Space Heaters; Safe for the home?

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Are space heaters safe?

40 percent of home heating fires were caused by space heaters. Sadly 84 percent of residential heating fire deaths were also caused by space heaters as well. These statistics alone are enough to make you question the safety of space heaters.

Yes, space heaters, in themselves are safe to use,  and but they must meet certain consumer safety standards. Issues of safety will arise when space heaters are not used properly or in a safe manner. The top causes of space heater fires are:

  1. Operating a space heater too close to flammable items
  2. Running space heaters unattended
  3. Operating a fuel-burning space heater with a dirty chimney

There are two main types of space heaters: electric space heaters and fuel-burning space heaters. To operate your electric space heater safely and reduce your risk of danger, always follow the usage instructions below:

  • Keep the area surrounding your space heater clear at all times. The 3-foot radius around your space heater should be free of flammable items, such as curtains, blankets, papers, toys, and other materials.
  • Keep children away from space heaters. To avoid accidental burns or tipping the space heater over, keep children away from the space heater at all times. Create a child-free zone in the 3-foot area surrounding your space heater.
  • Never operate a space heater unattended. If a space heater is in operation, a responsible adult should always be present. Never leave a space heater running when the house is empty, or while you’re sleeping.
  • Use the space heater on a flat surface. Sitting a space heater on an uneven surface may cause it to tip over, and ignite nearby items.
  • Always plug your space heater into the wall socket. Do not operate a space heater with an extension cord. Extension cords are not meant to be permanent power solutions. They may overheat, or cause someone to trip, knocking over your space heater.
  • Purchase an electric space heater with added safety features. Models are available with automatic shutoff systems which will turn the unit off if tipped over.

The tips above for electric space heater use are great practices for fuel-burning space heaters, too. When using a fuel-burning space heater, you need to take added precautions due to heating fuel use:

  • Only use appropriate fuels. Fill the heater only with the type and/or grade of fuel recommended by the space heater manufacturer.
  • Use with adequate ventilation. Vent your fuel-burning space heater for your safety, as the combustion process can produce carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful byproducts. Use the space heater with an open window, and only refuel it outdoors.
  • Don’t use the space heater if you smell gas. If you smell gas, do not light your space heater. Open the windows and doors to vent the home or building. Do not use until it is inspected and repaired by a professional.
  • Take precautions when lighting the pilot. If your space heater’s pilot light extinguishes, do not attempt to relight it for a minimum of five minutes. This time will allow gas to dissipate. When reigniting the space heater, light the match prior to turning on the gas.
  • Purchase fuel-burning space heaters with enhanced safety features. Look for models with shutoff mechanisms which detect low ambient oxygen. If you’re using an older model without such features, replace it for your safety.

Are space heaters more energy efficient?

When it comes to indoor heating options, many wonder are space heaters more energy efficient than central and other home heating systems? To determine which is more efficient, you’ll need to examine factors relating to the space heater and the HVAC heating system you’re comparing it to.

Electric space heaters are not as energy efficient as an HVAC system. If there are only a few rooms which need to be heated, where it can be more efficient to run space heaters than the central heating system. This is true unless you have a central heating system with great efficiency, such as a geothermal heating system. If your home or business’s heating system has trouble heating a single room effectively, running a space heater in that room only may be a more efficient option than turning up the thermostat across the entire home. Also an option would be to have a professional in your area, like our Bucks County professionals, HVAC Philly, come to your home and make sure there are no underlying issues that could cause your heating system/ furnace to run less efficiently.

To find efficient space heaters for use in your home or office, purchase one with these features:

  • Choose a space heater with the capacity to heat the size of room you want to use it in. Do not purchase an oversized heater to warm a small room, as overheating the space creates energy waste.
  • Lower wattage models consume less energy.
  • Look for features such as a timer or thermostat, which can help you better control heating output.

Space heater FAQs

Q: What types of space heaters are available?
A: The main types of space heaters available are convection, radiant, and conducive.

Q: What is a convection space heater?
A: Convection space heaters produce heat as air passes over heating element(s). They slowly create heat which lasts quite a while. They offer quiet operation, and may have a fan to circulate heat.

