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IERNA's Heating & Cooling -

Fall 2014

Steps to Take if Your Heater Breaks Down During the Winter

It’s one of the least pleasant scenarios to imagine during a cold winter evening: your furnace, heat pump, boiler, or other heating system abruptly stops working. You can try to cover yourself with blankets and hope that the heater turns back on, but chances are high that it won’t fix itself. The heater will need help, and there are some steps you can take to see how serious the problem is and what you can do about it.

One thing you absolutely should not do is to change into a "do–it–yourself hero" and attempt to fix the heating system on your own. This can cause further damage to the heater, and with a gas–powered system it might create serious health hazards. If it comes down to repairs, call for professional heating technicians to handle the work.

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Follow these steps if your heater breaks down

  • Check on the heater’s power source: It’s possible that the heating system has lost its connection to its energy supply. For electrically–powered heaters (heat pumps, electrical furnaces and boilers), make sure that the heater is still connected to the house’s electrical system. If you have a gas–powered heater, look to see if the pilot light has gone out and attempt to relight it if it has. Don’t try anything further with a gas heater if this doesn’t work.
  • Check the thermostat: User error on the settings for a thermostat can often account for a heating system shutting down when it shouldn’t. See that the programming on the thermostat is correct.
  • Check on circuit breakers: Sometimes a heating system will trip circuit breakers (or blow a fuse if your home still uses a fuse box) and lose power. This applies to many modern gas heaters as well, which use electrical igniters to start. If any breakers have been tripped, reset them and see if the heater comes back on. If it trips the breaker again, than the heater likely has an electrical malfunction.
  • Call an emergency repair technician: If none of the steps above get your heater started again, then you should call a repair company that offers 24 hour emergency service and works on a variety of heating systems. If you have a gas–powered heater, you should shut off the gas flow while waiting for the repairs to arrive as a safety precaution. (Now you can go get the blankets.)

To help keep your heating system from a breakdown, make sure that you schedule a preventive maintenance visit for your heater before the cold weather arrives. A skilled maintenance technician will find places where the heating system needs adjustments and tune–ups, and anything that requires repairs. With the right professional helping out, your heater will be in excellent shape for the whole winter.

 

Why You Should Replace Your Air Filters

Your heating and air conditioning systems are both vital to your home’s comfort throughout the year. Whether you’re looking to stay cool in the summer or if it’s time to heat your home in the winter, you need your AC and heater to work well. One of the most common (and easily avoidable) problems that we see is a clogged air filter. In order to protect the inside parts from large particles like dust and dirt, your HVAC system has an air filter in it, usually located near the return air duct. It needs to be changed regularly or it will clog and restrict the flow of air through the system. This can cause several serious problems for your home and we wanted to let our customers know about them.

Air Conditioning Problems from Clogged Air Filters

Your air conditioning system’s main job is to remove heat from your home and exhaust it outside. In order to do that, it uses a fan to pull in warm air from your home, then passes it over a series of very cold evaporator coils. The fan then pushes the newly–cooled air into your home through the ductwork. If the air filter gets clogged it will restrict the flow of air into the system and cause the following issues:

  • Insufficient cooling
  • Extra wear and tear
  • Inefficient operation
  • Reduced comfort
  • Ice on the coils
  • Strange noises

If you notice any of these issues with your system, the first thing you should do is check your air conditioning system’s air filter. Depending on the type of filter that you have, you may be able to wash it off and put it right back in. But most likely you will have to buy another filter.

Heating Problems from Clogged Air Filters

For heating systems, a clogged air filter can cause big problems—especially for furnaces. A burner in the furnace heats up the heat exchanger and a fan pulls in cool air from your home and passes it over the exchanger. If the filter is clogged it won’t allow enough cool air over the exchanger and it will heat up which could cause it to crack. A cracked heat exchanger can allow carbon monoxide to leak into your home which could be very dangerous.

Make sure that you get your heating and air conditioning systems regularly inspected and maintained by a professional. During regular maintenance visits, they will likely check the filter to make sure that it isn’t clogged or alert you if it is.

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