Ok, your heating is broken and you need a repair man to help……..

Heating repairs must be handled with experienced technicians, since the possibilities exist of high temperatures and fuel gas. It is best not to tinker with them yourself. Still, you need to know what to look for and expect when the heat repairman comes to call. Lets look at the most common repairs and problems, but first, lets discuss when you should replace your old heater.

 

In South Texas, the most common forms of heating are electric heat elements, and gas furnaces. Our heating needs are relatively low, so there is no need to spend excessive amounts on the super efficiency systems common up North. Still, heaters are used every year and have a lifespan as well. Particularly older gas furnaces can be a risk to operate, just due to their age. The burners can rust out, flame control is poor, and the heat exchangers can leak combustion gases into your home. Typically, a furnace 12-15 years old is subject to replacement. If your unit uses a pilot light still, it is old and obsolete. Newer units have electronic ignition, and blower induced vents to exhaust combustion fumes more effectively. Newer units are a minimum of 80% efficient, vs. 60% or so on older “pilot light” types. Any signs of substantial rust are a good cause to be concerned. If your unit seems to be in good shape, and seems younger, you can continue with the repair.

 

Electric heaters are simpler in design, but generally contain the AC evaporator coil in the same cabinet which is an air handler. Thus, with electric heat, you will have one air handler in the house, but with gas heat you will have a separate furnace and evaporator coil. Electric heaters are sets of separate heater coils, that will glow red hot , and the blower passes air over them to heat. Simple in design, but expensive to operate. These heaters consume much more electricity than AC units when running. Since your heater usually consists of 2-4 separate elements, you may be operating on partial heat for quite a while without noticing. Elements may burn out, and it never becomes an issue until the first day of  below freezing weather! The electric heat elements decay over the years, like light bulb element, and have several other components to fail as well, but these are inexpensive items, and not cause to replace the unit. Deciding factor with these is usually rust also, but from years of handling the condensate from the AC coil. If you upgrade your AC from an old R22 system outdoors, you will have to update the inside air handler as well. Again, 10-15 years is pretty much a good lifetime for an air handler. But we will look at repairing these as well.

GAS FURNACE REPAIRS:  Newer gas furnaces have electronic control boards, with fan controls, ignition controls, and flame sensors built in. They also have a series of “limit” switches inside the unit, to shut it down if flames get outside of the heat exchanger, or if it just gets too hot. There is an inducer motor, or powered vent that actually forces combustion air out of the unit through the vent pipe to the roof. The units usually have no pilot light, but have a glow plug, or spark igniter to start the burners. There is also a flame sensor that shuts the gas valve down in case the flame goes out. Then there are fan relays that let the heat exchanger pre-heat before kicking in the blower motor, and then let it cycle after the flames are turned off to cool off the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the steel chamber, or tube system that transfers heat from the flames to the air flow in your house, but keeps combustion air and flames from direct contact with the indoor heated air. So, as you see, there are lots of things to go wrong, and several safety devices in place to minimize the hazards. Modern gas furnaces are actually quite safe and reliable, but need to be carefully installed per codes to be so. Not a job for an untrained handyman.

 

ELECTRIC HEATER REPAIRS: With the exception of the blower motor itself, the electric heat parts are fairly inexpensive. Like gas heaters, there are various safety components to prevent overheating in case of air flow failure. Thermal limit switches and thermal fuse links are common. The elements themselves will burn out if left too hot too long. They are controlled by relays, sometimes time delay relays, called sequencers, that stagger the multiple heat element start and stop times so you won’t turn on heat and get a sudden in rush of 60-80 amps at once. All these components are mechanical switches that will fail over time. All these require knowledge of controls and high voltage wiring, so must be left to persons trained in them.

An electric heat strip, removed from unit. Safety temperature switches are on front panel

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832-876-2965

Serving the greater Houston, Texas area, including Tomball, Spring ,Cypress, Waller, Magnolia, Montgomery, Conroe, The Woodlands, Willis, Kingwood, Crosby, Huntsville, Galveston, Pearland, Brazoria, Sugarland, Richmond, Katy,