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A Simple Furnace Repair Checklist You Can Do Yourself

 

Pause Before Panic; Why Your Heater Isn’t Working.

It seems to be a universal constant.

You never discover there’s an issue with your heating system or furnace until temperatures drop and you really need it to work. Then, you’re troubleshooting the problem wearing six layers of clothing, crawling around with a flashlight, and hoping any children in the house can’t hear what you’re saying under your breath.

Here is a helpful guide to know immediately if you are suffering a common (and very fixable) problem with your furnace and how to repair it.

First things first, check to see that your thermostat is working and giving accurate readings. Chances are that if your thermostat is working fine, you are experiencing a fairly common system speed bump.

 

Two questions we get most often:

Q  What’s the difference between a furnace and a heater?

A: For the purposes of this article, we use the terms interchangeably. However, “heater” is mainly a generic term for the device that heats up an environment, be it your home, or an apartment, or a business, etc.  A central “heating” system uses some form of energy combustion or release, such as provided by a furnace or furnace-boiler combination, to generate the heat that the heater distributes. A central heating system without a furnace and/or boiler would blow air, but not truly provide heat. (For most customers, it’s all merely metal boxes, pipes and wires that live in an attic, crawlspace, special closet, basement, etc.)

 

Q: My furnace is making a clicking sound when I turn it on, is that normal?

A: In most cases, yes! A slight clicking sound when you turn your heater is the spark igniter on the furnace. If the sound gets louder or happens more frequently, it could be cause for concern. Call One Hour Heating and Air’s 24/7 hotline at 704-251-0610 to schedule a comprehensive safety inspection.

 

Here is the number one thing you can do to quickly troubleshoot the cause of a non-working central air system. Check the power source!  

Central air systems are usually powered by gas, electricity, or water. Our technicians have arrived at a customer’s home many times only to discover the gas turned off for an unrelated reason or a tripped power breaker. We are always happy to help, but it can save you time and unnecessary chilly nights if you know how to check your system’s gas, electric or water supply.

When it comes to gas-powered heaters, also check the gas valve to ensure it isn’t stuck or the control board is unable to communicate. These conditions keep your heater from firing because it can’t ignite the flame. If your gas is ON and other gas-powered appliances in the home are working, a professional electrician should investigate further.

Additional reasons your heating system may not be working at all.

Unless your system pre-dates the 1990’s, it has a safety switch or “shut out”. This prevents the system from operating and causing a hazard until the problem is found and fixed.

These can include:

  • Dirty evaporator coils
  • Clogged pipes
  • Full air filters
  • Broken wires
  • Burnt control board
  • Dead blower motors

Due to the complex nature of your system’s components, it’s best to let a trained and certified technician assess and repair the problem. Call One Hour Heating and Air at 704-251-0610 and ask about our monthly system inspection specials!

If your heating system starts up, but stops mid-cycle:

This can be extremely frustrating because it makes sense that if your system starts up, it should keep on going, right? The good news is that today’s central air systems are sophisticated enough to recognize a potential hazard and shut down automatically. In many cases, simple and affordable preventive hvac maintenance will minimize or eliminate these unwanted pauses in operation.

In just one safety inspection and system tune-up, the following items can be addressed long before they cause an issue. Plus, your home will experience better energy efficiency and heating quality.

  • Motors spin without resistance
  • Burners hold fires without using excess gas
  • The furnace experiences less stress
  • There is less damage to parts such as motors and wires
  • The central air system lasts longer and works better

 

Carbon Monoxide Detection:

At One Hour Heating and Air, your family’s safety is our highest priority. Whenever we talk heating systems, we encourage all of our customers to purchase quality carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors monitor the air for deadly carbon monoxide buildup and emit an alarm if any is detected. Place the carbon monoxide detectors, very similar in size to a smoke detector, in each living area of the home and on every floor.  

 

One Hour Heating and Air offers a free carbon monoxide detector consultation with any service call. Our highly skilled technicians are standing by for all your central air system needs and if we come out for a repair, we’ll waive the trip fee!

Contact us for our weekly and monthly specials. Call our 24/7 customer service line today 704-251-0610.

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5 Benefits of Wi-Fi Thermostats

Fingertip Control from Your Smartphone Anytime, Anywhere

Once a feature for those living away from their primary homes for part of the year, Wi-Fi thermostats are now becoming a standard feature in new homes. They work the same way as many home security systems, allowing you to remotely check and change the thermostat in your home from an app on your smartphone or tablet. Upgrading to a Wi-Fi thermostat is relatively inexpensive and easy. There are dozens on the market ranging in cost from $100 to $300. They’re readily available at most major home improvement centers and from online retailers. Many people also find it’s a near effortless DIY installation, as well.

Five Benefits of Wi-Fi Thermostats:

  1. A must-have for snowbirds and travelers: If you like to escape to warmer climates when the weather turns cold, or you travel often, a Wi-Fi thermostat will give you peace of mind while you’re away. A furnace breakdown can have severe consequences for pets and plants, plus leave pipes susceptible to freezing. You don’t want to come home to devastating water damage!
  2. Programming is easy: In a smartphone driven world, these thermostats are as easy to program and monitor as just about any other app you may have on your phone or tablet. Simply download the app, enter the temperatures and times you desire, and save the settings. All set!
  3. Smart enough to adjust to your schedule:  A typical setback thermostat can’t adjust automatically if your schedule changes, but a learning Wi-Fi thermostat will. It detects when you’re home and away, learns your schedule and calculates a setback scheme to match your routine. Some learning thermostats also offer a ‘geofence’ feature that tracks the location of your smartphone and operates your setback settings based on when you enter or leave a geographic radius around your home. For example, it can crank up the heat when you’re returning from a trip and close to home.
  4. Alerts you to HVAC problems: Wi-Fi thermostats can, in some cases, monitor the health of your heating/cooling system and alert you if the efficiency drops because of a dirty air filter, clogged evaporator or condenser coils, low refrigerant charge, or other problem.
  5. Form AND function to match your style: Wi-Fi apps are all about features and personalization, and thermostats are no different. Depending on the model you buy, you can display your favorite digital photos, play your music, and even change color to match your wall paint! Some also display the outside temperature or work with multiple sensors.

 

Ready to go wireless? The next decision is professional installation or DIY.

 

Professional installation usually runs between $75 and $100 and can sometimes be combined with a scheduled seasonal inspection. It’s a pretty affordable option for most people who aren’t comfortable messing with wiring and electricity.

DIYers, who love to save every penny, go for it! If the thought of doing a little wiring doesn’t scare you away, just make sure your power is off before you begin work and double-check your wiring to ensure they don’t touch at the terminals. You don’t want to accidentally burn up a transformer or blow the circuit board’s main fuse. That would lead to a service call and repair that costs a lot more than the money you’re saving on a DIY installation.

 

A short, handy checklist:

  • Wi-Fi signal strength: To test the signal strength at the proposed Wi-Fi thermostat location, stand next to it and attempt to stream a video on your smartphone or tablet. If you can quickly stream and watch the video, you have good signal strength for the Wi-Fi thermostat.

 

  • Know your wiring situation: Safety first! Shut off power to your furnace and A/C before removing the existing thermostat from its baseplate. Two THICK wires means you probably have 220-volt electric heat, and a Wi-Fi thermostat won’t work. Two THIN 18-gauge wires means you have a low-voltage system and a Wi-Fi thermostat most likely will work.

 

  • To “C” or not to “C”, that is the question: Next, look for a wire attached to the ‘C’ terminal. A common ‘C’ wire provides a return electrical path (like a neutral in a 110-volt electrical system) so the thermostat can get power 24/7. If you don’t have a ‘C’ wire at the thermostat, you have two options: Buy a Wi-Fi thermostat that doesn’t require one (it’ll say ‘No C wire required’ in the specs) or install a four-to-five wiring adapter.

