Frequently Asked HVAC Questions

HVAC Questions

Homeowners often have a lot of questions regarding HVAC systems, energy efficiency, and energy savings. To address some of these questions, here’s a compilation of the five most common HVAC-related questions homeowners have:

  1. How Can I Save on Energy Costs?

There are a few ways to accomplish energy savings. Here are some surefire ways to save:

  • Change the furnace filters regularly
  • Schedule annual maintenance
  • Use a programmable thermostat

 

  1. What Size HVAC Do I Need? Should I Size Up?

Bigger is not always better when it comes to HVAC systems. A system that is too large can lead to issues later. To find the right size, technicians need to measure the home to find the square footage and heating/cooling needs.

  1. Should I Repair or Replace?

There’s a lot of variables that go into this answer, but here’s a basic answer: If the system is over the age of seven and has required frequent repairs, it’s best to replace the system. Continuously repairing the HVAC system gets expensive and homeowners could save money by investing in a newer system.

  1. How Often Do Filters Need Replaced?

Dirty filters are the most common cause of system breakdowns. Simply changing out the filter is the easiest way to combat this issue. How often that should be done depends on the system and type of filter being used. In general, filters should be changed every 1-3 months. More often during winter and summer when the system is working harder.

  1. How Often Does The HVAC System Need Serviced?

For the best efficiency and energy savings, both the air conditioner and furnace should be serviced once a year. It’s optimal to get them serviced before they will be used for the season.

Hopefully this list of frequently asked HVAC questions is helpful for homeowners needing some answers about HVAC systems. For any other questions, just give Diamond Heating and Cooling a call!

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Knowing When to Change the Furnace Filter

Furnace Repair Boise

Everyone knows the furnace filter needs replacing, but they might not know exactly how to tell when it needs replacing. Here are some things to look for when determining if the furnace filter needs replacing:

  • There’s built-up dust and dirt on the filter, making it grey in color
  • The house is dustier than usual
  • The HVAC system is cycling longer

Watch out for these telltale signs by:

  1. Examining the filter regularly

Often during seasons with extreme temperatures, the furnace filter will need to be changed more frequently to keep up with the HVAC demand. It’s a good idea to check the filter at a minimum of every 4 weeks during winter.

When examining the filter, check for excess dirt and grey color. Also, take note of the sound of air moving through the furnace before taking out the filter. After removing the filter, if there is a significant release of air pressure, the filter is too dirty and has lost effectiveness.

  1. Monitoring the Environment

Keep an eye on the dust level in the home. If it seems ledges and surfaces need to be dusted more often, it can be a good sign to check the furnace filter. The buildup means the filter is clogged, and can’t remove dirt and dust as well anymore.

  1. Watching for Health Issues

In homes with allergy and asthma sufferers, clean air is even more important. If allergies and asthma attacks are starting to become more frequent, the furnace filter might not be effectively doing its job. It’s time to check the filter to see if it is dirty.

The best thing homeowners can do is set up a routine with the furnace filter. Have some sort of reminder each month to check it for dirt and dust. It should be changed every three months minimum, but might require more frequent changing if the furnace has to work harder this winter.

How Wood Burning Stoves Impact IAQ

Stoves

In an effort to save money on the energy bill, many turn to their wood burning stoves for heat during the colder months. While they have a positive impact on the energy bill, they can have a negative impact on the indoor air quality.

Using a properly vented, clean-burning wood stove usually isn’t harmful enough to cause symptoms such as headaches, coughing, and asthma attacks. It’s when the stove is old, hasn’t been properly cleaned, and the chimney is clogged that using the fireplace becomes potentially harmful.

This can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles in the air. These can be very dangerous, causing health risks and in some cases death. Here are a few ways to prevent indoor air pollution from wood burning stoves and fireplaces:

  • Choose a properly-sized wood stove or insert certified as meeting EPA emissions standards
  • Check that the door gaskets are in good shape, the door fits tightly, and the stove is free of leaks
  • Make sure the flue is the correct diameter and height, and have it inspected and cleaned annually
  • Use wood that has been split and dried for six months minimum and do not overload the stove.
  • Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in the room where the stove or fireplace is located.

Doing these things can help ensure that the stove burns correctly, is properly vented, and minimizes the amount of pollutants inside the home. Improving indoor air quality isn’t just about cleaner air, it’s about creating a healthier environment for everyone.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling for more tips and products that can help improve indoor air quality all year long. We also have a media air cleaner and UV lighting system that can remove pollutants and bacteria in a residential setting.

Safely Using Space Heaters

Space Heater Safety

Space heaters can be a great way to lower energy bills while staying warm. While they are good at warming up a room, they can be dangerous if not used safely. To avoid potential issues, follow these safety tips:

  1. Plugging It In

Space heaters need to be plugged directly into an outlet. Plugging them into an extension cord or power strip increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.

  1. Clearance

When finding a spot to put the space heater, make sure it will have at least three feet of clearance around it. This means it is three feet away from furniture, window treatments, rugs, and anything else combustible. Proximity to these items will increase the chances of a fire. Space heaters also needs to be set on a hard, level surface.

  1. Turn Off

When leaving the room or going to bed, the space heater should be turned off. Many models now have programmable timers for those who might forget.

