out, here are some things you should do. First, find the name of a qualified heating and cooling professional. If you already use a heating contractor, contact them and schedule a service call.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for. Make sure pets are nearby and protected from the cold, too. What you don’t want to do is use any appliance to keep you warm that is not designed to keep you warm, like a stove. If you have electric space heaters or propane heaters, carefully locate them in a well vented room (windows open a bit or portable fans circulating air). You don’t want any build-up of gases from fossil burning appliances, gases which could contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Huddle up everyone into a room and break out lots of blankets. You may even want to make an “adventure” of this – find a movie to watch and pop up a bunch of popcorn.  If your waiting time is more than 24 hours, you might want to call up a friend or relative and make arrangements to spend the night with them.

The main thing to remember is not to panic. Most qualified heating contractors, knowing the circumstances, will send out a repair person in a matter of minutes or within one or two hours. Just remember to avoid keeping warm by using unvented heating devices.

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Furnace Fan Doesn’t Run? Why Is That? What Should You Do? A Guide from Alpharetta

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

There are several reasons that a furnace fan might stop working at one point or another. While many of these do require Alpharetta professional’s attention, there are probably some things you can check on your own before you go and call in the pros. After all, if you can address the problem on your own, it will at least save you from having to pay a technician to come out.

The first thing to check when your furnace is running but the fan isn’t turning is whether or not the fan is actually switched on. Certain models of furnaces have a separate switch to turn the fan on and off. While there is probably no reason that you would want to turn off the fan by itself, it’s worth taking a look just in case. If that really is the problem, you’ll be up and running and back to dealing with better things in no time.

If that’s not the problem, you might try looking to see if any wires leading to the fan are loose or the fuse is blown. If the fan has no power, of course, it won’t be able to work but the rest of the furnace likely would work just fine as long as it doesn’t run on electricity as well.

Of course, the problem very well may be beyond your power to solve on your own. Don’t despair though. Even though you need to call in a professional, that doesn’t mean that the problem will be expensive to fix. In fact, it may be as simple as replacing your thermostat or the motor for the fan itself.

Just because a fan isn’t working doesn’t mean that you’re going to be paying an arm and a leg to have work done on your furnace. If you can’t easily discover the problem on your own, however, or if you’re not comfortable inspecting this type of equipment at all, you’re generally better off just calling in an expert and letting them do the dirty work for you. Paying for simple furnace fan repairs is definitely preferable to having to pay someone to fix the fan and the stuff you broke yourself while trying to fix the fan on your own.

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What is an Electric Furnace? A Question from Ball Ground

Monday, October 24th, 2011

There are many types of furnaces that you can get in Ball Ground 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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What is Forced Air Heating? A Question from Atlanta

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Chances are that you’ve heard the term forced air heating before, particularly if you’re in the market for a new home heating system in Atlanta. But what does that actually mean? The truth is that if you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. There are so many types of home heating systems out there that it’s common to be a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is that a forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat throughout your house using air to carry it. In this type of system, heated air travels through a system of ducts and is expelled through vents into the different rooms and areas of your home in order to maintain a particular temperature. That temperature, of course, is whatever you set your thermostat to, and when the desired temperature is reached, the heat will shut off until the temperature drops down again.

The main difference between the different types of forced air heating systems is the type of equipment that heats the air. For instance, you could have a gas furnace or an electric one. Both of these are capable of heating air, and when paired with a fan, blower or air handler, can distribute heated air throughout your home.

Many forced air heating systems are remarkably energy efficient and can effectively keep you home comfortable all winter long. Additionally, they are generally made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for year round temperature control. Heat pumps are especially convenient in this way, as they’re able to both heat and cool your home depending on the season and your home comfort needs.

Particularly if you already have ductwork in place or if you’re choosing a heating system for a new construction home, it can make a lot of sense to opt for some type of forced air heating. However, if you’re looking to replace an existing heating system in a house that doesn’t already have ductwork in place, the need to put it in can add a lot to the overall installation costs of the system.

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History of Geothermal Energy: Some Trivia from Powder Springs

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Geothermal energy is nothing new – it just gets more ink because of its increasing use to naturally heat and cool buildings in places like Powder Springs, leaving a smaller carbon footprint and providing for an efficient, more cost-saving method to achieve indoor comfort.

History shows that geothermal energy dates back over 10,000 years when American-Paleo Indians used hot springs for bathing and heating, possibly even as a source for healing. And geothermal energy is not just a North American “thing” either. The oldest known hot springs spa was built in the Qin dynasty in China in the 3rd century B.C.

Romans used the water from hot springs for their public baths. Geothermal water was also used by the Romans for treating skin and eye diseases. Minerals found in hot springs water has been long believed to have healing qualities. Geothermal water was also used to heat the buildings in Pompeii. Subsequently, building heat was obtained from under floor systems.

