What a Cracked Heat Exchanger Means

April 4th, 2014

Gas furnaces have an unfair reputation as hazardous ways of home heating. But even though the dangers of a gas furnace are exaggerated, they do have potential safety issues you need to watch for. With prompt repairs and regular maintenance you can almost reduce these possibilities to zero. Make sure you rely on professional HVAC technicians for those crucial repairs, and you should have many years of trouble-free performance from your gas furnace.

In this post, we’ll look at one of the more serious problems a gas furnace can encounter: a cracked heat exchanger. This calls for fast repairs from skilled technicians. Look to Comfort Flow Heating and our 24-hour emergency repair service for heating systems in Salem, OR when you think you have a cracked heat exchanger… or any other repair issue in your gas furnace.

The cracked heat exchanger: what it means and why it’s serious

The heat exchanger serves a vital function the heating cycle of a furnace. This metal, clamshell-shaped chamber collects the combustion gas from the burner, which heats up its walls. Air from the blower passes over the exchanger and heats up because of the hot metal. This allows the combustion gas to transfer its heat to the air that will circulate into a home without allowing toxic fumes to enter it. Once the heating cycle ends, the exhaust in the exchanger vents out through the gas flue.

Exchangers are durable components, but they can develop corrosion because of long contact with combustion gas—especially if the gas isn’t venting properly. Because the heat exchanger expands when it heats up, it’s easy for cracks to develop in spots where corrosion has weakened the metal. Even a small crack will gape wide when the exchanger expands… wide enough to let the exhaust escape.

This is the principle danger from a cracked exchanger. The exhaust from combustion gas contains carbon monoxide, a toxic and flammable gas that is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect. A leak in the exchanger can place carbon monoxide into the air from the blower that goes into your house. It can also reach the burner and catch fire, or even explode if enough of it floods the combustion chamber.

How you can detect a cracked heat exchanger

First of all, if you haven’t installed carbon monoxide detectors in your home, have this done right away. Any house with a gas-powered appliance should have a CO detector as a precaution.

Second, you should suspect a cracked heat exchanger if you notice any corrosion along the furnace. Corrosion can mean other problems as well, so don’t take any chances: shut off the gas and call for repairs.

Third, cracks in the heat exchanger will result in a clicking noise starting right after the blower turns on. Don’t try to analyze the sound, just contact repair technicians.

Our team experienced in heating repairs in Salem, OR will have any furnace woes fixed so you’ll stay safe. Look to the company others have depended on for more than 50 years, Comfort Flow Heating.

How Chillers Work

March 31st, 2014

For your commercial HVAC installation, chillers are often a good option for large spaces when you need to remain on a budget, and they are also effective for cooling down industrial machinery. Many people are not aware of how chillers operate and what makes them different from standard air conditioners. We’ll look into chiller function in this post.

Comfort Flow Heating has many years of experience installing chillers in Eugene, OR, as well as installing many other kinds of commercial HVAC systems. We also offer 24 hour emergency service, so you never have to worry about failures when you’re working odd hours of the night.

How chillers work

A chiller is a refrigeration unit that produces cooling by removing heat from liquid using either vapor compression or refrigeration absorption. Most chillers use water rather than chemical refrigerant as the circulating liquid (although they will still use refrigerant in the refrigerant absorption cycle to cool down the liquid), which is one of the ways that a chiller differ from an AC or a heat pump.

In the standard chiller that works as an air conditioner, heat is removed from the circulating water through the condensing coils. The chilled water in the unit is used to cool the air when it passes through evaporator coils, and the water returns to the chiller where it is cooled again. The amount of cooling BTUs from a chiller can be substantial, between 180,000 to 18,000,000 BTUs per hour, which makes them ideal for industrial use.

Chillers can produce a large amount of heat exhaust, which must either be released to the outdoor air, or, in more efficient units, recovered as energy to use in the heating process of the cycle.

Professional commercial chiller installation

As with any major appliance for a business, you want to make sure professionals in commercial HVAC install chillers for company. There are many different options for the type and size of chiller installed, and you’ll need special expertise to pick the right unit. Comfort Flow Heating has formed trusted partnerships with many businesses in the Eugene area because of our skill with installation and maintenance for their valuable equipment. Make us one of your trusted partners with installations of chillers in Eugene, OR.

