Gas Furnace Components: The Exhaust Flue

March 28th, 2014 by Chris Allen

Gas furnaces have remained the most common type of heater found in U.S. homes for almost a century. One of the reasons is their superior heating power and low cost of operation. Compared to most electric heaters, like electric furnaces and boilers, gas furnaces do not cost as much to run because of the lower price of natural gas. Although heat pumps have greater energy efficiency than gas furnaces, they can sometimes struggle with low temperatures, a problem gas furnaces don’t have.

To help you have a better understanding of gas furnace operation, we’re going to look at one of their most important components: the exhaust flue. When you need repairs or maintenance for your gas furnace in Charlotte, NC, call us at Air Conditioning Experts, Inc.

The Exhaust Flue

A gas furnace creates heat through the gas jets along a burner unit. The heat from this gas then transfers to the air through the heat exchanger, a metal chamber that glows hot from the combustion gas that enters it. The blower fan sends air across the heat exchangers and then into the ductwork.

This process leaves behind combustion exhaust in the heat exchangers, made of toxic carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gases. To safely keep this from entering the home, it vents out the exhaust flue, a pipe, usually made of sheet metal, that leaves the furnace cabinet vertically. The exhaust flue pipe is specially sized during installation to handle efficiently the amount of exhaust the furnace produces.

In older furnaces, the exhaust flue rises up directly to the roof to expel its exhaust gases. In more modern furnaces, specifically high-efficiency condensing furnaces, the flue can be made of PVC piping that can leave either horizontally or vertically from the furnace and runs beside another PVC pipe that brings in fresh air to the furnace.

Caring For Your Gas Flue

It’s important that the gas flue contain no obstructions and allows a free flow of exhaust gas out of the furnace. Even if a partially blocked flue isn’t forcing exhaust fumes out the furnace and into a home, improper venting will lower efficiency and lead to a reaction between the exhaust gases and the heat exchanger that can cause corrosion and cracks along the exchanger. Cracked heat exchangers must be replaced or they can lead to carbon monoxide leaking.

To prevent this sort of damage from happening to your furnace, make sure you have regularly scheduled maintenance every year to check over the flue and see that it is clean and unobstructed. You’ll have a more efficient and safer furnace.

Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. offers the Comfort Club to bring you high quality annual maintenance for your gas furnace in Charlotte, NC (and your air conditioner as well). You’ll also receive a 15% discount on repairs. Call us today to start protecting your furnace.

When Heating Repair Is No Longer an Option

March 17th, 2014 by Chris Allen

With the proper maintenance for your heater, matched with prompt professional repair when necessary, the system should last for many years. But a time will come, usually when the heater has reached of exceeded its manufacturer’s expected lifespan, that repairs will no longer do the job of keeping the system going. When that happens, you must schedule a replacement installation and start with a fresh system that will save you money on repairs and deliver superior heating efficiency.

Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. can assist you with installation, as well as the heating repair in Charlotte, NC you may need with a new heater. We’ll help you understand in more detail how to tell if your heater has moved past the repair stage and should be replaced.

Signs that it’s time to replace, not to repair:

  • Escalating repair bills: How much is too much when it comes to the repairs you need to keep your furnace, heat pump, or radiant heating working? Most heaters require their highest amount of repair during the last two years of their lifespan, so when you are calling for repairs more than once a year, it’s a major warning sign. Check over your repair bills: if your heating system costs $500 or more per year to keep it running, than replacement is a cheaper option.
  • Repairs do not effect climbing heating bills: Another set of bills to which you should pay attention: your energy bills. As heaters age, they begin to work less efficiently because of degrading parts. As the heater nears the end of the line, it will show a steady increase in operation costs. If you see this on your bills, and regular repairs are not stopping it, you should consider a full replacement.
  • It’s just an old system: Check on the manufacturer’s expected lifespan for the system. This will range from 10–12 years (common for heat pumps) to well over 20 (radiant heaters). If your system has exceeded this estimate by a few years, then you have already received a fantastic bargain from your initial investment, and you should replace the system before it experiences a catastrophic shutdown that leaves you in the cold. Select a warm time of the year for easy scheduling and convenience when it comes time for replacement.

If you want an outside opinion from an HVAC technician, call Air Conditioning Experts, Inc., and we’ll look to see if your heater needs replacement or further heating repair in Charlotte, NC. If it’s replacement time, our staff can help you select a new unit and then install it quickly so you will have many more years of effective and efficient comfort.

