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HVAC Tips from Sears Heating and Cooling

We’ve been in the HVAC business since 1950, and with that experience comes a lot of knowledge. Read our professional tips here.

Why Is My Furnace Short Cycling?

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My Furnace Keeps Short Cycling. What Is Going On? A furnace that is short cycling can be a frustrating issue when you are trying to keep warm. A short cycling furnace can be a frustrating issue to have. Unfortunately, after not being used all spring and summer, some furnaces have some issues when it comes to firing up for the first time in the fall. Let's take a look at some common issues that could be causing your furnace to short cycle. Dirty Furnace Filters Dirty filters are one of the top causes of furnace and air conditioner break downs. If your filter hasn't been changed in a while, go ahead and take a look at it. If the filter is very dirty, not much air will be able to pass through it and it can cause your furnace to overheat, which could be causing it to short cycle. This is a simple fix that could prevent a future furnace repair. Furnace Is Oversized This type of issue is unfortunately only fixed by having your current furnace removed and the correctly sized furnace installed. If you have a furnace that is too big for your home, it will end up using much more energy than needed. This ultimately means that the warmer air will not be properly distributed throughout your home. Your home will heat for a very short period of time, and then the furnace will kick right back on again, continuing to short cycle. This is not good...
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Why Is My Furnace Tripping the Circuit Breaker?

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My Furnace Is Tripping The Circuit Breaker. What's Going On? The last thing you want to deal with on a cold night is a furnace that refuses to work. It's never fun to deal with a furnace that refuses to work on a cold day or night. If you've recently noticed that your furnace keeps tripping your circuit breaker when you go to turn it on, here is some background as well as possible causes. Electricity & Your Furnace Although your furnace may use natural gas, propane or oil to heat your home, it also needs a good dose of electricity to power all of it's electrical components. Some of the largest parts in your furnace that use electricity include the circuit board, blower motor as well as the gas valve. If you have an older furnace, it may utilize a standing pilot light instead of a electronic ignition source.  Most Common Cause: Stressed Blower Motor The most common cause for your furnace to trip your circuit breaker in your blower motor overworking itself. The blower motor can begin to overwork itself when air flow to the motor becomes restricted. One of the largest causes of this is a dirty air filter. If you haven't changed your filter in a while, be sure to check to make sure it's not overly dirty. Standard 1 inch filters should generally be changed once every 30 days. If you have a thicker media filter, they can usually last 6-12 months depending on your...
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Pilot Light On Furnace Keeps Going Out

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Why Does The Pilot Light On My Furnace Keep Going Out? A pilot light going out can be an annoying issue to deal with in the cold weather. If you have a furnace that was made in the early 1990's or earlier, chances are you have had to deal with the pilot light going out on your furnace at least once. Why does this happen though? Is there anything that can be done to prevent a furnace repair? Let's find out! Faulty Gas Valve A standing pilot light is really nothing more than a slow and steady flow of gas that helps ignite your furnace when it's time to come on. One of the first culprits that come to mind would be a fault with your furnace's gas valve, possibly with it's power unit. If the gas valve on your furnace is starting to go bad, it might not be providing enough gas to the ignition system to keep your pilot light flame going. Without the proper HVAC tools, a bad gas valve is nearly impossible to diagnose. Improper Flow Of Gas This problem can also be caused by a faulty gas valve. If your furnace's gas pressure is not set properly, the pilot light may not be receiving the correct amount of gas needed to stay light. You are able to adjust the gas pressure via the furnace's gas valve. A proper gas pressure is usually around 3.5" WC. Any deviation from this may cause your furnace's burners to...
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How Does A Humidifier Work?

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How Does A Humidifier Keep My Home Comfortable? Humidifiers are very popular in the winter months when the air becomes dry both outside and inside your home! During the winter, the air in your home can be quite dry and cause damage to both your possessions and your body. A humidifier works with your furnace to keep the water level in the air of your home consistent all winter long. How a Humidifier Works The operation of a humidifier is actually quite simple. The unit itself is attached the the duct work just above your furnace. Inside of the humidifier is a water panel that is moistened with water via a water line. The dry air from the furnace flows over this water panel, collects water, and then is distributed throughout your home. How Do I Control It? You are able to set the desired humidity level in your home via a humidistat. Some of today's higher end thermostats have this included in them so that you don't need two boxes hanging on your wall. In general, an overall humidity level of 35-40% is what you should be aiming for. Anything more than this and you risk condensation forming in your home. Did you know that it's possible for it to rain inside a home if the humidity level is too high? Yep. Why Humidifiers Are Neccessary Dry air is not good for your body or your furniture. If you frequently suffer from static shocks in your home, dry lips,...
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What Is A Gravity Furnace?

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What Is A Gravity Furnace & How Does It Work? Gravity furnaces were one of the most popular ways to heat homes way back in the day. Gravity furnaces were quite popular back in the day. These types of furnaces were installed from the late 1800's to approximately the mid 1900's. If you've ever seen one, you know they can look quite intimidating due to their size! How Do Gravity Furnaces Work? Gravity furnace operation is quite simple. A fuel is inserted into the combustion chamber which would then heat the air surrounding it, and then this air would then rise through the duct work to heat the rest of the home. Heat naturally rises, so there were no blower or motors involved. The original gravity furnaces ran on coal, which would have to be replaced on a regular basis to keep the heat flowing. In essence, it was a giant stove that heated the home at the time. As technology progressed, new fuel sources such as propane, oil, and natural gas replaced the coal to heat the furnace.  Disadvantages of Gravity Furnaces Most gravity furnaces today are due to be replaced just based on their age alone. If that's not convincing enough, here are some other good reasons to replace: Low Efficiency - Today, furnace efficiency starts at 80% and go all the way up to 98%. Meaning at least 80% of the fuel burned is used to heat the home. Gravity furnaces on the other hand are lucky...
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Why Does My Furnace Have A Burning Smell?

