The Case of…
Our service technicians are like private investigators, solving cases from simple to complex. During the winter, they’re on the job day and night, using their skills and diagnostic tools to fix comfort problems. As you read about their investigations, look for clues to see if you can shine a light on the case before they do.
The Case of the Lost Heat
Grace D. calls to report a loss of heat. Our investigator begins by interviewing the only witness. He asks Grace:
- How was your system running before it stopped?
- Was it making and odd noises or emitting unusual odors?
- Have you done anything to the system?
Grace confesses she pressed the system’s reset button twice, but each time the system ran for only a few minutes before shutting off.
After explaining why the reset button should not be pushed more than once (see Exhibit A), our investigator then rules out the “usual suspects” for heat loss. He finds that:
- power switches and circuit breakers are in the “on” position.
- the thermostat is functioning properly and its setting is above room temperature.
- there is fuel in the storage tank.
Now he gives the system a thorough examination and discovers a dirty flame sensor (see Exhibit A). After cleaning the sensor, he gets the system running again.
Amateur investigators might stop at this point, but not our expert! He knows if he doesn’t learn why the sensor became dirty in the first place, the same problem will happen again.
The system had been serviced a few months before. A properly maintained system should always burn cleanly. Our investigator needs more information from Grace. “Have you made any changes in your home recently?” he asks her.
Grace remembers that she recently had exhaust fans installed in the kitchen and bathroom. Our investigator now has the solution to the problem.
Can you guess what it was?
Solving the case
Combustion gases exit the home through a chimney or exhaust vent. But normal draft can be reversed by negative pressures. The exhaust fans drew combustion gases back into Grace’s system, causing it to clog and shut down. Our investigator installs a part to eliminate this problem. Case solved!
Tip: If you make renovations to your home, let us know. We may be able to prevent these changes from having a negative impact on your heating system.
The Case of the Missing Hot Water
Victor T. contacts our investigator because his family keeps running out of hot water. He is also concerned about his electric bills, which keep getting higher.
Can you guess what the problem is?
Our investigator arrived and did a complete analysis. He spoke with Victor and his family about their pattern of hot water use. He explained that this was especially important when a new water heater is being considered. He gathered information by asking questions like these:
- How many people live in the home?
- When are showers taken and for how long?
- What time of day is most of the laundry and cooking done?
This information made it easier for our investigator to recommend the right equipment — a water heater that would satisfy the family’s hot water needs.
Based on his fact-finding, our investigator estimated the family’s daily use of hot water and how it breaks down:
Solving the case
To ensure that the family’s water heating requirements would be met, our investigator recommended replacing their old, inefficient electric water heater with a propane unit.
He explained that the current electric water heater could only produce 40 gallons of hot water an hour. That’s why the family kept running out of hot water when everyone took their morning showers.
After a new high-efficiency propane unit was installed, the family’s hot water troubles disappeared — and so did their high electric bills. Case solved!
Solving the “Repair or Replace” Mystery
Use these guidelines if you’re wondering whether you should repair or replace your central heating system.
- If your system is well maintained, less than 10 years old and still under warranty, repairing is usually the better option in most cases.
- If the repair involves replacing major expensive parts, your system is 15 years old or older and you’re using more fuel than in the past, investing in a new system may be the better choice.
Stay with oil or switch to propane?
If you’re ready to replace your old oil heating system, talk to us about converting it to propane. As a company that installs and services both oil and propane heating equipment, we’ll give you an honest, objective opinion about which fuel may best suit your family’s needs. We can discuss:
- a payback analysis that tells you the amount of time it will take to recover your installation costs based on your annual energy savings.
- the relative efficiency of oil versus propane.
- your total expenditure should you decide to switch.
No matter whether you decide to repair or replace, or convert from oil to propane, we want to remain your trusted home comfort company. We have the knowledge, resources and experience to provide you with excellent service and great value for many years to come.