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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 Does My Furnace Filter Get Dirty So Fast?

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Why Is My Furnace Filter Getting Dirty So Quickly? Furnace filters can become dirty quite quickly depending on your home and living conditions. Your furnace filter is one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. Not only does it help cut down on dust in the air, but it also helps protect all of the important parts of your furnace and air conditioner. Depending on your home and living conditions, you may ending up changing your furnace filter more or less frequently than others. If your furnace filter is getting dirty faster than usual, here are some things to check: Dust In Your Home Cleaning and dusting your home on a regular basis is a good way to extend the life of your furnace filters. It's advised to dust and vacuum your home at least once per week to cut down on the overall dust level of your home. Having your carpets professionally cleaned at least once per year is recommended as well as they are able to clean much deeper than a regular vacuum. Did you know that your carpets are the biggest filters in your home? Fan Is Set To "On" Instead Of " Auto" This setting is found on your thermostat. If you have the fan in your furnace set to "on", this means that the fan will run continuously until you turn it off at the thermostat. Some people prefer this setting as it helps filter the air in the home and also helps...
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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, before gas and electric furnaces became the standard. 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 was 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....
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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