History notes that France is home to the world’s oldest known geothermal district heating system. The system in Chaudes-Aigues has been in use since about the 14th century. And starting in 1960, France began using geothermal heating for homes in other areas. Up to 200,000 homes in France are heated by geothermal means.

History also shows geothermal energy use during the late 18th century near Pisa, Italy. Geothermal energy had been used to extract boric acid from the Larderello Fields through the use of steam. In 1904 at Lardello Fields, steam was successfully used to generate power for the first time. At the time, geothermal energy was seen as the power of the future.

In the U.S. in 1892, the first district heating system in Boise, Idaho was powered directly by geothermal energy, and was soon copied in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1900, where geothermal water was pumped under sidewalks and roads to help prevent freezing and ice build up. In New Mexico rows of pipe were placed underground to keep soil warmer for agricultural purposes.

A deep geothermal well was used to heat greenhouses in Boise in 1926.

For the residential market, an inventor built a “downhole heat exchanger” in 1930 to heat his house. The heat pump, which was invented in 1852, was patented to draw heat from the ground in 1912. However, it was not until the 1940s that the geothermal heat pump was successfully launched. Records show that the first commercial heat pump was put into use in Portland, Oregon in 1946. The first residential open loop system was installed in 1948.

In the 1960’s, the first large scale industrial geothermal energy power plant was constructed, producing 11 megawatts of geothermal electricity. From the 1960’s to the present day organizations and governing bodies have been set up to manage, research, and develop new and improved geothermal energy sites and technologies.

Today, there are any geothermal power plants in working order in the U.S. and across the globe.

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Components of a Geothermal Heating System: A Guide from Cumming

Monday, October 17th, 2011

A geothermal heating system in your Cumming’s home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

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How a Furnace Works: A Guide from Waleska

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of Waleska homeowners probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.

When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.

Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.

Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.

Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.

In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.

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How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from Tyrone

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The best time to get your furnace ready for winter in Tyrone is not during the cold winter months – it is before the winter season even begins. There are several way to get your furnace ready for winter and let’s explore some of them.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule and maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

You can also help the airflow by vacuuming the vent cover or removing it and vacuuming any of the ductwork that you can easily get to. For a more thorough job consider calling a qualified and professional duct cleaning contractor. Many heating and cooling contractors also offer duct cleaning service, too.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition. And do it today – while everyone else is waiting.

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Things to Look For When Buying a Heating System in Talking Rock

Monday, October 10th, 2011

If you are in the market for a new or replacement heating system in Talking Rock and don’t know much about heating systems, you are not alone. Many homeowners are in the same boat as you. And many of that number put their trust in their local, professional, and qualified heating and cooling contractor to find the right furnace for their homes.

Before calling for an estimate, there are some things you can do to “prepare” yourself for one of the most important purchase you can make. Here is a checklist of things you should look for when buying a heating system.

Know your energy alternatives. There are lots of options today when it comes to heating your home. Gone are the days when the choices were so cut and dried. Check with your heating and cooling contractor for suggestions.

  1. Know what size your furnace should be. Furnaces are not “one size fits all.” The size of the furnace is determined by its Btu (British thermal unit) rating. For example, a one-story ranch home on a crawl space requires less heating capacity than a two-story colonial with a basement, thus it would require a furnace with a smaller numbered Btu rating. A home with a great deal of heat loss through windows and doors may require various furnace sizes. And don’t forget about insulation. Insulation can affect the furnace size, too. Again, check with your heating and cooling contractor for recommendations.
  2. How much room do you need for your furnace? Some homes have mechanical rooms for furnaces and water heaters while others utilize attics, basements, or crawlspaces for furnaces. If you think you need a big furnace to heat a big home, think again. Furnace manufacturers have been downsizing their heating equipment for years, while maintaining the same heating capacities. One example are wall hung boilers, which utilize water and electric as heating sources and are installed on a wall, making the unit easy to locate and easy to service – while at the same time being off the floor and out of the way.
  3. Will your heating system be “plug and play?” New furnaces can take the place of the ones they are replacing by using the same space. But sometimes a replacement unit may need some altering to fit into an existing duct system. It is almost a given that a new plenum (the part attaching the furnace to the ductwork) will have to be fabricated. But the new furnace may also require some other modifications to an existing duct system. You should understand this ahead of time and be prepared to pay additional costs.
  4. A box is a box is a box. As a rule, most heating systems are made the same. In some cases, one furnace manufacturer may produce several different brand names. The best “brand” is the heating and cooling contractor who installs and services your heating equipment. Do your homework ahead of time and find a qualified and professional contractor. Ask friends and family for recommendations. This is may be the most important thing to look for when buying a heating system

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