Heating and Air Q&A - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Heating and Air Q&A

Question:  I need a start assist device for the compressor of an AMANA condenser on a central air cooling system.  The model number of the condenser is erased.  I could get only the right-most part of it.  It is ?????B6-8.

Answer From JE Shekell:  I believe you are talking about a hard start kit for the compressor.  It will need to be sized to the compressor.  It would be best to have a technician look at the system and determine the proper kit and install it at that time.

Question:  My friend just moved into a town home and I wanted to check his air filter in his inside unit of his system that is located in the closet. The filter was exposed, not in between any return duct or blower. The filter was dirty. Why would a filter be exposed like this and would it get dirty? What would draw air thru it if its right behind the door opening to the closet?

Answer From JE Shekell:   This maybe the only return in the house. It is a central return with no return air ductwork. If there is a grille on the close door that is how the return air reaches the unit and goes through the air filter.

Question:  I have a carrier central air conditioner system. Once a day my condensor kicks off and does not come back on unless I go outside and turn the breaker off and then back on. I have an energy saver from vectren on it but they say that is checks ok. After I do this the unit works fine for the rest of the day.

Answer From JE Shekell:  Depnding on how the summer cycler is wired up to the unit it could make the condensing unit lock out even if the summer cyclier box is working properly. Some Carrier units have a contol on them called a C.L.O. that could be causing the problem or you may have a bad time delay. You should have a licensed technician come out and check our your system.

Question:  I have an old condensing unit and I would like to know if you could tell me the tonnage of it. I don't know the manufactuer of the unit but have style #29TF702591C manfacturer # S799404A, model #867819520. These are the only things I could get off of the unit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer From JE Shekell:   The units is a Sears manufactured in either 1980 - 1981 it is a 2 1/4 ton unit with a seer raiting of 8 to 8 1/2.

Question:  I am interested in learning about the ductless air conditioners. I have an older home (1920's), and I do not have ductwork in the home. Each floor is about 1720 sq. ft. I am wondering if this kind of system would be better than window a/c. Most of my windows are casement style. Does your company instlal the ductless systems. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Answer From JE Shekell:  I would rather use a ductless pslit than a window unit. Our company does install ductless split systems. If you are local we would like to come out and see what it would take to install the system. It sounds like a good challenge, depending on the layout of your home. It may be easier to add a duct system and have a central unti.

Question:  I have a goodman air handler that makes a loud bang when it shuts down like someone is slamming a door.

Answer From JE Shekell:  It sounds like the ductwork may be flexing when the air pressure inside. The duct drops when the unit shuts off. We see this more often when the system has a very restricted air filter in it.

Question:   I have a house that has 1050 square feet.  I have 8, 4X8 reserture and 6" duck work.  I was told that a 2 ton a/c unit was big enough?  What do you think?

Answer From JE Shekell:   I think the 2 ton unit would be large enough as long as the duct system will handle it.

Question:  How effective is geo thermo heating and cooling in this area?  Also are there local installers?  Cost?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Geo thermol is very efficient if it is installed properly.  We instal geo thermals but the cost is much higher than a conventional system.

Question:  I had a Goodman split system installed in Florida. It is not a heat pump. The outside temp is 90 to 95. The compressor sweats a lot enough to keep the cement damp around the unit. Is this normal? My old unit never did this. I can actually see all the beads of sweat around the compressor when the unit is off. I think it might have to much R22 freon. Overcharged? Inside temp of the house is at 77 degrees. What is usually normal readings for the high and low pressures? The service person wrote them down.

Answer From JE Shekell:   If a unit is sweating back to the compressor you may be low on air flow. Which could be caused by a dirty filter, dampers closed, by pass damper stuck open, dirty blower wheel or a dirty evaporator coil. You may also want to check to make sure the outdoor unit is sized properly with the evaporator and air handler.

Question:  What is the typical suction pressure (or range of acceptable pressure) for a home central A/C unit? Min is running at 65 PSI, and seems to run all the time. The large A/C line is cool, but not cold.

Answer From JE Shekell:  Your suction pressure is determined by a lot of factors. It depends on the temperature outside and the temperature inside, the amount of air flow, if the air filter is clean, the amount of refrigerant charge and the size of the equipment per the load. If the temperatures are 80 degrees to 85 degrees outside and 72 degrees inside a 65lbs suction would be close.

Question:  Our hot water pressure has decreased drastically.  The regular water pressure is fine.  Nothing has been done recently that we can attribute this change to.  Could it be our hot water tank (which is about 8 years old) need to be drained and cleaned (is this something I can do?) or should I call a plumber?

Answer From JE Shekell:  
It would probably be better to have a plumber come out and take a look at the problem.  That way they can see what it is doing before anything is done.

Question:  I've been noticing a sour/musty smell coming from our air vents whenever the air conditioner turns on - what could be causing the odor?

Answer From JE Shekell: 
If your evaporator is dirty it will sometimes put off an odor when it starts making condensation and the dirt gets wet.  The evaporator and drain pan will need to be cleaned.

Question:  We have a heat pump that is about 13 years old.  When we turn our air conditioning on, it runs inside, but the air isn't cool and the fan outside is not turning.  What do you think?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It is hard telling.  Have you checked your breaker or the disconnect ouside to make sure the unit has power?  If the power is on it may be a control problem.  If you do have power I would call to have a Service Technician come out and see what the problem is.