What to Do if Your Heating Costs Soar

March 14th, 2014 by Chris Allen

It can be a daunting moment: opening up your monthly electric bill only to find it much higher than you could have possibly anticipated. It can be doubly surprising if you haven’t used your heater any more often than normal. That usually indicates some kind of problem with the heater that needs to be addressed if you want your bills to go down.  Here’s what to do if your heating costs soar. If you need any heating service in Charlotte, give Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. a call today.

The first step is usually to schedule a maintenance visit from a qualified service technician. He or she will clean dirty components in your heater, tighten any loose bolts or fittings and identify any worn parts that could use replacing. That often goes a long way towards improving its overall efficiency. Burners can get clogged by dirt, lines and ducts can become blocked, and lost components will rattle in their housings, all of which will force the heater to work harder than it should. A maintenance visit will not only improve the heater’s efficiency, but help lower the risk of more serious repairs later along the line.

In addition, you can do things around your home to lower heating costs that aren’t directly connected to the heater. If you have the room in your budget, you might consider adding more insulation to your house, which will allow it to better retain heat. You should also check doors and windows for cracks along the edges, where warm air may escape. Weather stripping purchased at any hardware store can help alleviate that issue. Finally, there are the expected simple steps to take that can reduce your energy consumption for heating, such as dressing warmly and setting your thermostat a few degrees lower than normal.

Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. help you determine why your heating costs have gone up, then implement sensible and cost effective solutions. If you’re worried about the rising costs of heating, then give us a call to set up a consultation. We’ll help find a solution that’s right for you!

What You Need to Know about Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps

March 7th, 2014 by Chris Allen

If you’ve considered going “ductless” for your heating and cooling in Charlotte, then you’ve already given some consideration to the ductless mini split heat pump, one of the most popular ways to bypass ductwork for home comfort. Ductless mini splits have been popular in businesses for many years, particularly restaurants, but have now entered into residential homes as an excellent option for new construction and add-on rooms.

Here are a few things you should know about ductless mini splits before you commit to installation. And make sure that before you commit, you seek professional advice from an HVAC technician to make sure that going ductless is your best choice. Air Conditioning Experts, Inc can assist you with ductless systems and perform a proper heat pump installation in Charlotte, NC that will let you enjoy all the benefits of your new system.

Some basics about ductless mini split heat pumps

  • Yes, they are heat pumps: The action of a mini split heat pump is no different from a standard split heat pump. Refrigerant cycles between indoor and outdoor units, moving heat from one place to another and releasing/absorbing it through coils. A reversing valve changes the refrigerant’s direction to switch between heating and cooling mode. Where the difference lies is in the layout: a ductless mini split uses multiple, smaller indoor units instead of a single one hooked up to ventilation system.
  • They provide zone heating and cooling: The multiple indoor units (blower units) that send conditioned air straight into a room permit a homeowner to separately control the temperature in different parts of the house. This is called “zone control,” and it can translate into large energy savings since it means no longer needing to heat or cool rooms that aren’t receiving use. It also allows individuals to adjust the local temperature to their liking.
  • They may not be your best option: Ductless mini split heat pumps are ideal for building new homes (since they allow more freedom of construction without ductwork) and for add-on rooms (since they don’t need a complex hook-up to the rest of the ventilation system). For homes that already have ductwork installed for an AC or a furnace, a ductless mini split may not be the most economical route toward heating and cooling, and a standard heat pump might be a better choice. Consult with installers for advice about which option will work best for you.

Whether you go with a standard heat pump or a mini split heat pump, your can trust to Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. for a great heat pump installation in Charlotte, NC. 

Thermostats and Heat Pump Problems

February 28th, 2014 by Chris Allen

A heat pump works like an air conditioner, but it is able to reverse the heat transfer process, allowing it to warm your home in the winter as well as cooling it in the summer. Like an air conditioner, it cycles refrigerant gas through a series of coils that first converts the gas into a liquid form (releasing heat into the air), then evaporates it back into a gas (absorbing heat from the air). Heat pumps work well in places with mild winters like North Carolina. Thermostats and heat pump problems are often connected, and many of the problems Charlotte heat pump professionals need to deal with stem from the heat pump’s thermostat.

The thermostat allows you to control when the heat pump turns on and off. A coil consisting of two different types of metals will expand and contract as the temperature changes, allowing it to trigger a switch that turns the heat pump off and on. If something interferes with that process, the heat pump either won’t turn on at all or it won’t turn off when it’s supposed to. The causes of such issues are numerous, but can include:

  • Dust inside the thermostat, preventing it from reading the temperature properly.
  • An electrical problem, preventing the thermostat from receiving power. (Check the batteries if you have a remote thermostat.)
  • The thermostat is located in a cold spot, near a draft or in some other location that can’t accurately gauge the temperature.
  • The thermostat may simply be set to an incorrect temperature. In the case of heat pumps, make sure the thermostat is set no more than five degrees above the current temperature. You can make adjustments as you go.

