Shaw's Air Conditioning & Heating Blog: Archive for October, 2014

What Is a Thermocouple?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Your heating system uses a number of safety devices and switches to ensure that the system is working properly and safely. In heaters using a standing pilot light (a pilot that is on continuously), one of these safety devices is a thermocouple. Malfunctioning safety devices can cause ignition and operational problems. Operating your heating system with a malfunctioning or failing safety device can be dangerous, so it’s best to call a technician for repair. The trained and certified technicians at Shaw’s Air Conditioning have the knowledge and expertise to handle every kind of heating repair, so if you are experiencing issues with your heating system, call us today.

Why a Thermocouple Is Important

A thermocouple is a device used to measure temperature. Thermocouples are composed of two metals that are soldered. When heat is applied at the point of contact, it creates a voltage; this is known as the Seebeck effect. As heat increases on the point of contact, the voltage becomes stronger. This is how the thermocouple measures temperature.

With a standing pilot light, a small stream of gas is always flowing in order to keep the pilot lit. It is necessary for your system to know that the pilot is lit so that your furnace can turn on and ignite when needed. The thermocouple is placed directly into the pilot flame and lets the system know that the pilot is lit and ready to work when needed. Should the pilot go out, the thermocouple will no longer have a voltage, and it will close the valve of the main gas line so that ignition can’t occur.

Common Problems with a Thermocouple

One of the most common problems with a thermocouple is that it gets dirty. A dirty thermocouple may not measure the heat accurately, which can cause the thermocouple to turn off the gas; in turn, the pilot light will go out. A second problem common to thermocouples is corrosion. The metal strips used in a thermocouple are quite thin, and with regular usage, they can corrode and breakdown. The average lifespan for a thermocouple is about 2 years, so if you experience issues with your pilot light, one of the first things your technician will inspect is the thermocouple.

Safety devices are installed on your heating system in Lemoore for a reason, so it’s important to keep them operating properly. If you experience problems with your standing pilot light, make a heating service appointment in Lemoore with your Shaw’s Air Conditioning technician today.

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What Is a High-efficiency Heating System?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Energy efficiency is always important when it comes to your heating system in Lemoore. One way to achieve better energy efficiency is to use a high-efficiency heating system, also known as a condensing system. The two types of condensing systems available are boilers and furnaces, and Shaw’s Air Conditioning carries both. In addition, our technicians are trained in how to install, repair and maintain high-efficiency heating systems, so if you are considering one, call us today.

How Do High-efficiency Systems Work?

In non-condensing furnaces and boilers, there is one heat exchanger that heats the air or water, depending on the system. During the heating process, noxious gases are created inside the heat exchanger, which are vented out the flue. This exhaust contains heat energy, which is lost in a non-condensing system. In a condensing furnace or boiler, the exhaust is funneled to a second heat exchanger that extracts the heat energy from the vapor that is created during the heating process, capturing this extra heat; this heat is then used in your system, minus the harmful gases. By condensing the exhaust vapor, your high-efficiency heater captures extra energy that can be used to heat your home.

What Are the Benefits of a High-efficiency System?

Here are some of the benefits of a high-efficiency heating system:

  • Better energy efficiency – whether you have a boiler or furnace, or use oil or gas, the AFUE for high-efficiency heaters is 90% and above, with some rating as high as 98%.
  • Increased comfort – the efficiency and heating ability of a condensing boiler or heater is higher than non-condensing units, which helps increase your comfort.
  • Saves space – condensing heaters are compact, particularly condensing boilers, because they do not need a water vessel as they are connected directly to your water source.
  • Smaller carbon footprint – condensing units can use up to 40% less fuel than non-condensing heaters, which can reduce your carbon footprint.

If you are in need of a new heating system in Lemoore, and high-efficiency is one of your priorities, a high-efficiency furnace or boiler may be just what you need. Call Shaw’s Air Conditioning today and schedule your heating service in Lemoore with one of our installation experts.

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Signs Your Heater Needs Service

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Without expert knowledge, it’s difficult to tell if your heater requires repairs or is simply developing some harmless quirks. There are some signs, however, that indicate an immediate need for professional service. Below are some of those signs.

Uneven Heating

Cold spots, temperature swings, and other signs of uneven heating could indicate a need for professional heating repair. Before you make that call, however, check the vents in the room where you are experiencing uneven heating. If the vents are clear and unobstructed, make sure that warm air is flowing through them. If it isn’t, you may have a blockage in your ducts. You should call a professional to take a look at that point.