Question:  I want to install a split air condition in a room with size (6m length *4m width * 3m hieght) which split size (in Ton or BTU) should I install to get a good cooling in that room?  Is there a mathmatical relation between the room szie and the air condition size?

Answer From JE Shekell:  There are alot of other factors that need to be taken into consideration.  For example, what is the room going to be use for; how many windows; what kind of windows; what are the walls interior and exterio; what kind of insulation; how many lights?  There is alot of information that is important.  Rule of thumb on a room that size with general construction and residential use would be around 6,000 BTU unit.  You have approximately 256 sq.feet of space.

Question:  What are the advantages and disadvantages to heating and cooling a crawl space?  How would the air be circulated if we were to heat and cool the crawl space?  Also, should a home with a crawl space have a vapor barrier?  If so, what kind?

Answer From JE Shekell:  If you heat and cool a crawl space it should not be a vented crawl space.  Generally the only time you would condition the crawl is if it is not vented.  The most common way to condition the crawl to have on supply air duct and one return air duct come off of the system that serves the home.  It is a good idea to have a vapor border in the crawl space.  The vapor barrier is normally roll plastic.

Question:  I have an energy efficient furnace in a cabin that I leave at 50 degrees most of the winter.  It drains water into the septic system and that freezes and builds ice damns and then when I am there and run water ti cannot drain and floods the basement.  How can I deal with that?

Answer From JE Shekell:   You could run the condensate to a heater drain pan that would evaporate the condensation instead of running it to a drain line.

Question:  My home is 20+ years old and we feel there are now more efficient Heat-Cool options than our GE brand heatpump.  Fuel/electric cost is important!  Would you recommend a 90+ efficiency natural gas furnace with central air or just replace the old heat pump?

Answer From JE Shekell:  With the cost of natural gas increasing every year and with heat pumps becoming more efficient we are seeing more heat pump installations.  Since your home is already wired for a heat pump it woulbe be more economical to go back with a heat pump.  If you go with gas you would have to run gas piping and set a meter if you don't already have one, and you would have to vent it also.

Question:  Getting ready to replace old gas furnace.  Can I vent an 80% efficency new gas furnace into a masonary brick chimney?  Someone said it may cause a moisture problem.

Answer From JE Shekell:  The chimney would have to be lined if it is not already  If it is lined with tile you would be ok.  If it is exposed brick on the inside you would have to have a liner installed.

Question:  What could cause a furnace to quit working after a huge power outage?  The fuse had blown (15 amp) and that was changed and its still not working.  Goodman brand model GUI100 3; serial 891193536.  As fas we can tell it was installed May 1990.

Answer From JE Shekell:  If the furnace was running at the time of the power outage it may of tripped out on limit.  The limit is a high temperature switch that is a safety to keep the furnace from getting to hot.  When the power went out the blower would have stopped and the heat exchanger wouldn't of had any way to cool off os it might of tripped the limit

Question:  We live in a new home and I feel that our house gets dusty fairly quick.  Is there a different filter I can get that reduces the amount of dust?

Answer From JE Shekell:  The Space-guard filter is what we use.  It is a great filter.  It would take some sheet metal work to install the filter cabinet.  The filter is a 4" pleated filter and it lasts on an average of 6 months to a year.  It is great for dust and you can go to the Aprilaire website for more information.

Question:  Is it worthwhile to have heating vents cleaned professionaly?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It is really a matter of opinion.  It depends on how old the duct system is and how well the air filters have been maintained over the years.  It also depends on what kind of duct system you have.  I can't say that I have seen an improvement of a system after being cleaned.  If a person has allergies then I might see a benefit of having it done.

Question:  My manufactured home has electric heat.  It works fine other than it runs until it feels to hot, then it doesn't kick on until it feels to cool.  How can I adjust this so the temperature doesn't vary as much?  I have a basic thermastat with the coil spring, not a mercry type.

Answer From JE Shekell:  It sounds as if the heat anticipator on the thermostat needs to be adjusted to less run time.  This will keep the temperature from over shooting and will bring the unit on sooner.

Question:  We had an electric furnace(heat pump)& AC installed in April 2004. Since I have noticed black looking "soot" line on the carpet under the door of the closet the unit is in.  Also in the dining room, I moved a self and it as well had collected this same black stuff on my wallpaper.  What is wrong and what can we do about it?

Answer From JE Shekell:  We would probably need to look at it to see what the black stuff is and why it is collecting where it is.

Question:  At what age should I retire my existing furnace?  I have a furnace that is around 16 years old, and have had several problems with delayed ignition.  Should I go ahead and replace the unit and my air conditioning coil underneath?

Answer From JE Shekell:  If your existing unit is 16  years old the efficiency of the unit is probably not near what you can get from the units now.  As far as the delayed ignition problem, have you had  the unit serviced or checked to see why it has an ignition problem?  If you decided to replace the furnace it is a good time to replace the evaporator coil also.  Especially if it is as old
as the furnace.

Question:  I have a carrier weathermaker 8000 it has an error code 93,1) or (1,3).  It runs for about 10 minutes then shuts down.  If I hit the power switch it will run again for 10 minutes then shut down.  What could be wrong with it?

Answer From JE Shekell:  On the inside panel of the furnace there should be a list of codes and what that code means.  The first digit is determined by the number of short flasshes and the second digit by the number of long flashes.  A code #13 is a limit switch or flame roll-out switch lockout.  A limit switch means the furnace is getting to hot and you may want to check your air filter to make sure there is enough air flow across the heat exchanger.  If the roll-out switch is tripped then you may have an inducer motor that is showing down not bringing in enough air or the vent is partially blocked.  A code #31 is a pressure switch safety which may be a venting problem or an inducer motor or the switch may have moisture in it from the combustion chamber.  You should have a trained professional technician look at your furnace to determine the actual problem.

Question:  Is it good to close the vents under the house during winter months?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Yes, if the vents are left open you run the risk of your water lines freezing due to the cold air going under the house.

Question:  I have a Goodman heat pump, 4 ton 12 SEER.  The suction line from the accumulator to the compressor gets frost on the first 8 minets it runs then it slowly goes off the (frost) suction pressure drops down below 30 PSI before coming back up.  I did a service check 2/8/05 ambiant temp 42, suction temp 42.4, discarge temp 170.8, suction press 55 PSI, Discharge press 220, superheat temp 12.7.  Everytime it starts suction life frost. Suction pressure looks low, discharge pressure looks high per spec. sheets.  I'm afraid to add any R22 since the superheat looks good.  Also, discharge temp. looked good.  It frosts everytime it is started.  I'm staying on emergency heat, doing fine.

Answer From JE Shekell:  You may get some frost because the acumulator will restrict the refrigerant flow on start-up.  I am assuming you were runnig the unit in the heat mode when you were doing your check.

Question:  How do you know if a programmable thermostat is broken?  When I turn on the
gas heater it will not kick in.  I turn off for two hours and it works.

Answer From JE Shekell:  It may be a good idea to have a service technician run the thermostat through a test to see if it is working properly.  There may be a problem with the furnace instead of the thermostat.

Question:   I asked you in the summer about air flow and dustiness in our house. You suggested a free evaluation of installation.  I wanted to wait until winter.  Do you still do that?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Yes we are still offering the evaluation of your system. If you want call and ask for the Residential Department and they can make an appointment.  

Question:  I live in a 78 trailer. I have an electric furnace. Last year the furnace was fixed completely and ran correctly. Last week it was working fine. Now the furnace is not kicking on. When you try to set the thermostat on the wall to come on, it makes that little clickig noise that it does when you set it up. But the furnace is not coming on. The fan is working when I hit that button on the furnace itself. I have flipped the breaker in the breaker box ad those (2) circuit breakers on the front of the furnace. Any suggesions what I should do? I am a single mom and the cold winter will be approaching anytime! Help!!

Answer From JE Shekell:   I would check to see if the pilot is still lit. There should be some kind of inspection window or some way to look to see the pilot. You may need to re-light it. If you use propane gas for heat, you may want to check to see if the tank is full. If you use natural gas you might check to make sure the gas has not been shut off to the furnace. If you don't feel comfortable doing any of this please call to have a technician come out and look at your furnace.

Question:  Is there a formula where I can determine the size air conditioning unit I need? I have two estimates, one suggested a 2 ton and the other a 2 1/2 ton. The square footage to cool is 1550. Also, in your opinion, which is better Trane or Lennox?

Answer From JE Shekell:   The rule of thumb is 500 square feet per ton, but there are a lot of other factors that play into sizing equipment for your home. It depends on insulation in the home and your windows, the direction in which the home sets. The contractor should run a load on your house if you ask them to. I like Trane better.  It is a high quality piece of equipment. One drawback about Lennox is, if you need to ever have a repair made to the unit you have to order the parts from the factory. There are no parts supply vendors for Lennox. So the contractor has to wait for the parts to come in to make the repair.

Question:  Trouble with gas furnace. Set thermostat, fan starts, blower starts, ignitor glows white hot. At this point the sequence stops. Gas is not delivered to the ignitor. It will make a couple attempts, getting to the same point in the sequence.

Answer From JE Shekell:   It sounds as if there is a safety switch tripped. Either temperature or pressure safety that needs to be reset. If there is a safety tripped you also need to find out why the safety is tripped.

Question:  My furnace will ignite and will start to flame then goes out in 10 seconds. Do you think it is the ignitor or something to do with the burners? How should I check and how can I find out what the ignitor looks like so that I can replace it?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It sounds as if the flame sensor is either dirty or it has gone bad. The sensor can be cleaned with steel wool or sand cloth. When cleaning up you just have to brush it, you don't have to scrub it real hard. With the ignitor you don't ever want to touch it. The oil from your skin will make the ignitor burn out.

Question:  I have a programmable thermostat and I am getting conflicting stories about how to program it. Should I use a much lower temperature when I am not home or stay within a few degrees?

Answer From JE Shekell:   I recommend around a 3 degree - 5 degree set point change from your occupied set point to your unoccupied set point. If your t-stat has adaptive recovery it can over come a larger temperature difference without bringing on the system and keeping it on until the occupied set point is reached. Adaptive recovery will bring the system on for a short period of time to gradually bring the temperatue to your occupied set point.  

Question:  What is the proper humidity level in a home?

Answer From JE Shekell:  The proper humidity level is usually around 55%.

Question:  My heating/air conditioner has moisture on the duct work. I guss you call it condensation. Is this normal or should somethng be done to fix this?

Answer From JE Shekell:   If the duct work is not insulated and the humidity level is high in the area that the duct is located in, it will sweat or build condensation. The duct work is naturally going to be cool from cold air inside the duct. Sometimes if the insulation has pulled away from the duct in areas it will sweat between the insulation.

