3 Common Repairs with Gas Furnaces

December 12th, 2014

Gas furnaces are among the most common home heating systems in the country. They’re relatively cheap, versatile, and widespread enough that almost every HVAC company is capable of servicing them. If you’re one of the many homeowners who owns a gas furnace, it pays to know some of the common repair needs that it can experience.

Let’s examine the top 3 gas furnace repairs.

Broken Pilot Light

Standing pilot lights have a terrible reputation for wasting energy and going out frequently. This is often because pilot lights have little or no protection from air currents in the home. This is usually easily fixed; most furnaces have an ignition button that re-lights the pilot light. In some cases, however, the pilot light may refuse to stay lit.

In older furnaces, the pilot light is controlled by a part called the “thermocouple.” This part is basically a composite metal wire, with one end installed near the pilot burner and the other wired into the gas valve. When the pilot light is turned on, the thermocouple senses the heat and produces an electrical current that keeps the gas valve open. When the pilot light goes out, the gas valve closes to keep your home from filling up with gas.

When the thermocouple goes bad, however, it closes the gas valve while the pilot light is still lit. This smothers the flame. A pilot light that keeps going out may have a bad thermocouple.

Dirty Burners

The burners are the parts of the furnace that actually combust the gas to create heat. As gas furnaces are an incomplete combustion system, there are byproducts of the process like toxic gases and leftover carbon. Most of these byproducts are vented out of the house, but carbon can collect on the burners instead. Dirty burners can have difficulty starting, or even burn at a lower intensity, leading to heating problems in the home.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is responsible for both heating the air and getting rid of toxic combustion byproducts. Over time, the constant expansion and contraction from the heat can cause the heat exchanger to crack, letting the combustion gases mix with the air being circulated. Because of the health risks involved, a cracked heat exchanger should be replaced as soon as possible.

If you need to schedule repair service for your furnace in the Merced area, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide fast and reliable heating services.

Why Is My Pilot Light Going Out?

December 5th, 2014

Having the pilot light blow out is a pretty common occurrence for homeowners. After all, it’s an open flame, often with no protection from sudden drafts aside from being under the furnace. It’s often a simple affair to relight your pilot light when it goes out. If the pilot light refuses to stay lit, however, you may have a bigger problem than a simple draft. Let’s examine the biggest reason why your pilot light refuses to stay lit.

The Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a long wire made of metal composite. One end of this wire is installed next to the pilot light, close enough to conduct heat from the flame. The other end of the wire is connected to a gas valve, which controls the flow of fuel to the pilot light. The thermocouple acts as a heat sensor for the pilot light, determining whether it is on or off. When the pilot light is on, the thermocouple keeps the gas valve open to keep the flame burning. When the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas valve to prevent your home from filling up with gas. This is done by utilizing something called the Seebeck Effect.

Named after the physicist that discovered it, the Seebeck Effect states that any conductor will produce an electric current when exposed to uneven heat. This means that when one end of the thermocouple is heated by the pilot light, it generates an electric current that travels to the gas valve. When the gas valve registers this current, it opens, and stays open as long as it keeps receiving the current. When the pilot light goes out, it terminates the current and causes the valve to close.

A bad thermocouple is one that has lost the ability to produce an electrical current when exposed to heat. This is why the pilot light keeps going out, because there is nothing to keep the flow of fuel to it going.

If your pilot light keeps going out, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heating services throughout the Merced area.

Do I Repair or Replace My Heating System?

November 28th, 2014

No one really wants to get rid of their heating system and replace it with a new one. New heaters are often expensive, the installation can be a pain, and in general it’s just a lot less hassle to repair individual things as they break down. Unfortunately, there will come a point where repairing your old heater will become just as expensive, if not more so, than replacing it with a new one. Let’s take a look at when exactly that point is.

Age of Unit

The rule of thumb when thinking about whether to replace most heaters is to look at their age. If the heater is under 15 years old, you may want to just repair it. If the heater is older than 15, chances are you would be better served by getting a new one. Of course, the best way to tell is by calling a professional to look at it for you.

Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is the name for when a heater constantly turns on and off in rapid succession throughout the day. This is often caused by overheating in the system. When the heater starts, the internal temperature of the unit quickly reaches a level beyond the system’s safety limit. When that happens, the system turns the heater off to prevent further damage. Once the heater cools down enough, it starts up and repeats the entire process over again. This is often the result of more serious issues in the heater, like a cracked heat exchanger. You may want to replace your heating system if you notice this occurring, but depending on the source of the short-cycling it could be cheaper to repair it.

Odd Noises

Unusual noises are a common complaint among homeowners when it comes to heating issues. Grinding, banging, whistling, gurgling, and many other sounds may occur when starting up your heater. The thing is, there are as many different causes for these sounds as there are sounds themselves. All of them should be looked at immediately, as there are some that signal a more serious issue than others. For the most part, however, you should be safe simply getting your system repaired. There is rarely a case where an odd noise has led to the need to replace the whole system.

If you’re having problems with your heater, call Ace Air Conditioning. Our HVAC technicians provide heating services throughout the Merced area.

