Make sure you have power. Check breakers and shut-off switches on the furnace.
Check the batteries in your thermostat and make sure it is set for heat / cool.
Turn the thermostat off for 30 seconds and back on again. Sometimes this will reset the system.
Check for blocked / dirty air filters, or blocked chimneys.
If the system still doesn’t function.
Turn the fan switch to ‘on’ to make sure you have power. If the fan doesn’t run, check breakers and furnace switches.
Make sure the thermostat is set on heat and check the batteries if applicable.
Make sure the air filters are clean. Change any dirty or blocked filters.
Check to see if the pilot light is lit.
If the furnace uses gas for fuel, check to see if your other gas appliances are operating. If not, your gas meter or regulator may be malfunctioning.
If the system is still not functioning correctly.
Make sure you have power. Check breakers and shut-off switches on the furnace and fuse panel.
Make sure the thermostat is set on cool and check the batteries if applicable.
Turn the thermostat off for 30 seconds and back on again. Sometimes this will reset the system.
Check for blocked / dirty air filters.
If the system still doesn’t function, you may be low on refrigerant (FREON).
The component that transfers heat from the gas flame to the air in the house is called a ‘heat exchanger’. If the heat exchanger has a crack or rust hole in it, the fumes (including carbon monoxide) may enter the air that comes out of the supply registers into your home or office. This is why a ‘cracked’ furnace can be so dangerous. A small crack may not be dangerous yet, but it may get bigger, and even small amounts of carbon monoxide can be dangerous. Heat exchangers can be replaced, however, if they are out of warranty, it is often financially advantageous to install a new, higher efficiency furnace.
Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector, but the fact that it is not going off doesn’t mean everything is safe. Carbon monoxide detectors vary in quality and virtually all of them must be replaced every few years because their sensors become ineffective. Also, even small amounts of carbon monoxide have an accumulative effect in the body, and — to prevent false alarms — detectors have to detect a minimum threshold of carbon monoxide over a period of time before they sound their alarm. If your alarm does go off, turn your furnace off immediately (and any other possible sources of carbon monoxide such as gas ovens, gas dryers, gasoline or diesel powered generators, car or lawnmower engines, etc.) and get all people and animals out of the home or office at once. Once the home or office has been thoroughly aired out and ventilated, you should be able to return safely, however, do not use your gas furnace, or other equipment that may be a source of carbon monoxide, until you have it checked out by a qualified technician.
The answer to this question often depends on the equipment you have, how well it was installed, and how well it has been maintained. Home builders often use lower grade ‘builder models’ offered by otherwise well known manufacturers. Builders models may not last much more than 8 to 12 years, whereas premium models from these companies will typically last much longer. If you believe you may have a builders model, you may want to consider taking advantage of rebates and warranties offered with a new systems once your equipment is 10 or 12 years old. Oftentimes, utility bill and repair savings alone will more than offset the cost of a new high efficiency system.
Regular professional maintenance is an important factor, too. Even lower quality equipment that has been frequently serviced and maintained can last 20 years or longer. Many times the proud owners of such equipment will decide to replace the equipment in order to obtain equipment that offers improved efficiency or new features, not because the equipment is failing. Because of our extreme weather, premium equipment that has not been maintained will typically last between 12-18 years. However, because of efficiency improvements that are continually made by manufacturers, once a system is 10 years old it may pay to replace the system because of the higher efficiency (and lower gas & electric bills) and rebates available for newer equipment.
Finally, how well your system was installed plays a major role in how long it will last. Systems left with even small amounts of water vapor in the refrigerant lines or ones that have too little return air flow will often have serious malfunctions before they’re even five years old.
In the summer, a heat pump works in exactly the same way as an air conditioner, by cooling your home or office by moving heat from the inside to the outside. In the winter, a heat pump operates in ‘reverse’, moving heat from the outside to the inside of your home or office. Even though it feels ‘cold’ outside during the winter, there is still plenty of heat in the air that can be captured by a heat pump. After all, Absolute Zero, or the total absence of heat energy, occurs at minus 459 degrees! Also, heat pumps have auxiliary electric or gas heating systems that automatically come on to provide more heat when the temperature outside falls below 30 degrees or when the thermostat temperature is increased more than 2 degrees at a time.
The initial investment for a heat pump is somewhat higher than for an air conditioner with a gas furnace, they have somewhat higher maintenance costs, and duct work must be of good design and in proper repair for proper operation. One common complaint of a heat pump is that the air coming out of the registers is not hot enough (compared to a gas furnace), however, it is plenty warm to heat your home. Actually, because of this, heat pumps will keep your indoor temperature more constant than a gas furnace.
Even if you have natural gas, heat pumps are often the most economical and efficient way to heat and cool your home. With utility prices rising each year, the savings provided by a heat pump may be dramatic.
It depends. If you plan to replace them within a few years of one another, special warranties, rebates, and financing that are often available with a complete system may make changing the complete system the best option. If they are installed at the same time, the coil cabinet (part of the air conditioner that sits on top of the furnace) will match the furnace in color & style. The system will operate OK whether they are installed at the same time or not, so it comes down to a question of convenience and economics.
