Tag Archives: Furnace

5 Signs You Need Boiler Service

5 Signs You Need Boiler Service

You need boiler service when your heat isn’t working, but your boiler might be showing signs it needs repair long before that happens. For homeowners, the key is to spot the signs so you can schedule boiler service before your heater breaks down.

Below are the top five indications it’s time to call Roberts Mechanical for boiler service.

1. The Boiler Keeps Turning Off

Has your boiler been switching on when needed, but then immediately turning off? When your boiler won’t stay on, the problem could be one of several causes, from low water pressure to damaged valves. It’s best to find the source of the issue immediately.

2. Water Is Leaking Out

Water leaking from any major home system, including the boiler, is a serious issue. Whether it’s a tiny drip or a big leak, water means an internal failure. Our team can take the system apart and identify which component needs repair or replacement.

3. You Hear Strange Noises

As boilers age, it’s not uncommon to hear noises, but if the sounds get louder all of a sudden, there could be a problem. A hissing could mean the system is overheating. A loud clanging could indicate a buildup of scaling inside the tank.

Weird sounds don’t always mean repairs are needed, but they indicate it’s time for routine maintenance and a general checkup.

4. You Wait Too Long for Hot Water

When it takes what seems like forever for the water to turn hot, don’t hesitate — give us a call. This could be a sign that a boiler is aging or it could mean there is a problem with the internal heating elements. Either way, it takes a professional to diagnose the issue.

5. You Smell Something Unusual

Any time you smell strange odors near your boiler, it’s time for maintenance. A fuel leak could lead to carbon monoxide released in your home. This could be lethal, so it’s vital to get a professional to look at the system right away.

Life Expectancy

Boilers typically last about 15 years, but if you don’t get regular maintenance and service, yours could break down a lot faster.

Is it time for repair or replacement? We can help make this determination and find the most cost-effective solution.

Whenever there is a boiler problem that needs attention, trust Roberts Mechanical for first-class boiler service and repair. We work to extend the life of your home systems and ensure they’re operating at maximum efficiency. Call today to schedule your service appointment.

furnace short cycling

Furnace Short-Cycling: Do You Have This Problem?   

Furnace short-cycling is when your furnace turns on and off frequently without any apparent reason. While the sound itself might be irritating, it’s the misfiring that is the real concern. Even if the furnace is heating your house, there is clearly something wrong if it turns on and off more than eight times per hour.

If you have this problem, try some our tips below to see if you can correct it.

Check the Air Filter

One reason for furnace short-cycling is an overloaded, dirty air filter. When the air filter is clogged, it doesn’t allow the heated air to pass over the exchanger. This can lead to overheating, and the furnace likely shuts down to prevent this from happening.

Check the filter and replace it if it’s severely clogged. If it’s a washable filter, rinse it, dry it and put it back. If the problem remains, there might be another reason for the furnace short-cycling.

Check the Thermostat

Next, check your home’s thermostat. If your thermostat runs on batteries, furnace short-cycling could be a sign that the battery is running low. It could be misjudging the temperature indoors or simply telling your furnace to shut off prematurely, incorrectly. Once you replace the batteries, let the system run for another few hours and see if the problem corrects itself.

Another factor to consider is where your thermostat is located. If you have a space heater right next to the thermostat, it could be affecting its reading. Turn it off and see if the problem disappears.

Check Your Insulation

Finally, consider the insulation in your home. Are your windows letting in cold drafts? Could they benefit from re-caulking? Are any doors left open? Make sure your home is adequately trapping the hot air the furnace produces.

Serious Problems Require the Help of a Pro

If none of these quick fixes helps eliminate furnace short-cycling, there could be a more serious cause — an overheating issue, corroded flame sensors, something lodged in the system. Or the furnace might be the wrong size for your home.

You won’t know for sure until you have a professional take a look. HVAC issues shouldn’t be put off — a well-functioning furnace is vital to your comfort and your safety. Call Roberts Mechanical now for furnace short-cycling service. We offer responsive, affordable repairs when you need them.

leaking boiler

How to Respond When You Have a Leaking Boiler

A leaking boiler is bad news, and it takes a professional to fix. A heating system repair isn’t something you should take on yourself.

Leaks Lead to Inefficiency

Leaks inside and outside the boiler affect its performance. The system will use more fuel to achieve the same outcome when it’s leaking. Pressure will fluctuate dramatically, and it could overheat. You may only notice you have a leak when you see your heating bill spike.

Check the Pressure Valve

A likely cause of the leak is the internal pressure of the boiler. Typically, boilers maintain a steady water pressure, but over the years, buildup of minerals and scale inside the tank can boost internal pressure. Take a look at the pressure valve reading.

Corrosion Is a Possibility

Rust and corrosion are common causes of a leaking boiler. Sometimes the corrosion eats away at the internal seal or it affects a specific valve — maybe the pump. This may require you to replace the tank, but you won’t know until you have a certified technician check it out.

Any Other Symptoms?

One of the most obvious signs you have a boiler problem is when it stops working. If no water is leaking from the tank, the cause could be a clogged filter or a problem with the air supply. Maybe you suspect it’s on the verge of breaking down because it’s making strange noises — that’s still an indication you should call us immediately.

While leaking water is serious, leaking fuel is even worse. If you smell fuel and see fluid coming from the tank, it’s important to call us right away. This is a fire risk.

Does your boiler have a carbon monoxide alarm located nearby? Make sure you have a CO detector in the house case of a leak. If it goes off, get your family out of the house right away.

Call Our Team

At Roberts Mechanical, we put your safety first. This means making sure you’re not at risk of heat loss or fire. Whether you need annual maintenance or repair or replacement for a leaking boiler, you can count on us for dependable, fast service.

furnace blowing cold

Furnace Is Blowing Cold Air — What Should You Do?

If your furnace is blowing cold air, try a few easy fixes yourself before calling a technician. You might save some money!

Check the Thermostat

What setting is your thermostat on?

If the thermostat is set to “ON,” this means the system’s blower is going to stay on 24/7, even if the air isn’t heating. Switch the setting to “AUTO,” then make sure your thermostat is set higher than the indoor temperature. This should make your furnace kick in.

Some homes have battery-operated thermostats. Even if the thermostat hasn’t run out of power, sometimes faltering batteries can send misreads to the furnace unit. Try replacing the batteries to see if this makes a difference.

Change the Air Filters

Your furnace is blowing cold air now, but an hour ago it was blowing hot! What happened?

A common problem is an overheated furnace. If your furnace’s air filters are dirty, they could block proper airflow and the furnace will have to work overtime to heat the home.

Try changing the filters and turning the unit off and on again to see if it fixes the problem.

Check the Pilot Light

If your gas furnace is blowing cold air, your pilot light could be out. If you feel comfortable doing so, simply try to re-light it.

If the pilot won’t light, try cleaning it and ensuring that the gas is turned on. Maybe it lights, but goes out again right away. If so, that means you’ll need a new thermocouple, and that’s an issue Roberts Mechanical can fix quickly.

What Else?

If none of these troubleshooting tips helped, it’s time to call in the pros. You can’t go without heat, especially in a Utah winter!

Your On-Call HVAC Specialists

Can’t figure out why your furnace is blowing cold air? That’s what we’re here for. We help Utah homeowners solve these types of problems, and we’re prepared to take on your furnace troubleshooting challenge as well.

Give us a call, and our team will quickly determine the cause of the cold air and find a solution. Roberts Mechanical is ready to help.

Boiler

Add a Boiler to Your Wish List

After decades of furnaces being the most popular heating choice in America, boilers are making a comeback — big time.

Unlike a furnace, which blows/forces air into a room through a duct, a boiler heats water which radiates the heat via pipes. Both furnaces and boilers need electricity, so you want to get the most efficient product possible when building, remodeling or upgrading a home.

Overall, you’ll find a lot more high-efficiency furnaces than boilers. Boilers also generally cost more upfront. However, Americans today are realizing the many benefits of boilers, which were the norm several decades ago. And with more high-efficiency boilers coming on the market, it might be time for the furnace to take a back seat.

Benefits of Boilers

Radiant heat systems keep heat closer to the floor, and discourage it from escaping to the ceiling. Unlike forced air, radiant heat doesn’t blow dust and allergens around (plus, you won’t need to worry about keeping furniture or curtains clear of vents). In the long run, boilers offer a long-term return on investment versus the furnace’s instant upfront savings.

