Clear Spring Heating Repair Question: What Does a Furnace Thermocouple Do?

Modern appliances are equipped with an array of safety measures to make sure that they operate safely in your Clear Spring home. This includes gas furnaces, which are harmless when working correctly but can be unsafe if something goes wrong. Perhaps the most crucial safety feature of a gas furnace is the thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

Essentially, a furnace thermocouple works as a kill switch to shut off the furnace in case the gas is not igniting, like if the pilot light is out. Here is how it works.

The thermocouple is made up of two pieces of metal which are welded together at one end, called the “hot end” because it actually sits directly in the path of the furnace flame. On the cold end, it is wired to a circuit. Under normal circumstances, when the furnace is switched on, gas flows through the line and is ignited by a pilot light, ignition spark or glow coil. The flame heats up the thermocouple, and the furnace stays on.

However, sometimes the gas may not ignite, for example if the pilot light is out or the glow coil is faulty. In these cases, if there were no thermocouple, gas would continue to flow out without being lit, creating a very dangerous, poisonous and potentially lethal situation.

What the thermocouple does is detect heat, so if the furnace is on, but the hot end of the thermocouple has not heated up, that circuit up at the cold end kills the power to the furnace so that gas cannot continue to flow out unchecked. That way, you do not have to worry about a gas leak building to dangerous levels without being aware of it.

Sometimes, the thermocouple can malfunction, causing the furnace to shut off even if the burners are working just fine. Usually that is just the result of build up on the hot end over time, which can be fixed with some sand paper or emery cloth. If suspect a problem with your furnace, give Larry & Sons Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning a call!

Clear Spring Heating Guide: Troubleshooting Furnace Air Flow Problems

Whenever you notice furnace air flow problems in your Clear Spring home, you can usually do a little troubleshooting and solve the issue on your own. Most air flow problems can be fixed easily and quickly. Here are a few guidelines to get you started, but if you need help or notice other problems with your furnace, call a qualified Larry & Sons heating technician.

Furnace Filters:

Checking the furnace filter is the first step you should take when there are any issues with your furnace, but especially with air flow problems. If a filter is dirty enough, the furnace will not come on at all. Ultimately, a clogged or dirty filter restricts the air flow, and this is the source of air flow problems ninety percent of the time.

Supply Registars and Cold Air Returns:

Once you’ve replaced or cleaned the filter, check your cold air returns, which are the vents that draw in the cold air in forced air systems. When a cold air return is blocked  by furniture or other obstructions, they cannot draw in enough air to allow the furnace to put out an adequate amount of hot air. Make sure they are open if nothing is blocking them.

Next, check your supply registers, which are the vents that supply the warm air, and make sure they are open as well. Whenever your heat is on, all of your supply registers should be open. Closing some vents will not increase the air flow in other vents in the house. Closing off one or two in areas where heat is not always needed will not hurt your system; however, when you close too many supply registers, it can cause problems with the ductwork and eventually damage the furnace if the air pressure is not correct.

Clean Your Vents:

You should have a qualified HVAC technician professionally clean your ducts and vents at least once a year, which is another reason it’s important to schedule annual maintenance visits. A professional cleaning is typically part of the yearly heating system inspection. You can help by vacuuming your vents regularly, particularly during the months the heating system is not in use, or at least before you turn it on in the fall. Simply cleaning your vents can help air flow and extend the life of your entire heating system.

If you continue to experience air flow problems, call a certified Clear Spring heating technician at Larry & Sons. There could be a more serious issue, or if you have a newer furnace, your original ductwork could be the wrong size for that furnace model.

When Should You Replace Your Existing Heat Pump? A Question From Clear Spring

Nobody wants to think about having to replace their Clear Spring home’s heating and cooling system. It’s a big job and a new system probably won’t come cheap – not if it’s worth buying anyway. But in the end, you’ll be better off replacing your heat pump sooner rather than later if you start noticing signs that it may be on its way out.

So what are these signs? Well, they’re actually pretty easy to recognize if you know what to look for. For instance, if your heat pump is suddenly making more noise than it used to, there’s a good chance that something’s going wrong inside. This may only require a minor repair, but if minor repairs like this become a regular occurrence, you should start seriously thinking about looking around for a new system.

The cost of even minor repairs will certainly add up quickly over time, and you’ll have to seriously think about whether it makes financial sense to continue to repair an older system rather than simply replacing it with a new one. Chances are that you’ll have to invest in a new one anyway, and the sooner you do it, the less you’ll have paid for repairs to a system you were just going to get rid of anyway.

Also, if you’re starting to notice humidity problems in your home or if some parts of your house are being kept warmer than others, it may very well be a sign that you heat pump isn’t working like it should. Again, this can sometimes be rectified with repair work, but especially if your heat pump is 10 years old or more, it probably makes more sense to replace it.

Another item to keep an eye on when you’re worried about how well your heat pump is working is your monthly energy bill. If you notice a sudden or even a gradual but steady increase over time that you know isn’t a result of an increase in energy prices in your area, you should suspect that your heat pump isn’t working like it should.

Even if it’s still keeping your home at a comfortable temperature, the fact that your heat pump is using more energy to do it is a sign that there’s something wrong with your system. Plus, newer systems are generally more energy efficient anyway, so you’ll be making up for the initial investment of purchasing a new system when you start paying even less on your monthly energy bills.

How to Take Care of Your Septic System: Some Advice From Myersville

If your Myersville home’s septic system isn’t properly maintained, you will usually know the symptoms – unpleasant as they may be. Beyond the obvious, which sets off a “smell alarm,” there are the more important reasons for proper maintenance, namely your health.

The first question you should ask is: Where is my septic tank? Fair enough, some homeowners who have never had their tank serviced or replaced because they had recently purchased the home or have not felt the need for service. In any case, there are some things you should know about your system and some very good reasons to have trained professionals inspect and service your septic tank.

Your septic tank is located on your property and is usually designated on a drawing of your home and surrounding real estate. This is often called an “as-built” line drawing of your property and is available at your local city or county land office. The septic tank is located in a drainfield and is usually visible by locating the tank’s manhole cover. In some cases, older tanks have no visible parts because of overgrowth or vegetation. If that is the case, you may need septic service professional to locate it for you.

Chances are, you have already learned about your septic tank and drainfield from the previous homeowner or from an inspection of your property. It is always useful to understand the function of the septic tank and why septic system maintenance is so important. And beyond the health aspect, proper system maintenance will save you a lot of money is repairs and service.

Here are some key things to do for septic system maintenance:

  • Pumping on a regular basis assures that the septic systems works efficiently so you may want to simply maintain a regular schedule.
  • Always trust the service to a licensed professional and not “someone’s cousin.” That way, you are assured that the job is done right.
  • Maintain the components that directly feed into the septic system, namely the toilets, sinks, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. Check for leaks and consider using less water to flush toilets (a toilet tank with a 1.6 gallon reservoir versus a 3.5 gallon reservoir).
  • Spread water usage throughout the week when using a washing machine – and make sure loads are sized correctly.
  • Watch what you flush or rinse down a drain, including caustic chemicals and things like dental floss or sanitary napkins.
  • Maintain the drainfield by not planting anything with roots over it (grass is recommended). Don’t drive over or park on top of a drainfield. Keep water runoff and drainage away from the drainfield to prevent flooding.

Proper septic system maintenance begins above the ground and continues through professional service and replacement. It sure beats a “stinky” situation.