Your heating and cooling system is probably the most costly system you have in your home and affects your day-to-day comfort, your monthly energy bills, and even your home value. Be sure your friend has the proper licensing, has adequate liability and workers compensation insurance (ask to see these), and has designed and installed high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems successfully in the past (talk to references). Keep in mind that you will be dependent on your friend and his/her schedule for warranty repairs, which now last up to ten years.
Another major consideration is that if your friend is not registered with your local utility, you may be giving up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in cash rebates and incentives. You also want to make sure that the equipment your friend will install is of high quality and that it comes with a strong manufacturer’s warranty. Most air conditioning and heating equipment manufacturers make high grade, premium equipment and low grade builders models — and both may carry the manufacturer’s brand name! Get the model numbers in writing from your friend and feel free to call us if you want to know the quality of the equipment you are getting.
All in all, you may save money in the short run, however you will typically be assuming much more risk than when you use a long established HVAC contractor who belongs to the Better Business Bureau, has affiliations with the local Chamber of Commerce, and continuously trains their technicians on equipment and local code changes.
An ‘oversized’ air conditioner will cool your house more quickly, but it will use more electricity and will not remove humidity adequately. Contrary to popular belief – and intuition – long A/C system run cycles are far more desirable and energy efficient than short run cycles. You can think of this in terms of a car, where you’d prefer to buy a car that has mostly highway miles rather than city miles. The greatest amount of energy usage and wear and tear on your equipment occurs at system start up (it takes tremendous torque and, hence, amperage to get your compressor turning). Once started, it takes 10 to 15 minutes before your system is operating at peak efficiency and performance. Because an oversized system will often bring the temperature down to the thermostat setting in just a few minutes, your oversized system will never get to operate at peak performance and will end up ‘short-cycling’ — starting and stopping over and over again – a fact which will cost you plenty in terms of comfort, utility bills and added repairs.
Another factor to consider with regard to system size is that comfort is a function of temperature and humidity. That is, you can have low humidity (relatively dry air) and be comfortable when the temperature is 77 degrees, or you can be absolutely miserable when you have high humidity and a temperature of 72 degrees. One of the most important jobs your air conditioning system’s performance is removing moisture from the air in your home or office. Removing moisture requires long run times so that enough moisture laden air has a chance to blow across the cold indoor coil and condense into water which then drains from your system. Today’s high efficiency central air conditioners may remove as much as two gallons of water from the air in your home every hour, which makes you far more comfortable. If your system is oversized, it will cool the temperature down to the thermostat setting too rapidly and the system will shut off before proper dehumidification of the air can occur. Taken to the extreme, a severely oversized system will create ‘rain forest’ like conditions in your home: you’ll have water dripping from your cold supply grills and, very soon, mold and mildew covering your ducts and walls.
Duct system sizing must be considered too. If your duct system is not big enough to handle the increased airflow required by an ‘oversized’ air conditioner, the evaporator coil may freeze and the system won’t work at all. Even if the coil doesn’t freeze, reduced airflow will impact operating efficiency and effectiveness and cause premature failure of expense components such as the compressor.
Obviously the air conditioner must be sized big enough to cool your house, but too big is just as bad. We can measure the heating and cooling load on your particular home and then recommend a system that is properly sized to cool your home to 74 degrees when it is 100 degrees outside, then increase the size slightly, if needed, based on your temperature preferences.
No, we do not charge extra for weekend service. We are also available for 24 hour emergency calls. A small surcharge will apply for late night (between 8pm and before 5am) emergency calls.
In our years of experience, Blue Stream has found that customers prefer an accurate price based on their exact problem. Companies that offer phone quotes say they are subject to change once their technician diagnoses the problem. We do not think this is fair to customers. We rely on a strong onsite diagnostic procedure, including a complete inspection of your system, that provides you with a diagnosis of your problem for a small and reasonable diagnostic fee. Once the diagnostic procedure is performed, you will be shown exactly what the problem is, what the solution is, and how much it will cost. Then, and only then, do you authorize the work to be performed.
Yes! Because of our extreme weather, operating your heating and cooling system in the midwest during a typical year is equivalent to putting 60,000 miles on your car. Many of us won’t go more than 5,000 miles between an oil change or 30,000 miles between a major tune-up, yet we’ll let our expensive comfort equipment run all year without much attention. While this approach may work for a time, most people end up paying heavily for this lack of maintenance in the form of higher energy bills, higher repair bills, voided warranties, reduced comfort and air quality, unplanned service interruptions and shortened equipment life…
Blue Stream does not recommend cleaning ducts unless some unusual event — fire, water damage, etc. — has contaminated them. Our position on duct cleaning is the same as the U.S. EPA’s recommendation. Aside from being expensive and largely unnecessary, cleaning ductwork may cause serious damage to your ducts as well as make your duct system leaky, costing you efficiency.