Tag Archives: heating system

Choosing a New Heating System For Your Home

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. and HeatingChoosing a new heating system for your Baldwin County home can be a tough decision to make, especially with the wide variety of options available. Gas furnaces and air-source heat pumps are two popular options for most homeowners in the Mobile area. Hybrid systems are also gaining popularity thanks to their ability to combine both gas and heat pump-based heating for optimal efficiency. The following takes a look at all three of these options.

Gas Furnaces

When it comes to solid, reliable heating, gas furnaces are the gold standard, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners throughout Baldwin County choose gas furnaces as their primary heating system. Furnaces offer an affordable, reliable source of heat, regardless of outdoor conditions.

Gas-powered furnaces can also be surprisingly efficient for heating systems reliant on combustible fuels. Most furnaces offer annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 90 percent or higher, meaning that at least 90 percent of the fuel used by a gas furnace is effectively converted into usable heat.

Many modern furnaces offer a 98 percent AFUE thanks to a variety of advanced features, including electronic ignition, secondary heat exchangers for condensing flue gases, and burners that work in concert with variable speed blowers to modulate heat delivery, thus preventing cold spots and eliminating the energy-robbing on/off cycle.

Air-Source Heat Pumps

An air-source heat pump is a unique type of heating system that operates a bit differently from the standard furnace. Instead of burning natural gas, oil or other fossil fuels to generate heat, heat pumps rely on the same basic principles that make air conditioning work, but in reverse.

Whereas a typical air conditioner is designed to extract heat from indoor air and expel it outdoors, a heat pump extracts the latent heat found in outside air and transfers it indoors. Even at temperatures just above freezing, a heat pump effectively and efficiently generates and distributes comfortable heat throughout your home.

Heat pumps are surprisingly energy efficient and economical to operate, with the typical heat pump being as much as 40 percent more efficient than a comparable gas-fired heating system.

In addition to having a heating system, you also have your air conditioning in the same unit. Tackling the summer heat is as simple as readjusting the thermostat. Once the heat pump switches to cooling mode, you can enjoy cool and comfortable temperatures in your home all summer long.

The Best of Both Worlds

Air-source heat pumps offer extraordinary efficiency until the point where outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. Gas furnaces offer reliable heat no matter the circumstances, but they lack the sheer efficiency of its heat pump counterpart. So why not combine them?

That’s exactly what a hybrid heating system does. Hybrid systems are designed to offer the best traits of both heat pumps and gas furnaces by combining the two within a single, unified package. These dual-purpose systems offer smart technology that allows an effortless transition between gas heat and heat pump operation according to weather demands.

For instance, a hybrid system can seamlessly transition to gas heat whenever outdoor temperatures fall below freezing, giving your home reliable heat under harsh weather conditions. When the mercury climbs above freezing temperatures, the hybrid system transitions back to heat pump operation.

Which Should You Choose?

All three heating options have their compelling attributes, but your final decision will likely depend on your immediate and long-term home needs. For new homes and renovations, a heat pump can make the most economic sense. You’ll save hundreds of dollars each year in heating costs when compared to other forms of heating, plus you’ll also have air conditioning available throughout the summer months.

If you already have a central air conditioning system and want to keep it around a while longer, choosing a gas furnace is a more economical solution than replacing the existing A/C with a heat pump. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both heating systems, investing in a hybrid heating system is your best bet. It’ll also help you avoid the problems faced by heat pumps during an unexpected cold snap, since you can rely on gas heat as a backup.

When it comes to choosing your next heating system, you can count on the pros at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. to lend a helping hand. Contact us for all your installation and service needs throughout Mobile and Baldwin County.

Troubleshooting Your Heat Pump in the Winter

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. Heat PumpIf you use a heat pump for heating in the winter, you’ve likely seen it ice up. If the heating system is working properly, the heat pump should eventually kick into a defrost cycle to melt the ice on the coil. However, an iced-over system can waste energy and eventually damage your equipment.

Why Is Your Heat Pump Icing Up?

The defrost cycle malfunctioning in some manner is the likely culprit. When air-source heat pumps get an electronic cue to defrost during their heating mode, a reversing valve should switch these appliances into air-conditioning mode, and the outside fan should shut off. Now in A/C mode, the refrigerant in the outside coil should heat up and melt the frost from the coil. After a short period of time, the system should return to normal heating mode, awaiting the next signal to defrost the coil.

This process has several steps and multiple components. If any one of them – whether reversing valve, sensors, refrigerant, timer, etc. – malfunctions, this can result in your heat pump icing up and staying that way.

What Can You Do About It?

In most cases, you’ll want a reliable HVAC technician to look at the system and address the icing issue. However, there’s plenty a homeowner can do to minimize the chances of the heat pump icing up. If the top of the outside unit is covered in ice, turn the system off and carefully remove the ice, but not with sharp objects. Don’t allow leaky rain gutters or melting icicles to drip on the outside unit, and push snow, leaves and other debris away from it. Most importantly, you can prevent icing by ensuring the HVAC system gets an annual maintenance check.

For more information on how to de-ice a heat pump in your Mobile area home, please contact us at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc.

Troubleshoot Your Home Heating System

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. and HeatingProblems with your heating system can make life uncomfortable during the winter months. Not every issue requires a professional intervention, though. Troubleshooting heating system issues isn’t difficult, and many common problems can be easily fixed if you know what to look for. Before calling your HVAC contractor for help, try these troubleshooting tips.

Start at the Thermostat

First, make sure the thermostat is in “heat” mode, then set it above the displayed room temperature to see if the furnace cycles on. If the heater doesn’t kick on, look for a tripped breaker or blown fuse in the main electrical panel. Next, check that the furnace blower compartment cover is closed properly so it engages the small power switch behind it. If the thermostat is battery-operated and the display won’t light up at all, replacing the battery may solve the problem.

Examine the Air Filter

A dirty air filter can reduce the amount of warmth that arrives at the registers, but it can also cause a system shutdown or even shorten the HVAC equipment life span. To prevent these issues, check the filter once a month and replace it when it starts to look dirty. The filter may be located behind a cold air return grille or inside the blower compartment of the furnace. If you don’t check it regularly and the filter becomes badly clogged with dust, dirt and debris, the furnace can overheat and trigger the high limit switch that shuts it down and leaves you without heat.

Check the Pilot Light or Electronic Ignitor

If the pilot light has gone out on your older furnace, follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the owner’s manual to relight it. For a newer model with an electronic ignitor, resetting the gas valve inside the furnace is one simple fix you can try yourself. Locate the reset valve, shut it off, wait about five minutes, then turn it on again. If the furnace still doesn’t start, it’s time to get a professional diagnosis.

If you need expert help with troubleshooting heating issues in your Baldwin County home, contact us today at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc.