How Does Duct Cleaning Help Heating?

January 23rd, 2015

Duct cleaning is one of the more important kinds of maintenance you can conduct on your heating system. Sadly, it is also one of the most ignored among homeowners. This is often because homeowners are simply unaware of how important duct cleaning is, not only for the health of your heating system but for your own health as well. Let’s examine the ways that duct cleaning helps your heating system, and provides a few benefits that you don’t want to miss.

The Necessity of Duct Cleaning

Ducts are naturally unobtrusive, designed to do their jobs quietly and stay out of sight as much as possible. This is a good thing in many ways. You don’t want giant sheet metal eyesores lining your walls, after all. However, this also means that they often get completely ignored regarding maintenance. Though it may seem like your ducts don’t need any sort of special attention to keep operating, they actually need duct cleaning in order to have a long and productive life.

As ducts are left undisturbed by the activities of the home’s occupants, they have a tendency to accumulate dust and other microscopic airborne pollutants over time. When the heat is turned on, all of that debris is circulated throughout the house and lowers your air quality. Duct cleaning removes debris and pollutants before they can circulate, improving your health and the health of the ductwork.

Duct cleaning isn’t limited to the ducts, either. Often, an HVAC technician will extend their cleaning efforts to the heater itself, ensuring that no dust is present in the system and that the air filter is clean and functioning. This helps the heater to operate more efficiently, as too much dust in the system can cause problems.

Finally, duct cleaning can save you money. The US Department of Energy has estimated that forced air systems lose as much as 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the ductwork. While duct cleaning does not normally involve sealing leaks, it can identify them so that they can be fixed.

Schedule an appointment with us if you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in a while by calling Comfort Flow Heating. We provide duct cleaning services throughout Cottage Grove.

Steps to Take for Heating Installation

January 14th, 2015

Heating installation involves a lot more than selecting a heating unit and having it installed – that is, if you want the installation done correctly. Rushing the process not only robs you of the opportunity to install a potentially better system for your home, you may wind up with a unit that is the wrong size. So what steps should you take? Here are some suggestions from our Comfort Flow Heating installation experts for Salem residents:

Review Your Choices

Not too long ago, there were basically two choices for heating: a furnace or a boiler. These days homeowners have an array of choices. The heat options we carry at Comfort Flow Heating are:

  • Furnaces (gas or electric)
  • Heat pumps
  • Ductless systems
  • Radiant systems (electric)
  • Geothermal systems

Review Energy Efficiency

Every heating system comes with an energy efficiency rating. For combustion systems, this rating is known as AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency); heat pumps use a SEER rating for air conditioning and HSPF for heating. Electric radiant heating efficiency will be based on the kilowatt hours. Understanding the energy efficiency a particular type of system can offer you is an important part of your long-term comfort with a heating system, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Calculate Heat Load

Every home needs a certain amount of heating to be comfortable; too much can make the air hot and dry and too little can leave you feeling chilly. Heat load involves more than just knowing the square footage of your home; other factors to consider are your home’s orientation, floor plan, number of occupants, etc. Allowing a trained specialist to calculate your heat load helps ensure that you’ll purchase and install a heating system that is correctly-sized for your home.

New heating installation in Salem is a great opportunity to increase your energy efficiency and comfort; don’t let it slip by because you are rushing to install a new system. If you are in need of a new heating system, call the experts at Comfort Flow Heating in Salem today!

Ways a Malfunctioning Thermostat Affects Your Heating

January 5th, 2015

The thermostat of your heating system is probably the only piece of equipment you come into contact with. While it may seem small, this portion of your heating system is vital to heating operation as it communicates with the heating unit when the temperature has dropped too low. Your heating system relies on this small piece to know when to start up and shut off, so a malfunctioning thermostat is quite a big deal to your unit. There are a few ways a broken thermostat may affect your heater.