 

  • The adapter provides a ‘C’ connection using whichever wire isn’t in use at the time. Install the control box inside the furnace and connect it. Then install the diode device up at the new thermostat. Once all the wires are connected to the base plate, push the excess wires and diode inside the wall cavity.  (You can use the diagram below, but it would need to be modified as we don’t have original source permission to repurpose.)

 

NOTE  If your existing thermostat displays the outside temperature or allows you to adjust the settings on your humidifier, it’s probably a digital unit, and an analog Wi-Fi unit won’t work without professional rewiring.

 

If you have questions about Wi-Fi thermostats, we can help!

Let us provide you a FREE consultation on a Wi-Fi thermostat that’s right for you

Contact us for our weekly and monthly specials. Call our 24/7 customer service line today 704-251-0610.

 

Tips & Strategies if Your Central A/C is Blowing Hot Air

Central A/C Blowing Hot Air in Charlotte, NC?

Troubleshooting 101

Let’s say that, according to today’s weather report, the day is going to be a real scorcher, and you can already feel the mercury rising. So, you decide it’s time to turn on the A/C—but, when you do, the air that blows out is hot, making your house feel even more toasty-warm.

So, what do you do? First, don’t panic. There are a few simple things you can check that might quickly solve your problem.

  1. If, for example, this is the first time you’re turning on the air conditioning for the season, make sure that you didn’t leave your thermostat on the heat setting, or that someone else didn’t switch it to that setting without your knowledge.
  2. Make sure all settings are right where you want them to be, which includes the fan being on “auto” and your temperature setting at least five degrees below the actual temperature showing on your thermostat.
  3. Think about when you last changed your air conditioner’s filter. If it’s been a while, then there simply may not be enough cool air coming through the vents to cool down your home. If you’ve got a new filter, put it in. If not, perhaps you can clean the old filter as a temporary measure.

If any of these fixes solves your problem, great! If not, then read on.

 

Anatomy of Your Air Conditioning System

For your air conditioning system to work well, both the indoor unit and the outdoor unit must be functioning appropriately. The indoor unit contains a fan that allows cool air to be blown throughout your house, and there’s also an outside unit called a condenser that houses key components of your air conditioning system: the compressor, along with cooling fins, tubes and its own fan.

The outdoor fan cools a coolant that’s pumped to your house by the compressor. If this process doesn’t effectively take place, then the A/C system won’t lower the temperature in your home—and, if this is where the breakdown is occurring, then it may mean it’s time to clean the A/C condenser.

Before you do any condenser cleaning, make doubly sure that the electrical power is turned off. You can do this via the outdoor shutoff or, if necessary, at your main electrical panel. Your goal is to clean off the metallic blades that surround the unit, called condenser fins. These fins pull in dead grass and leaves, dandelion fluff, dust and, if you live near cottonwood trees, that cottony material that floats in the air. Any one of these can block the potential airflow of your A/C unit. (So can mice, their bedding and their droppings if they’ve cozied up in your unit for the winter!)

You may need to unscrew a metal box to get to the fins; then gently clean them with a soft brush.  Your owner’s manual should list specifics for your unit. Be careful not to bend or crush the fins. If there is damage to them, you may need repairs made.

Next, unscrew the fan to clean what you can inside the condenser’s interior. This may be a one-person job or a two-person one. In either case, you won’t be able to completely remove the fan as you clean it out.

Also check your owner’s manual to see if your unit has lubrication ports that need electric motor oil. If so, make sure you use the recommended type of oil.

After this cleaning job is complete, then your problem of A/C blowing hot air may be yesterday’s news. If not, read on!

 

Electrical Possibilities

Is everything else working well in the house, electrically speaking? Has the fuse that provides electricity to your outside unit blown? Has the circuit breaker tripped? Be sure to check for electrical issues before moving on to the rest of your troubleshooting. If this seems to be the problem, then it makes sense to call an air conditioning professional because there could be a significant electrical problem.

 

Other Possibilities

  • Your air conditioning system may need a professional to fix any leaks and add refrigerant.
  • There may be an air duct leak, and these ducts could be located in your basement, your attic, or in your walls.
  • If you’ve had your air conditioning unit for any significant length of time, it may be time to replace certain parts.
  • Your evaporator coil may need cleaned.