Question:  I am wondering if there is any danger in installing a 90%+ furnace in an attic of a 20 year old house. The old furnace is probably only 50-65% and I have heard from some that 90% should not be in the attic given our cold winters. I have read only 80% for an attic. Can you tell me what your opinion is?

Answer From JE Shekell:   The only concern with a 90+ furnace in an attic area is the condensate drain line from the furnace may freeze in the winter. Most equipment manufacturers have heater kits for the drain line to keep them from freezing. I would recommend having an auxiliary drain pan installed under the furnace in case the drain for the A/C or furnace ever stops draining. It would keep water from dripping on the ceiling below. I would also put a moisture switch on the pan to shut the unit off if water builds in the auxiliary pan.

Question:  We're looking to find an economical source for filters for our furnace/ac. We have a Trane XE90 unit that uses an Air Behr. For a while we were ableto buy them at Home Depot cheaper than through our dealer. Filters are the large type that suggest changing annually for proper efficiency. What economical source do you recommend?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Other than your service company, I would check at Lowes, Grainger, Rural King or any other hardware store. Your service company will have a better chance of finding the filter but you will probably have to pay a little more.

Question:  We have our A/C and furnace serviced every spring and fall. Last year or two additional freon was added. This spring 1 1/2 #. Last week 3#. Okay for acouple of days now A/C is running for hours and not cooling. How do I shopfor compressor replacement? Do I need a new furnace too? 2 years ago wehad a coil replace in furnace at $500+. Told me we had two leaks in A/C but don't need to replace furnace. Is that wise? Also in past I thought A/C'swere rated by BTU's now they talk about SEER. Furnace is 1973, compressor is approx. 20 years old.

Answer From JE Shekell:   If your furnace is over 30 years old, it may be working properly. But the efficiency is probably not really good. It sounds like both the furnace and condensor unit are past the life expectancy. The new equipment that is offered now is much more enery efficient. That is what SEER is. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ration. The A/C's BTU rating is the capacityof which the unit can cool your home. SEER rating can range from 10.0 which is the least up to 17.0 which is the highest.

Question:  I seem to have a lot of dust in my home build in 1997. Do electronic air cleaners take care of this problem?

Answer From JE Shekell:  An electronic air cleaner does a good job, but I would recommnd a space-guard filter. It is a media style filter that is a 4" pleated filter. Generally depending on the conditions the filter needs to be changed once a year. The space guard also has a lifetime warranty. The electronic will need to be cleaned monthly. The space guard has no electronic parts that can fail or need repair.

Question:  I have a 110 window unit and it sweats on the bottom. Should I insulate to stop this?

Answer From JE Shekell:   If it is sweating on the part of the unit that hangs outside then you don't have to worry about it. Some window units have condensation from the evaporator that runs in the bottom of the pan and the water is cold so it sweats.

Question:  We have 2 A/C units outside that we would like to have moved about 30 feet so we can add on a laundry room. Would it be expensive to move them?

Answer From JE Shekell:   It wouldn't be that expensive. It would depend on where you want to move them as far as the ground if it would need to be leveled. It would also depend on how the refrigerant lines and electrical would have to be moved. We would be happy to give you an esitmate.

Question:  We had a really good filter in another house. Since we re here in our new home with a gas furnace, we bought a supposedly good filter at the hardware stoe. The house is still very dusty. Is there a better filter available and how do we find one?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Depending on the amount of duct work you have around your furnace, you may be able to have a spacegaurd filter installed. It is a 4" pleated filter which you would change once a year. In my opinion it is a great filter. If you would like give us a call and we can give you an estimate on having one installed.

Question:  Water pipes are groaning when washing machine, sprinkler system and toilets are in use. What's going on? Do I need a plumber or a rooter service?

Answer From JE Shekell:   The groaning noise could be from expansion. CPVC (plastice) water piping will expand further and quicker than copper water piping. Hot water piping expands and contracts more than cold water piping. The groaning noice could be from the pipe being supported to tightly and actually rubbing against the structure of the house. This rubbing could eventually cause a hole in your pipe.Other causes for a groaning noice could be a loose or worn valve seat.  Trace your hot and cold water piping from the service entrance to the appliances creating the noise. Make sure the piping isn't tight against anything and has room to move. If you don't find anything call J. E. Shekell, Inc. and ask for plumbing service.

Question:  I bought a home, and it has gas furnace-Carrier Weathermaker 8000 - My question is where is the air fiter? I can't find it anywhere to change it?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Not all instalations are the same. The filter can be in many different locations. Some Carrier units had a filter rock built inside the unit by the blower assembly. You might have return grils with the air filters in them. The air filter could also be in the return duct somewhere with an access panel on that duct.

Question:  I know I have a crack in my furnace heat exchanger. Can I just get that part replaced or must I get a brand new furnace?

Answer From JE Shekell:   It depends on the age and style of the furnace. The parts may not be available due to the age or style. Generally if the furnace is not very old you can replace just the heat exchanger. What you need to look at is the cost difference from repairing to replacing and if you will gain any efficiency by replacing the furnace.

Question:  We recently had a heat pump, air handler and new ductwork installed to heat and cool our upstairs. There is a "new (as in just being first used)" smell coming from the vents when the heat is on. I'm assuming this is normal, but for how long should this continue? If this is not normal, what could be causing the smell? Also, the new smell associated with the new heat pump installation is similar to drywall or plastering, niether of which has been done for years.

