Self HVAC Home Comfort Tips

HVAC Home Tips For Atlanta Homeowners

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A damaged heat exchanger in a gas furnace is potentially dangerous to a home's occupants and should not be ignored. Broken and leaking heat exchangers are responsible for about 1,500 deaths per year in the United States, and many more people are poisoned by exposure to toxic gasses that go unfiltered by defective heat exchangers. It is impossible to determine if a heat exchanger is cracked solely by visual inspection, but these signs and symptoms can give you an idea of whether you should call a professional to inspect your furnace's heat exchanger.

Change in Flame Appearance
A correctly operating furnace has a clear, steady blue flame. A burner with a moving yellow flame can mean that the burner is dirty or that the heat exchanger is cracked. Flames that flicker or lean more as the house fan comes on (a couple of minutes after ignition), are possible signs of a cracked heat exchanger.
Cracks and Corrosion on Other Components
When the external components show signs of either minor or significant wear, the internal components could be damaged as well. Stress cracks can develop due to the components' expansion and contraction that occurs each time the furnace heats and cools. In addition, components can become corroded because of exposure to fumes that emit chloride or exposure to moisture from other sources.
The appearance of a black carbon buildup on the furnace interior is caused by a unit that does not burn cleanly. Soot can collect when combustion is incomplete. This can be caused by burners that are improperly adjusted or a cracked heat exchanger.
Unusual Aromas
A faulty heat exchanger will produce a strong and unpleasant odor that smells similar to formaldehyde. This odor alone can cause severe headaches and other physical symptoms in humans. If you smell a formaldehyde-like odor, you should immediately call a professional for a furnace inspection.
Other Physical Symptoms
Combustion gases leaking from a cracked heat exchanger can cause frequent headaches as well as flu-like symptoms. Combustion pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, can cause eye and nose irritation, disorientation, sleepiness and nausea. If you experience these symptoms only when you're at home and the symptoms abate when you leave your home, or if you share these symptoms with other people in your home, have the air quality of your home inspected immediately. Although these symptoms can have other sources, persistent symptoms may suggest a cracked heat exchanger.
If you notice any of these signs, please call us to schedule an appointment with one of our certified technicians today at 678-909-6377

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Heating systems are usually trouble-free and easy to maintain. Efficient operation is a function of good regular maintenance. No matter what type of furnace you have, there are several things you can do to keep your heating system in top condition. In this article, we will tell you how to service and troubleshoot your furnace, regardless of the type.

When a heating or cooling system malfunctions, any one of its three components -- heat/cold source, distribution system, or thermostat -- may be causing the problem. If the furnace or air conditioner doesn't run, the malfunction is probably at the source. The furnace or air conditioner may have lost power. Fuel may not be reaching the unit. If the fuel is gas or oil, it may not be igniting. If the furnace or air conditioner turns on but the warm or cool air isn't reaching the rooms of your home, the problem is likely to be the blower or distribution system. And a faulty control, or thermostat, could keep the system from turning on or could cause it to turn on and off repeatedly. Whatever the problem, start with the simplest procedures. In most cases, all it takes is patience and common sense. 

Before you start work on a heating or cooling system, take these preliminary steps:

  • Make sure the unit is receiving power. Look for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers at the main entrance panel. Some furnaces have a separate power entrance, usually located at a different panel near the main entrance panel. Some furnaces have fuses mounted in or on the unit.
  • If the unit has a reset button, marked RESET and near the motor housing, wait 30 minutes to let the motor cool, then press the button. If the unit still doesn't start, wait 30 minutes and press the reset button again. Repeat at least once more.
  • If the unit has a separate power switch, make sure the switch is turned on.
  • Check to make sure the thermostat is properly set. If necessary, raise (or, for an air conditioner, lower) the setting 5º.
  • If the unit uses gas, check to make sure the gas supply is turned on and the pilot light is lit. If it uses oil, check to make sure there is an adequate supply of oil.

There are also several important safety factors to remember:

  • Before doing any work on any type of heating or cooling system, make sure all power to the system is turned off. At the main electrical entrance panel, trip the circuit breaker or remove the fuse that controls the power to the unit. If you're not sure which circuit the system is on, remove the main fuse or trip the main circuit breaker to cut off all power to the house. Some furnaces have a separate power entrance, usually at a different panel near the main entrance panel. If a separate panel is present, remove the fuse or trip the breaker there.
  • If the fuse blows or the circuit trips repeatedly when the furnace or air conditioner turns on, there is a problem in the electrical system. In this case, do not try to fix the furnace. Call a professional service person.
  • If the unit uses gas and there is a smell of gas in your home, do not try to shut off the gas or turn any lights on or off. Get out of the house, leaving the door open, and immediately call the gas company or the fire department to report a leak. Do not reenter your home.
  • To keep your heating and cooling systems in top shape, have them professionally serviced once a year. The best time to have a furnace serviced is at the end of the heating season. Because this is the off-season, you can often get a discount, and service is likely to be prompt. Have your air conditioner checked at the same time.

