Dynamic Mechanical Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning Blog : Archive for January, 2015

Electric Furnace Components: The Heating Element

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Every furnace has a central area that generates heat for your home. In combustion furnaces, the main components involved in the heat generation process are the burner and the heat exchanger. In an electric furnace, this component is the heating element. Without the heating element, your electric furnace cannot produce any heat; as such, any repair work needed for the heating element should always be handled by a trained expert, like the ones at Dynamic Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning in Newington.

How Does the Heating Element Work?

The heating element in an electric furnace is comprised of multiple, tightly-wound metal coils. Many times they are in a block in which two or three tiers of several coils are stacked on top of one another. When your thermostat calls for heat, electric relays start the process of ignition, but not all the coils heat at once. A component called a sequencer controls when different sets of coils are allowed to heat. The reason for this is that if all the coils heated at once, the power draw would be too great on your electrical system; electrifying the coils in a specific sequence allows the coils to heat in a pattern that produces enough heat without overloading your electrical panel.

Once the coils heat the air around them to the right temperature, the furnace’s fan turns on and blows the warmed air into your ductwork.

Common Problems with the Heating Element

Just as a gas furnace’s burner or heat exchanger can develop problems, so can the heating element of an electric furnace.

  • Tripping circuit breakers – as you can probably guess, the electrical draw from an electric furnace can be significant; sometimes an electric furnace requires its own separate panel. Tripping circuit breakers mean there is either a problem of too much power being drawn or the breaker is faulty; either case requires repair by an expert.
  • Bad element – sometimes the element itself can have problems that require replacement of the element.
  • Problems with the sequencer – a faulty sequencer can prohibit the operation of your heating element; if you have a faulty sequencer, it will need to be replaced.

An electric furnace can last anywhere from 20-30 years, so to get the most from yours, make sure it is always cared for by a trained expert. We provide professional furnace repair in the Newington area. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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Why Do Boilers Tend to Last Longer Than Other Heating Systems?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Boilers have a reputation for being among the most sturdy and long-lived heating systems on the market. They have this reputation for good reason. The average boiler can last beyond 30 years, compared to the 10-20 years that most heating systems live. So what exactly causes this extreme longevity in boilers? Read on to find out.

Simplicity

The rule of thumb with mechanical systems is that the more complex a system is, the more likely it is to break down. This can be noted in many areas, but it holds true for heating as well. Furnaces and heat pumps have a lot of moving parts, each of which makes it possible for the whole system to do its job properly. Some of these parts, like a furnace’s air handler motor, are places under an immense amount of strain during standard operation. These parts are designed to handle the stress, which is why they can last 10-20 years. However, the increased strain will eventually cause all of those complex moving parts to break down.

Boilers, by contrast, actually have astonishingly few moving parts. The only real moving part in a boiler system is the circulator pump, responsible for actually moving the hot water through the system. Even that pump is placed under considerably less stress than a furnace air handler, allowing it to last much longer. This lack of complexity is what is primarily responsible for a boiler’s longevity.

Resistance to Wear

The other factor that helps to make a boiler last so long is the system’s remarkable resistance to wear and tear. This is partially linked to the first point, as more complex systems accumulate more wear and tear than simple systems are. Mostly, though, the only thing that a boiler has to worry about is mineral deposit buildups from hard water exposure. The boiler itself is constructed to be especially resistant to rust, which is the biggest danger in a system that handles water.

If you’re interested in having a boiler installed, call Dynamic Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning and schedule an appointment with us today. We professionally install boilers throughout the Farmington area.

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Why Your Furnace May Be Short Cycling

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Have you ever noticed your furnace rapidly turning itself on and off throughout the day? If so, you have a problem. That behavior is called “short cycling” and it’s extremely harmful to the furnace. Short cycling is a common problem caused by the furnace’s interaction with a part called the limit switch.

The limit switch is in place to monitor the internal temperature of the furnace. When the furnace temperature gets too high, the limit switch shuts the furnace down to protect it from damage associated with overheating. This is only a temporary measure, however. As soon as the furnace cools down enough, it will start back up again as long as the thermostat is calling for heat. This causes the furnace to become locked in an endless cycle of startups and emergency shutdowns, putting it under much more stress than it’s built to handle and shortening its lifespan. So what causes the limit switch to activate in the first place? Read on to find out.

Overheating

The first possibility is that your furnace is actually overheating. This can be caused by any number of things. If your furnace’s air filter is dirty, it can restrict air flow into the furnace and trap heat inside. This trapped heat will eventually trip the limit switch. Another possibility is a cracked heat exchanger. This is a dangerous problem in and of itself, partially because it can suck oxygen through the crack and down to the burners. This can cause the burners to flare up more than they’re supposed to, producing extra heat and causing a fire risk.

Oversized Furnace

The other possibility is that your furnace is actually too large for your home. When an oversized furnace starts up, the increased heat output causes it to very quickly reach an internal temperature high enough to trip the limit switch. The furnace is actually fine, as it’s designed to run hotter. The limit switch doesn’t know that, though, so the furnace still short cycles and suffers the same damage.

If your furnace is short cycling, call Dynamic Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning and schedule a service appointment with us. We provide professional heating services in the Hartford area.

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What Is a Wood-Burning Pellet Stove?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

There are many options for supplementing your home’s heat during the winter. Some choices are fireplace inserts, wood stoves and pellet stoves. Pellet stoves have been around for a while, but over the last decade have become a great option for homeowners looking to save on heating costs. Pellet stoves operate differently from gas inserts or wood-burning stoves, as we’ll explain below, and they have a number of benefits that are worth considering. If you are looking to make better use of your fireplace in Plainville, it may be time to consider the installation of a pellet stove.

How Does a Pellet Stove Heat?

Pellet stoves heat via convection, which is the way heat moves through gases, including air. Pellets stoves heat this way because they blow the hot air generated in the stove into your living space. Pellet stoves require a small amount of electricity to operate. The heating cycle begins when the auger, a large, turning screw, feeds a small amount of pellets into the burn pot while the combustion fan draws air into the stove to help with ignition. A small, hot electrical igniter warms the bottom of the pot until the pellets light. The auger continues to feed the pellets into the burn pot until the flame reaches the correct temperature, as assessed by a small sensor that is attached to the rim of the burn pot. The heat exchanger inside the stove warms from the combustion from the burn pot, and once the correct temperature is reached, the stove’s fan blows the warm air into your home as the toxic combustion fumes are exhausted from the system through your chimney.

Some Benefits of a Pellet Stove

Here are some of the benefits a pellet stove can offer you:

  • Low ash – pellet stoves have a very low ash content, making them very easy to clean.
  • Outside stays cool – unlike the outside of a wood stove, the outside of a pellet stove (except the glass) stays cool to the touch. This is because the shell of pellets stoves are fully insulated.
  • No smoke – pellet stoves do not produce smoke, so there’s no need to worry about smoky rooms.

If a pellet stove sounds like a good option for your home, call Dynamic Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning today to schedule an appointment! We offer professional fireplace installation in the Plainville area.

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12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Dynamic Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

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