Answer From JE Shekell:   Some of the smell may be coming from the electric heat strips in the furnace. The heat strips come with a thin coating of oil on them from the manufacturing process, it will burn off after time. The ductwork may also be causing some of the smell depending on if it is internally insulated. You may be smelling the glue that is used to hold the insulation to the duct. If the installers had to cut any drywall for the ductwork or vents and registers you may be circulating that odor also.

Question:  For efficiency can I close registers and doors of bedrooms not being used if there are return air ducts in those rooms.

Answer From JE Shekell:   You can close the supply air to the room but I would leave the return air open. By closing the supply air vent it will help push more air to the rest of the house. But it may not be a noticable change.

Question:  Should I turn off our gas water heater during Jan. & Feb. if we are going to be away from our home during these two months, and at the same time, should we turn off the main water intake valve during this same period of time?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It's a personal opinion, but we suggest that you shut off the water. Leave the water heater on. The water heater should not run very much since you won't be using any water. Plus when you get home all you have to do is turn the water on, and you will still have hot water.

Question:  I have central air and heat unit. My furnace is electric. My question is, that the circuit panel, I believe thats what it is called, when you push and wiggle it will stay running but sometimes it kicks off when you have to wiggle the panel again. Does someone need to check that or is that something that we can replace? Its like a panel that you pull out but you cant or it will disconnect. Is it expensive to replace?

Answer From JE Shekell:   It sounds like there is a loose electrical connection somewhere. It would be a good idea to have it checked out.

Question:  I put a gas furnace in my parents mobile home and the register temp seems a little cool, it is around 108 degrees. I thought I could slow the blower down but it is direct drive with single speed fan motor. Is it possible to put in a bigger orifices to get more heat or is there something else that can be done? It is a coleman furnace and a 77000 BTU.

Answer From JE Shekell:   Has anyone checked the gas pressure on the unit? Is the unit set up for natural gas or propane? What fuel are you using? If it is set up for natural gas and you have propane you will not get much heat from the system.

Question:  I have a self contained gas heat and air outside unit. When I turn on either the heat or a/c the unit comes on but there is no air flow in the house and after 20 to 30 seconds it trips a breaker. Is it possible the unit has a short?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It sounds like the blower moter is locked up or it has a short in it. That is why there is no air flow.

Question:  I have a Amana furnace #GUID090CA30, the blower and the burner turn on the flue fan is on the well. It will run for a little while and turn off. No matter what the thermostat is set at. Tried to change thermostat, made no difference.

Answer From JE Shekell:   There could be a number of things wrong. The unit may just need to be serviced. The flame sensor may be dirty or a pressure switch may not be closing for some reason. The limit switch may be opening for the same reason also. It would be best to have a service technician come out and service the furnace and see what is wrong. Just remember the safeties are there for a reason.

Question:  Is it ok to have a garbage disposal with a septic tank?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Yes it is ok. The new garbage disposols do a much better job breaking down the food that is sent down the drain.

Question:  We have a heating and air unit that is over 20 years old and has suddenly quit working.  We changed the motor but it still won't work.  Any idea on what could be wrong?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Is the problem on the heating or the air conditioning sie of the system? What kind of problem is it?

Question:  I was up in my attic adding insulation when I spotted the gap around my furnace/water heater flue, and was able to see down into the living area of my home. What do I do to seal this gap? I have a Trane XE 70 furnace, rheem gas water heater, flue is 4-5 inches out of the furnace, then goes into 7 inch duct up through the ceiling inot the attic. Caulk won't be able to fill the gap. I saw a metal collar for a wood stove at a store and was thinking about trying to fit it on, and then caulk it tight. Was this an installation error by the HVAC company (this was done over 10 years ago?) What is the correct way to have an air tight furnace flue penetration through a ceiling inside a living space of a house?

Answer From JE Shekell:  You could use a beauty ring to go around the pipe to hide the gap between the pipe and drywall. If the flue pipe is double wall pipe you can put your attic insulation around the flue in the attic. Don't put the insulation around the pipe if it is single wall, it will get to hot.

Question:  How effective is a geothermal heat and approximately how much would it cost to install in a two story 2000 square foot house?

Answer From JE Shekell: Geothermal heating is very efficient if it is installed correctly. The depth and length of the underground is very important. As far as a cost, you would need to have a load run on your house to see what tonage syste you would need. It also depends on where the underground is going to have to be run.

Question:  I have a Trane unit which was in the home when I purchased it in 1985. The unit is now leaking water from the spout inside the house. What is the problem and what can I do to fix it? I was told to clean out the trap and the water was coming from the piece of pipe that is closed off with a PVC cap on the bottom of the unit.

Answer From JE Shekell:   It sounds as if your condensate drain line is stopped up. The pipe that the water is leaking from should be around 3/4 of an inch if it is the condensate drain line. You will probably have to have someone blow out the drain line to get rid of the blockage.

Question:  Our neighbor has a small heating/air conditioner combo that heats and cools a glassed in porch. We have an upstairs 200swft plaster walls-wood floors but no heat/air. We want what they are using but are unable to find one. Its like what they use in a hotel room. Do you know a source for such a device? I'd ask them where they bought it but it came w/the house.