No Heating at All or Reduced Heating

Now, a lack of heating or a heating system that won’t turn on at all can be symptomatic of a number of problems. But most often, a technician will start by checking the thermostat. Initially, this is to make sure that you haven’t simply neglected to change the programming, switch over into heating mode, or set the thermostat for the day. However, examining the thermostat can help the technician to learn quite a bit.

If the thermostat displays a temperature that is different from the temperature in the air, it is most likely the culprit of the heating trouble. Of course, this is also true if the thermostat displays nothing at all. While it’s a bit trickier to diagnose this issue with a manual thermostat, the technician can perform further tests to make sure it’s calibrated properly. If the thermostat is, however, displaying the proper temperature but it’s not the temperature you need, then the problem is more likely elsewhere in the system.

Short Cycling

A malfunctioning thermostat may cause your heating system to short cycle. Short cycling is the term professionals use to describe what happens when your heating or air conditioning system shuts off too soon, before the heating cycle is complete, and runs frequently. This may be due to a thermostat that is struggling to sense the heat in the room, detecting frequent temperature changes and sending faulty signals to the main unit. Short cycling can take a huge toll on the parts of your heater, causing components to become overworked. Usually, a broken thermostat will simply be replaced.

Call Comfort Flow Heating to schedule your heating service in Eugene and learn more about thermostats and your heating.

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

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 Comfort Flow Heating hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Comfort Flow Heating!

How Do I Choose Between Tank and Tankless Water Heaters?

December 19th, 2014

Choosing between a tank and tankless water depends a lot on your needs, the needs of your family and the needs of your home. It also depends on understanding how each type of unit works. Before choosing a new water heater for installation, let’s take a look at how both a tank and tankless water heater operates.

Tankless

There are two types of tankless water heaters, but no matter what the type, they each function the same way. The key to tankless water heaters is a heat exchanger. This component is what allows the tankless unit to heat your water on demand. The heat exchanger of a hot water heater resides at the core of the unit, and when you open a hot water tap, cold water flows into the heat exchanger. Using electricity or gas, the heat exchanger quickly heats and transfers this heat to the cold water, which is then delivered to your tap. All heat exchangers have a pre-set maximum temperature to ensure that you aren’t scalded. Some of the benefits of a tankless water heater are:

  • High energy efficiency
  • Continuous hot water
  • Saves space due to its small size

Tank

Tank water heaters have been around for years. Using a storage tank, these water heaters can use natural gas, propane, oil or electricity to heat the water. The heated water is held in the storage tank until it is used, and then the tank is refilled and the new water is heated to the set temperature. Some of the benefits of a tank water heater are:

  • Low initial costs
  • Low venting costs
  • Large variety of sizes available

So which type is best for you? One of the best ways to determine this is to work with a trained professional who can assess your needs and the needs of your family. Water usage is part of the picture, so it’s important to have an accurate calculation of your peak hour water usage, which a trained expert can help you with. If you are ready for a new water heater installation in Eugene, call Comfort Flow Heating today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Does a Geothermal System Need Winter Maintenance?

December 12th, 2014

Geothermal systems can be a bit of a mystery for homeowners who don’t have a lot of HVAC knowledge or experience. This is even true of people who actually have geothermal systems installed in their homes. Not to worry, though, we’re here to answer all of your questions. This week, we’re tackling the subject of winter maintenance with regard to geothermal systems.

Geothermal Maintenance

Geothermal systems do need maintenance at least once or twice a year, just like any other heater. With specific regard to winter maintenance, however, that depends on circumstances. Most other heating systems have their recommended maintenance during the fall season. This is because the best time to conduct maintenance on any system is right before you plan on using it a lot. Maintenance on your heating system right before winter ensures that it will be able to handle the increased strain of frequent use.

In that sense, winter maintenance on your geothermal system is a good idea. You really don’t want your geothermal heater breaking down in the middle of winter. Demand for HVAC repairs tends to rise during the cold season, for obvious reasons. This could lead to a delay of a few days for HVAC service, which means you would be stuck without heat during the coldest months of the year.

