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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.

How Does a Furnace Gas Valve Work?

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How Does My Furnace's Gas Valve Work? The gas valve on your furnace is one of the most important parts! Without it, your house would be quite cold! The gas valve on your furnace is one of the most important parts. It is ultimately responsible for delivering an adjusting the flow of gas pressure to your furnace to keep it lit when running. A gas valve replacement is a common furnace repair in older furnaces. Let's take a look at the different kinds and how they work to keep your home warm in the winter! Types of Gas Valves Combination gas valve: This type of gas valve was introduced around the 1960s. A combination gas valve contains a handle, a thermocouple, a regulator, and a solenoid valve. In essence, it contains everything needed for the operation of a gas fired furnace.  Gas chain: These types of gas valves are quite common and require the operator to manually turn a valve to open or close the flow of gas to the furnace. Once opened by the user, the solenoid valve will only open to allow gas to flow when the furnace actually calls for heat. Otherwise, you'd have a non-stop flow of gas into your home! A safety switch will only remain open if the thermocouple is heated to a minimum temperature, verifying the furnace is actually in heating mode. How The Gas Valve Works The furnace's gas valve is operated by electromagnets. There are two different valve's that work in...
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Furnace vs Heat Pump

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Gas Furnace vs Heat Pump: What's the Difference? Should I get a furnace or a heat pump? What is the difference anyways? There are a few different options you have when it comes to heating your home. Among the most popular are furnaces and heat pumps. Although there are several different types of furnaces available today (gas, oil, boiler), in this post we will be looking specifically at gas furnaces as they are the most popular option in homes today. Gas Furnaces A gas furnace is by far the most popular option in heating your home here in the United states with approximately 56% of homes utilizing one each winter. A gas furnace is known to provide the hottest heat when compared to a heat pump as it utilizes it's own fuel source (burning gas) to heat your home. Furnaces can also heat your home under any condition, no matter how cold the weather may be outside. If you live in areas of the US that become very cold each winter, a gas furnace is probably the best option for you. Not to mention, furnaces are generally much cheaper to install vs a heat pump. A new furnace installation generally costs anywhere between $2-4,000 depending on the efficiency of the furnace you have installed. Although it may seem obvious, you will need to verify you home has a natural gas connection to have a gas furnace installed. If you happen to live out in the country, fuel oil furnaces, boilers...
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What Is a Thermocouple?

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What Is a Thermocouple and How Does It Work? If you have an old furnace, this small part plays an important role in your furnace! What Is a Thermocouple? Prior to 1993, all gas furnaces were made with a standing pilot light. If you have a furnace that was installed after 1993, it comes equipped with an electronic ignition, so no pilot light is needed. A thermocouple in essence is just a small safety device that detects whether or not your furnace's pilot light is on. It is a small metal rod made of two different metals that is located near the pilot light and hooked into the gas valve. It works by utilizing the "Seebeck effect", named after Johnann Seebeck, who found that two different types of metals in close proximity to each other will create an electric charge in relation to the overall heat that they sense. When the pilot light is on, the thermocouple can sense the heat from the flame and it in turn sends the proper voltage to the gas valve to keep it open and ready to ignite the burners. If your pilot light goes out, it will lose it's voltage and your gas valve will close to prevent gas from leaking into your home, or even worse flooding the combustion chamber and catching a spark that can cause an explosion. Common Thermocouple Problems One of the most common problems with a thermocouple is it becoming dirty and in turn giving off improper readings...
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Gas Vs Electric Furnace

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Gas Vs Electric Furnace: Which One Is For Me? When it comes to furnaces, you have several different options. Is a gas or electric furnace right for you? While it generally comes down to preference, there are some major differences between gas and electric furnaces. Let's take a look at each one to see which kind is right for you. Gas Furnaces The majority of homes in the United states are heated by a gas furnace. If you are looking for the hottest "heat", a gas furnace is definitely the way to go. However, it is important to note that you must have a natural gas connection at your home to be able to utilize a gas furnace. Amazing, I know. Gas furnaces are incredibly safe, but you must also have a carbon monoxide detector installed with it to verify it is venting properly and not leaking any of the deadly CO gas into your home. Another great benefit of a gas furnace vs an electric one is that it uses much less electricity to run. Assuming you have regular maintenance on your gas furnace, you should not have any major furnace repairs needed. Most gas furnaces can last 15 years or more if taken care of. Electric Furnaces For those without access to natural gas, this is one route to go when it comes to heating. An electric furnace essentially does that exact same thing as a gas furnace, but it heats your home by using electric heat strips....
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Furnaces and Carbon Monoxide

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How Can I Protect My Family From Carbon Monoxide? Carbon Monoxide left unchecked can have some deadly consequences. Learn what you can do to prevent it! Effects Of Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, deadly gas that in large amounts, can potentially kill a person. Carbon monoxide harms you by binding to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells, reducing the amount of oxygen your blood cells can carry to your heart, lungs and brain. This dramatic decrease in oxygen in the blood leads to oxygen starvation, also known as hypoxia. Depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air, it can affect you in different ways: 100 PPM (parts per million in the air) - Slight headache in 2-3 hours 200 PPM - Dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache within 2-3 hours 400 PPM - Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure, life threatening within 3 hours. 800 PPM - All of the above within 45 minutes, collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour. Death within 2-3 hours. 1,000 PPM - Loss of consciousness after 1 hour. 1,600 PPM - All of the above within 20 minutes. Death within 1-2 hours. 3,200 PPM - All of the above within 5-10 minutes. Death within 1 hour. 6,400 PPM - Death within 30 minutes 12,800 PPM - Immediate bodily effects. Death within 1-3 minutes.  Furnaces & Carbon Monoxide Since your gas furnace burns off some type of fuel to heat your home, it will naturally produce carbon monoxide in some...
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Winterize Your Home

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It's Time To Winterize Your Home! With the cold weather finally starting to set in, now is the best time to winterize you home! It's that time of year again to get your home ready for the cold winter ahead! Here are a list of a few things you can do to make sure your home is all set for the upcoming cold months. Change Your Furnace Filter The number one cause of HVAC breakdowns is dirt. By changing your furnace filter on a regular basis, you are saving yourself from needing a costly furnace repair. Standard one inch filters should generally be changed every 30 days. If you have a thicker media filter, they can usually last 6-12 months. Filter lifespans depend on the home however. If you have several pets, you will find yourself needing to change the filter more often. Check Your Thermostat Check your thermostat to ensure proper operation. If your thermostat takes batteries, it may be worth putting a fresh set in now to save yourself from a dead thermostat. Verify the furnace kicks on in heating mode as well so you're not surprised if it doesn't work when you need it.  Check & Replace Weather Stripping Make sure your furnace doesn't need to work harder than it needs to by checking any weather stripping in your home. This can usually be found on doors and windows to help keep the cold air out when they are closed. If you find cracked or wearing weather...
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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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