Q: What is a radiant space heater?
A: Radiant space heaters pass liquid through a system of pipes to generate warmth. They are good for spot heating, as they cannot pass heat through obstacles. Radiant heaters are a great option for quick heating production.

Q: What is a conductive space heater?
A: Electric space heaters are conductive, producing heat via heating elements. Electric space heaters can be smaller and easily moved.

Q: Can I use a space heater as my primary source of heat?
A: As discussed above, this isn’t an efficient choice to heat a whole home or office. In some situations, space heaters may be used as a primary heat source for one or two rooms.

Q: My space heater smells like it is burning – is that normal?
A: A burning smell from your space heater isn’t always something to be concerned with. New space heaters can emit a burning smell the first few times they’re used. This usually goes away after a few uses. If you haven’t used the unit in a while, you may have a burning smell as dust and debris are burned off the heating element.

Q: How can I tell if my space heater meets safety standards?
A: Look for labeling from UL (Underwriters Laboratory) which indicates the heater offers safe construction and performance meeting U.S. voluntary safety standards.

“Are space heaters safe?” … “Are space heaters more energy efficient?” For these and all your other burning questions regarding space heaters, feel free to ask the heating experts at http://www.HVACPhilly.com.  We’re here to help you learn more about safe, efficient heating and cooling options for your home and business, from temporary appliances such as space heaters, to permanent solutions like heat pumps and high-efficiency furnaces.

Contact us online at http://www.hvacphilly.com or call 215-725-6111

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Why is cold air coming from my furnace?

aroner-furnace-new-450x600If your furnace is blowing cold air, we can certainly understand your concern. It’s a chilly problem that no one should have to deal with during winter in the greater Philadelphia, Bucks County and Montgomery county area.

There are a few possible causes for a furnace blowing cold air, without more information it may be hard to narrow down the problem….

But here are the top 3 common causes you can fix yourself

 

1) Thermostat is set to ON
Is your furnace blowing cold air only sometimes? Is the furnace’s blower constantly running?

Check your thermostat. (That’s where a tech will start first, and a great place for you to start as well.) If your thermostat’s fan setting is set to ON, the furnace blower will constantly run even when your furnace isn’t heating the air, causing it to blow cold air.

What would be the solution?

Turn your thermostat’s fan setting to AUTO. Now your furnace will only blow warm air.

2) Furnace overheated
Let’s say your furnace blows hot air, then cold air, but then stops blowing any air at all after a while. What’s the problem?

It’s possible your furnace overheated. If so, the limit switch, a furnace safety device, turned the furnace burners off.  The blower keeps blowing to cool the furnace down to a safe level.

So what causes the furnace to overheat? Most commonly, a dirty furnace air filter.

The dirty air filter will block airflow, causing the furnace to run longer to heat your home until it overheats.

What would be the solution?

Change the air filter and see if your furnace starts only blowing warm air.

DON’T ignore this problem. Repeated overheating will hurt the furnace’s heat exchanger, which is expensive to fix.

3) Pilot light is out
If your gas furnace is only blowing cold air, then the pilot light may be out. Check to see if it is and try these solutions:

Solution 1: Relight the furnace pilot light. If the flame stays on, great!

Solution 2: If the pilot refuses to light, ensure that gas is flowing into the furnace. Make sure the furnace’s gas valve switch is in the “on” position (parallel/in line with the gas supply pipe. if the switch is on, then check to see if the pilot light is dirty. if it is, clean it to allow gas to come through.

Solution 3: If the pilot lights, but won’t stay lit, then there’s a problem with the thermocouple (the copper rod you see the pilot flame hitting). It needs to be adjusted or replaced. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, please contact a professional.

Still having problems? Ask one of our experts for help. Give us more details about your problem, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Contact us online at http://www.hvacphilly.com, or call 215-725-6111

 

 

 

Bucks County: Why Local Heater Repair is Best

When you need heater repair, the seemingly endless choices for contractors and HVAC companies can be overwhelming. How can you be sure that you’re getting the best price for the best service?

There are factors to consider when finding the right HVAC company, but your best choice will always be local heater repair. No one knows Bucks County better than HVAC Philly, and we’ll tell you why going with local heating repair is better than hiring one of the out-of-town guys.

