Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Furnace Repair’

A Vital Reason for a Pre-Season Gas Furnace Inspection

Monday, October 7th, 2019

In our previous post, we talked about our Ultimate Savings Agreement and how it sets up your home for the best possible winter. Or at least the warmest possible winter with the fewest problems and lowest heating costs. Almost every HVAC contractor offers some type of maintenance program, since it’s the best way to ensure a long and effective service life from a heating system.

In this post, we’re addressing a specific maintenance function for a specific kind of heater. It isn’t a rare type of heating system, but the most common found in homes—the natural gas furnace. If you have a gas furnace in Carlisle, MA to warm your home, a maintenance inspection is vital for safety. Even if there were no other benefits to pre-season maintenance (and there are plenty), it would be worth it alone for how it protects your family.

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Signs That Your Furnace Needs Repair

Monday, September 15th, 2014

With the colder months coming up soon, it is time to make certain the furnace that keeps your home warm all the way to spring is up to the task. You do not want the first chilly day of the season to arrive only to discover that your heater cannot do its job properly—or worse, will cannot do its job at all. Take the opportunity during the waning warm days to turn on your furnace for a test run to see if there are issues that require repair attention. Below are some warning signs to look for that you should call for professionals to repair the furnace.

For fast and reliable furnace repair in Tewksbury, MA and throughout the Metrowest Area, contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating today. We have the skill to diagnose and fix whatever ails your furnace.

Common warning signs of furnace repair needs

  • Odd noises: One of the most common indications that a furnace is having problems is strange sounds from the cabinet. When you first turn on the furnace for the season, you may hear some clicking noises, as well as rumbling in the ductwork, but this is normal. However, if these sounds persist, they can indicate serious trouble. Pay special attention to booming sounds, loud clicking, hissing, and mechanical grinding.
  • Strange smells from the vents: When you check on the airflow coming from the vents connected to the furnace, check if there are acrid or burning odors coming out as well. This can indicate dirt on the motors, or a motor that is burning out.
  • Cold spots in the house: If a furnace starts to lose its heating power, it will result in heat not evenly spreading through a home. If rooms (usually ones farthest from the center of the house) feel cold, first check that the vents are open and no furniture is blocking them. If the cold spots persist, call for repairs: many different malfunctions could account for a loss of heating.
  • The furnace trips circuit breakers: If the furnace causes a circuit breaker to trip, there may be an electrical fault. Remember, even gas furnaces today require electrical power to start up (they use electronic igniters) and can cause trouble for a home’s electrical system if they malfunction.

Schedule pre-season maintenance

If you run your furnace test and do not notice anything unusual, you still need to schedule a regular maintenance session from a professional. Many repair problems in a furnace start small and are difficult to notice unless you are a trained HVAC repair technician. Part of pre-season maintenance is to identify these tricky small malfunctions and have them repaired before the cold weather arrives.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating offers different service agreements to help you maintain your furnace and avoid unnecessary furnace repair in Tewksbury, MA. Call us today for more details.

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Can a Furnace Rust?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Rust is a major threat to homes, and has been since humans first started using iron. The effect of rust on metal is a reduction in strength that eventually leads to metal flaking away to nothing. If you notice rust on major appliances, it usually means you need to call for repairs… and you may need to replace the appliance entirely.

How does this apply to a furnace? Furnaces, whether gas or electric, do not use water and shouldn’t come in contact with it—unless through flooding—so it seems logical that rust would rarely threaten them. However, furnaces can rust… and often do. When this happens, you need to call for furnace repair from Littleton, MA professionals. Basnett Plumbing & Heating does extensive work with all types of furnaces, and we can help you when corrosion strikes your furnace.

How Rust can Affect a Gas Furnace

Many homeowners are unaware of this, but moisture actually is part of a gas furnace’s heating cycle. When the combustion gas from the burner gathers inside the heat exchanger, it changes into a liquid vapor as it cools down. The vapor then vents out the exhaust flue. However, prolonged exposure between combustion vapor and the metal of the exchangers will lead to corrosion—especially if the furnace isn’t venting correctly.

Corrosion on a heat exchanger is a potentially dangerous situation, since it can lead to carbon monoxide leaks. This is the main reason rust on a furnace must be remedied as soon as possible. Annual maintenance will check to see if rust is developing along the exchanger, and replace the exchanger when necessary and look for the problem with venting.

Rust will often start to occur on a very old gas furnace simply because of the long years of reaction between the combustion gas and the metal. Usually, this is a sign that the old furnace needs replacement.