Boilers are also more environmentally friendly, creating less emissions. Choose a boiler, and you get energy that’s transferred more efficiently, which saves you money and energy, month after month.

Like any appliance with an Energy Star rating, you might also be able to get a tax credit when buying an energy-efficient boiler. Check with your CPA.

Boiling Over with Perks

You don’t need a chimney when you have a boiler, and any boiler-produced waste is disposed of via vents in your home or building. You can choose to locate these vents on the roof or side of the home.

Old-fashioned boilers had pilot lights that you’d need to re-light manually it if they went out. Such a maneuver has been fodder for plenty of horror films, but don’t fear! New, energy-efficient boilers use an electronic system that’s auto-regulated.

When new boilers aren’t being used, like in the summer months, the system turns off the ignition to save even more energy.

Today’s boilers feature the latest technology and are also smaller — many are mounted on walls. You’ll get to reclaim more basement or closet space.

Boiler sensor technology is impressive, and some boast 99 percent efficiency in third-party tests. Homeowners who plan to stay in their houses for an long time, struggle with home allergens or have simply fallen in love with radiant heat are clamoring for Santa to deliver a boiler this season. However, any time of year is a great time for this energy-efficient upgrade. Contact Roberts Mechanical for all your boiler and heating needs, from installation to maintenance.

Furnace Bill

When Furnace Bills Are Through the Roof!

The cost of buying your furnace is just part of the equation; where you live can play a huge role in how much it costs to heat your home.

Forbes recently conducted a study of major metro areas around the country and their predicted temperatures to determine expected costs of heating in these locations. Ten years’ worth of National Weather Service data was used to create a table of “heating degree days” when furnaces or boilers were likely to be used.

It’s more expensive to heat a home to a comfortable 65 degrees when it’s 10 degrees outside compared to 50 whether you use a furnace or a boiler. Every degree you need to add requires more BTUs — an integral part of the equation. Your home’s efficiency also dictates quite a bit.

Warning: Furnace Bill Shock Ahead

By far, the most expensive U.S. city in which to heat a home is Boston. The average cost is $1,635 per year, and just over 47 percent of residents use gas fuel. However, a lot of homes use oil (35.6 percent), which is the most expensive fuel in the U.S. The long, chilly winters, high oil usage, and historical homes that traditionally don’t have great insulation make Beantown the most expensive city in which to have a furnace.

At No. 2 is Buffalo, New York, where the average heating bill is $1,618 per year. You may be surprised to find out that fewer than 3 percent of homes use oil; a whopping 88 percent use natural gas!

However, even though gas is a more efficient fuel, it’s no match for the blustery New York winters. Still, the price of local natural gas around New York state is higher than the U.S. average, so this also contributes to the cost.

Save More & Stay Warm

Minneapolis takes the bronze, with average heating bills hovering at $1,475 per year. Just 1.2 percent of homes use oil, while 82.8 percent use natural gas. In an interesting twist, technically Minneapolis uses more fuel to heat homes than any other city in the country. However, with local natural gas being more affordable, homeowners save enough for the city to rank third.

Fourth place goes to Washington, D.C., where the average bill is $1,461 per year. Nearly 6 percent of homes depend on oil here, and 54.2 percent use natural gas. But D.C. is another historic city where the insulation might not be that impressive. D.C. has heating degree days half as often as Minneapolis, but with a shocking 36.3 percent of residents using electricity to heat their homes (expensive!), that makes the two cities almost even.

Fortunately, there are many ways to save. Improve your insulation, bundle up in the winter, close off doors to rooms that aren’t being used, and make sure your heating source is maintained, be it boiler or furnace. In Utah (which doesn’t make the list!), depend on Roberts Mechanical to keep you warm and flush with green during the winter.

Boiler Settings

Ideal Boiler Settings

Finding the ideal boiler settings for your heating system can keep you comfortable without breaking the bank.

A lot of homeowners aren’t just worried about their electricity bills, but about their carbon footprints as well. Adjusting your thermostat settings is one of the best ways you can minimize bills and energy consumption.

In the summer, set your central air conditioner to 78 degrees when at home. If you’re out of the house, raise it to 85 degrees. According to Consumer Reports (2016), for the majority of people, 78 degrees is cool enough to keep from being uncomfortable. Experts say that for every degree below 78 in the summer, you’re raising your bill by 7 percent.