You Get What You Pay For

 Some non-local companies may try to entice you to use their services by offering prices that seem to good to be true. The saying “You Get What You Pay For” definitely applies here. Be wary of companies or contractors who try to undercut local heater repair companies. The price might be tempting, but often times you are going to get lower quality service that will cost you more in the long run.

The Local Guys Know the Neighborhood

Bucks County PA New Hope There are many quaint towns in Bucks County, and no one knows their intricacies and quirks like a local heater repair company. When you use local heater repair, you can get trusted testimonials from fellow neighbors. Many times, homes in your area share similar qualities due to the landscape and similar home builds. A local heater repair company will no doubt have experience dealing with problems similar to yours and can provide better quality service because of it.

Local Heater Repair Companies Have Been Around the Block

 Nothing beats years of experience, and HVAC Philly has over 20 of them! Watch out for new companies that come through promising great service and low prices. If they have less than 3-5 years of experience, there’s a good chance they’ll make rookie mistakes when servicing your heater. In 20 years, we’ve seen it all. We know what works and what doesn’t. There’s no substitute for years of experience, which is why you really can’t beat local heater repair.

Local Companies are Insured and Licensed

Requirements for licensing and certification vary by state. When you use a local company, you can be sure they’ll adhere to your state’s licensing requirements. Don’t forget to ask about liability insurance. A company that gives you the runaround on the type of insurance they have should be avoided at all costs.

If you live in Bucks, Montgomery, or Philadelphia County and need expert, trusted HVAC service. Call the professionals at HVAC Philly at 215-725-6111. With over 20 years of experience servicing the Greater Philadelphia Area, you’ll get quick, professional service that will keep you happy well into the warm days of spring.

Stay warm, my friends.

Why is my furnace leaking water?

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http://www.hvacphilly.com  furnace leaking water

                                        Why would a furnace leak water at the base? 

Furnace condensation

Usually the condensation from a high-efficiency gas furnace is channeled to a floor drain. Your leak could be a result of the condensation tubing becoming clogged or from breaks in the line. It could also be a result of the floor drain becoming clogged.

A standard-efficiency furnace, which has a metal exhaust pipe, should not have condensation. If it does, it could mean that the flue pipe was incorrectly sized. That could allow the hot exhaust to cool down and condense in the pipe, then drain back to the furnace and leak out.

Why a high-efficiency furnace creates condensation:

Why in the world would a high efficiency furnace create condensation?

It is about how the furnace extracts heat from combustion gases .

A lower-efficiency furnace extracts some heat from combustion gases and then quickly vents them out the flue pipe.

However a high-efficiency furnace, to extract more heat, has 2 heat exchangers. These allow the furnace to extract heat from the gases for a longer period of time. This causes the combustion gases to cool and then condense.

That condensation then exits out of your home through a drain. But if that water is pooling around the furnace, there’s a problem preventing it from draining properly.

The main causes of a condensation leak around a high-efficiency furnace:

  • Clogged condensation tubing
  • Clogged condensation drain
  • Breaks in the condensation line
  • Issues with the condensate pump (if you have one)

You’ll need a Heater Repair technician to diagnose which of these is the issue and then fix it.

Other causes of leaking water around a furnace…

Faulty furnace secondary heat exchanger

If you don’t have a furnace condensation issue, it’s possible that the secondary heat exchanger is the source of water around your furnace.

Hopefully not as that could be an expensive fix, and it might even require a complete furnace replacement.

Issue with furnace humidifier

You could also have an issue with your humidifier, which could be leaking inside your furnace.

If you’ve had an annual HVAC service check, as is suggested by HVAC Philly for all Bucks County, Montgomery County and greater Philadelphia area residents, this is an unlikely scenario because your service technician would have alerted you to the issue early.

If you have neglected that tune-up, you should call for it now because if this is your problem, the leak could do a lot of internal damage to your furnace.

Internal drain system clog

There is another possibility. If your air conditioning unit is still operating and it shares an internal drain with your furnace, you could have an internal drain system plug, which is sending water to the furnace.