What about Electric Furnaces?

Rust can also affect an electric furnace. Moisture from humidity often enters the ventilation system attached to the furnace, coming through the intakes and into the cabinet. There is also the potential problem from a malfunctioning air conditioner evaporator coil, which is usually fixed above the furnace. If the AC develops an overflow in its condensate pan, water will drip down onto the furnace and cause it to rust. If you see moisture dripping from your furnace, call for repairs. (Both of these issues can affect gas furnaces as well, by the way.)

Repair—and Prevent—Furnace Rust

You may need to replace a heavily rusted older furnace. But if you catch the rusting soon enough on a younger furnace, professional repairs should be able to fix it. The best way to catch the trouble before it turns into a replacement is to schedule regular maintenance. Contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating to sign up for our Ultimate Maintenance Agreement and help avoid future repair in Littleton, MA for a rusty furnace.

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Groton, MA Furnace Repair FAQ: My Furnace Trips My Breakers

Monday, November 4th, 2013

When it comes to furnace repair, Groton, MA residents learn to play it safe. New England winters are as harsh as they come, and a reliable furnace can be worth its weight in gold when the snows start to fall. Spotting early signs of trouble can be key to averting a serious problem before it gets out of hand. For instance, your furnace may be tripping your circuit breakers. Clearly, there’s a problem in need of professional aid to alleviate. But why does your furnace keep tripping the breakers like that?

A tripped circuit breaker means an overloaded circuit breaker, which means that you heater is using more power than the circuit itself can handle. That typically means a malfunctioning component working harder than it should. A bad fan motor, worn out circuit or clogged air filter can all contribute to an increase in the load, which will trigger the breaker if it gets too high. In some cases, the breaker can trip because it’s worn out, not because of anything the furnace is doing. A trained technician can ascertain if that is in fact the problem, and recommend a course of action that works.

In any case, if your furnace is repeatedly tripping the breakers, you need to turn it off and call in a technician. The breaker is tripping as a way of protecting your home and electrical system from further damage and you need to get the problem addressed. A professional can pinpoint the source of the problem and either replace the faulty component or make recommendations on replacing the heater itself.

In those cases, it pays to have someone you can rely on on your side. In matters of furnace repair, Groton MA homeowners can’t afford delay, especially with winter coming.  The experts at Basnett Plumbing & Heating can help when your furnace is tripping your circuit breaker; hunting down the source of the problem and setting a plan to correct it with professionalism and care.

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Littleton, MA Furnace Repair: Problems with Your Heat Exchanger

Monday, October 21st, 2013

A furnace uses heated air sent through ductwork to give you the warmth you expect in your home during a Massachusetts winter. The way a gas furnace transfers heat from its gas jets to the air is through the heat exchanger. This chamber is heated from the inside, and the furnace blower moves air across and through it to transfer the heat. Problems in the heat exchanger will seriously impair your furnace’s ability, and could lead to other trouble.

Before proceeding, you need to know this about heat exchanger issues: heat exchanger damage can lead to carbon monoxide leaks. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cautions that exposure to carbon monoxide causes flu-type illnesses, including dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irregular breathing, and nausea. Carbon monoxide also poses a serious risk of explosion. Under no circumstances should you attempt to make repairs yourself because of these hazards. If you suspect a damaged heat exchanger in your gas furnace, shut off the gas and call a professional immediately.

You’ll be in sure and safe hands for heat exchanger repairs with the Littleton, MA furnace repair specialists at Basnett Plumbing & Heating.

Problems you may encounter that will cause heat exchanger leaks:

  • Cracks: Heat stress can cause cracks in the exchanger because it expands and contracts during the heating cycle. Cracks may also occur because of faulty manufacturing
  • Mechanical holes: If screws in the heat exchanger come out, or were forgotten during cleaning, it can cause leaking.
  • Rust: An improperly maintained furnace can develop corrosion problems. Rust will weaken the metal, and lead to breaks. Rust is a concern in a damp environment. Watch out for water leaks from humidifiers or air conditioners if they are located in the same area as the furnace.

Leaks in the heat exchanger are one of the most serious problems that can develop in a furnace, and if you suspect this has happened, shut off the gas and contact professionals immediately. Pay attention to clicking sounds within the cabinet, as this is often a warning of cracks along the exchanger. When in doubt, get in a trained technician to see what the problem is.

Basnett Plumbing & Heating has served Littleton, MA with furnace repair since 1987: you can trust us to safely handle the work when you think you may have trouble with your gas furnace.

