Downtown Air and Heat Blog : Archive for January, 2015

Types of Ignition Systems for Furnaces

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

There was a time not too long ago that there was only one type of ignition system for furnaces. Indeed, the same kind of ignition system served pretty much every type of combustion based heating system. That system was the standing pilot light, which was used for many decades. More recently, however, there have been a number of innovations that have risen up to challenge the standing pilot light for supremacy. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of ignition systems for furnaces, and which one you should look for when installing a new one.

Standing Pilot Light

The standing pilot light is the oldest of the ignition systems, and is still used by many furnaces across the country. It consists of a small burner assembly attached to a gas line. The assembly and gas line are connected to a flame sensor called a “thermocouple.” The thermocouple keeps a valve in the gas line open as long as the flame is lit, to keep gas flowing to the flame. If the flame goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas valve as a safety measure. Standing pilot lights are always supposed to be lit, and are only out if there is a problem. While they are a fairly reliable ignition sources, standing pilot lights are not very energy efficient, and waste a lot of fuel by being lit all the time.

Intermittent Pilot Light

Intermittent pilot lights were invented in an attempt to solve a lot of the problems associated with standing pilot lights. They consist of a much more complex electrical system, instead of gas, culminating in an electrode instead of a flame. When the thermostat sends a call for heat, the electrode generates a spark that ignites the system. When not needed, the intermittent pilot remains dormant. This solves the two biggest problems with standing pilot lights: having the flame blow out and wasting energy.

Heating Element Pilots

Heating element pilots are another type of electrical ignition system. Rather than throwing off sparks to ignite the burners, however, heating element pilots use similar heating elements to a lightbulb wire. Instead of giving off light, however, most of the energy directed into the heating element is expelled as heat. This heat eventually gets high enough to ignite the gas and start the burners. This also avoids the standing pilot light’s two biggest issues. However, the actual heating elements do eventually burn out and require replacing.

If you aren’t sure what kind of ignition system would fit your furnace best, call Downtown Air & Heat. We provide furnace services throughout Orlando.


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Why Is My Furnace Booming?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

It’s a pretty unnerving thing to hear your furnace make a loud booming noise during operation. Don’t worry, though, your furnace is not going to explode. It does very likely have a problem that needs to be addressed, however. There are a couple of different things that can contribute to a furnace making booming noises. Let’s take a look at these issues, and help you determine whether or not you need to call a professional.

Delayed Burner Ignition

A very common cause of furnaces booming is something called “delayed burner ignition.” This is caused by a buildup of carbon on the burner assembly over time. Carbon builds up on a burner assembly because it is a byproduct of the combustion of natural gas. Though virtually all combustion byproducts move through the exhaust flue and out of the house, carbon particles are heavy enough to settle on the burner assembly instead. This buildup can eventually get so high that the burner has issues getting enough oxygen to actually light the gas being supplied through the gas line. When the burner finally does ignite, it tends to ignite all the excess gas at once. This is what can cause a sudden BOOM without any sort of warning.

Duct Flexing

Another common cause of a booming noise coming from your heater is the ducts in your house expanding and contracting. As the warm air moves through your ducts, they react to the heat by expanding. Sheet metal tends to make a good bit of noise when it flexes, which can be a cause of that booming sound. This is especially true in colder climates, where the contrast in temperature results in a greater fluctuation in the ducts.

So which of these two causes applies to you? That will require a professional HVAC technician to actually examine your furnace and ductwork. The duct flexing isn’t really a problem, as long as everything is secured properly. The delayed burner ignition can get progressively worse, however, and may end up in that burner not being able to ignite at all.

If your furnace is making a booming noise, contact Downtown Air & Heat. We provide furnace repairs throughout Orlando.

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Why Is Sizing Part of Heating Installation Service?

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Properly sizing a heater is a very important part of installing a new heating system. Though homeowners almost never think about this when shopping for a new system, the size of the heater will drastically affect how well their home is actually heated. You may be tempted to think that the old adage “bigger is better” would apply here, but that is not the case. A heater that is too large can be just as bad for your home as a heater that is too small. Let’s take a look at what can happen if you ignore sizing during your heating installation.

Oversized Heaters

Oversized heaters often waste a great deal of energy by putting out more heat than the home actually needs. This doesn’t seem like that much of a disadvantage, but the picture becomes clear when you consider specific systems like furnaces and boilers. Any combustion based system is equipped with what is called a “limit switch,” which is responsible for monitoring the central heater’s internal temperature. If that internal temperature gets too high, the limit switch activates and shuts down the system as a safety measure.