Boiler Settings and Winter Weather

According to Energy.gov, the ideal thermostat setting in the winter is 68 degrees in the daytime if you’re home. If you can, lower that by 7 to 10 degrees at least eight hours per day (i.e. when you’re at work). Doing this can lower your bill by up to 10% for the entire year.

Some families lower their boiler settings during the winter while they sleep, too. It’s more comfortable sleeping in a cooler climate, and it’s the perfect excuse to pull out those winter blankets.

However, a cooler sleeping temperature can make it uncomfortable in the morning. Nobody wants to slip out from under those toasty blankets into a freezing bathroom. The best solution is a programmable thermostat that starts heating up your home 30 minutes before your alarm goes off.

You won’t have to remember to manually change the temperature throughout the day, and you can program state-of-the-art thermostats for each day of the week.

Think about your daily schedule when programming your boiler settings. Do you like to “sleep cool” in the winter? What hours is the house empty? In other words, when can your boiler catch a break in the winter? Do you want your home particularly toasty in the first hour after waking up?

Get Good Advice

Keep the thermostat away from heating/cooling registers, set a hold button for vacations and keep energy saving a priority. If you need help or recommendations, talk to the pros.

Contact Roberts Mechanical today for help with boiler settings, and to get on the fast track to lowering your energy bills.

Startling Boiler & Furnace Facts

Startling Boiler & Furnace Facts from the NFPA

Is your boiler or furnace safe?

That’s what the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) wants every American homeowner to know before it’s too late. A well-maintained furnace or boiler has slim to no odds of causing a heartbreaking home fire, but the key word here is well-maintained.

If you can’t remember the last time your boiler or furnace was serviced, if it’s old or if you’ve noticed anything unusual about it, you’re at a higher risk of a furnace-caused home fire.

According to the NFPA, heating equipment — including boilers and furnaces — causes over 53,000 home fires per year, 400 civilian deaths, over 1,500 injuries and almost $900 million in property damages.

The good news is that, overall, fires and deaths are on the decline, although injuries remain the same. This is largely due to more consumer education and better practices when using heating systems. Plus, more Americans are enjoying central heat rather than relying on stand-alone heating sources (like portable heaters), which is a much safer strategy.

Boiler and Furnace Home Safety

Home fires peak in the dead of winter and in summer. As we move into cooler weather, such dangers are largely due to heaters, overworked HVAC systems, candles and holiday lights. The majority of heating source fires are caused by space heaters, which result in 70 percent of injuries and 80 percent of deaths. Still, that leaves a wide margin for ill-functioning furnaces and boilers to cause a tragedy.

Each year, over 7,000 home fires are caused by furnaces. These systems cause 30 civilian deaths, 50 injuries, and almost $90 million in damages. Central heating is involved in 14 percent of these disasters.

The breakdown by fuel type shows some uniformity, with 38 percent electric, 31 percent gas fueled, and 30 percent liquid fueled (the remaining 2 percent are solid-fueled, which is a rare fuel source in the United States).

Taking Precautions

Unclassified mechanical error is the most common cause of central heating fires. However, automatic control failure, failure to clean and “heat source too close to combustibles” also top the list.

As you can see, oftentimes these fires are preventable. Having your furnace or boiler serviced at least once per year, ideally before you begin using it heavily again (right now is prime time!), is the No. 1 way to make sure your HVAC system is working well.

Some signs only an HVAC technician will notice, so it’s best to have a pro in your corner. Plus, these service calls can extend the life of your furnace.

Other causes of a fire, including failure to clean your heat source or keeping it too close to dangerous items, are largely within the homeowner’s control. Covering vents with rugs, furniture or curtains is common, but not a good idea. Furnace filters should be swapped out regularly, as often as once per month in the winter.

To keep safe and warm this autumn, call Roberts Mechanical today for a service and inspection for your furnace or boiler.

Furnace Bill Assistance

Get Furnace Bill Assistance in Utah

Do you dread your next furnace or boiler utility bill because you’re having trouble making the payments?

The coldest weeks are (hopefully) behind us, but that’s of little comfort to the thousands of Utahns who have to decide between eating and paying their utility bill. Fortunately, help is available.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services offers the Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) program year-round for low-income households.

