HVAC Troubleshooting for Furnace and Heating Problems

HVAC Troubleshooting for Furnace and Heating Problems
By AcuRite Team
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HVAC Troubleshooting for Furnace and Heating Problems

Improve Home Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Energy Saving Tips for Maximizing Home Comfort

One of a homeowner's biggest monthly expenses is the cost of heating and cooling. This is particularly true during the dog days of summer and in the dead cold of winter. Some of the best ways to save energy are through some simple home maintenance steps, and by making sure your heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) systems are operating efficiently. This will help save money for a couple of reasons:

  • It will improve energy conservation because the system doesn't have to work as hard to heat or cool your home. It is suggested that as much as a 15% or even a 30% increase in cost savings can be achieved through a properly-running system.
  • An efficient system places less stress on components like the heater and air conditioner, in turn reducing repair bills.
  • An efficiently-running air conditioner will more effectively reduce indoor humidity, lowering the possibility of mold damage. Reduction in humidity can also help reduce allergens in the air, and it feels better too!

There are a variety of easy and inexpensive ways to save energy by increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. However, the first step toward maximizing the efficiency of your home climate control is with home monitoring equipment to track temperature and humidity throughout your home.

AcuRite Multi-sensor display

Energy Saving Tips: Home Heating

  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, many experts say that closing off rooms and vents actually makes your home’s forced-air heating system less efficient. Instead, keep vents and doors open. This will better enable your forced system to evenly distribute heated air throughout your home.
  • Routinely replace or clean air filters, since dirty filters will make your system work harder.
  • Open blinds and curtains during the day to let the sun help heat your home. Close them at night to help trap warm air in.
  • Seal up places where air may be escaping. This could include adding weather stripping around doors and windows, and adding extra insulation in the attic. There are tests heating professionals can conduct to help pinpoint places where home sealing is needed.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to slightly lower temperatures while you are at work or sleeping.
  • Make sure your system is professionally installed. Even a modern, high-efficiency home cooling system can be rendered inefficient by poorly-installed and/or improperly-sized duct work or heating units.
  • Have your system routinely inspected by a professional. Leaks and blocks in the ducts can cause uneven airflow and greatly reduce efficiency.
  • For radiator users, some recommend installing a device called an “orifice plate” to help smooth out discrepancies between radiator outputs from room to room. Also, installing the appropriately-sized steam radiator vent valve for the size radiator and room can help too. Ultimately, educating yourself of how radiators work can go a long way.
  • For fireplace owners, make sure your chimney is regularly cleaned.
  • Ceiling fans can help in the winter too. Ceiling fans don’t actually change the temperature, but if you run them clockwise in the winter (ceiling fans can run in two directions), they can circulate the warm air that rises to the ceiling level down to you.
  • Monitor temperature and humidity in a variety of areas throughout your home. Whether you have a forced-air system or an older-style boiler with radiators, this can help you identify the uneven distribution of heated air, pinpoint drafts, or recognize an area needing extra insulation. Once you identify problems, you can take some of the corrective actions above, or call in a professional to make necessary fixes and adjustments.

Household Heating Solutions

Test for Even Distribution of Treated Air: Check the air coming out of each vent in the home. If some vents are putting out lots of hot air while others are not, it could indicate a leak or clog in the system or an imbalance requiring professional attention.

Test for Inadequate Insulation of Ducts and Leaks in the Ductwork: Since ducts may pass through unheated areas like crawl spaces and attics, there is potential for loss of heated air before it reaches the vent. In addition, a leak in the ductwork can allow treated air to escape. A comparison of air coming out at the vent to the air near the furnace can indicate these types of problems.

Test for Drafts, Cracks, and Air Leaks: If the vents seem to be distributing treated air evenly and efficiently, it could indicate a draft, leak, or inadequate insulation in a part of your home. Problem areas could include doors and windows.

Test for Poor Overall Efficiency: If you are unable to identify the uneven distribution and/or specific points of leaks and drafts, the home itself could be inadequately insulated. Problem areas could include the attic and walls. If your system is running full blast, yet temps aren’t much different than outside, it may be time to hire a professional to conduct a home energy audit.

AcuRite Energy Conservation Solutions

  • Monitor Temperature Conditions Around the Home: Place AcuRite Room Monitors away from sources of treated air (ex. vents) to measure ambient room conditions.
  • Position Spot Check Temperature & Humidity Sensor in Strategic Locations: The Spot Check Sensor can serve a wide variety of purposes, depending on your needs. Here are some examples:
    • Check for Uneven Heating: Position the Spot Check Sensor near or inside different vents around the home. If the vent temperature varies from room to room, it could indicate a problem with system balance and airflow, and needs to be looked at by a professional.
    • Check for Inadequate Duct Insulation and Leaks in the Ductwork: Position the Spot Check Sensor near or inside different vents, particularly vents furthest from the air conditioner. Then use the Spot Check Sensor to measure temperate coming out of the air conditioner (if this is not possible, an alternative may be measuring temperature at vents close to the air conditioner). If there is a substantial difference in temperature at the air conditioner and at the vent, it could indicate a lack of insulation around ductwork and/or leaks in the ductwork.
    • Check for Drafts, Cracks, and Air Leaks: Position the Spot Check Sensor near windows, doors, in attics or crawl spaces, and other suspected sources of air loss. If the Spot Check Sensor temperature is reading warmer than the Room Monitor, it could indicate the presence of a draft or leak. These are spots where weather stripping may need to be replaced, or other maintenance is required.
  • Use a Home Environment Display for convenient viewing of conditions measured by Monitors and Sensors in multiple rooms around the home.
    • Set Alarms: The alarm function on the Home Environment Display can alert you of undesirable conditions. These can include:
      • Undesirably low or high temperatures
      • Undesirably high or low humidity
    • Monitor Daily High and Low Records: Daily records can help gauge conditions when you’re at work, asleep, etc. Use this information to adjust your thermostat for maximum energy savings.

Further Reading

There are lots of great resources out there to help you gain information on heating and cooling efficiency. Here are a few helpful articles to get you started:

July 18, 2018
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