As for specific repair needs, geothermal systems are more low-maintenance than most systems. The water in the underground loop can occasionally freeze, but only if the loop isn’t buried far enough down. The actual depth that the loop needs to be buried at depends largely on the region your home is in. In some colder areas of the country, loops can freeze and stop working as deep as 15ft below the surface.

Other than that occasional concern, geothermal systems are much the same as any other heat pump. As long as the reversing valve, refrigerant line, and coils are working, you should have nothing to worry about.

If you would like to schedule maintenance for your geothermal system in Eugene, call Comfort Flow Heating.

Why Won’t My Furnace Start?

December 5th, 2014

It’s a pretty horrible feeling to try to turn on your furnace on a cold day and have it refuse to start. Furnaces tend to be pretty reliable as heating systems, but that doesn’t make them immune to problems. There are a few different factors that may be contributing to your furnace’s inability to start. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Malfunctioning Thermostat

The thermostat serves the same purpose in the heating system as your brain does in your body. It is responsible for controlling the furnace, deciding when it comes on and when it doesn’t. A problem with your thermostat, therefore, can stymie even a healthy furnace. Check your thermostat and make sure that everything is set properly. If the thermostat is set to “heat” or “fan” and the temperature seems to be reading correctly, then the problem is likely with your furnace. There is a chance that there is still a problem with your thermostat’s control board, but you’ll need a professional to confirm that.

Pilot Light is out

After the thermostat, the most common cause of a furnace not starting is the pilot light. The pilot light is a flame that burns under most furnaces 24/7, and is responsible for starting the furnace by igniting the burners. Pilot lights have a reputation for blowing out every now and then, rendering the furnace without an ignition source. The easiest way to check if your pilot light is out is by looking under your furnace, or in the small window included on some models to shield the chamber. If you can see the pilot light burning, then it probably isn’t the issue. If the pilot light is out, you’ll need to re-light it or have a professional do it for you.

A separate issue involves the pilot light refusing to stay lit, which is usually caused by a faulty thermocouple. The thermocouple is a sensor that controls the gas valve for the pilot light. A malfunctioning thermocouple can cut off the gas flow and smother the pilot light prematurely.

If you’re having issues with your furnace, call Comfort Flow Heating. We provide heating services throughout Eugene.

When Is Repairing Your Furnace No Longer Worth It?

November 28th, 2014

Furnaces can last a good long time, as long as you conduct regular maintenance on them. There comes a point, however, when all heating systems need replacing. Let’s take a look at when you should replace your furnace, instead of repairing it.

When it’s Old Enough

The easiest way to tell if your furnace is ready to be replaced is to look at its age. Most furnaces last between 15 and 20 years with regular maintenance and normal usage. As such, if your furnace is over 15 years old you may want to consider replacing it with a new system. Of course, if your furnace appears to be working fine then there is little reason to do so. However, when taken along with our other signs, this one is a good indicator.

When it needs Repairs more Often

As your furnace gets older, the individual parts that make up the system will start to wear out. This isn’t an indication that your furnace needs replacing all by itself. Sometimes parts wear out or break for other reasons. When a furnace gets old enough, however, multiple parts will start failing in rapid succession. This is because the parts wear down at different rates. One or two parts breaking every other year is to be expected. Multiple parts breaking within a few months of each other is a good sign that the system as a whole is worn out.

When Your Heating Bills go up consistently

You should expect your heating bills to fluctuate a little from month to month. You utilize your furnace for different lengths of time each month, after all. However, you should pay close attention to whether your heating bill is consistently rising or staying at a higher rate than normal. This is a sign that your furnace isn’t running as well as it should be, and is having to work harder to compensate. This is often caused by all the wear and tear that builds up on older furnaces.

If you think your furnace needs to be replaced, call Comfort Flow Heating. Our technicians replace furnaces throughout the Eugene area.

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Comfort Flow Heating , we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!