In order to qualify, you have to be at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. You must also be the person in charge of paying the utility costs (to safeguard against those who qualify from getting assistance to households that aren’t their own).

Finally, the household must include at least one person who’s a U.S. citizen, although he or she need not necessarily be the homeowner/head of household. Also consider the Home Electric Lifeline Program (HELP), which offers assistance with electricity bills with similar guidelines.

Too Close for Comfort?

If you’re about to get your heat shut off, don’t panic. The Moratorium program can help while you apply for the HEAT program or seek other assistance. It’s available every year from Nov. 15 through March 15. You must agree to a payment plan, and this program is offered via utility companies that are governed by the Public Service Commission (most companies in Utah fall into this category).

In order to qualify, you must apply to HEAT, be living at the address and make a good-faith effort to pay during the moratorium period. The applicant also must be the account holder or spouse.

If you’re disabled, over 60, or have a disabled child at home, you’re also required to apply for help from the American Red Cross. For households with Questar Gas, there’s a separate Energy Assistance Fund (EAF) that provides a one-time credit of $61.50 if you’re approved for HEAT assistance.

Your Furnace Keeps You Warm and Safe

Your furnace or boiler is more than a comfort, and it’s certainly not a luxury in chilly Utah winters—it’s a necessity and a real lifesaver. Research additional resources, such as Catholic Community Services, which offers crisis funds around the Salt Lake City metro area. You must be HEAT approved first, and can qualify once per year.

Provo City Power also has a HELP program for customers, with special assistance for military families as well. Military households may qualify for a 50 percent reduction in utility bills for up to six months. For customers of Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp, funding via Lend a Hand is available in limited quantities with a preference for seniors, disabled customers, and those in very low income brackets.

Help is available, although it might take some digging and research. To keep warm and cozy this winter, also know that Roberts Mechanical is in your corner for inspection, maintenance and repairs of furnaces.

History of Boilers

The History of Boilers

Boilers, in some form, have been around for 150-plus years.

Today’s fire-tube boiler is pretty similar to the original designs used in ships and trains. The simple round steel shells set horizontally with tube sheets welded at either end remains one of the best ways to provide heat.

Fire-tube boilers, the most common, feature doors so you can see (and repair) the inside of the system. This was especially important when you had to feed them with wood or coal, then “punch” out the soot regularly.

There are still manholes and hand-holes for inspections and scrubbings with today’s boilers. However, today a water hose is usually slipped through the openings to clean out the buildup. During the Industrial Revolution, fire-tube boilers were the only power sources providing steam to factories.

Safety Minded

Around 1900, “safety first” became the boiler motto as engineers hustled to make these systems as safe and secure as possible. Organizations were formed to offer safety standards and code regulations, many of which are in effect today. Old-school boilers were expensive and gobbled up fuel, which made them an investment worth protecting.

Over the years, boilers were improved and the cast iron variety was introduced.

These devices became really popular in the northeastern part of the country, where the majority of manufacturers set up shop. For the first time, boilers could be carried down to basements one piece at a time, which wasn’t feasible with fire-tube boilers. If sections broke, they could be replaced, and cast iron boilers were much more affordable than their predecessors.

Boiling Over for Warmth

After WWII, boilers became in high demand, particularly water heating boilers. A hydronic heating boiler was created, which was a lot simpler than previous models. In fact, they were so easy that some early adopters were wary! They were smaller, had easy-to-remove tubes and head plates, and offered easy access for cleaning. Thanks to their new and improved design, they also could generate steam at a faster rate than any other boiler.

Today, one of the biggest trends is “condensing boilers,” which have caught on in the past 15 years. They offer hydronic/domestic water heating, which means no steam, and depend on natural gas or propane for fuel.

Prior to these modern boilers, condensing boilers were considered a big faux pas. Condensing (“rain inside the boiler”) spelled trouble for older boilers because the acidic condensation could ruin metals, was bad for combustion and could actually destroy the entire boiler.

As boilers continue to improve, and our knowledge of optimizing them continues to grow, it’s likely that this classic heating source will keep surging in popularity. Compared to furnaces, boilers offer a more natural, moist heat — something many homeowners want.

Find out more about boilers and other heating sources by contacting Roberts Mechanical today.