What Steps Are Involved in Heating Maintenance?

March 28th, 2014

Annual maintenance for your heating system from a trained professional is essential for prolonging your system’s life and receiving the most efficient and trouble-free performance you can from it. You should schedule maintenance for your heater during the fall, although you can start at any time if for some reason you had to put it off. The important part is that you have it done every year for your heating system.

We offer an Energy Savings Agreement at Comfort Flow Heating that will provide you with a precision tune-up for your Springfield, OR heating system and for your air conditioner. Call us today to sign up to start saving energy and keep your heater in excellent shape.

Here are the basic steps in heating maintenance you can expect whenever a trained technician shows up at your home for the annual visit:

  • Thermostat check: It’s important first to make sure that the thermostat is correctly calibrated and has no connection issues, or else it will be difficult to determine the condition of the rest of the heater.
  • Check components connected to the gas line (natural gas heaters): The technician checks the gas line, the burner, the ignition, and the heat exchanger to make sure there are no safety or performance concerns.
  • Tighten connections: The technician sees that all electrical connections on the heating system are secure, and tightens any loose ones that might become safety hazards. The technician then checks the voltage on the motors.
  • Lubricating moving parts: To ensure the heater works with the least amount of stress and power drain, the technicians lubricate all the moving parts, such as motors and compressors.
  • Check refrigerant level (heat pumps): The technician checks that the refrigerant is at its proper level, and recharges it if necessary.
  • Control board check: The technician looks over the control board to see that it is operating the heater correctly. This involves testing each part of the system to see that it comes on, operates, and turns off properly. After this is done, the technician will know if the heater is running better because of the tune-up.

The Energy Savings Agreement at Comfort Flow Heating doesn’t just provide you with regular maintenance. You’ll also receive priority scheduling, a 15% discount on repairs, and no overtime charges.

Don’t wait to start maintenance for your heater: if it’s been more than a year, call us right away and set up your first inspection and tune-up visit.

What Is Involved in Replacing a Geothermal System

March 17th, 2014

Although geothermal systems have an upfront cost steeper than most other home comfort systems, they have such high energy efficiency and longevity that they will provide many years of operation after their payback period to save homeowners money. The EPA estimates that the underground system of coils can last more than 50 years. Contrary to rumor, it takes almost a generation for the loops in the earth to wear out.

However, not all components of a geothermal heat pump has this same half-century of endurance. At some point, any system will require replacements—in part, or in whole. We’ll look at what this entails in this post so you can know what to expect from a geothermal system on your property.

For more information, or to schedule service for cooling and heating in Salem, OR, contact Comfort Flow Heating and talk to our geothermal specialists.

When geothermal heat pumps need replacements

Thankfully, when one section of a geothermal heat pump malfunctions to the point where repairs will no longer do any good, you don’t need to dig up the whole system and remove the refrigerant lines to put in a replacement. Usually, the indoor heat pump will need replacement 30 years before the coils in the ground do. This replacement is not much different from replacing a standard air-source heat pump and costs approximately the same. Professional installers will make sure that the new heat pump unit connects to the underground components and also to the ductwork.

What about when those geothermal loops in the earth finally need replacement? This is something you may encounter when you inherit a geothermal system with your home. New loops will need to be put in, but the job is far easier than the original one and costs less as well. Digging the trenches for the loops is the most costly part of the job, so with those trenches already in place it takes less time and money to put in new loops. For a job that usually only needs to be done twice a century, it is remarkably fast and easy to do.

Thinking of going geothermal?

If you don’t already have a geothermal system installed on your property, we hope that the above information will make you see that choosing to go with a geothermal heat pump is indeed a long-term investment that will not need major replacements for at least fifty years. You can expect to pay for a standard heat pump replacement in about 20 years, but by that time you should be saving so much on your heating bill that the replacement pump will practically buy itself.

Contact Comfort Flow Heating today and find out more about how you can bring geothermal cooling and heating to a Salem, OR home.