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Ace Air Conditioning , we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

It’s Time to Schedule Heating Maintenance

November 14th, 2014

Winter is just around the corner, and homeowners across the country are scrambling to get ready for the onslaught of cold weather. Part of those preparations is making sure that their heating systems are able to handle the increased demand that the winter season will bring. If you haven’t scheduled your annual heating maintenance yet, read on to find out why you should.

Fall Heating Maintenance Benefits

Fall is far and away the best time to schedule heating maintenance for your heating system. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the best time to schedule maintenance for any piece of equipment is right before a period of heavy usage. Race cars get checked right before a race, airplanes get checked before a flight etc. etc. In the same way, your heater should get checked right before winter, when you’ll be using it most. This makes sure that the parts in your heating system are in the best possible condition, and drastically decreases the chances of a breakdown happening under the strain of daily use. Which brings us to our next point: you do not want your heating system to break down in the middle of winter.

Just as fall maintenance decreases the chances of a breakdown during the winter months, neglecting that maintenance makes a breakdown more likely. Demand for HVAC repairs tends to spike dramatically during this season, as people have their heating systems fail from the strain of daily use. The combination of these two factors means that if your heating system breaks down, you will likely have to wait for up to several days before a technician can make it to you. Several days without heat in the middle of winter is not a prospect that most people relish. With that in mind, we strongly advise you to schedule heating maintenance every fall.

Unfortunately, there is no way to make 100% sure that your heating system will not experience a breakdown. With annual maintenance, however, you can be secure in the knowledge that you have done everything you can to make breakdowns unlikely.

If you haven’t scheduled maintenance yet this year, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heating maintenance throughout the Merced area.

Reasons to Upgrade Your Thermostat

November 7th, 2014

You may not think that there is any reason to upgrade your thermostat unless it’s broken. After all, it doesn’t really experience wear and tear the way the rest of the heating system does. It doesn’t waste more energy by being an older model, like some heating units do. It’s just a control circuit hooked up to a sensor. You’d be surprised to learn, then, that there are actually many good reasons to upgrade your thermostat. Let’s examine some of the advantages you can gain by upgrading you thermostat.

Adaptability

Most old digital thermostats are only capable of being programmed for one temperature at a time. You set the temperature you want, and if you want to change that temperature you’ll have to reset it. Older thermostats don’t even have that function, forcing you to manually turn the heat on or off. New digital thermostats are capable of a degree of adaptability far beyond these older models. Not only are they programmable for a single set temperature, but they are capable of having different temperatures set for different times of the day and even different days of the week.

Savings

This may seem like a simple luxury, with no substantial impact on the efficiency of your heating system. Consider, however, the minor ways in which heating energy is wasted. Heating turning on when you’re not home, or when you’re asleep. These minor things add up over time, adding to the cost of your heating bill. With newer thermostats, those extra costs are almost completely mitigated.

Information

Older digital thermostats are fairly limited in the information that they provide. Usually, they display the temperature, the desired temperature, and whether the heat is on or off. Modern thermostats, however, are capable of monitoring and displaying much more valuable information than that. For example, some thermostats are capable of measuring when the air filter in your heater needs to be changed. This information gives you greater control over the health and maintenance of your system.

If you’re interested in upgrading your thermostat, call Ace Air Conditioning. Our heating experts cover the whole Merced area.

Heating Question: What Is Electronic Ignition?

October 31st, 2014

The heating industry has taken many steps to help reduce emissions and to make heaters more energy efficient. One of the problems it has tackled over the last few years is the issue of a continuous pilot light. A pilot light is a small flame that stays lit all the time so that the gas in your furnace can combust. One of the drawbacks of having a pilot light is that it needs a constant flow of gas to be lit. To help reduce this excess energy usage, electronic ignition was introduced. There are two types of electronic ignition, as we’ll outline below. If you have any issues with your heating, call the people with over 25 years of experience with heating services in Merced: Ace Air Conditioning.

Two Types of Electronic Ignition

There are two types of electronic ignition: intermittent pilot and hot surface ignition.

Intermittent Pilot

With an intermittent pilot system, gas doesn’t flow to the pilot until the system is cued for ignition from your thermostat. Once the cue is given, gas flows through the pilot line, and a small electronic device creates a spark that crosses the pilot, igniting the flame. The thermocouple then senses that the pilot is lit, allowing the main gas line to open. At this point, the burners light, and the heating process begins.

Hot Surface Ignition

Hot surface ignition uses electricity to ignite your furnace. An electrical current is passed over a silicone filament, similar to that in a light bulb, which heats to a temperature that is hot enough to ignite the natural gas. Once the filament reaches the right temperature, the main gas line opens, allowing the gas to flow so it can be ignited in the combustion chamber.

Electronic ignition can help reduce the amount of gas you use, and allows for safer ignition in your furnace. If you are interested in finding out more about how electronic ignition can benefit you, call Ace Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment with one of our HVAC experts.