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Littleton Furnace Repair Question: What Causes Cracks in a Heat Exchanger?

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Furnaces are designed so that the heat – and the combustion byproduct produced inside – doesn’t interact directly with the outside air. This design is to ensure you have a safer furnace in your Littleton home that won’t inadvertently affect your family’s health.

The metal piece that separates the furnace heat from the outside air stream is called the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger performs a very important function, and if it is broken or cracked, it can’t work properly.

A cracked heat exchanger is very common problem with heating systems, as well as one that should be repaired as soon as possible. But what causes a heat exchanger to crack? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • A long period of normal use. A furnace heat exchanger naturally expands and contracts with the heat of the furnace, over and over again as the furnace is turned off and on to heat the home. Over several years, this stress can crack the metal.
  • Poor air flow, often caused by dirty or obstructed vents, can result in poor air flow through the furnace. This overworks the furnace, which can crack the heat exchanger prematurely.
  • Poor, incomplete or improper combustion can also cause a heat exchanger to crack. When the combustion process is less efficient – which can also be a result of poor air flow — your furnace’s burners have to run hotter and longer to heat your home, which means extra stress on the heat exchanger.

Essentially, if a furnace is running at less than optimal efficiency for an extended period of time, the heat exchanger is put under additional stress beyond the usual and can crack prematurely. Therefore, the best way to prevent a cracked heat exchanger is proper maintenance, particularly keeping all vents clean and unobstructed and getting an annual maintenance inspection.

If your heat exchanger does crack, do not hesitate to call a Littleton furnace repair professional like Basnett Plumbing & Heating and get it repaired. The crack can allow potentially dangerous combustion gases to seep into your home, which can have a negative impact on your family’s health.

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Boxborough Heating Guide: Furnace Control Boards

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

One way to be a truly responsible homeowner is to familiarize yourself with the major systems and appliances in your home. By having at least some understanding of how, say, your refrigerator or toilet work, you gain understanding of how to use them efficiently and detect when something goes wrong.

The same is true of your Boxborough home’s furnace, which can appear to be a complicated piece of machinery. In order to help you get acquainted with your furnace, we will discuss one of its main control components, the furnace control board.

As the name suggests, furnace control boards are responsible for governing the operation of the furnace. At a minimum, a simple furnace control will control the furnace ignitor (e.g., a spark generator or glow coil), the gas valve and the furnace thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

More complex furnace control boards will also have control over the blowers and/or the built-in diagnostic system.

To simplify things, you can think of the furnace control board as being a driver and the furnace as its car. Just as the driver oversees all the functions and operation of the car from ignition to shutting off the engine, likewise does the control board for the furnace.

A typical operation sequence for a furnace control board goes something like this:

  1. The control board receives a signal from the thermostat that the temperature is too low.
  2. It starts the ignition system, whether that be a spark generator, glow coil or pilot light.
  3. Once the ignitor is hot, the furnace control board initiates the flow of gas through the burners, where it is ignited.
  4. The control board keeps the furnace running until it is signaled by the thermostat that the temperature is now high enough, or until it detects something is wrong.

(An example of a malfunction where the control board would get involved is a thermocouple that is not detecting enough heat. In this case, the control board would shut off the gas flow to prevent a leak into the home.)

Furnace control boards are an essential part of your home’s HVAC system. And now, as a responsible homeowner, you know just how important.

If you need furnace service in Boxborough MA or the surrounding area, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Concord Heating Tip: What to do if Your Heating System Breaks

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

What if the heart of your Concord heating system – the furnace – stops working? The warm air that used to flow from your vents has been replaced by a chilly draft. It isn’t time to panic, but it is time to take action. Before you do anything, determine why the furnace stopped working. It may be something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Check the circuit breakers first.

The pilot light in your furnace may have blown out. It can be re-lit if you follow the directions in your furnace owner’s manual. You can find answers on how to re-light a pilot light on the Internet, too.

If the shutdown has not been caused by an electrical or pilot light failure, there is still no need to panic. But another obvious question is: did you pay your last gas bill? Maybe you had a shutoff notice and either ignored it or forgot about it.