With thermostats and heat pump problems, it pays to bring in a professional to look at it. In Charlotte, heat pump repair can be performed by Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. with thoroughness and professionalism. Without a functioning thermostat, your heat pump is all but useless. Give us a call today and let us put yours back on track!

How to Get Ready for Air Conditioning Season

February 27th, 2014 by Chris Allen

Perhaps you think it’s a bit early to start thinking about the time of the year when you switch on your air conditioner to beat the heat. After all, it’s still winter, and temperatures in Charlotte are averaging below 50°F during the day. You probably haven’t turned your air conditioning on for a few months.

However, it’s because your AC has been inactive for a long stretch that you need to think ahead to make sure it’s ready to handle the work when it becomes active again. During the upcoming spring, when the temperatures will hover between the seasonal extremes, is an excellent time to take advantage of the slower schedules for HVAC technicians and have the necessary work done to prepare for the season.

At Air Conditioning Experts, Inc.,  we’ve offered excellent service for air conditioning in Charlotte, NC since 1995. Contact us to help with your warm weather preparations.

Steps to take to get ready for the AC season

  • Change the air filter: Your air conditioner contains a filter to trap dust, dirt, and other debris from entering the cabinet and causing damage to components. The filter can become clogged and reduce air flow as well as allow debris through. Make sure you start off the season with a clean filter.
  • Schedule regular maintenance if you haven’t already: You should have regular maintenance scheduled for both your heater and AC each year. This maintenance is key to keeping your air conditioner working at its best and without any looming major repair needs. A maintenance technician will look over your AC, perform necessary cleaning and adjustments, and test the system to see that it is working efficiency.
  • Have repairs done right away: If your AC was acting up before it was shut off for the winter, or if a maintenance technician discovers problems during the check-up, don’t hesitate about scheduling repairs. You don’t want an unexpected warm day to arrive only to have your AC start malfunctioning right when you turn it on. Or for it not to turn on at all.

Start the season right (and early) with Air Conditioning Experts

Having a regular maintenance visit for your AC is the most important step in your preparations, since it will identify many of the other steps you’ll need to take to make sure that your air conditioning in Charlotte, NC will give you the most effective and efficient performance during the summer.

Air Conditioning Experts offers our Comfort Club Membership to deliver maintenance for your AC and heater. Joining also gives you a 15% discount on parts and labor. Contact us today to sign up.

3 Signs You Need to Schedule Heating Repair

February 21st, 2014 by Chris Allen

Though mild compared to further north, our winters can get pretty chilly, and the last thing you want is to go an extended period without proper heating. You can learn to look for the signs of potential problems before a full-bore breakdown takes place. Specifics vary depending on the circumstances, but here are 3 signs you need to schedule heating repair in Charlotte.

  • Decreased temperatures. If you system isn’t heating your home enough, its a clear sign of an issue. The problem could stem from clogged burners, from breaches in the ducts somewhere, or from line clogs anywhere in the system.
  • Low air flow. Similarly, reduced air flow prevents your heating system from heating effectively, taking longer to warm the house and costing more to do the same job. Reduced air flow can result from a blockage somewhere, such as damaged ducts or a dirty air filter. More serious problems arise in the case of a malfunctioning fan motor or damaged fan blades, which usually require replacement parts.
  • Higher monthly bills. Both of the above conditions can create higher monthly bills for you. But higher bills can come if nothing appears to be overtly wrong. Worn parts and loose fittings will force your heater to work harder to do its job, upping the cost of heating without appearing to make any change. If your heating bill suddenly spikes despite the fact that you haven’t used your heater any more than normal, it may be time to call in a service technician.

If you spot the signs you need to schedule heating repair in Charlotte, then Air Conditioning Experts are here to help. Don’t let a troublesome heater leave you out in the cold this winter. Give us a call today and let us take care of the problem for you!

Who Wrote the First Valentine’s Day Poem?

February 14th, 2014 by Chris Allen

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is often seen as a modern institution, even if the roots of the holiday go back to Late Antiquity and the figures of St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni. It’s difficult to separate our view of February 14th from the more recent phenomenon of greeting cards, comical cupids, and specialty treats from candy companies.

However, not only are some of these traditions older than we might think (mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards were an enormous success in early 19th-century England), but the earliest Valentine’s Day love poem comes from none other than the first great English author, Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote in the second half of the 14th-century.

