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Archive for January, 2015

Why Is My Furnace Short-Cycling?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Have you ever noticed your furnace acting particularly strange? For example, have you noticed it turning on and off over and over again over a long period of time?

That behavior is called “short-cycling,” and it’s one of the most damaging issues that your furnace can have. If you notice your furnace short-cycling, you should turn it off and call a professional immediately. Even if you’ve never seen your furnace doing this, however, it pays to know a little more about it. That way, you can more quickly identify the issue and have it fixed before any permanent damage is done.

Let’s examine what causes short-cycling, and how you can prevent it from happening:

What Causes Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling is the result of how the furnace interacts with a small, but vital, part called the furnace limit switch. The furnace limit switch is a device that measures the temperature inside the furnace’s plenum, the main chamber where air is heated. If the temperature inside the plenum gets too high, the limit switch activates and shuts down the furnace to prevent damage from overheating. The limit switch is only a stop-gap measure, however. When the furnace has cooled off sufficiently, it will restart in response to the thermostat’s continuing calls for heat. Then the entire cycle repeats itself until the root cause of the overheating is addressed.

How can I Stop Short-Cycling?

The best way to prevent short-cycling it to regularly clean or replace the air filter in your furnace. There are other things that might cause short-cycling, but a clogged air filter is by far the most common. If the air filter is not cleaned or replaced every 1-3 months, it becomes so clogged with dust and debris that it restricts air flow into the furnace. This traps heat inside the furnace, causing it to overheat and short-cycle. If you don’t know where your air filter is or how to replace it, any HVAC technician should be able to do it for you.

If your furnace is shot-cycling, call Total Comfort Inc. We provide heating repair throughout the Riverside area.

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When to Schedule Heating Service in Costa Mesa

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Everyone knows that their heating systems need to be serviced every once in a while by a professional HVAC technician. At least, anyone who wants their heating systems to have a long and healthy life should know that. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is when exactly to schedule heating services. Should it be on a case by case basis, happening only when a problem presents itself? Or should it be scheduled at the same time every year regardless of circumstance? Read on to find out when you should schedule maintenance for your heater.

Annual Maintenance

You actually should schedule maintenance at least once a year, whether your heating system has a problem or not. Plenty of heating issues won’t manifest early warning signs, so waiting until you notice something wrong usually means that you’re too late. Annual maintenance is often scheduled during the fall season, as close to the start of winter as possible. This is because the best time to schedule maintenance on a system is right before it experiences its period of greatest usage. Conducting your annual maintenance during fall is a good way to make sure that your heater can handle the added demand throughout the next few months.

When Problems Present Themselves

Yes, we just told you to conduct annual maintenance and not to wait for a problem to crop up before scheduling heating service. However, there are some people who make the opposite mistake of ignoring an obvious heating problem until their annual maintenance appointment. This is just as bad as not conducting any annual maintenance at all. If you notice an issue with your heating system, no matter how trivial it may seem, call your HVAC technician as soon as possible. Waiting until your annual maintenance appointment is a good way to make the problem much worse. Don’t wait, just call a professional to make sure that everything’s alright.

If you haven’t had your heating system checked in a while, or if you have a problem with your heater, call Total Comfort Inc. or schedule a heating service now – We provide heating service throughout Costa Mesa.

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Common Issues with Heating Systems in the Winter

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Your heater works hard to keep you comfortable all season long, so it shouldn’t be surprising that your unit can run into a little bit of trouble from time to time.

Heating systems begin to struggle as the parts become more strained throughout the season, especially if it’s been years since you’ve called a technician to check out your unit. And the longer you wait to schedule heating services, the costlier the repair is likely to be. The following problems are common with heating systems during the winter.

  • Burner Doesn’t Ignite: If the burner on your furnace won’t ignite at all, it may be that the gas jet is blocked by debris or rust.
  • Burner Only Ignites Sometimes: Sometimes, your heater runs just fine, but sometimes it just won’t seem to start. This may be because of a temperamental flame sensor, which will shut off the gas valve if there is no flame or if it is too dirty to properly sense the flame.
  • Heating Cycle Does Not Complete: When the heating system switches off before the home reaches the proper temperature, it may actually be due to a troubled thermostat. With a furnace, it could be that a safety switch has shut off the gas because the gases are not properly venting or because the plenum chamber is near overheating.
  • It Takes Too Long for The House to Heat Up: If it seems to take a while for the furnace or heat pump to heat up the house, it could be due to a faulty blower fan, either because debris is blocking the part or because of electrical trouble with the motor.
  • Unit Has Rusted: Unfortunately, a poorly maintained furnace or heat pump may develop rust along the outside of the unit or at one of the key components. If rust occurs at a single component, such as the vent pipe, it may mean that only that piece requires replacement. If it develops around the heat exchanger or the combustion chamber, however, you’ll need a new unit as the risk of corrosion is too high.

The people at Total Comfort Inc want to help you prevent heating repair with annual maintenance visits or get your malfunctioning unit operating like new with heating services in Rancho Cucamonga. Give us a call!

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Why Isn’t the Furnace Fan Running?

Monday, January 5th, 2015

It’s never a good sign to turn on your furnace and have the fan stay off. This is almost always a sign of a major issue with your furnace. Most importantly, if the fan isn’t running then the furnace has no way to distribute warm air to the house. Let’s take a look at the different reasons why your furnace fan isn’t running, organized by symptom.

Motor is Running, but Fan Isn’t

If you turn on the furnace, can you hear the motor running? If the motor is running, but your fan isn’t, it is very likely that your air handler has a broken fan belt. The fan belt is a large rubber loop that connects the motor to the fan. When the motor turns on, it rotates the fan belt which rotates the fan. Over years of use, however, the fan belt will start to degrade from the strain. It will begin to stretch and crack, causing it not to rotate as smoothly between the motor and the fan. When that happens, it generates a squealing sound that can be heard every time the furnace turns on. Eventually, the fan belt will snap and render the air handler unable to operate. If you hear a squealing sound coming from your furnace, call a professional right away.

Motor is not Running

If your furnace is on, but your motor isn’t, then you have a much bigger problem than the fan belt. Furnace motors are equipped with parts called “bearings,” which decrease the friction in the motors and prolong their lifespan. As long as the bearings are well-oiled, the motor will continue running smoothly and there won’t be a problem. Eventually, however, the bearings can dry up. This makes them more than a hindrance than a help, as the motor now has to work against them in order to keep the fan rotating. The friction will continue to build up until the motor burns itself out. If you hear a grinding noise coming from your furnace, chances are it’s the bearings beginning to wear down. Call a professional to make sure your motor doesn’t burn out.

If you’re having furnace trouble, call Total Comfort Inc. We provide heating services throughout Corona.

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When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Total Comfort, Inc. hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

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