Answer From JE Shekell:   It sounds like a through the wall type unit. Sometime they are referred to as a P-TAC unit. There are quite a few manufacturers that make this style of unit. You could contact a local HVAC contractor and have them give you an estimate on a unit. That way the contractor can properly size the unit for the room in which you want to use it for. Keep in mind you may need to run additional electric to that area to power the new unit.

Question:  You talked about emptying the drip tray of the air conditioner to get rid of the smell when the air first comes on. My drip tray is below the floor and their is black slime on the condenser fins. Could I spray the fins with a mild bleach water and rinse it down the overflow drain that empties outside the house? Would the bleach hurt the aluminum fins?

Answer From JE Shekell:   The bleach should not hurt the fins, but I would recommend using Cascade, the dishwasher detergant. Mix some up in a spray bottle and spray it on the coil and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then take another spray bottle with water and rinse the coil off. The Cascade will have a better smell and it will let the water run off the boil better. You can also use a soft bristle brush to brush the coil. You will want to brush with the fins, not across. You may need to repeat the spray a couple times.

Question:  I have a 2 ton air conditioner inside of my home. The coils need to be cleaned and I am wondering if it would be advisable to steam clean it. The air contioner people want $350.00 to clean it.

Answer From JE Shekell:   The best way to clean the indoor evaporator coil is to remove the coil from the cabinet after recovering or pumping down the refrigerant. Once the coil is removed, take it outside and spray it out with a garden hose. This also means that you have to cut the refrigerant lines and drain the lines to remove the coil. Then you have to repair the drain line and solder the refrigerant lines back. Then you must pull a vacumn on the system then recharge it.

Question:  My water does not get as hot as it used to and I have n ot changed the settings. It is 4 years old. What could be wrong?

Answer From JE Shekell:   If you have hard water you maybe starting to build up some calcium in the bottom of the tank. The burner could also be dirty and not burning properly. You may just need to have it serviced.

Question:  Should the outside unit of a cental air condioner be covered in the winter months..

Answer From JE Shekell:  I personally do not like to see the units covered with cotume covers or plastic. If the unit is covered to much it will hold moisture under the cover. Covering only the top of the unit where leaves and debris won't drop into the unit, allowing it to still breath will reduce the moisture.

Question: Steam cleaner to clean airconditioner?

Answer From JE Shekell:   If you are refering to the outdoor unit coil, a good garden hose and nozel will clean the coil just fine.

Question:  We are finishing our basement, we have several HVAC outlets in the basement. During the winter, we would like to improve our comfort level in that area without excessive heat in the upper level of the house. What do you suggest? Is it possible in install additional blowers in the registers to force more heat into the basement?

Answer From JE Shekell:   I would suggest zoning the system if you are able to get to the duct work. That way you can control both the upstairs and downstairs with the same system, but at different temperatures. You would have to add a couple dampers and some duct work changes. You would also need a thermostat and controls for the downstairs.

Question:  I live in a 2-story house, and in the summertime, the upstairs is quite warm at night, even though I keep the thermostat between 68-70 degrees. We have ceiling fans in all the bedrooms that we use too.

Answer From JE Shekell:   The minimum amount of air flow that you gain will not fix your problem. The best way to the air condition a second house is to either zone the system or have a seperate system for the upstairs. I would also recommend attic fans to remove some of the heat from attic and the roof line.

Question:  What do I use to properly repair the seal on my boiler duct leading to the chimney?  Mine has seperated from the chimney and needs repair before winter-and to stop bats from entering in the meantime!

Answer From JE Shekell:   It depends on what your chimney has in it as far as a liner. It also depends on your local codes as to how they vent will be terminated.

Question:  What kind of maitenance is needed for forced air heaters?

Answer From JE Shekell:   It depends if it is electric heat or gas heat. Both would need the blower motor and blower whell checked. If it is electric the heat strips will need to be checked to make sure they are all working, polling the correct amperages and sequencing correctly. If it is the gas heat, the burners need to be cleaned, heat exchanger cleaned and inspected, ignition system checked, gas pressure and make sure it is venting properly.

Question:  My furnace is a downflow one installed in garage. The duct system goes into the basement and ducted to floor registers. There's no room to install the condense coil under the furnace. If I want to install the condense coil, I have to move the furnace up If you need more space, type here.: and insert condense coil box beneath. However, I notice the intake path still have plenty of room. Can I install the condense coil in the intake path (move the filter to the top of the path and insert the coil beneath)? Is there any regulation code?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Normally on a downflow application the evaporator coil will be mounted below the furnace.

Question:  Our house has two central air units--one for the main floor and basement and one for the upstairs. Our upstairs has a terrible mold/mildew smell. I am extremely sensitive and allergic to mold. The smell is the strongest directly underneath the air handling unit (which is in the ceiling at the top of the stairs) and also when the central air unit is cooling, the smell comes through the vents. We have started letting the fan run continuously rather than on auto run. What is the best way to get our system checked out and cleaned if possible? We have flex ducts going into the two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. I'm having trouble getting the company back into my home to correct the problem. We had the units put in a little over 2 years ago and the smell has been there since last year--it's just getting stronger. I've had a different company come in and they told me that the unit upstairs is too large to cool such a small area (somewhere between 500 and 700 sq. ft.--we have a 2 ton unit just for that area and another 2 1/2 ton unit to cool the rest of the house - our home is 3300 sq. ft. total including the basement). The company that came in last week to check out my problem switched the motor speed to medium instead of high where it originally was set. They said at high speed the unit did not run long enough because it cooled the area down too quickly. Was changing the motor speed to medium the right thing to do? I would appreciate any help or advice you could give me. I cannot even sit in my living room anymore because I am so sensitive to the smell coming from the upstairs.