In each of these cases, it typically makes sense to call in professionals.

 

Other Warning Signs

Your A/C blowing hot air isn’t the only sign of an air conditioning unit in need of repair. In fact, your air conditioner could be cooling the house, but still in need of attention. Signs that indicate a need for a fix include:

  •          Strange noises coming from the system (don’t ignore these!)
  •          Odd smells from the unit 
  •          Your energy bills going up and you don’t have a reasonable explanation as to why
  •          Air temperatures in your home fluctuating or the system cycling on and off too often
  •          The airflow seems too weak
  •          You’ve noticed liquid leaks

 

To help prevent emergency repairs from needing done, we recommend that you have your HVAC system checked and maintained twice a year, once for your furnace/heating system and, the other time, your air conditioning. That way, you know that a professional technician is checking to make sure you’re getting the most out of your system every six months or so.

 

Air Conditioning Repair Services

If you’re in the Charlotte area and discover that your A/C is blowing hot air, or otherwise isn’t functioning properly, we know that you need a fix, fast, especially as hotter weather is approaching. Fortunately, One Hour Heating & Air is ready to solve your problem, and quickly. Here’s more information about our Charlotte air conditioning repair services, plus our A/C maintenance services.

To get the cool relief you need, when you need it, simply contact us online today or call 704-251-2184. We’re here to help!

 

How Important is an A/C Tune-Up This Spring?

How Important is an A/C Tune-Up This Spring?

Like an oil change and tune-up keeps your car running for many happy miles, a seasonal inspection and tune-up for your A/C system will keep it humming efficiently for years.  You don’t want to find out that your car has major engine trouble at the start of a big road trip, and you don’t want to find out your A/C is on the fritz when you try to cool your home in those early days of summer.

According to Energy Star, the average household spends $2,000 on utility costs annually, with half of that amount going to cooling and heating expenses.  In fact, build up from not cleaning your unit can reduce its efficiency by 5% each year. According to the United States Department of Energya well-maintained air conditioner should last 15-20 years, and that’s something we’ve seen personally in the field with customers who diligently service their A/C units each year.

Now is the time of year to get on our tune-up schedule. If our thorough eye does catch a needed repair, we can get it done affordably and quickly before temperatures in the Southeast get unbearable. The average cost of an A/C repair is about $500 (give or take) when a unit is not properly serviced each season. Compare that to the average cost of a service call (usually $100 or less) and the savings are clear. With One Hour, we know you work hard for every dollar, so if we do find a repair, we’ll waive the service fee. Combine this with one of our monthly specials and we’re confident you won’t find a more affordable expert to keep your family cool and comfortable this summer.

 

DIY Tip:  An easy and low-cost way for YOU to extend the life of your A/C unit is by cleaning or changing the air filters throughout your house at least every three months.

 

Here is what a comprehensive seasonal service call and tune-up with One Hour will include:

 

  1. Clean Condenser Coils
    • Even though changing the filter can prevent build-up on your condenser coils, they still accumulate dirt. We’ll professionally clean these coils during a tune-up. Dirty coils can stop the condenser from absorbing heat and cause the coil to fail prematurely.
    • You can also help minimize build-up by removing dirt, bushes, and other foliage near your condenser unit.
  2. Clean & Tighten Electrical Connections
    • We’ll look inside the electrical compartment and make sure the connections are clear of any debris that could cause the air conditioning unit to not turn on or stop working throughout the summer.
  3. Check Refrigerant Levels
    • We’ll check the Freon levels in your air conditioning unit and let you know if they are below manufacturer’s specifications.
  4. Check Contacts & Condensation Lines
    • Plugged condensation lines can cause water damage in your home. We’ll look closely to be sure this isn’t happening with your system.
  5. Check & Calibrate Thermostat
    • We’ll change your thermostat’s batteries if it has been longer than a year. Once we test and confirm your unit is cooling as efficiently as possible, we’ll calibrate the unit with the thermostat.