How Dirt Build-Up Can Result in Heating Repairs

March 5th, 2014

Dirt is the enemy of many things in your home: carpets, windows, countertops, appliances, and general tidiness. One place where dirt can inflict a tremendous amount of potentially expensive damage is to your heater, whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or hydronic system. When dirt infiltrates your heater and starts to build up into a layer of grime, it can lead to the need for repairs.

Dirt-build up problems can’t be solved with rags and cleaner. You need to have professionals address the ways dirt accumulation can affect your heating system. We’ll look at a few of the ways dirt build-up can make skilled repairs necessary. Call Comfort Flow Heating when you need quality heating repair service in Salem, OR.

The ravages of dirt and your heater

For forced-air systems (furnaces, heat pumps), an air filter in the return ducts traps dust and debris from entering the system’s cabinet. You should change the filter once a month during periods when the heater works regularly; otherwise, the clogged filter will begin to allow dirt into the cabinet. (In some extreme cases, air filters have become so clogged they have collapsed and fallen into the cabinet, causing tremendous damage.)

One of the most quickly destructive effects from a dirt intrusion is a build-up on mechanical parts that causes additional stress: the motors that run the compressor and blowers will start to wear down and eventually burn out. Dirt can also ruin motor bearings. Any extra strain put on the internal components will cause other components to overwork and also wear down sooner. You will need technicians to remove the failing parts and replace them.

For gas-powered furnaces and hydronic water heaters, a dirt build-up along the burner will prevent the flow of oxygen and prevent the burner from igniting. If the system uses a standing pilot light, excess dirt will also extinguish it. The burner will need a technician to clean it.

For heat pumps, dirt build-up can cause another problem: icing along the coils. If dirt collects along the evaporator coil (the outdoor coil during heating mode, the indoor coil during cooling mode) it will prevent the coil from absorbing sufficient heat. The refrigerant in the coil will then begin to cause the water moisture to freeze, and this will in turn further restrict heat absorption. Professionals will need to detach the coils and clean them.

Maintenance: Your best defense against dirt

Repairs will fix problems that dirt can cause, but signing up for a regular maintenance program will help prevent repair needs in the future. A visit from a skilled HVAC technician once a year will keep your heating system cleaned and tuned-up.

Contact Comfort Flow Heating to talk about out preventive maintenance program with our staff. You can also reach us any time of the day or night for emergency heating repair in Salem, OR.

Reasons to Consider a Reverse Cycle Chiller

February 27th, 2014

Most businesses take up larger spaces than residential homes, and therefore they require air conditioning and heating on a more advanced level. One of the comfort systems that we recommend for business owners is the reverse cycle chiller, which works effectively in all temperatures and at a lower cost than many rooftop package unit heat pumps.

If you are interested in learning more about reverse cycle chillers, or if you want to schedule installation, call Comfort Flow Heating. We specialize in commercial installation, maintenance, and heating repair in Salem, OR.

What is a reverse cycle chiller? It works similar to a heat pump, except that it doesn’t heat and cool the air. Instead, it works on water. Its heat pump unit is connected to an insulated water tank to which it either removes or adds heat. The conditioned water is then pumped from the tank and to the various places where either heating or cooling is required.

Why should you consider a reverse cycle chiller for your commercial building? Here are a few reasons:

  • No backup burner required: If you use a standard air-source heat pump, it requires a backup burner to supply heat when the system switches from cooling mode to heating mode. This burner is important to make sure that the heat pump doesn’t continue to blow out cold air while the coils defrost. With a reverse cycle chiller, hot water from the tank defrosts the coils and removes the need for the extra burner. This saves energy and assures you’ll receive warm air instead of cold air when you want it.
  • Efficient operation in cold temperatures: An issue that air-source heat pumps can encounter is that when the temperature drops below freezing they will struggle to remove heat from the cold air. Reverse cycle chillers operate through water and do not have trouble with lower temperatures. Even when the temperature outdoors is freezing, a reverse cycle chiller can heat water to above 100°F. (Don’t worry about the water in the chiller freezing; the constant cycling through the system prevents this.)
  • Energy conservation: Reverse cycle chillers are a popular alternative when a geothermal ground-source heat pump is not possible. These chillers use up to 10% fewer kilowatts per hour than a geothermal heat pump, and because of their efficiency at providing heat, they require no supplementary source like heat strips that are often necessary for ground-source heat pumps.