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Why Is My Furnace Producing A Burning Smell? Have you started up your furnace for the first time this year only to find it is producing a burning type of smell? This can actually be a normal occurrence! So the weather finally starts to cool down and it's time to start up the furnace for the first time. Yet, when you turn it on, it starts to smell like your house is on fire. What is going on? Let's look at some common scenarios below! Dirty Evaporator Coil During the year, it's normal for your evaporator coil (the coil that sits on top of your furnace used to cool your home via your air conditioner) to become a bit dirty. Despite changing your filter regularly, some dust may begin to accumulate on the coils. When you fire up your furnace for the first time, the hot air then flows over these coils after being heated by your heat exchanger. This hot air can begin to burn off some of this dust, hair and other particles that may have accumulated on your coil over the summer months. Although you will notice this smell the first couple times your furnace runs, the smell should begin to dissipate rather quickly over time. It is a good idea to have your evaporator coil cleaned at least once every couple years to prevent costly air conditioner repairs. Dirt Air Filters This one is simple enough. Check your furnace filter to make sure that it is...
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Room Color and Energy Efficiency

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Can Room Color Affect Energy Efficiency? Looking to keep your house cooler in the summer while using less energy? Choose the right colors! Believe it or not, the colors you choose for your home can play a role in it's overall energy efficiency. As expected, darker colors tend to maintain heat and lighter colors help deflect it.  Exterior Wall Colors If you live in a hotter southern climate, choosing a light exterior color is your best bet. A light beige, gray or other neutral color give great curb appeal as well as help deflect the suns heat. According to the Department of Energy, dark colors can actually absorb 70-90% of the suns heat which can then be transferred inside of your home. Who knew small details such as exterior paint color can really help your air conditioner out during those summer heat waves and prevent any costly air conditioner repairs. Light colors are reflective and will help cut your cooling costs. Roof Colors When it comes to your roof, the material that it's made of plays an important role. There are actually roof tiles available that are made of a reflective type of paint that can reflect the suns heat. Standard roof tiles can reach temperatures as high at 150 degrees in the summer. Cooler roofs with the reflective material can stay up to 50 degrees cooler, saving you energy during those hot months.  Interior Walls Interior wall colors don't matter quite as much as the exterior. When it comes...
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How Cold Should My AC Be?

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How Cold Should The Air From My Air Conditioner Be? The air from your vents feels warmer than usual. How cold should the air be anyways? When the weather gets really hot outside, you count on your air conditioner to provide a constant stream of cool air to keep you and your family comfortable. But, how cold should the air from your air conditioner actually be?  Temperature Drop The difference between the temperature of the air flowing into your vents via the return vents and the temperature of the cool air coming out is known in the HVAC world as "temperature drop". In most cases, a temperature drop of 15-20 degrees is all that most air conditioners are capable of handling today. Run your ac any cooling and you risk needing an ac repair. Therefore, if the temperature outside is 85 degrees, most air conditioners should be able to cool your home to 65-70 degrees inside under normal conditions. Granted, cooling it to these temps means it will be working hard and running for most of the day. If you are looking to cut back on your energy bills, try leaving the temp a bit higher instead. Adjusting your temperature just 1 degree can save you up to 10% on utility costs over the course of a year. 
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Should I Cover My Air Conditioner In Winter?

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Should I Put A Cover On My AC Unit During Winter? Putting a cover on your air conditioner during the winter can actually do more harm than good. It a way it makes sense right? When you are done with your air conditioner for the year, you put a cover on it to help protect the internal parts and keep it free from debris. Well, it turns out this actually is not the best thing to do when it comes to your air conditioner. Believe it or not, air conditioners of today are built to be quite durable and endure some harsh conditions all year long. Although you may think it will help to cover your air conditioner from the snow, you actually run the risk of harming it if you do. I mean, don't you think manufactures would recommend you utilize a cover if it was truly necessary? Yet none of them do. Here are some popular reasons why covering your air conditioner when not in use is not recommended. Mold, Mildew and Condensation By placing a cover over your air conditioner, you actually run the risk of trapping condensation in the unit and it turning into mold or mildew over time. The best place for mold and mildew to grow is in a damp, dark and warm place and by using an AC cover you are creating this exact situation. Home For Rodents During the cold winters, many rodents seek shelter from the cold. What a great little...
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Can Air Conditioning Cause Headaches?

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Is It Possible For My Air Conditioner To Give Me Headaches? Believe it or not, air conditioning can actually be the cause of headaches for some people. Cold Air Can Cause Dehydration Did you know that your air conditioner not only cools the air in your home but also acts as a large dehumidifier as well? Yep! While lowering the overall humidity indoors is a good thing during the hot summer months, lowering it too much can cause dehydration which will in turn lead to head aches. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches so be sure you drink plenty of water even though you are inside your cool home. Another option is to have a humidifier installed that will work with your HVAC system to keep your home at a constant humidity level.  Cold Air & Blood Vessel Contraction If you keep your home too cool, it can actually cause the blood vessels in your head to start to contract causing a headache. Most home cooling modes are set anywhere from 69-72 degrees. If you have your thermostat set much lower than this, try turning it up a few degrees to give your head a break. Mold & Other Pollutants Mold is well known for causing headaches if the concentration is high enough. Your HVAC system can be a prime spot for mold growth in the summer due to it's damp, cool conditions. The most likely place for mold to grow is on your evaporator coil which sits on top...
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