Why Isn’t My Furnace Blower Working?

January 22nd, 2015

If your furnace seems to be lit and functioning properly, but you aren’t receiving any air flow, then you have a problem with your furnace blower, also called an air handler. The furnace air handler is the part responsible for actually circulating air throughout the house, while the rest of the furnace is devoted to heating. If your air handler stops working, the furnace is essentially useless, as it is unable to deliver its heat to the rest of the house. Let’s take a look at the problems that could be preventing your air handler from working properly.

Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is a rubber loop that connects the air handler motor to the fan that circulates the air. When the motor turns on, it rotates the fan belt, which in turn rotates the fan. All three of these parts need to work together for the air handler to do its job. Over years of stress, however, the fan belt will begin to stretch out. Cracks will form in the rubber of the belt, increasing the amount of friction between it and the motor. This friction can create a loud squealing sound, which can sometimes be heard across the house through the ductwork. If the fan belt is not replaced, it will eventually break, severing the connection between the motor and the fan. This essentially prevents the fan from turning and disables the air handler.

Burned Out Motor

The motor in an air handler is extremely vulnerable to wear and tear, due to the level of stress that it’s constantly under during operation. To prevent the motor from burning out, it is equipped with bearings that are lubricated to decrease the resistance on the motor. However, these bearings can occasionally dry out, increasing the resistance on the motor. This often manifests as a loud grinding noise coming from the furnace. If the bearings aren’t fixed, the motor will overheat and burn out, once again crippling the entire air handler.

If your furnace blower isn’t working, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating repair throughout Clovis.

My Pilot Won’t Light – What’s Happening?

January 15th, 2015

Pilot lights have an irritating tendency to blow out at the slightest provocation. It’s inconvenient in the extreme, but it’s not actually that big of a problem with your heating system. However, there’s a difference between a pilot light blowing out and a pilot light that won’t light in the first place. There are a couple of different things that could be causing this behavior, depending on what kind of pilot light system you have in place. Let’s take a look at the various reasons that your pilot light may not be lighting.

Bad Thermocouple

In older heating systems, a standing pilot light is the most common type of ignition system. This is a continuously burning flame, often located underneath the system. The standing pilot is fed by its own gas line, which keeps it burning 24/7. The thermocouple is the part that actually decides when to feed gas to the pilot light. When the thermocouple senses the heat from the pilot light ignition, it sends an electrical current to the gas valve to open it. When the pilot light blows out for whatever reason, the thermocouple’s electric current stops and the gas valve closes. This is a safety measure to prevent the home from filling up with gas. A bad thermocouple will often fail to produce the electric current to open the gas valve, rendering the pilot light unable to ignite.

Burned Out Electrode/Heating Element

In newer heating systems, the standing pilot light has been replaced with two other kinds of ignition systems. The intermittent pilot system uses a spark to generate a brief flame and light the burners, while the heating element pilot uses a filament to produce enough heat to start the system. These pilot lights are more complex, and that makes them tougher to diagnose when they break down. Most often, however, they each have one major contributor to their failures.

The intermittent pilot uses an electrode to produce the spark that ignites the system. This electrode can burn out, rendering the pilot system useless. The heating element system uses filaments that have a lifespan shorter than the rest of the system. This means that the heating element will eventually burn out and need to be replaced, just like a lightbulb.

If you’d like to know more, contact Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating repair throughout Riverdale.

Gas vs. Electric: Is One Type of Furnace Better Than Another?

January 9th, 2015

Part of why furnaces are so popular is that there are so many different types of furnaces to choose from. Each furnace has its own strengths and weaknesses, and is suited to a different environment. So, is gas or electric better than the other? Objectively, no. However, there are situations in which one is probably a better fit for your needs than the other. Let’s take a look at the two types, and help you determine which one would meet your needs best.