Dirt is the biggest enemy of your home's heating and cooling system. It can waste fuel and drastically lower efficiency. Dirt affects all three basic components of the system, so cleaning is the most important part of regular maintenance. Lubrication and belt adjustment at the furnace are also important. Have your unit regularly serviced. Call us today to hear about specials and our semi-annual maintenance contract. Self Heating and Cooling 678-909-6377


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Troubleshooting your furnace blower motor

A furnace blower motor is one of the most important components in your gas or oil furnace. Consider that the purpose of gas furnace is to warm the home, and realize that it is the blower motor that actually takes that heat and directs it from the very isolated, insulated furnace and in to the actual home. If you’re having problems with the blower motor, you’re not only left wanting for heating in your home, but you’re wasting energy as any gas you burn and heat your furnace creates that isn’t actually channeled in to the house that needs it is pointless.

Basic Troubleshooting

One of the most common problems is that the blower motor makes a humming sound. If this is the case, then the first thing you should do is turn off your motor and allow it to cool. When it has cooled down to a safe temperature, check the motor. Like with many devices that are in motion regularly, the humming could be the result of something as simple as improper lubrication.

To determine if this why your blower motor hums, try lubricating the motor but don’t overdo it. Then restart the blower motor and listen. If the hum persists, then so do you.

Humming at Slow Speeds

When your furnace blower has warmed your house to the set temperature, it begins to run on a slower speed. This is a normal energy saving mechanism that the motor is supposed to employ. But if your blower motor slows down unusually and makes a humming sound when it has slowed down, it might be due to a fault in the capacitor and the motor.

Check your motors amperage draw using a tool that reads electrical current such as a multi meter and then check the rating on the plate of your motor to see how much is required. If the draw is more than the required amount, it’s an indication that your motor is working extra hard just to work normally. You will have to replace the motor and the capacitor. This problem in your blower motor may have been caused by dust and dirt in your filter. An unclean and blocked filter makes the motor work harder to push out air. Make sure you check and clean the filter regularly to avoid this kind of problem from recurring.

 Motor Humming Without Turning

If your furnace blower motor hums when it’s switched on but at the same time does not actually turn, the capacitor may be damaged. This problem of getting a humming noise along with little to no spinning is very common with motors that do not have good quality capacitors. You should replace the capacitor with a good one and the blower motor will work smoothly. Once again, this may initially trace back to a simple blocked filter.

If your motor does not run even after replacing the capacitor, it is most likely that the unit overheated. You should reset the safety buttons located at the side of the unit.

Humming When the Blower is Off

This is usually caused by the wrong adjustment of the pilot light of your blower. Readjusting it to an appropriate level should solve this issue.

Humming When the Blower is On

If your gas burners are dirty, they will give out a low sound that may sound like something between a low rumble and a hum. Cleaning, adjusting or replacing them will make the irritating sound go away.

If you don't feel comfortable performing the diagnostic steps, please give us a call, so one of our trained technicians can make sure your system is running safely and efficiently. Self Heating and Cooling 678-909-6377

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Every year, when the weather turns cold, homeowners reach for household thermostats and turn on their heat. Most people give little thought to whether the furnace exhaust system – the chimney and connector pipe – is ready to provide safe, effective service. Annual maintenance of your heating system can determine if the flue pipe and furnace are safe for use. We also recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home and ensuring they are working properly before turning on your furnace.
Here's is a helpful guide to buying carbon monoxide detectors for your home. 
Call Self Heating and Cooling to schedule your furnace routine maintenance and make sure your flue pipe is safe for the coming winter season. 

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The flue on your furnace is designed to vent carbon monoxide and other gases made during the combustion process outside. If the flue is clogged or damaged, it can't do its job, and this puts you and your family at risk. Every vented heating appliance in your home should be inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.


Signs of Clogged Flues

Gas furnaces build up scale, which forms when gas byproducts and moisture combine, and these can block the flue. If you see rust or water streaking on the vent, flue, or on your chimney, something may be blocking the flue. Moisture builds inside your furnace pipes when the air can't properly circulate, and this can result in rust.

Soot around your furnace is also an indication of a problem. Soot can build up to in your venting system and block it. If your furnace is vented through a masonry chimney, look for white residue on the brick. This is a sign that mineral salts are coming through the masonry because too much moisture is inside the chimney. Although flame color doesn't always mean the presence of carbon monoxide, a change in the color of your flame, such as blue becoming yellow, indicates that the level of carbon monoxide has increased, and this may be caused by a blocked flue.


Potential Problems

A blocked or damaged furnace flue prevents combustion gases from escaping outside. Instead these gases are released into your home. Once inside, they recirculate, and then carbon monoxide becomes part of the air taken in during the combustion process. This increases the amount of carbon monoxide present. The cycle continues and can build up to deadly levels of carbon monoxide in your home.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble the flu, without fever, in the beginning. If you or your family experience headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness, go outside your home immediately. If the symptoms lessen or go away but return once inside, you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. Open all doors and windows and turn off any combustion appliances. Seek medical attention. Have your furnace inspected and the flue cleaned immediately by a professional. Have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.

Cleaning to Prevent Clogs

Your furnace needs to have its venting system cleaned every year. The buildup of particulates is not as significant as it is with a fireplace flue, but over time, they can reduce the efficiency of the flue. This is dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Contact a qualified professional to have the venting system cleaned and inspected for damage or leaks even when the furnace appears to operate properly. Only a trained technician can detect blockages or buildup inside your furnace flue and correct the problem. Call Self Heating and Cooling to check your heating system and verify the flue pipe is working as it should. 


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