While we can’t diagnose your issue precisely, don’t let this go too much longer. It’s a clear sign that you need to call in professional help. HVAC Philly is available to assist 24/7 for any emergency situation.  Servicing the greater Philadelphia, Bucks County and Montgomery County area.

Leaks can cause huge issues, including damaging parts, flooring and walls, and lead to mold growth. A reputable heating and cooling specialist, like HVAC Philly, should be able to quickly diagnose the source of the leak and offer solutions to your water furnace problem.

Do your homework and get more than one estimate before you act, but get started now.

http://www.hvacphilly.com  215-725-6111

Keeping Your Home Comfortable During Gatherings

Even with the holidays past there are plenty of gatherings, family and friends, that are sure to take place throughout the year.  Birthdays, football Sundays, special occasions and more.

There are two guarantees about entertaining:

  1. Someone will drink way too much punch
  2. You will spend half your time trying to adjust your furnace up or down.

This year, avoid the hassle by getting your thermostat settings under control before the big day arrives.  HVAC Philly, your local Bucks/Montgomery County and greater Philadelphia area HVAC specialist, has some helpful tips to ensure that you will improve your home energy efficiency and ensure that everybody feels great the entire time.

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Create Settings for Unusual Situations

When you’re hosting a cocktail party or family gathering, there are instances when you may need to change your normal thermostat settings. An entire day spent baking may raise the temperature and you could benefit from turning down the furnace a degree or two.

Having lots of friends and family members visiting for a party will also increase the ambient heat of your home, particularly in the kitchen, dining room and living room. Plan ahead by turning down the furnace a few degrees before guests arrive, but avoid turning the furnace down too far or turning it off entirely.

As an added benefit, you will be less likely to look sweaty and disheveled when guests arrive if your home is already pleasantly cool.

Ensure Top Furnace Function

No one has ever said “Right before my big dinner party is a perfect time for my furnace to stop working,”. The good news is that scheduling regular furnace maintenance is easy, quick and fairly inexpensive. Scheduling regular maintenance with a licensed professional will give you the opportunity to confirm that your furnace is still in excellent condition and ask any questions you may have about your home energy efficiency.

If you got furnace service in the early fall, now may be the time to inspect your air filter and replace it if it is dirty. Pay attention to how your furnace seems to be functioning, and do not hesitate to call a heating & air conditioning repair service like HVAC Philly if you notice any problems.

Be Cautious with Alternate Heat Sources

A cold winter, like the one we are currently experiencing in Bucks County, PA, often makes people wonder if they should be using other heat sources to keep the house and guests warmer. This is especially true if you are planning to open up rooms, such as the basement, for the kids and teens. Alternative heat sources can be useful and pleasant to have while entertaining, but you should take a great deal of care when you use them.

  • Space heaters can be a burn hazard with kids and pets running around and have been found to be involved in 79 percent of fatal home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • If you must turn on a fire in a fireplace, keep the area clear of children, pets and anything that could catch fire. Keep the damper open until the fire is completely out, and have your chimney cleaned.

 

Improve Home Heating Efficiency

No matter what you do, there are probably going to be certain parts of your home that will not be as warm as other rooms. You need to do what you can to increase your overall energy efficiency.

Rooms with a lot of windows are the worst culprits since glass is notoriously inefficient at slowing heat loss. Quite a bit of heat is also lost through air leaks around windows and doors. If you seal those air leaks, you can resolve the unpleasantly cold drafts you feel around your windows. When it is time for your party, discourage guests from leaving doors open as they go to and from the car to grab food or gifts. You will save some energy and keep the whole house warmer.

If you have the time, install window treatments, such as shades or curtains, that will block the cold air around the windows from permeating the rest of your home.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

If you still have a manual thermostat, you may have ease of use, but you don’t get any of the benefits of programming settings in advance. The start of the year is a great time to upgrade your thermostat, which is one of the best ways to improve efficiency and comfort in your home without a hefty investment of time or money.

If you get a smart thermostat, the thermostat may be able to deduce your preferences with little input from you. Since smart thermostats have Wi-Fi capability, you can change settings on a whim from your smartphone or computer. For example, if you had a change of plans due to weather and had to come home earlier than you expected, you could change the settings so that the heat is running before you arrive home.