Gas Furnace

Gas furnaces are the most common type of heating system in the country. There are couple of reasons for this. For one, natural gas is a cheaper fuel than electricity is. For another, natural gas gives off a lot of heat relative to the amount of fuel consumed. Gas furnaces are a great option because they’re relatively cheap, effective, and don’t have any glaring drawbacks. They’re a middle-of-the-road choice that can serve well in many different environments and situations. However, they do have one or two minor weaknesses. The first is that they rely on natural gas being pumped into the home, which has to be done by the city. Some cities may not offer this option, thus excluding gas furnaces from consideration. The other weakness is that they produce a number of toxic gases as byproducts of the combustion process. These gases are vented outside of the house and into the atmosphere, but if something goes wrong they can cause serious problems.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces rely entirely on electricity to produce heat. They do this by running an electric current through a very large heating element, similar to a giant lightbulb filament. Instead of giving off light, however, this element generates heat. Electric furnaces cover the weaknesses of gas furnaces pretty well. They can be installed anywhere that electricity is available, and since they don’t burn fuel they don’t produce any toxic byproducts. As previously mentioned, however, electricity is usually more expensive as a heat source than natural gas.

If you’d like to know more, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide furnace services throughout Clovis, CA.

 

Is My System Worth the Cost of Heating Repair?

January 5th, 2015

This is a very interesting questions, and like most interesting questions it doesn’t have an easy answer. Most homeowners would rather repair their heating systems than have them stay broken. As such, the real question is “when should I replace my heating system?” Read on for some of the ways you can tell when your heating system is ready to be replaced.

Rise in Repair Frequency

Every system is going to require some repairs sooner or later. That’s simply the way our world works. Things break, and need to be fixed. However, the older your system gets, the more often it’s going to require repairs. This is due to the fact that different parts of the heating system experience wear and tear at different rates. Excessive wear and tear from years of use will cause a part to fail. Therefore, in an old system there will be multiple parts failing in rapid succession from years of wear and tear.

If it seems like your heating system needs to get repaired every couple of months, it might be time to invest in a new system.

Rise in Heating Bills

Your demand for heating is going to change from month to month. Everybody knows this. However, you should keep a close eye on your heating bills in case they begin to display a consistent rise in cost. If your heating bills are rising consistently, it is a sign that your heating system is not heating as efficiently as it should. Aside from the obvious problem of paying ever-higher heating bills, this is a good sign that your heater is or soon shall be experiencing issues that require repairs. The mounting cost of keeping your heater running past this point is often far more expensive than simply replacing the system.

Age

Though not quite an indicator in and of itself, age should be considered in conjunction with other factors when deciding whether or not to replace your heater. If your heater is older than 10-15 years old, and is experiencing other issues, it’s probably a good idea to replace it. If your heater is younger than that, or is otherwise healthy, then you might be able to get a few more good years of use out of it.

If you aren’t sure whether or not to replace your heater, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. We provide heating services throughout the Lemoore area.

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Shaw’s Air Conditioning & Heating you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 24th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Shaw’s Air Conditioning!

What Are the Components of a Ductless Heating System?

December 19th, 2014

If you’re looking for an effective heating and air conditioning system that won’t raise your bills beyond belief, you probably assume you need a set of ductwork. But if you don’t have any ducts in your house or in your new room add-on, you may be in luck. You can still have a technician install a ductless mini-split heat pump for efficient heating and air conditioning.

Learn more about the outside and inside components of a ductless units with today’s guide. Call Shaw’s Air Conditioning today to learn how you too can get efficient ductless heating in Lemoore.

Outdoor Compressor Unit

Just like with any other standard central air conditioning system, a ductless unit contains both indoor and outdoor components. In the outside unit, there is a compressor which adds pressure to the refrigerant so that it can continue to circulate throughout the entire system. There is also a coil which works to evaporate refrigerant in the winter and allows it to condense in the summer.

See, a ductless heat pump also contains a reversing valve which allows the flow of refrigerant to move in the opposite direction. In the summer, refrigerant removes heat from your home and brings it to the outside as it condenses in the coil. In the winter, heat is absorbed from the outdoors (even when it’s chilly outside) as refrigerant evaporates.