An oversized heater will naturally provoke the limit switch, due to its heat output being much higher than the limit the system is naturally set for. This causes the limit switch to shut down the system in order to stop what it reads as the heater overheating. Once the heater has cooled off a bit, it will start up again and provoke the limit switch to shut it down again. This endless on/off cycle is called “short-cycling,” and wastes a great deal of heat while shortening your system’s life.

Undersized Heaters

Far from provoking the overheating safety measures, undersized heaters simply lack the ability to heat the entire home to a satisfactory degree. Instead, they will turn on and stay on for longer and longer periods of time, trying to reach the thermostat temperature when it is completely beyond them. This leads to early burnouts and breakdowns for the heater, as well as wasting quite a bit of energy.

If you’d like to know more, call Downtown Air & Heat. We provide heating services in Winter Park.

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What Are the Benefits of Duct Cleaning?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Quick! When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned? If you can’t remember the last time you had your ducts cleaned, or if you’ve never had them cleaned, you likely have a big problem that you can’t even detect. Ducts serve a vital role inside the home, allowing central heating and air conditioning systems to circulate air throughout the living space. Without ducts, many home heating and air conditioning systems would not be possible. Unfortunately, ducts are also home to a lot of unsavory things that can lessen your quality of life. Read on to find out why duct cleaning is necessary.

Contaminants in the Ducts

The air in your home is actually filled with thousands of different particulates and microorganisms. Most of these are harmless, but there are several that can provoke allergy attacks and more serious illnesses. These contaminants include dust, pollen, bacteria, insect dander, viruses, mold, and many others. Though they can be found in smaller numbers throughout the house, the ducts are often the central hub for these contaminants. This is because the ducts are out of the way, and relatively undisturbed by human or animal activity in the home. The contaminants collect in the ducts until the heat or air is turned on, at which point they are blown out of the vents and throughout the house, where they come in contact with humans and affect their health.

Duct Cleaning

The primary reason for duct cleaning is to eliminate as much of these airborne contaminants as possible. Depending on the type of ducts you have, an HVAC technician can either suck all the debris out of the network with a specialized vacuum or carefully clean each area with a set of brushes. By cleaning the ducts in your home once every year or two, you can substantially increase your air quality and health. If you neglect your ducts, however, you provide a haven for these germs and other contaminants from which to infect you.

If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in a while, call Downtown Air & Heat. We provide duct cleaning throughout the Orlando area.

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Can’t I Install a Dehumidifier Myself?

Monday, January 5th, 2015

High levels of humidity can be quite a pain both inside the home and out. Humidity can cause you to feel hot and sticky and can keep you from enjoying some of the activities you partake in every day. And at this time of year, you never know whether it’s going to be a cool, temperate day, or if moisture in the air will drag you down.

Thankfully, you can purchase a dehumidifier so that you and your family can feel more comfortable inside of the home and so that you can prevent the nasty effects of a potential buildup of moisture. Many people decide to get simple single-room dehumidifiers which they can plug into the wall themselves in order to remove some moisture from a single room. But these don’t take care of moisture in every area of the home.

It’s important to have a dehumidifying system throughout the home if the air in your house is prone to holding moisture. While a single-room dehumidifier can make you feel cooler, it’s unable to reach moisture in parts of the house where it may actually do some damage. When water collects around the walls or on ceilings, it could cause permanent damage to the structure of the building. And what’s worse is the potential for mold growth which could actually make you feel ill. Mold particularly affects family members with asthma and allergies, but it can easily start to take a toll on other household members as well.

It’s important to have whole-home dehumidifying capabilities to prevent moisture from ruining the structure of your home, keeping you uncomfortable, or even making you feel sick. But can you install a whole-house system by yourself? Well, this task will be difficult to complete without the right expertise. A whole-house dehumidifier is located in the ducts and works with your HVAC system to collect and drain moisture. You’ll need professional tools to enter the ducts, often slicing through it or replacing a portion of ductwork. And afterwards, you’ll need to make sure the ducts are sealed properly to prevent air leaks from decreasing the overall efficiency of your unit.

Call Downtown Air & Heat whenever you need a trained professional to install a new dehumidifier in Orlando.

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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 Downtown Air & Heat hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

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