Short-cycling occurs when your heater keeps rapidly turning on and off throughout the day. There are a number of possible causes for this, but the most common is an oversized heating unit. When an oversized heating unit starts, the excessive heat output causes the system to think that the unit is overheating. Safety measures trigger as a result, shutting down the heater to prevent a fire. The unit then restarts because the thermostat is still set to “heat,” and the cycle continues indefinitely. There are other things, like a dirty air filter, that can also cause short-cycling. You’ll need an HVAC technician to diagnose the root of the problem, however.

Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

In gas powered systems, the pilot light is the small flame that lights the burner for the furnace or boiler. Without this pilot light, your heater will be unable to turn on. Pilot lights going out is a fairly common occurrence, and not a major concern. When the pilot light refuses to stay lit, however, it is a sign of a more serious issue. A bad thermocouple is often to blame for this kind of problem. This sensor is what is responsible for controlling the gas flow to the pilot light. When it is malfunctioning, the thermocouple can shut off the gas flow to the pilot light, suffocating it.

If you are having issues with your heater, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. Our HVAC technicians provide heating service throughout the Lemoore area.

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Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Furnace

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Fall is a great time to assess the efficacy of your furnace, particularly if you are getting close to needing a replacement. However, you may have already noticed some signs that your furnace’s days are numbered. To help you decipher some of the signals a furnace can display when it’s giving out, our Shaw’s Air Conditioning technicians have compiled a list of signs and factors that may indicate it’s time for replacement. Shaw’s Air Conditioning offers heater installation as part of its heater service in Lemoore, so call us today.

Signs It May Be Time to Replace

Here are some common signs that it may be time to replace your furnace:

  • Decreased comfort – an aging system may no longer keep up with your heating needs. Typical symptoms of this are cold spots and an inability to reach the set temperature. Pushing your system will not help, and may actually hasten breakdown.
  • Constant repairs – if you needed a lot of repairs last year, and are facing even more this year, you may have to ask yourself if it’s worthwhile to continue repairing your current system or better to invest in a new one.
  • Significant rust/visible corrosion – your furnace shouldn’t have any rust, and if you see significant rust on your heater, you may be looking at corrosion. This can be very dangerous, as cracks and holes can leak harmful fumes, including carbon monoxide.
  • High monthly energy bills – high energy bills are one of the earmarks of an aging system. Many times this is because the system has to work harder to achieve the set temperature. Whenever your furnace has to work harder, it uses more energy.
  • Age – the average lifespan for a well-maintained furnace is 15-20 years. If your furnace has reached this age, or is older, it may time to consider replacing it before age-related problems emerge.

Staying warm and comfortable during the winter requires having a heating system upon which you can rely. Additionally, you have to consider where your money is best spent. If it’s time for you to replace your furnace, work with the professionals who offer expert heater service in Lemoore: Shaw’s Air Conditioning.

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How Can Heater Maintenance Lower Heating Bills?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Heater maintenance is not something one does simply to keep the system from breaking down, although that is a good benefit. The lesser known, but equally important, benefit of regular heater maintenance is that it actually increases the efficiency of your furnace. Regular maintenance is so important to the health and efficiency of a heating system that many warranties require it in order to remain valid.

Read on to discover how heater maintenance can measurably lower your heating bill.

Halting the Decline

As parts continue to experience wear and tear from regular use, their ability to perform their jobs will naturally decline. This is an unavoidable fact. When this occurs in heating systems, it manifests as a slow decrease in heating efficiency. The heating unit will have to work harder and harder to achieve the same results. In order to work harder, your heater will have to consume more and more energy. This is what causes the increase in your heating bills. Eventually, the culmination of this wear and tear will cause your heater to stop working altogether.

The primary way that heater maintenance lowers your heating bills is by halting this decline. Parts that are beginning to show signs of wear can be found and replaced before they show a serious loss in efficiency. This prevents your heating system from working as hard, and thus consuming more energy. This will become especially noticeable if you compare bills from before and after your heater receives long-delayed maintenance.

Preventing Replacement

Though not a monthly bill, the highest cost you can incur for your heating system is if you have to replace it completely. This is not something that happens often. When it does happen, however, it can cost you thousands of dollars. Regular maintenance ensures that your unit will not die because of something preventable or easily fixed. The longer you put off scheduling preventative maintenance on your heater, the more money you are losing to needlessly high heating bills.

If you need to schedule preventative or reparative heater maintenance in Lemoore, call Shaw’s Air Conditioning. Our professional HVAC technicians can resolve all your heating problems.

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