Answer From JE Shekell:  A two ton unit for 500 - 700 sq. ft. is oversized. The company that came out and changed the motor speed seems to be on the right track. If a system cools the space down to quickly it will not remove the humidity and that is usually caused by being oversized. I would ask the original installing contractor if they ran a load calculation to size the equipment properly. I would also think the unit for the downstairs may be undersized. Being in a basement does help with your cooling load, but I still think that is marginal.

Question:  I have a roof airconditiong unit I turned it on worked fine went to turn off would not shut off I disconnected themo and stayed on only way to turn off was pull fuse at unit ?

Answer From JE Shekell:   It sounds like either the control wiring has shorted together somewhere or the contactor in the unit is stock. You probably need to have a HVAC contractor come out and take a look.

Question:  I have a air-conditioner in a outside wall. This is on a outside wall. I have just enclosed the porch. The porch is very hot now and would like to get something that would blow the hot air out with a fan. blower and a pan to take the water that acumalate.  Is there such a thing?

Answer From JE Shekell:   The best thing would be to relocate the unit if possible. You might look at installing an exhaust fan for the porch area to get rid of the heat. You might be able to runa drain line from the unit to the outside, or to a condensate pump and let it pump it outside.

Question:  Does an air conditioner have a fuse or breaker? Mine doesn't do anything when turned on, like no power.

Answer From JE Shekell:   Yes an air conditioning unit is protected by a fuse or breaker or sometimes both. There should be a breaker in your electrical panel. There maybe fuses in the disconnect at the outdoor unit as well. If the indoor fan isn't even coming on then you need to see if there is a fuse or breaker tripped for the furnace or air handler. This is where the control power comes from for the system.

Question:  What are some of the best brands of furnaces and central air conditioners?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Carrier and Trane are the leaders in the market. Both companies make a great product and stand behind it.

Question:  What is the temperture of the air coming out of the vents in the ceiling in a 1700 square feet brick home,central heat and air,3 1/2 ton unit,the temperture of the air coming out right now is 62 degrees,the temperture of the air at the return were it is sucking is about 74 degrees.I dont think it is getting cold enough.What is the average air temperture sopossed to be.Isn't it sopossed to be about 55 degrees.

Answer From JE Shekell:   The supply air temperature is in direct relation to the return air temperature. If your air conditioning with working properly and sized correctly it should have around a 18 deg F air temperature difference across. The evaporator coil, which is usually around a 15 deg F air temperature difference at the vents.

Question:  Can you put an Air Conditioner in the basement on a table?

Answer From JE Shekell:   I would not recommend setting an air condition on any table, for safety reasons.

Question:  What causes the coils to freeze (ice-up) on the air-conditioner unit inside and outside on the air units?

Answer From JE Shekell:   Generally if the coil si freezing the unit is either low on refrigerant or low on airflow. If the unit is low on refrigerant you will have a leak somewhere and it will need to be repaired. If the unit is low on airflow the air filter may be dirty, blower wheel dirty, blower motor running to slow, evaporator dirty or if you have shut off any registers.

Question:  I have a 2-1/4 ton heat pump. The supply line and all of the vents drip water and have mold around them. I have cleaned the condenser coils the best I could. How would tell if the condenser coils are clean enough or could it be something else causing the condensation? Thanks a lot.

Answer From JE Shekell:   If the vents are having condensate build up on them it is usually due to the low air flow. If the supply duct is condensation I would check to see if it is insulated properly. The low air flow situation can be caused by either a dirty filter, dirty blower wheel, blower motor speed change, dirty evaporator coil, or ductwork changes. The condenser coil outside usually will not have any effect or cause a condensation problem.

Question:  My gas furnace and water heater are both 13+ yrs old. Looking at replacing with all-electric, due to winter price gouging for gas. At what gas vs. electric rates is this viable? 900 sf house on crawl space. Radiant floor heating?

Answer From JE Shekell:   You would need to look at the cost of switching from gas to electric. Is your electrical panel sized properly to handle the additional electrical load needed to run the new equipment? You would also have to run new power wiring from the panel to the electric furnace. Electric is less costly than gas especially in the winter. We have seen an increase in the sales of all electric among heat pump systems. The new gas furnaces and water heaters are also becoming more efficient all the time. Radiant floor heat is a good system with even heat, you would still need a system for cooling so your initial cost would be greater.

Question:  What is wrong with ceneral air conditioner when ice starts to form on the highside freon line. Does it mean it needs freon?

Answer From JE Shekell:  It depends on where the ice is forming on the refrigerant line. If it is close to the evaporator the system could either be low on refrigerant or low on airflow across the evaporator. It is also possible to have a restriction in the refrigeratn line at the point of the ice.

Question:  My air conditioner is 13yrs old and is serviced every year but doesnt seem to cool properly. Is it too old and need replacing? It's a Rhem.

Answer From JE Shekell:   Units can last 15-20 years, so you are getting close to the end of it's life. When you have it serviced this year tell the tech it is not doing well. The tech may need to look a bit deeper into the problem.

Question:  How dirty can my furance filter (Bear Air) get before replacement is necessary?&n, bs, p; Currently I have 85degrees at the room outlets when the furance is running, but the filter looks dirty and has been in service for 6 months?