Now that you are convinced that the furnace has failed, here are some things you should do. First, find the name of a qualified Concord heating and cooling professional. If you already use a heating contractor, contact them and schedule a service call.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for. Make sure pets are nearby and protected from the cold, too. What you don’t want to do is use any appliance to keep you warm that is not designed to keep you warm, like a stove. If you have electric space heaters or propane heaters, carefully locate them in a well vented room (windows open a bit or portable fans circulating air). You don’t want any build-up of gases from fossil burning appliances, gases which could contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Huddle up everyone into a room and break out lots of blankets. You may even want to make an “adventure” of this – find a movie to watch and pop up a bunch of popcorn.  If your waiting time is more than 24 hours, you might want to call up a friend or relative and make arrangements to spend the night with them.

The main thing to remember is not to panic. Most qualified Concord heating contractors, knowing the circumstances, will send out a repair person in a matter of minutes or within one or two hours. Just remember to avoid keeping warm by using unvented heating devices.

Call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today if you suspect a problem with your heating system!

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Concord Heating Repair Tip: Things to Try Before Calling a Professional

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Your Concord home’s HVAC system can seem like very daunting and complex equipment, so you might not want to work on by yourself. While it’s true that HVAC equipment can be complicated and needs the attention of a skilled professional more often than most homeowners would like, there are still ways for the DIY-ers out there to work on their HVAC systems before resorting to calling in the pros.

There are some common culprits when it comes to most HVAC problems and malfunctions, so if something goes awry in the operation of your equipment, there are some basic measures you can try to get things back on track.

If any of these work, you have saved the cost of the repair and get the satisfaction of a job well done:

  • Turn all switches – indoors and outdoors – off, then back on again. Do the same thing with the pertinent circuit breakers. Sometimes the system just needs a hard reset to jolt it back to life.
  • Check your thermostat. Is the temperature set where it is supposed to be? If it is too high or too low, the HVAC system will stay on too long or shut itself off too quickly.
  • Make sure your system is in the right mode for the season. It may sound obvious, but for whatever reason, sometimes things wind up in heating mode during cooling season.
  • Check your filters. Clean and/or replace them as necessary. (You do this once a month anyway, right?)
  • Inspect the vents around your home to see if any are blocked, clogged or excessively dirty. Vents that don’t properly circulate the air can cause all kinds of problems within an HVAC system.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things that can go wrong with an HVAC system, but it is at least the usual suspects for the most simple and common problems that many Concord homeowners encounter. After trying these out, if you are still experiencing difficulties, call Basnett Plumbing & Heating today to have one of our expert technicians diagnosis the problem.

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Still River Heating Guide: Inspecting Your Furnace Heat Exchanger for Leaks

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Like all the heating and cooling components in your Still River home, your furnace needs regular maintenance and annual checkups performed by certified HVAC technicians. Here are some things that a professional heating maintenance technician can do to make sure your furnace is functioning safely.

One of the main concerns with any type of furnace is the potential for carbon monoxide gas leaks, which can be fatal if not detected. The heat exchanger is designed to prevent dangerous flue products from leaking into the home; therefore, it is important to inspect the heat exchanger for any cracks or excessive corrosion.

There are a few methods for introspecting a furnace heat exchanger for leaks and potential repairs (again, best performed by a professional HVAC technician):

  • Visual Inspection of the Furnace Heat Exchanger. Use a strong flashlight to visually check the heat exchanger thoroughly for cracks or open seams, particularly in areas that are susceptible heat or mechanical stress. Some seams may have been joined improperly during manufacturing, so be sure to check all joints. Also check for rust or corrosion in areas exposed to any type of moisture. Make sure you can gain access to all the parts of the heat exchanger. If you see any cracks, holes, or severe deterioration, your heat exchanger needs a professional repair. Ultimately, you may not be able to see all the parts of your heat exchanger, so further testing is recommended in addition to a visual inspection.
  • Flame Test. You can also observe the flame after the furnace is first turned on to detect potential damage to the heat exchanger. Turn off the furnace for at least five minutes, and sit close enough to the furnace to observe the burner flame. Have someone turn up the thermostat, and watch the flame for any changes in color or irregular patterns in the flame. If the flame makes any sudden changes, this could mean that the heat exchanger is damaged. Keep in mind that like the visual test, the flame test cannot determine damage to your heat exchanger alone.

In addition to increasing efficiency and lowering your heating bills, inspecting your furnace will ensure that your heating system operates safely throughout the winter. Along with having your heat exchanger inspected, we recommend that you test all the carbon monoxide detectors in your home on a regular basis, as well as changing the filter every month and cleaning out the ventilation system.

If you need further assistance, or suspect any leaks in your furnace, you will need to schedule an appointment with a Still River HVAC technician. Keep your home warm and safe this winter.

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