Consider a Zone Heating System

The bigger your home, the more you need to consider varying heating needs. You probably already know that cold storage in the basement or a wine cellar need to be kept at a specific temperature, but there are other reasons you might want to have different temperatures throughout the home, as well. Your holiday entertaining is a classic example of the benefits of zoned heating or cooling.

A zoned heating system breaks up your home into various zones, with different heating or cooling needs, that can be managed by a single thermostat. Zoned heating & air conditioning would allow you to, for example, specify a higher temperature for bedrooms and bathrooms than in the main living area, where the majority of your guests are located. This way, you won’t feel like an ice cube when you walk away for a moment.

Prepare for the After-Party Cool-Down

During the festivities, your home may feel warm, possibly even uncomfortably so. But, once everyone packs up to go, the temperature may drop noticeably. Set your thermostat to increase the temperature a couple of degrees at the conclusion of your party. Plan to get comfortable with a warm blanket or a bath to help you relax while you wait for the temperature to equalize again.

Keeping your guests entertained and out of trouble is your job as a hostess. The last thing you want is to struggle with your furnace at the same time. With some forward planning, a few minor tasks for your heating system and the right thermostat settings, you will host an excellent party, beef up your home energy efficiency and go to bed happy.

Top 3 Reasons to Buy a High Efficiency Furnace

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Do you know how efficient your furnace is?  Most folks are happy as long as their furnace keeps them warm, but older heaters can be big money-wasters.  Whether your furnace is due for a replacement, or you’re interested in saving money, consider buying a high efficiency furnace.

 

We’ll tell you how a high efficiency furnace works to save you money, and we’ll give you the top 3 reasons to have one installed.

What exactly is a High Efficiency Furnace?

high efficiency furnaceA furnace is considered highly efficient due to its AFUE or ‘Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency’ rating.  Simply put, it’s a measure of how efficiently your furnace takes natural gas and transforms it into hot air.  AFUE is expressed as a percentage, and it takes the year long efficiency of your heater into account.  According to the DOE, a furnace must have an AFUE of 90% to be considered a high efficiency furnace.  Be wary of manufacturers who refer to their heaters as highly efficient without having a AFUE of 90%.  The minimum AFUE for new furnaces is 80%, and some companies will try to disguise their mid-efficiency furnaces as high efficiency furnaces.  Verify that your heater is highly efficient by checking the EnergyGuide label that appears on new furnaces.

 

Now that you know what it takes to qualify as a high efficiency furnace, we’ll discuss why you should buy one.

You Need a Heater Replacement :

 First of all, if you determine it’s time to replace your furnace, getting a high efficiency furnace is a no brainer.  You’ll have to pay a bit more to get it installed, but the cost will easily be recouped in a few years. If you have to spend the money to get a new heater, you might as well get one that will save you money.

Money in Your Wallet :

 Let’s say you have a 12 year old furnace operating at 70% AFUE.  If you upgrade to a high efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 93%, you are going to save big in the long run.  How big? Think of it this way, for every dollar you spend on heating, you lose $0.30 to inefficiency with the old furnace and only $0.07 with the high efficiency furnace.  That $0.23 difference between furnaces might seem small, but over time, you will save a significant amount of money.

Mother Nature Will Thank You :

Saving money feels great, but saving the planet feels even better!  With a high efficiency furnace, you can add Mother Earth Protector to your resume. A high efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 90% saves an average of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions per year.  Can you imagine if everyone upgraded to a high efficiency furnace?

Buying high efficiency furnace is a smart move.  Just make sure you find the right HVAC company to install it.  An amateur installer will cancel out any savings you’ll get with an efficient furnace.  Also, efficiency doesn’t stop at the heater.  A large amount of efficiency is lost in the ducts. Be sure to have your HVAC contractor take a look at your ducts.

If you need heating repair or service and live in Philadelphia, Montgomery, or Bucks County, give the experts at HVAC Philly a call at 215-725-6111.  We have over 20 years of experience offering competitive pricing, free estimates, and unparalleled professionalism.

 

Stay warm my friends.