Professional Heating & Air Blog : Archive for January, 2015

What Is a Thermocouple?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Every combustion heating system needs a number of safety mechanisms to ensure that the unit runs safely. One area that has to be highly monitored with both furnaces and boilers is the pilot light. In a furnace that has a standing pilot light, the component responsible for monitoring the pilot is known as a thermocouple.

What It Is

A thermocouple is an instrument made from two differing metals; these metals are soldered together at a single point for the purpose of monitoring temperature. When the metals are heated at the point of contact, a voltage is generated; this is known as the Seebeck effect. As the heat on the metals increases, the voltage also increases; the voltage coming from the thermocouple is what indicates to your furnace that there is a pilot and that it is viable and good for lighting your furnace. The thermocouple is placed so that the point of contact, which is encased in a stainless steel encasement, is right in the flame; this is so the thermocouple can accurately measure the pilot.

How It Works

The thermocouple not only measures the standing pilot flame, it also acts as a gatekeeper to the gas line valve. When your thermostat calls for heat, the thermocouple checks the pilot light; if there isn’t a pilot light, or the flame isn’t strong enough, the thermocouple won’t allow the main gas valve to open. This helps ensure that gas won’t flow unless it can be lit. If the standing pilot is viable, the thermocouple allows the main gas valve to open and your furnace’s burner is successfully lit.

Common Problems

Thermocouples are exposed to very high temperatures, and then cool off; this kind of prolonged wear and tear can cause the thermocouple to crack. Additionally, the metal strips can corrode, which also cause operational issues. A dirty thermocouple may not be able to accurately read the flame, and a thermocouple that shifts position or is positioned incorrectly will be too far away to correctly read the flame. Any of these problems can result in ignition problems with your furnace.

The safety mechanisms on your furnace are critical; as such, they should only be repaired by professionals. Having problems with your furnace? Call A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment with us! We offer quality furnace repair services in the Hammond area.

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We’re Moving!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

We’re happy to announce that we’ll be moving to a new location in Hammond next month! Though it may not look like much now, we’ll have a brand new facility in a matter of weeks. Our new space will be built from the ground up and all of our staff will be hands on helping to get A Professional’s new home up and running.

We will be scheduling service calls and installations as usual during construction, so our expert technicians are available for any of your heating and cooling needs. Call us today to make an appointment or schedule service online. And stay tuned for more pictures as we begin breaking ground on the new home for A Professional Heating and Air!

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Signs Your Fireplace Needs Repair

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Fireplaces can add extra supplemental heat to your home and make the atmosphere warm and inviting. However, fireplaces require upkeep and maintenance, and may even need repair at some point in order to stay in good working order. It can sometimes be difficult to know when your fireplace in Hammond needs repair, so to help you, our A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning experts have assembled a list to determine some of the signs:

Rust

Metal is a key element in fireboxes and dampers. Metal rusts only when moisture is present, and moisture shouldn’t be present anywhere in your firebox or chimney. Excessive rust and corrosion can compromise the safety of your firebox, so if you are seeing any kind of rust, call for help as the source of the moisture needs to be located and repaired as soon as possible.

White Staining

We’ve all seen bricks with a powdery white substance and may have thought it looked pretty; unfortunately what it really means is that moisture is inside the brick or masonry and is pushing out the salt that helps maintain the viability of that particular piece of masonry. If you are seeing a lot of efflorescence – white staining – on your masonry, it’s time to call for a professional.

Crumbling Mortar

Mortar holds together the masonry of your fireplace. If you are seeing that the mortar, usually the white, cement-looking material, is crumbling, or you can pick it off with your fingers, there is a moisture problem. Crumbling mortar can cause entire pieces of masonry to come loose, so it’s important to have it checked by a professional.

Visible Chimney Crown Damage

If you can see damage to the crown (top) of your chimney from your yard, there is likely even more damage to contend with. Chimney crown damage means the top of the chimney is weakened, which can be a potentially dangerous situation. It is not advisable that you get on your roof to inspect it yourself; allow an expert to do that.

A great deal of combustion goes on in your fireplace, so don’t let it become a hazard by ignoring needed fireplace repair. The experts at A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning can handle any kind of fireplace repair in the Hammond area, so call us today to schedule a service appointment with us.

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Reasons to Consider an Electric Furnace

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Fossil fuels are so prevalent that it seems like everyone has easy access to them, but this isn’t true. Many rural areas do not have natural gas lines, and some people simply prefer not to use fossil fuels. Not too long ago these things would have prevented the installation of a furnace, but today’s electric furnaces offer homeowners another choice when it comes to furnace installation.

How Does an Electric Furnace Work?

Electric furnaces use a component called a heating element to generate heat. Heating elements have a number of tightly-wound metal coils that, when electrified, become red-hot and generate heat. When the air around the heating elements reaches the right temperature, the furnace’s blower turns on and pushes the warm air into the ductwork for dispersal into your home’s living spaces.

Why Consider an Electric Furnace?

As mentioned above, not everyone has access to a natural gas line – but one thing just about everyone has access to is electricity. If you have ductwork in your home, but do not have natural gas, you have the option of installing an electric furnace. Electric furnaces have come a long way over the years, especially in terms of energy efficiency. In fact, because electric furnaces do not lose any fuel to combustion byproducts, there are many electric furnaces that have an AFUE rating of 100%. Another reason to consider the installation of an electric furnace is lifespan. The average lifespan of an electric furnace is 20-30 years; comparatively, the lifespan of a combustion furnace is 15-20 years. Lastly, electric furnaces are very clean because they do not consume fossil fuels; this means you don’t have to worry about soot and ash around your unit.

Have Questions? Work with an Expert

If you are in need of a new heater and are considering a furnace installation in Hammond, take the guesswork out of the process by working with a trained expert from start to finish. The specialists at A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning can assist you with all of your heating needs, so call us today!

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What to Do When Your Heat Pump Won’t Start Up

Monday, January 5th, 2015

A heat pump is an efficient system for both heating and cooling, and many homeowners take pride in their money-saving investment. That’s why it can be so frustrating when a reliable heating system won’t seem to work. With regular maintenance, heat pumps should run into few problems over time, but unfortunately repair needs are always a possibility. So what can you do when your heat pump system fails?

If your heat pump runs into trouble, count on the trained experts at A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning for professional heating service in Covington.

Steps to Take during a Heat Pump Failure

If your heat pump won’t turn on, the very first thing you should always check is the thermostat. The thermostat communicates with the heat pump that it is time to turn on or shut off as needed. Check to make sure the settings you’ve programmed indicate that your heat pump is meant to switch on at that time. Most importantly, check to make sure it is in the proper mode: heating or cooling. Heat pumps have a reversing valve that allow them to easily change over from heating to cooling mode, and this valve must be activated for the  cycle to kick in. If one setting works but not the other, it could be a reversing valve that needs replacement.

Unfortunately, if this doesn’t solve the problem, there’s little you can do on your own. Any major repair is best left to a professional in the heating and cooling industry. Trained technicians can assess the trouble and recommend any number of solutions, from adding refrigerant to replacing the compressor.

How to Prevent Repairs in the Future

One of the best steps you can take in keeping this problem from occurring in the future is preventive maintenance. Most technicians recommend that you schedule maintenance once or twice a year so that technicians can clean coils, adjust settings and refrigerant levels, tighten electrical connections, and let you know of any minor repair needs ahead of time.

A–Professional Heating and Air Conditioning offers a money-saving maintenance program for twice yearly tune ups and discounts on service fees. Call us today if you’re in need of maintenance or heating service in Covington.

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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 A Professional Heating and Air  would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

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