A reverse cycle chiller may not be the optimal choice for your building, so let the professionals at Comfort Flow Heating evaluate your needs to help you select the best option for comfort for your workers, customers, and clients. We can provide heating installation and heating repair in Salem, OR for your company, and then deliver the maintenance to keep the system running for many years.

3 Things That Happen During Furnace Installation

February 17th, 2014

The time has finally arrived when you must move out your ol’ faithful furnace and replace it with a new, more efficient model. Furnace installation is a major undertaking, one that requires expert installers to handle. You’ll need the installers on the job earlier than you probably think, since they can assist with the important steps of selecting a new unit and finding the right size to provide your home with energy-saving warmth.

We’ll give you a sense of what kind of work goes into furnace installation. At Comfort Flow Heating, we have many years performing heating installations in Salem, OR, and we can offer you the same quality service we’ve delivered to thousands of customers over the decades.

3 Things to Expect During Your Furnace Installation:

  1. Removing the former heater: The most arduous and lengthy part of the installation process usually doesn’t involve the new furnace at all. The installers must first remove your former heating system—probably a furnace—and dispose of it properly. They then must prepare the space left for the placement of the new system.
  2. Making the connections—plenty of them: Once your new furnace has been placed (and usually bolted to the floor), the technicians will connect it to the important parts of your home for it to function. Chief among these is your ventilation system, which will require hooking the furnace to the flanges on the ductwork. Sometimes the ductwork must be shifted around to make the connections. The installers will then connect the furnace to the power source. Making the link to the gas line is a job they will perform carefully. Wires from the furnace will hook up to your electrical power source (even gas heaters have electrical components).
  3. System testing: This is the final step of installation, but it is perhaps the most important; if the installers left your house after making the last connection, you would have no idea if your furnace was working properly or safely. The installers will turn on the furnace and measure the intake and airflow to see that operation is efficient. They will make sure there are no safety hazards. The installers won’t leave you with your furnace until they are certain it’s doing the job it’s supposed to.

These are only three very broad steps for the installation process. Installation starts many days before, with selecting and sizing the furnace, and there are many smaller steps necessary during installation, such as connecting the new air handler to the furnace. This work requires trained professionals; do not allow amateurs to take on this job, since it will lead to an improperly working furnace that might even be unsafe.

For professional heating installation service in Salem, OR, make your first call to Comfort Flow Heating. We’ve offered excellent service for furnaces since 1961.


The Original Valentine’s Day Greeting Cards

February 14th, 2014

It’s hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without the traditional greeting cards, whether accompanying a gift of flowers and candy, or sent between children in a school room. For commercial greeting card companies, February 14th is as important to them as the December holidays, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love predates printed greeting cards by a few centuries. In fact, the reason that sending romantic greeting cards became popular was because of the most un-romantic thing you can imagine: a reduction in postage rates.

In 1765, Parliament authorized the creation of “Penny Posts” that used a uniform rate of one old penny per letter throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Printers took advantage of the ease with which people could send letters to each other on Valentine’s Day by crafting cards with love poems on them. Many of these verses were collected in 1797 in the book The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which was a resource for the lover with a romantic soul but not the most confident poetry style.

By the mid-19th-century, the Valentine’s Day greeting card was flourishing across England. Although people still followed a tradition of creating handmade Valentine’s Day cards from lace, ribbons, and flowers, commercially produced cards now overtook them. In 1835, the English post office mailed 60,000 valentines. As production expenses dropped, the English card manufacturers branched out creatively with humorous and sometimes vulgar cards… many of which we would find startlingly familiar in the 21st century. One of the common jokes on these cards was to design them to look like marriage certificates or court summons.

Across the Atlantic, the United States was slower to embrace the popular British custom. It wasn’t until 1847 that a U.S. printer mass-produced greeting cards for Valentine’s Day. Only two years later, American journalists noted how rapidly people in the country had embraced the tradition, turning into a fad that has never died down. The woman who printed the first U.S. Valentine’s Day card, Esther Howland, is today recognized by the Greeting Card Association with the annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.”