Why a Heat Pump Is a Good Choice for Heating

October 24th, 2014

If you’re looking for a new heating system this fall, then a heat pump might be the perfect choice for you. Heat pumps work very similar to more traditional heating systems, with a couple of unique and important differences. It is these differences that set them apart, and confer a number of great advantages over other systems. Let’s examine how heat pumps work, and why they’re such a great choice for heating.

How does it Work?

Heat pumps have two main components, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. These two units are connected by a conduit that includes a refrigerant line, used to transport thermal energy. This isn’t all that different from any other forced air heat system. What is different is how these two units operate.

While in heating mode, the outdoor unit uses a coil to absorb thermal energy from the air surrounding it. It then directs this thermal energy inside to the indoor unit, where it is used to heat the air and circulate it throughout the house. This is why this system is called a “heat pump.” It actually “pumps” the heat from one area to another instead of trying to create all that heat itself.

Benefits

So what are the benefits to installing a heat pump? For one, you’ll save money. Heat pumps are incredibly efficient heating systems owing to their ability to utilize thermal energy in the surrounding air. This means that the heat pump doesn’t have to work as hard as other systems to reach the same temperature. The heat pump consumes less energy for the same results, which will decrease the cost of your heating bills.

The next benefit is versatility. Far from being just a heating system, heat pumps are designed to both heat and cool a room. This saves you the money and space required for installing a separate air conditioning unit. Heat pumps are all about efficiency. If you’re looking for a heating system that will pay for itself, you won’t be disappointed.

If you’d like to have a heat pump installed, call Ace Air Conditioning. We install heating systems throughout the Merced area.

3 Signs Your Furnace Needs Repair

October 17th, 2014

One of the most comforting feelings in the winter is walking into a home heated by a reliable gas or electric furnace. But if you turn your furnace on and notice something unusual, it’s a sign that your furnace may soon fail on a day that you need it most. You should always call a repair technician at the first sign of trouble, even if the situation seems like only a minor concern. Broken parts certainly won’t improve over time and may cost you more money on heating costs every month.

The following list contains some of the signs that you should schedule furnace repair right away. For heating repair service in Merced, contact the technicians at Ace Air Conditioning as soon as possible.

  • Poor Heating Capabilities: Don’t wait until your heating system has quit working completely to schedule repairs. When your furnace will not work as it should, it indicates that a breakdown may be near. It could be ignition problems, a broken thermostat, or even a problem with the ducts. In any case, without prompt repairs your furnace will have to work harder to heat the home, which may cause it to overheat.
  • Unusual Noises: Your furnace is never exactly quiet, but a strange noise should alert you to something that is not quite right. These noises can take many forms, from a banging or popping sound to a squeal, and could indicate a variety of problems. Sometimes, a loud noise indicates only a loose screw, or even a dirty filter that hinders airflow to the unit. It may also indicate a fault motor, loose belt, or a problem with the ignition.
  • Trouble Starting Up: If your furnace does not turn on at all, you know to call for repairs right away. But if you notice that your furnace has trouble starting up or won’t seem to stay on, you should act just as quickly. This could mean thermostat trouble, a wiring issue, or a faulty fan motor.

Any unusual furnace behavior could result from a number of different issues, so you need trained, experienced technicians to locate the source of the problem and make fast repairs. When you have trouble with your furnace, call the experts at Ace Air Conditioning right away.

What Are My Heating System Options in Merced?

October 10th, 2014

If you need a new heating system, you may choose to install the same type of system you have always relied on. However, there are many different options for heating available, so you may decide to go a different route.

To help you decide between a few of the most common and efficient options for heating, the dependable technicians at Ace Air Conditioning have put together this guide. While you should always speak with an expert before making your final decision, we want to help you stay informed about your options.

Furnaces

One of the most popular ways to heat a home is with a furnace. Selecting the right furnace first depends on the type of fuel you will use to power it. Most homeowners who have access to a gas line choose a gas furnace, as it is generally a cheaper power source than electricity. However, there are some efficient electric furnaces available as well. The second step in choosing the right furnace is the AFUE rating, which lets you know how much of the fuel a furnace uses goes toward heat production. A higher AFUE rating means a more efficient system. Finally, a technician will help you choose the proper size unit for your home.

Heat Pumps

Installing a heat pump is an extremely efficient choice, especially if you would like to replace both your heater and your air conditioner. Heat pumps are combination air conditioning and heating systems that usually have high efficiency ratings for both cooling and heating. These are installed just like traditional central air conditioners, as they have both an indoor unit and outside condenser unit. In the winter, heat pumps move heat from the outdoor air into your home, which makes them efficient systems because they only move heat rather than generate it.

Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump

If you don’t have any ductwork in your home, the best solution may be a ductless mini-split heat pump. Like other heat pumps, these are both heating and air conditioning systems, but unlike heat pumps, ductless mini splits don’t need any ducts to distribute air. Instead, indoor air handlers house the evaporator unit and blowers, and these are mounted high on the wall or suspended from the ceiling.

The experts at Ace Air Conditioning want to help you make the right decision about your new heating system in Merced. Call our knowledgeable, dependable technicians today!