Answer From JE Shekell:   A good rule for residiential is to change your filter 2 times a year, spring and fall.

Question:  I am installing a research laboratory where flammable vapors will be present at low amounts. I am in need of a small heat/ac unit (240 sqft) to control the temperature. Is there a unit that would not cause potential fire hazards in this situation?

Answer From JE Shekell:  There are explosion proof units on the market in a lot of sizes. Your internal heat load will need to be looked at to determine the BTU rating.

Question:  Turn off furance turn on air, now tring to turn furance back on and it wont' fire out(gas) is it a furance electric egnition or the thormastat, both are two years old.

Answer From JE Shekell:  It could be either as you suggest. Does the fan come on when it calls for heat? If so, the thermostat is calling for heat and teh ignitor could be your problem. If the fan does not time on, it may be your thermostat.

Question:  Considering installation of forced hot air heating / AC system. Would want humidifier on heating system. Concerned about bacteria/mold build up within humidifier. Is there an add on device or upgrade for humidifier that has UV lamp or other bacteria/mold protection. Note: I don't think we need an elaborate UV air purification system. ( Would probably use std electrostatic filter at air return.)

Answer From JE Shekell:  I would use a humidifier such as Aprilaire that can be taken apart and cleaned, also change the pad once a year. Good maintenance will prevent mold. UV lamps are good for mold control but they destroy plastic if the light is in direct contact. I would use a 4" media type filter instead of electronic, .

Question:   On older furnaces is there a fuse or fuse block? Also, why doesn't my furnace come on when I turn the thermastat up?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Yes there is a fuse on furnaces at the furnace. Make sure you thermostat is turned to heat. There are many things to prevent your furnace from coming on, check for reset buttons, pilot lite and is your filter clean?

Question:  I have a Comfort Maker model U3036B1 heater in my home. It tries to kick on, the fire lights but then goes off. When it does kick on heat is not ver, y warm. Unit is about 9 years old. Any advise.

Answer From JE Shekell:  I sounds like it might have a dirty flame rod. Clean it with steel wool and see if this will keep it lit.

Question:  I have a clay chimney incased in block. The case is pealing or flaking. I was told by someone this could be caused by salt vapors coming in from the slat in my water softner in my boiler room. Could this be true?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Installing a flue liner may be your best solution.

Question:  I have approximately 24 inches of stove pipe that is not far enough from combustab, le materials. I want to insulate the tipe or find suitable fire proof material to cover the combustable area. I cannot find any materials to take care of my needs.

Answer From JE Shekell:  There are building codes that specify how to run vent piping. Please refer to the Inspector in your area. He should gladly explain the proper method to use in your area.

Question:  We live in mobile home which has a combination A/C/Heating unit on the outside. It has a supply and return ductwork that goes into the house. Recently, when I turned on the heat it came on like normal but then about five minutes later it kicked over to emergency , heat and the blower kicked off. I ran into this once before and I replaced the return duct which had a hole in. I did that this time but didn't fix the problem. What else could cause this?

Answer From JE Shekell:   This is a hard question to answer without looking at your problem. Without more information I cannot give you an answer. I would suggest you contact a local HVAC company and have the system checked.

Question:  How do you keep mice out of vents. I have an outside gas furnace/air installed 3 years ago with some new insulated plastic vents and some original metal vents in a very tight crawl space. A couple of times a mouse has gotten into a vent. Any advice ?

Answer From, JE Shekell:  Tight metal duct work insulated on the outside or inside is the answer to keeping them out. Keep the vents on your crawl space shut tightly, and seal any other openings. You may also use some D-Con a few times in the winter.

Question:  Our furnace kicks on and the pilot light ignites but the burner doesn't always ignite. If you tap the side of the furnace it clicks then kicks the burner in.

Answer From JE Shekell:  There is a good chance your flame rod or flame , sensing device needs cleaned or replaced.

Question:  You state "When the house is closed up, whether using heat or air, to run the, , motor is best." Will this significantly Increase your gas/electric bill?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Running the furnace fan continously has alot of advantages. It evens or helps to even temperatures in the whole house. Depending on the amp drain of your blower motor, you do have to pay for the electrical usage. It is not a significant amount of money compared to the added comfort. Please remember we do not know your system.

Question:  We have a lot of dust in our house that seems to be coming from the furnace vents. Is there a way we can clean them ourselves? It costs too much to have them cleaned out professionally.

Answer From JE Shekell:   Your furnace only recirculates existing dust, or dust accumulated from the past. The furnace does not create dust itself. You can vacuum what you can reach. Today's furnaces use alot better filtering systems.  This may be of some help.

Question:  My Trane XL 80 forced air heater, clicks when it turns on and then, only will blow cold air for a couple of seconds, then just shuts off. It , will then try again, clicking on and blowing then shutting off. What could be causing the problem?  I was told probably the thermocouple?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Most likely the furnace suffer, s from flame signal loss. You need to have an annual maintence performed.

Question:  I currently live in a finished basement apartment and water began to leak in from outside onto the floor in one particular spot. We patched up the floor to solve the problem but now there is a bubbling/hissing sound com, ing form the part of the floor where the lea, k originally was. There seems to be some heat coming in from this spot as well. What can this be?

Answer From JE Shekell:  Some heating systems have duct work in the concreet floor. Your heating contractor could easily look at your furnace and tell you this. Look at the furnace yourself, you may also be able to see this.

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