Red Rock Mechanical, LLC Blog: Archive for March, 2014

What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Monday, March 31st, 2014

In a lot of ways “high efficiency” is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily, you don’t have to depend on subjective opinion to understand what makes a furnace high efficiency. Here in Burlington, VT, heating is no laughing matter and a high efficiency unit can mean big savings during the cold winter months. But who determines what constitutes high efficiency? That is, how can you tell that a “high efficiency” furnace actually is what it claims to be, and not just empty rhetoric from some advertiser somewhere?

The answer starts with the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating, which all furnaces must possess. It measures the percentage of the energy a furnace uses that actually goes into heating your home. So a furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% would spend 80% of its energy on heating and 20% on waste and inefficiency. Obviously, the higher the rating, the more efficient the furnace, which is where the subjectivity comes in. If you spend 20 years using a furnace with an AFUE rating of 60% and install a new one with an AFUE rating of 75%, it’s going to seem very efficient indeed.

The U.S. Department of Energy has established formal criteria for furnace efficiency. The EnergyStar sticker is used to denote furnaces that are particularly energy efficient: with a 95% AFUE rating or higher for gas furnaces, and an 85% AFUE rating or higher for oil furnaces. (That number drops slightly for gas furnaces in warmer parts of the country.) The EnergyStar rating helps eliminate the uncertainty in the equation and let you choose an efficient heater no matter what the circumstances.

For more on what makes a furnace high efficiency, or for installation options, you can call upon Red Rock Mechanical for help. We stand by our assessments with an ironclad guarantee, and we won’t rest until you are completely satisfied with our work. Here in Burlington, VT, heating systems need to be as efficient as possible. Contact one of our trained technicians today and let us help you make that happen!

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Signs of a Furnace Control Board Problem

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The modern furnace is a marvel of technology, especially when compared to the furnaces of yore, which were basically large ovens with pipes hooked up to them. Contemporary furnaces have most of their operations linked into a furnace control board, which is the core of how the furnace works. The control board runs a series of operations—starting the electronic ignition, opening the gas valve, checking the burner unit, activating the blower, shutting off the gas, venting the heat exchanger—that moves the furnace through all the stages of providing you with heat.

The control board can malfunction, however, and put your furnace’s operation in jeopardy. When this occurs, you will need to call for professional heating service in Williston, VT to replace the defective board. Red Rock Mechanical can provide this service for you, fast and effectively, when you need it.

Here are signs you may have a malfunctioning furnace control board:

  • Uncomfortable temperatures: If your furnace starts to make you either too hot or too cold, and the thermostat settings seem fine, then the problem might be a control board that is turning components off too soon or letting them run too long. Although there are multiple issues that can cause this malfunction, the control board is one of the main culprits.
  • Interruption of the regular sequence of events: Elaborating on the above warning, pay attention to your furnace’s specific sequence of operation. (Don’t open the furnace cabinet to check, just stay near it and listen to what happens.) Does the blower stage stop suddenly? Are the gas jets not activating? Is the ignition not coming on? Does the blower continue to run after everything else has shut off? Any of these irregularities in the normal sequence of events can indicate control board malfunctions.
  • Diagnostic indicators: Most boards have LED lights to indicate when there is a problem with their operation. If your furnace starts to run improperly, open up the control board access panel to see if any red warning lights have activated. There should be a diagnostic chart on the inside of the panel lid that will explain what the warning lights mean. When you call a technician, describe the diagnostic information so the technician will have a good idea what problem needs to be addressed before coming to your house.

It takes a fine knowledge of electronics and furnace technology to replace a control board. Don’t attempt to fiddle around with the panel on your own without the proper training. Make a call to heating experts with as much information as you can glean from the panel to explain the situation. They can take it from there.

Red Rock Mechanical has helped people in Williston, VT with heating services for 23 years. If you need work done on your furnace’s control board, give us a call.

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Some Problems You May Encounter with Your Gas Furnace

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

In Montpelier, VT, furnaces are common in many homes. Gas furnaces are inexpensive to operate and very reliable, but like any mechanical system, they will experience breakdowns from time to time. You can call a reliable repair service to resolve the problem, but it helps to spot the signs of those problems as soon as possible, before they lead to more serious issues. Here’s a quick breakdown of some problems you may encounter with your gas furnace.

  • Lack of gas flow. The thermocouple, connected to your ignition system, controls the flow of gas into the heater. If there’s a problem with your ignition system, or indeed with the thermocouple itself, the gas will be shut off (preventing your home from being flooded with the gas but also rendering the heater non-functional until it is fixed). A clogged burner can also disrupt the gas flow, as can problems with the line feeding the gas into the furnace.
  • Lack of heat. A lack of heat usually comes back to a problem with the burners, which push the lit gas through the heat exchanger to warm the air that is ultimately blown into your home. Burners can suffer from a malfunction, and could also become clogged with grime on their surface, which will reduce the levels of heat they generate.
  • Lack of air flow. Low air flow is just as bad as reduced heat, since it forces your furnace to work harder and expend more energy than it should. Low air flow can stem from a faulty motor, a damaged blower fan, or some kind of obstruction in the duct system reducing the space in which the air can move.

The problems you may encounter with your gas furnace don’t matter as much as the service you call upon to correct them. If you need furnace repair in Montpelier, VT, call Red Rock Mechanical today. 

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3 Signs You Need to Schedule Heating Repair in Burlington, VT

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

In Burlington VT, heating problems need to be fixed quickly. A day without a functioning heating system means more than bother and inconvenience: it may constitute an actual safety risk to your family. A good heating company can respond right away, but it helps if you can spot the signs of trouble sooner rather than later. That will let you get ahead of the problem and take care of it before it shuts down your heater for good. Here are three signs that you need to schedule heating repair in Burlington VT.

  • No air flow or reduced air flow. This category also includes instances where your heater refuses to turn on at all. If air flow is lowered, it reduces your heater’s ability to warm your home. If it’s stopped completely, no heat will go into your home. The cause could range from a clogged filter to a damaged fan motor, but usually needs professional attention to fix.
  • No heat. Similarly, your heater may be moving the air just fine, but heat levels may be lowered or nonexistent. This usually means a problem with the burners or heating coils, though it could also stem from a blockage at some point in the system.
  • Higher bills. Sometimes, there’s nothing specifically wrong with the system, but lack of efficiency and/or worn parts are preventing it from functioning at its best. You can usually spot these problems by monitoring your monthly bills. If your heating costs spike despite the fact that you’re not using your heater any more often than normal, you’re probably looking at a faulty or worn component that could use repairing or replacing.

If you spot the signs you need to schedule heating repair in Burlington, VT, the next step is to call the experts at Red Rock Mechanical for help. We’ve been a mainstay of the area for over two decades, and we take pride in complete satisfaction for our customers. If your heater is showing signs of distress, don’t hesitate. The sooner was can get there, the faster we can get your heating system back into fighting shape.

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