Other DIY tips to keep your A/C running strong:

  • Keep thermostat away from any heat sources for accurate measurements.
  • Set thermostat as high as possible. For every one degree you raise the thermostat, energy and costs decrease by about 3%.
  • Keep windows, drapes, and shades closed while the sun is out to reduce solar heat gain.

Our One Hour Heating and Air technicians are the most highly skilled in the industry and we provide a comprehensive seasonal inspection and tune-up of your home’s comfort systems with our personal guarantee that it’s done right the first time.

Call One Hour Heating and Air today to schedule your seasonal inspection and tune-up. Our certified and insured technicians are standing by for all your central air needs. If we need to do a repair, we’ll waive the trip fee!

Contact us for our weekly and monthly specials. Call our 24/7 customer service line today 704-251-0610.

 

How can you improve indoor air quality? Find helpful tips.

Oxygen is the most important nutrient we consume. In fact, when you breathe in poor-quality air, you’re starving your muscles. So how can you make sure that you are breathing the best quality air?

 

How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Imagine yourself drawing in a lungful of fresh clean air. It’s a pretty good feeling, isn’t it?

Breathing in quality air is more than just something that makes us feel good. In fact, according to MindBodyGreen.com, “oxygen is easily the most important nutrient we consume,” something  our bodies need “every second of every day, our entire life.” If you breathe in poor-quality air, you’re actually starving your muscles.

So, what should you do? When you’re outside, you don’t necessarily have much control over air quality. It could be poor because of pollen, smog, heavy fuel usage and so forth. Fortunately, there is more you can do to improve the air quality inside your home, and this post will share helpful information on that subject.


Indoor Air Quality Levels

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three levels of danger when it comes to indoor pollution. Here they are:

 

Level 1: At this level, your home has allergens and particulates in the air, ranging from dust and pollen, to mold, fungi, mildew and more. If this is the state of your home, you and your family may be experiencing runny noses, congestion, nose and throat irrigation and more. You may be coughing, wheezing and sneezing and, if someone in your home suffers from asthma, flareups may be more common and/or more severe.

 

Level 2: At this level, your home may be polluted with allergens as well as with infectious agents, meaning bacteria and viruses that make people sick. If this is true for your home, you and your family may be experiencing sinus and other upper respiratory infections, along with throat and ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and more.

 

Level 3: By the time your indoor air quality reaches this level, the air you and your family breathes in also contains toxic compounds. Some of the more commonly-known culprits include carbon monoxide, toxic mold, and pesticides. Symptoms you may suffer include memory lapses, mild depression, lung dysfunction, blurred vision, headaches, and lethargy.

 

7 Fixes to Consider

Fast and pretty inexpensive measures you can take to protect yourself include putting carbon monoxide and radon detectors in your home. You should also regularly change the air filter in your HVAC system. Additional strategies include:

 

  • Ban smoking in your home.
  • Make sure your home is properly ventilated, including but not limited to any gas appliances.
  • Keep the humidity in your home at an acceptable level (between 30% to 60%) to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Keep windows closed when pollen levels are especially high. Also do this when pollution and/or humidity levels are high.
  • Avoid using odor-masking air fresheners and other deodorizers because they may contain toxic chemicals. If possible, store household cleaners in a garage or shed. Do the same with any other chemical products.
  • Clean and vacuum at least weekly, including the washing of bed linens and stuffed toys.
  • Have professionals clean your ducts once every three to five years.

 

It’s also important to have professionals clean your ducts to maintain good indoor air quality and also help to extend your HVAC’s lifespan as dust and grime are removed.

One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning offers three levels of duct cleaning services for Charlotte and the surrounding areas, one to fit virtually any budget. Each of them includes professional duct cleaning that is 100% guaranteed, along with related services. If you’d like to know which tier would be best for your home, please contact us online or call (704) 251-2184 today. We’ve been providing people in Charlotte and surrounding areas with quality professional service since 1971.

It’s time to clean your ducts when they look like this!