Intelligent Air Services Blog: Archive for January, 2015

What Is an Electric Furnace Sequencer?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

The most common type of heating unit used in homes in the United States is the furnace—more specifically, the gas furnace. Gas furnaces offer a slight benefit over electric models in that they run via the natural gas line, which is generally a less expensive fuel. However, an electric furnace gives those without access to a natural gas line the same opportunity to heat their home with a reliable source of forced-air heating.

Electric furnaces are relatively low maintenance, safe, and they are one of the least expensive heating systems to install. They can be located in small spaces like closets and there is no need to install a venting system for combustion byproducts. And over the years, manufacturers have developed many parts to improve operation, one of which is the sequencer.

How A Furnace Operates

To understand how the sequencer works, you must first know a bit about how these units operate. The main parts of an electric furnace are the blower, filter, and a cabinet containing the heating elements. The heating section contains rows of coiled nickel chrome wire connected with ceramic insulators. Although multiple heating elements are necessary to provide the proper level of heating, if every heating element were to come on at once, the unit may overheat. That’s where the sequencer comes into play.

The sequencer’s role is to act on a time delay and turn on each individual heating element or small groups of heating elements one after another. Sometimes, multiple sequencers are necessary to achieve this. The time interval used for the heating elements is in place upon manufacturing and cannot be set, although some manufacturers offer sequencers with varying time delays. For safety purposes and to comply with codes, the blower fan must come on as soon as the first element heats up and when the last element shuts off.

If the sequencer stops working due to improper voltage or a worn out contact, it will most likely need to be replaced, though sometimes only the contacts are replaced. This is tested with an ohmmeter and some professional knowledge about what indicates a faulty sequencer.

Call Intelligent Air Services today to learn more about electric heat, or to schedule repairs, maintenance, or installation for all types of furnaces in Austin, TX.

Continue Reading

How Do Heat Pumps Heat and Cool a Home?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The widespread availability of heat pumps is an exciting trend in the HVAC industry because these units are such highly effective and efficient heating and air conditioning systems.

It surprises many homeowners with any knowledge of traditional heating and air conditioning units, because an air conditioning system is usually installed independently from a furnace. But owning a heat pump essentially eliminates the need for a furnace, as a heat pump is an air conditioner in which the refrigeration cycle also works in reverse.

How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Air conditioners operate via refrigeration, which involves the use of a chemical blend called refrigerant, a set of coils, a compressor, the expansion valve, and a fan, among other vital parts. Refrigerant absorbs heat from a home inside at the evaporator coil, when it evaporates into a gas. It lets off heat at the condenser unit outside as it condenses into a liquid. A fan blowing over the indoor coil moves cool air into the room.

A heat pump has an extra component known as a reversing valve that allows refrigerant to move the opposite direction, absorbing heat from the outside to bring into your home. The indoor coil becomes a condenser while the outside coil is for evaporation. Check valves help redirect the refrigerant so it flows through components the right way and so that it can avoid certain parts, like the expansion valve.

Why Are Heat Pumps Efficient?

Heat pumps do have a balance point at which it struggles to gather enough heat from the outside air to heat a home. That’s why most installers add on strips of electric heating elements (that resemble the inside of a toaster) as a backup heating source, although a furnace may also be used in some cases.

The thermostat is programmed to recognize when the heating strips are needed, but it’s important to note that these use a lot of energy to use and should be in use sparingly. Heat pumps are efficient because they only use electricity to move heat from place to place, but the additional heating strips are inefficient because they actually generate heat.

Call the heating and cooling experts at Intelligent Air Services for more information, professional installation, and service for heat pumps in Austin, TX.

Continue Reading

Common Electric Furnace Repairs

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Electric furnaces have become a popular choice with homeowners over the last few years, in part because of their high energy efficiency and somewhat longer lifespan.

But as with any other heating system, an electric furnace will most likely need some kind of repair at some point. Because of the way they work, there are a couple of electric furnace repairs that are specific to an electric unit. The experts at Intelligent Air Services can handle any kind of furnace repair, whether electric or combustion, so call us when you are in need of heating repair in Lockhart, TX.

How They Work

Electric furnaces generate heat by a component known as a heating element. This element consists of multiple tightly-wound metal coils that generate heat when electrified. When the air around the heating element reaches the correct temperature, the furnace’s blower turns on and pushes this air into your home’s living spaces via the ductwork.