The greeting card industry certainly has reason to thank Ms. Howland. Her idea of going into business printing romantic greeting cards, which came to her after she received a traditional English valentine when she was 19 years old, now sells 190 million cards in the U.S. every year. That number doesn’t include the smaller exchange cards used in elementary school classrooms, which would swell the number to 1 billion. (Who receives the most Valentine’s Day cards each year? Teachers!)

Whether you send out Valentine’s Day cards—handmade, store-bought, digital—or not, we at Comfort Flow Heating hope you have a happy February 14th.

Why You Should Choose a Company with a Long History for Heating Repair

February 6th, 2014

When you are looking for a contractor for your heating repair needs, you should look for more than just a contractor with the appropriate licensing. Although you should rely on a contractor with NATE-certified heating repair technicians on staff (the only industry-wide accepted certification), you should make your preferred choice a contractor who also has many years of experience in the business to back up that certification.

We’ll explain why looking for a long-lived Salem, OR heating contractor is so important for your repair needs. At Comfort Flow Heating, we take pride in our long history of excellent heating service, and we believe you will find our work will live up to your high expectations.

Why a company with a long history is your best option:

  • Experience – Education (and NATE-certification) are very important. However, a contractor with the finest training available, but only a few months of hands-on work will be at a disadvantage compared to someone who has already spent years of providing heating repair. An experienced heating contractor can use a storehouse of knowledge to make every repair job the best it can possibly be.
  • Community trust – When you find a contractor with decades in the business, it is almost always a sign that the contractor has built up tremendous trust within the local community for honesty, reliability, and high-quality repair.
  • Technological development – HVAC technology has advanced tremendously over only the last 10 years, let alone 50. A long-lived company will know the importance of staying on the edge with the newest innovations, but will also know how to apply repairs to older models.

You will be hard-pressed to find a company with more experience in professional heating services in Salem, OR than Comfort Flow Heating. We have served more than 20,000 homeowners over more than 50 years in the business, and we have always remained dedicated to staying at the forefront of new HVAC technology. We not only hire NATE-certified technicians, we hire only the best. Don’t entrust your vital heating repairs to contractors with only a few years of work to their credit: call on Comfort Flow Heating.

Commercial Heating Repair Needs in Springfield

January 27th, 2014

If you are a business owner, you know that keeping your employees and/or customers comfortable is important for maintaining a pleasant environment, one to which customers wish to return and where employees work their best.

Commercial heating is much different from heating a home. Although some of the systems are similar, commercial heaters are larger, more intricate, have complex controls, and require special attention. When you have needs for commercial heating repair in Springfield, OR, you should call specialists.

Comfort Flow Heating has more than 50 years of helping both businesses and homes in the Wilamette Valley, and we have built up a trusted name for quality. Make us your first call for any of these repairs for your business.

Repair needs your commercial heating may need

  • Leaking boiler: If your building uses a boiler to provide it with heat, it is crucial to stop leaking as soon as possible. Not only will leaking begin to impair the boiler’s performance, but leaks will cause significant damage to building material, ruining drywall and causing ceiling tiles to collapse. Commercial boilers have extensive pipe systems, so having professionals track down all the leaks to seal them is essential. The professionals will also locate the cause of the leaking.
  • Fixing blower problems in rooftop units: The most common type of HVAC system for businesses is the packaged rooftop unit, which places the cabinet out of the sight of the public but also in a place where it can perform its job without obstructions. But this also puts the unit in a place where it can suffer damage from outside conditions—especially if it is not receiving regular maintenance a few times a year. The most common problem that commercial HVAC technicians deal with when it comes to rooftop units is damage with the fans, fan belts, and motors inside the blower units.
  • Repairing thermostats: One of the more complex aspects of commercial heating is the multiple thermostats used to control them. It’s common for problems to appear to develop in a heating system, but are actually issues with the electrical connections in the thermostats. Technicians can usually trace these problems down quickly and perform the necessary repairs or replacements.

You can’t afford to wait to call for professional commercial heating repair. Not only will your business face uncomfortable conditions, but the repairs will only become more expensive the longer you wait. Call on commercial HVAC experts as soon as you sense there’s a problem. Comfort Flow Heating is on call 24 hours a day for your needs for commercial heating repair in Springfield, OR.