Westland Heating & Air Conditioning Blog: Archive for January, 2015

Water Heater Components: The Dip Tube

Friday, January 30th, 2015

As you’ve certainly noticed before, your conventional water heater is quite large. And although these system may look like they contain a lot of complicated mechanisms that would be difficult to fix, many of the parts that are often responsible for water heater trouble can be somewhat simple to repair when the job is completed by a trained technician. One of these parts is the dip tube, a piece that is vital to water heater operation despite its simple design.

Storage tank water heaters, the most common type of water heater found in home, are still in such widespread use today despite the development of tankless water heaters that are much smaller. Much of the credit for the longevity of the storage tank goes to its simple but effective design. Water flows into the tank through the water supply pipe that feeds to the top of it. It moves into a long pipe that leads to the bottom of the tank known as the dip tube.

The cold water that first enters the tank must be pushed to the bottom of the tank for two reasons. First, this is where the burner is located, or it’s where one of two electric heating elements are positioned in an electric unit. Second, the heat rising principle establishes that the warm water will naturally rise over the denser cold water to the top of the tank. Hot water waits at the top of the tank and flows out through a smaller pipe at the top whenever you turn on a hot water tap.

So without a dip tube to force cold water to the bottom of the tank, water is not able to stay warm for very long. When you first turn on your hot water, it may be sufficient, but as your hot shower goes on, you’ll notice cooler water or patches of warm and cool. If the dip tube splits in half or cracks apart, cold water is able to stat at the top of the tank before it is heated. When this happens, a technician will usually replace the tube rather than attempting to seal the leak.

Call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to learn more about our available water heater services in the Westlake area or to schedule an appointment today.

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How Geothermal Heating Will Help You Save Money

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Geothermal heating is somewhat of a new technology among heating systems, especially for private home use. As with any relatively new technology, not much is known about it among the general populace. What most people do know is that geothermal heating is supposed to be one of the most energy efficient heating systems available. Why is that, though? Let’s examine what a geothermal system actually is, how it works, and how it will help you save money.

What is Geothermal Heating?

Geothermal heating is a system that takes heat from the ground and uses it to warm the house. The system itself consists of a wide underground pipe loop, installed around 15 feet beneath the surface. This pipe loop can be either horizontal or vertical, depending on the space available for the system. The loop is often filled with water or some kind of refrigerant. Inside the house is the central heating unit, which is connected to this loop. The central unit is also connected to the home’s ductwork.

When the system is turned on, the central unit begins cycling the liquid from the underground loop through itself. The central unit leeches thermal energy from the liquid, which it uses to warm the air being circulated around the house. Then, the liquid will be returned to the loop.

How Does This Save Money?

The geothermal heating system is a type of heat pump, relying on thermal energy present in the environment to heat the home instead of burning fuel to create it. Most heat pumps utilize the outside air for this thermal energy, which is fine most of the time but becomes scarce during very cold weather.

A geothermal system, however, uses thermal energy from the ground. Below 10-15 feet, the temperature underground remains at a constant 50-60 degrees regardless of weather. This provides the geothermal system with a constant, renewable source of heat to draw from year-round. A geothermal system saves you money by utilizing preexisting heat to warm your home, instead of burning fuel. It also avoids the common heat pump problem of losing efficiency when the weather drops below freezing temperatures.

To schedule an appointment with us or if you’d like to know more about our geothermal heating service in the Rockey River area, call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning today.

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Listen for These Repair Warning Sounds from a Heat Pump

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

If you own a heat pump, you most likely know that you have one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available on the market today. It may seem as though such a high-performance system will run into few problems over time, but in actuality, a heat pump can run into a number of difficulties that keep it from running as efficiently as it could. If you notice any of the following sounds from your heat pump, it may be time to call an expert for repairs.

  • Hissing: A hissing sound from a heat pump may indicate leaking refrigerant somewhere in the heat pump. This may be along the connections between the inside and outside components of your heat pump, at the compressor, or from the reversing valve.
  • Grinding: If your heat pump is making a grinding noise, it’s never a good sign. Grinding often indicates a problem with the motor, the component that operates both the compressor and the blower fans. It may be that there is debris caught in the motor, or you may need to have a professional replace the motor instead.
  • Buzzing: A buzzing noise may indicate an electrical problem, a repair which is never a job for an amateur. For your safety, be sure to only trust professionals with any electrical components.
  • Banging: A banging noise may indicate an issue with the compressor, one of the most important (and costly) parts of your unit. On the other hand, it could simply indicate a bent fan blade or that debris is caught somewhere in the system.

Any of these noises may occur in either heating or cooling mode. And even though the sound may seem like a minor annoyance to you, it can indicate a problem that will grow worse over time. As one component of your heat pump struggles, the other parts are likely to suffer as well since they’ll have to work overtime to keep up with the workload and could eventually fail.

The professionals at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning specialize in repairing heat pumps in Bay Village. Count on our team of experts for your next heating service. Give us a call today!

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Safety Mechanisms on Furnaces

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Gas-powered furnaces once had a reputation as potentially dangerous installations because of the threat of carbon monoxide leaks and explosions. However, contemporary natural gas furnaces are much safer than older models, and as long as you make certain that your home’s furnace receives regular maintenance check-ups and prompt repair work, you shouldn’t expect to encounter serious dangers from it. Always leave repair work to HVAC professionals who are experienced with how the different models of furnaces operate. You can count on the NATE-certified technicians at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to help you whenever you require repairs or maintenance for your furnace in Avon, OH.

Today’s furnaces have a number of safety mechanisms, which differ from model to model. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Thermocouple: Standing pilot lights are only used now on water heaters, but if you still have an older furnace with a standing pilot, its main safety device is a component called a thermocouple. This pair of metallic strips detects the heat from the pilot light and sends a current to keep open the gas valve to the burners as long as it stays lit. Should the pilot light go out, the thermocouple closes the valve, preventing unburned combustion gas from flooding the chamber.
  • Electric flame sensor: Since standing pilot lights are now rare, electric flame sensors are used to determine if a heat source exists to burn the gas when it enters the burner. Computerized controls only ignite the gas when necessary, making newer furnaces far safer than older units.
  • Limit switch: The limit switch is located on the plenum inside the furnace and detects when the furnace’s temperature rises too high. When the temperature exceeds the limit switch’s upper level, it shuts off the gas and turns on a blower fan to reduce the temperature. When the temperature drops down to safe levels again, the limit switch permits the burner to come back on.
  • Solid state circuitry: Should the temperature in a furnace continue to rise due to constant overheating, the circuitry will shut off the entire system.

Modern furnaces have more safety controls then ever: some may have four different mechanisms. Although this makes furnaces safer, it also makes it even more important that you only allow experienced professionals to handle any repairs for the system. Technicians must be familiar with all the different controls in a furnace so they can determine why the furnace malfunctioned, and later restore the safety mechanisms to working order.

At Westland Heating and Air Conditioning, our heating repair and maintenance technicians are experienced and certified to see that you receive the best care possible for your furnace in Avon, OH. To keep your home warm and safe, rely on our services. Give us a call today.

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12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

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