  1. Avoid Water

Space heaters should not be used in damp or wet areas like bathrooms or humid rooms unless they are specifically designed for that purpose. Using them in these areas increases risk of electrical shock.

  1. Safety Features

When purchasing a space heater, look at the safety certifications. Also, finding one with a tip-over switch that automatically shuts the heater off if it falls over and an overheat protection switch can minimize the chance of fire risks and injuries.

In drafty houses, space heaters can be a lifesaver if they are used safely. However, a well-insulated house with an efficient heating system will heat the home better and with less energy usage. For help staying comfortable and warm this winter, talk to the HVAC system experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling.

 

What Causes Short Cycling?

When the furnace starts and stops frequently, it is call short cycling. This decreases the furnace’s efficiency and could be a sign of a serious furnace issue. However, the most common source of short cycling is a clogged air filter. Check the filter first, replacing it if necessary. If that doesn’t stop the short cycling, it could be one of the following problems causing it:

  1. Thermostat Location

If the thermostat has been poorly located, it can cause short cycling to occur. It should be placed away from drafts, effects of windows and air vents. To see if this is the issue, place something in front of the thermostat like a piece of cardboard. If the short cycling stops, it needs to be moved to a new location.

  1. Overheating

Many modern furnaces have a safety device that switches the burner off if the heat exchanger starts to overheat. This can also cause short cycling. If the heat exchanger is overheating, there’s a possibility of it being cracked, which should be repaired right away.

  1. Improper Furnace Size

Furnaces that are the wrong size for the home will short cycle trying to keep up with the desired temperature. To correct this issue, it will require a new system to be put in place that is the correct size. While expensive, it will save homeowners money on energy bills and keep the home at a more comfortable temperature.

Don’t live with a short cycling furnace. It could be increasing energy bills and not achieving the desired temperature. Continuing to let it short cycle could lead to lasting HVAC damage as well. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling if the furnace starts short cycling this fall and winter.

Also, be sure to schedule annual furnace maintenance. Check out Diamond’s Silver Club Membership and learn how to save on all things HVAC.

Finding Your Perfect Fit

Furnace Efficiency

Having a well-running, efficient furnace makes Idaho winters a lot more bearable. An efficient furnace starts with size. Bigger isn’t always better, and finding the right size is the best way to stay warm without breaking the bank. Here’s what happens when the furnace doesn’t fit the home:

Too Large

When furnace shopping, remember that bigger isn’t always better. A furnace that is too big for the building it is heating will continuously cycle on and off. This can lead to several problems. First, it creates hot and cold spots in the home because the air closest to the vents will actually become too warm while other areas, where the thermostat is located, still may not be up to temperature.  The over-sized furnace will also need maintenance more often and is likely to have a shorter life span because of the constant cycling.  It will also be costlier to operate because the furnace is least efficient when it first fires up and the constant cycling means it will be firing up more often.

Too Small

Homeowners trying to save money might consider purchasing a smaller furnace than they really need. A furnace that is too small won’t be able to heat the home comfortably. It will constantly run trying to reach that desired temperature, using up energy and costing homeowners a fortune. It will also require more maintenance over its shortened lifespan.

Finding the right size is easy with the help of Diamond Heating and Cooling. Their HVAC professionals take into consideration a number of variables to find the right size furnace. These variables are the home’s building materials, windows, size, insulation, the direction of the home and more.

One size does not fit all when it comes to furnaces, which is why the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling is here to help find the perfect fit for any home in the Boise area. Don’t go through the fall and winter with the wrong size furnace.

Call Diamond Heating and Cooling about furnace sizing, finding the perfect fit, and yearly maintenance once the furnace is installed.

5 Signs of a Cracked Heat Exchanger

Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger in the furnace has two jobs: work with the burner to generate heat and separate toxic byproducts of combustion and vent them out. When it becomes cracked or damaged, it fails to perform these jobs, which can be dangerous to those who live in the home.

Knowing there’s a cracked heat exchanger can be difficult, but there are some signs homeowners can keep an eye out for.

  1. Difference in Flame

A normal flame in the furnace will be steady burning and blue in color. A damaged heat exchanger can make the flame dance around and be more orange or yellow in color. If this is observed, call Diamond Heating and Cooling right away.

  1. Metal Cracks

With a damaged heat exchanger, cracks can appear in the metal. While a flashlight can detect larger cracks, it is best to have a professional inspect the metal with proper equipment. It could also have excess corrosion or rust developing on the unit.

  1. Soot Buildup

If the furnace is working properly, there shouldn’t be any soot on or around the furnace’s cabinet. If it begins to build up and discolor the metal, there’s a chance the heat exchanger is cracked.

  1. Odor

In some instances, a damaged heat exchanger will manifest itself in a strong, unpleasant odor similar to the smell of formaldehyde. It can cause headaches, and is a good indication there is something wrong in the furnace.

  1. Carbon Monoxide Presence

A damaged heat exchanger leaks carbon monoxide, which is a byproduct of the combustion process. If the carbon monoxide detector in the home goes off, the heat exchanger might be broken. Call for help immediately and evacuate the home.

Call Diamond Heating and Cooling at 208-378-6624 if any of the five signs listed above are noticed. Whether the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, or another problem, Diamond Heating and Cooling can make the necessary repairs.