Chaucer’s most famous work is The Canterbury Tales, an enormous collection of linked stories in poetry and prose. But his 700-line poem “Parlement of Foules” has the special distinction of being the first surviving record of a connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love. Chaucer probably composed the poem in 1381–82. At the time, he was a member of the court of King Richard II, holding an important bureaucratic position in London. The date suggests that Chaucer wrote “Parelment of Foules” to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of the English king to Princess Anne of Bohemia.

The poem follows the dream of the narrator, where he walks through Venus’s temple and discovers a meeting of birds where they all choose their mates. This is where the mention of St. Valentine’s Day appears (English modernized):

For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,                                                                         

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.                                                                  

The poem also contains a familiar Valentine’s image, Cupid with his arrows:

Under a tree, beside a well, I saw

Cupid our lord his arrows forge and file;                                                             

And at his feet his bow already lay.

When Chaucer mentions St. Valentine’s Day, is he referring specifically to February 14th? Late winter isn’t a time when birds in England would mate. However, the date for the start of spring—when some birds would have started nesting in England—was on February 23rd in the calendars of the time, certainly close enough for Chaucer to take poetic license and nudge it a bit to match with Valentine’s Day.

Love birds remain a popular symbol of Valentine’s Day even now, and for this we can thank Chaucer. In fact, he may very well have invented the link between love and Valentine’s Day, although we will probably never know for certain.

Whoever started these traditions, all of us here at Air Conditioning Experts, Inc. hope you have a wonderful February 14th!

Reasons to Consider Radiant Heating in Charlotte

February 7th, 2014 by Chris Allen

There are many different types of heating systems you can get in your Charlotte home. Including some you might not have considered, such as radiant heating which warms the room directly through the floors. The system employs tubes full of water, running directly under the floorboards. The radiant heat thus passes directly through the furnishings (and your feet) to warm you without relying on blown air the way a furnace does. There are some very good reasons to consider radiant heating in Charlotte. We’ve listed some of the more prominent ones below.

  • Less expensive. Though radiant heating systems cost more to install, they use less energy than furnaces or boiler, which means they will save you money on monthly energy bills. Furthermore, because they don’t have many moving parts, they don’t suffer breakdowns as often and repair bills tend to be lower than they might with another form of heating.
  • Even heating. Radiant heating is more “direct” than blown air, which means it doesn’t rely on ducts or vents to do its job. That means there are no drafts or cold spots to deal with, and since there are no fans to blow, radiant heating systems operate silently as well. The entire room is warmed evenly, increasing comfort levels and the general ease of use accordingly.
  • Resale value. Radiant heating systems make for an instant selling point for potential buyers of your home, which improves the resale value and may even recoup the initial investment depending upon the state of the market.

Of all the reasons to consider radiant heating in Charlotte, the best are still the simplest: ease of use, comfortable heating, and money kept in your pocket when those monthly bills show up. If you need heating service in Charlotte, call Air Conditioning Experts, Inc today! We can explain all of your options to you and help you select a heating system that matches your needs and budget, then install it with professionalism and care. Pick up the phone and make an appointment today!

What is a Furnace Fan Limit Switch?

January 31st, 2014 by Chris Allen

The furnace fan limit switch is important component in your gas furnace, helping to provide warm air on cool days when you need your house to be comfortable. When the switch is damaged or disabled, it can create huge problems for you home heating. It helps to understand how it works in conjunction with the remainder of your furnace. If you have any questions about your gas furnace in Charlotte, give Air Conditioning Experts a call.

Have you ever noticed that when you turn on your furnace, the air doesn’t blow right away? That’s because several steps need to be taken before heating can begin. The burners have to be ignited and the heat exchangers need to get to work before enough hot air is generated to be blown into your home, Otherwise, the fan will turn on immediately, blowing cold air into your home and making it harder to reach the temperatures you want.

That’s where the furnace fan limit switch comes into play. It’s a control system that determines when the hot air created by the furnace is sufficient to start blowing into your home. When it is, it activates the fan and the heating process can begin in earnest. You can probably see what happens when the limit switch encounters problems. The fan either won’t turn at all (denying your home any heat) or it will start turning too early (blowing cold air into your home and making it more difficult to warm up).

Either way, it spells trouble. In the former case, it means your heater is effectively useless. In the latter, it means your furnace needs to expend unnecessary energy to work: raising your bill in the process. Luckily, Air Conditioning Experts can help. We know what a furnace fan limit switch can do, and we can correct most problems with it quickly and efficiently. We handle most problems associated with heating in Charlotte, meaning you can call on us at anytime for help with your furnace. Our trained staff is ready to help you and has nothing but your complete satisfaction in mind at all times!