Indoor Air Handler

The indoor unit contains a coil as well, which allows refrigerant to evaporate and absorb heat from your home in the summer or to condense and release heat in the winter. But here comes the big question: how does a ductless unit deliver heat and cool air with no ducts? Well, an indoor air handler is a unit that is simply mounted high on the wall, and it contains a blower fan to deliver the conditioned air into a space.

Usually you’ll need several indoor units for an entire house, but this is advantageous for your family members. You can control the temperature in each room individually with separate thermostats for increased comfort and energy savings. And it’s sure worth saving the trouble of renovating your home for a new set of ducts.

Call on the experts at Shaw’s Air Conditioning to learn more about ductless heating and find out whether this type of system is best for you.

How Can Poor Duct Installation Affect My Heating?

December 12th, 2014

With any type of forced-air heating and air conditioning system, you need a set of ductwork to deliver air from the HVAC unit through the vents in your home. And generally, your home will already contain a set of ducts that help to deliver both the heated and cooled air. But some existing ductwork is poorly designed or sealed, with excessive air leaks and inadequate insulation. In this case, you end up spending far more money for your heating than is necessary.

Ducts must be designed in such a way that warm air reaches your home in the most efficient way possible and that heat loss does not occur. Faulty installation of ductwork is responsible for a lot of air leakage and heat loss in many households, which means that much of the air that is warmed by your home heating system won’t actually make it to your living space. Instead, warm air can leak into a crawlspace or in the attic.

But of course, you continue paying to run your HVAC system, which means you’re spending money to run a system that may never adequately heat up the house. In fact, because your heating system continues to run, you may notice frequent repair needs as components begin to become worn down from overuse. If this happens, your forced-air heating unit may even fail prematurely.

For optimal duct function, you want an efficient duct design, proper insulation, and effective sealing against any air loss. Poor sealing and lack of insulation can result in a 20% air loss and a 25% loss due to heat transferring out of the ducts. Amateurs simply don’t have the proper tools and expertise to assess in which areas your current duct design contributes to energy loss or where sealing is needed.

Experts are trained to use only those materials which comply with industry safety conventions as set forth by the Underwriters Laboratories Standards 181, 181A, and 181B. These standards help to guarantee fire safety with a low flame spread index. Experts also know the most efficient type of duct design, and which material to use in your particular circumstances. Call Shaw’s Air Conditioning to find out how you can improve your heating in Lemoore with duct sealing, duct installation, or duct repair.

How Does Good Attic Insulation Help with Heating?

December 5th, 2014

Alright, so you’ve just installed a brand new home heating system. The ducts are pristine, the heater is running as smoothly as can be, and everything seems perfect. However, for some awful reason, you’re still experiencing cold spots in the house and your heating bill is through the roof. What’s going on? Interestingly enough, your heating might actually be going through the roof. Read on to find out how attic insulation affects your heating.

The Importance of Attic Insulation

There’s no way to completely seal your home to prevent heat from escaping. As soon as your heater stops working, the house will begin to cool from the outside in. What you can do, however, is slow down heat loss as much as possible. This will take some of the load off of your heater, which will save you money in the long run. Attic insulation is the single biggest step you can take to preventing excessive home heat loss.

Though heat can escape from multiple different areas of your home, the attic is the single most vulnerable area. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the attic is often a very large space, more or less an entire extra floor in most homes. Second, warm air naturally rises. When using a forced air system, all of that hot air that is meant to heat your home will tend to rise through the house and into the attic. If your attic is not insulated, you’re losing a great deal of that warm air at fast rate.

Once you’ve insulated your attic, you will have essentially put a lid over your house to keep all that warmth inside. Your home will lose heat much more slowly, your heater will be able to turn off sooner after starting, and your heating bill will drop. In fact, the US Department of Energy estimates that you can save between 10 and 50 percent of your heating bill by properly insulating your attic. That’s more than enough savings for the insulation to pay for itself.

If you’d like to know more about attic insulation, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. Our heating technicians serve all of Lemoore.

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Shaw’s Air Conditioning, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!