Repair Types

Electrical

With an electrical furnace, it isn’t uncommon for one of the repairs to be electrical in nature. Sometimes coils in the heating element can malfunction, or the heating element itself malfunctions. The heating element turns on in a sequence, and sometimes this sequence can become problematic. Tripping breakers can occur when there is a short in the system and the furnace draws too much power.

The Blower

The blower assembly has a number of moving parts, including the fan itself, the motor and the fan belt. There are also ball bearing that help keep the fan and motor in motion and safety switches that monitor the fan’s operation. Common issues that can develop with the blower assembly are worn fan belts, electrical or operational problems with the motor and bent or loose fan blades.

Low Air Flow

The top reason for low air flow in any furnace is a dirty air filter, and this is true for electric furnaces, too. Clogged air filter restrict the air flow, which can decrease the volume of air reaching your living spaces. Low air flow can also be attributed to issues with the fan.

Your electric furnace needs to supply heat to your entire home, so unless you are an expert, it’s best to leave all heating and furnace repairs for your Lockhart, TX, home to the specialists at Intelligent Air Services.

Continue Reading

Repairs a Ductless Heating System May Need

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Ductless systems are a unique and effective way to heat your home. Like all heating systems, however, they occasionally run into issues. Ductless heating systems are not combustion based, so a lot of the problems they experience are very different from your standard boiler or furnace problems. Let’s take a deeper look at the repairs a ductless heating system may need, and how you can identify them.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is a vital part of a ductless heating system’s operation. When the heating system turns on, the outside unit uses an evaporator coil to convert refrigerant inside the coil into gas. This turns the refrigerant into a heat sink, leeching heat out of the air around the unit and into the coil. The refrigerant then carries the thermal energy through the refrigerant line and into the indoor unit, which converts the refrigerant back into a liquid. This releases the thermal energy so that it can heat the room.

Refrigerant is not consumed by the ductless heating system. Instead, it is recycled each time the heating is turned on. A refrigerant leak is a major problem because it drains refrigerant from the system, making it unable to transport heat into the home. If you notice any pooling or dripping liquid around your ductless unit, call a professional right away.

Broken Defrost Cycle

When the ductless heating system’s outdoor unit evaporates refrigerant to draw in heat, it also creates condensation on the coil itself. The combination of condensation on the coil and a drop in the surrounding air temperature can cause ice to begin forming on the unit. All ductless heating systems are designed with a defrost cycle, to melt the ice off of the unit. If the defrost cycle isn’t working, however, ice can build up until it covers the entire outdoor unit. This cripples the whole system by depriving it of the air that it needs to siphon thermal energy from.

If you are having issues with your ductless heating system, contact Intelligent Air Services. We provide heating repair services throughout the Austin area.

Continue Reading

The History of “Auld Lang Syne”

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

There are numerous different traditional songs associated with Christmas—but there is only one song that comes to mind immediately when people think of New Year’s Eve: “Auld Lang Syne.” It is hard to find a New Year’s Eve party where people won’t leap into singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot…” as the first stroke of midnight sounds. This tradition encompasses the globe, with almost every culture that celebrates New Year’s on January 1st breaking into song with the same set of lyrics.

Where did this song come from? And what do the words “auld lang syne” actually mean? The best place to ask these questions is Scotland. The Official Gateway to Scotland website calls the song “one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbor’s hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take us into the future.”

The melody of the piece originates from Lowland Scots folk song tradition. It was legendary Scottish Romantic poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who created the words we know today, however. During the later years of his life, Burns dedicated much of his work to collecting Scottish folk tunes and giving them new life. The first mention Burns makes of “Auld Lang Syne” is in 1788, when he calls the song “a glorious fragment.” Burns wrote new lyrics to the old melody, and used the words “auld lang syne,” which is Scottish for “old long since,” and which can be translated into standard English as “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” The phrase was already known in earlier Scottish poems and folk songs, and appears to be the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” for Scots fairy tales.

Soon after Burns introduced the song to the public, it spread across Scotland as a New Year’s custom, and then to the rest of Great Britain. Scottish immigrants took the song with them as they moved across the globe, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a holiday tradition throughout the English-speaking world. By the close of the 20th century, it was a global phenomenon to ring in the New Year.

We imagine that you’ll end up singing or hearing “Auld Lang Syne” at some point this New Year’s (maybe you’ve already heard it while watching It’s a Wonderful Life).

All of us at Intelligent Air Services would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

Continue Reading