Posts Tagged ‘Furnaces’

Possible Causes of Low Heat in Your Furnace

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Your furnace is going to see daily use this winter, as it will most winters in a town like Portland, OR. That makes it doubly concerning when you turn your heater on and the air isn’t warm enough, or worse: it’s not hot at all. That usually merits a visit from a repair technician, who can pinpoint the problem quickly and implement a proper solution. As a homeowner, however, it may help you to understand the possible causes of low heat in your furnace, which can stem from a number of different sources and usually requires professional expertise to resolve. Here’s a partial list of some of the more common causes to help you out.

Clogged Burners and Gas Lines

The burners are where the heating process gets started, and over time they can develop clogs and similar problems, preventing them from working as they should. In some cases, this can stem from trouble in the gas lines, where a clog or disruption is preventing the gas from getting to the burners. (This is one of the reasons why you should shut off the heater and the gas immediately upon detecting a problem: leaky gas is nothing to fool around with.) A service technician can unclog the burners, and regular maintenance session can help keep them from forming in the first place. (more…)

What Is a Furnace Limit Switch?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

There are many parts of a furnace whose roles are pretty well known. Most homeowners already know what a pilot light does, or a heat exchanger, or an air filter. The furnace limit switch is rarely regarded as a major part of how the furnace operates. However, the limit switch serves a vital role in proper furnace operation. Let’s examine what the furnace limit switch is, what it does, and what can happen when it malfunctions.

What is the Limit Switch?

The furnace limit switch is a control circuit that determines whether to turn the furnace fan on or off. It is also responsible for turning off the burners. When the heat is turned on, the limit switch is the object that actually starts the fan in the furnace to that air can begin circulating. When the thermostat determines that the target temperature has been reached, it tells the limit switch to shut off the fan and the burners.

The limit switch is also attached to a separate thermostat, which measures the internal temperature of the furnace. The switch usually doesn’t turn the furnace fan on right away. Instead, it waits until the internal furnace temperature gets warm enough to begin heating the home. If the furnace’s internal temperature rises too high, the limit switch will shut off the furnace to prevent overheating. This brings us to the major issue that can occur with furnace limit switches.


Short-cycling is the name for when your furnace turns itself on and off rapidly and repeatedly throughout the day. This is caused by the limit switch registering an internal furnace temperature that is too high. When that happens, the switch shuts the furnace down to prevent overheating damage. After the furnace cools off, however, it starts up again and the cycle goes on indefinitely. This causes quite a bit of damage to the furnace, and should not be allowed to continue for any length of time. You’ll need a professional to determine whether the limit switch or the furnace is responsible for the short-cycling.

If you need to schedule service for your furnace in the Portland area, call Clean Air Act. We offer heating services throughout Portland, OR.

What Is a Gas Furnace Draft Pressure Switch?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Your gas furnace comes equipped with a number of safety switches to ensure smooth and safe operation. One of these safety switches is known as the draft pressure switch. Correct internal air pressure is critical to the proper operation of your heating system, and this switch helps your system to know whether or not the right level of air pressure is present for operation. As with any component in your heating system, the draft pressure switch can malfunction. If you are experiencing issues with your system, don’t try to determine what the problem is yourself. Instead, call the Portland heating experts you can trust: Clean Air Act.

The Draft Pressure Switch

When your heating cycle starts, air is pulled into the combustion chamber via the draft inducer fan. The furnace pressure switch is designed to sense the negative pressure created by the draft inducer fan at start up, and if the air pressures and venting are not correct, the switch will shut down ignition.

Types of Draft Pressure Switches

The design of the draft pressure switch used in your furnace will depend upon the design of your furnace itself.

  • Single stage conventional furnace – this type of furnace will have one hose on the pressure switch that leads to the body of the draft inducer fan.
  • Single stage condensing furnace – a single stage condensing furnace has two hoses on the pressure switch: one for sensing the pressure at the draft inducer fan and a second one for sensing the pressure at the condensate collector box.
  • Two stage furnace – a two stage furnace can have two pressure switches as there are two heat exchangers, so each exchanger will have its own switch.

Common Problems with a Draft Pressure Switch

Pressure switches operate at 24 volts, so if the electrical flow to the switch is below that, the switch won’t work. Another common problem with draft pressure switches is that they can become stuck in an “open” position, which will shut down the ignition process every time your furnace starts up.

Draft pressure switches are important safety controls, and are delicate components to work on; this is why it’s important to call a professional for repair. Having problems with your furnace? Call Clean Air Act today and schedule an appointment heating service in Portland with one of our HVAC experts.

How to Estimate Size for a Replacement Gas Furnace

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Gas furnaces are designed to be long-lasting and reliable, but sooner or later, they need to be replaced just like any other appliance. Furnace specialists can replace your old furnace with a new one, but before that happens, you need to determine the size and type of furnace for your home. The easy solution is to simply ask for a furnace the same size as your old one, but that may not be the best option.

Here’s how to estimate size for a replacement gas furnace in Oregon City:

Sizing matters because an improperly sized furnace can cost you a great deal. If it’s not powerful enough to heat your home… well… it won’t heat your home! If it’s too powerful, on the other hand, it will cycle on and off throughout the day, costing you a great deal of money in unnecessary wear and tear. Proper sizing is critical for maximum furnace efficiency.

Estimating that size is trickier than it seems. In the first place, you have to take the furnaces AFUE (annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating into account. The higher the rating, the more efficiently it will heat your home, and the smaller it will need to be. In most cases, your new furnace will have a higher AFUE rating than your old one, so you might not need to spend as much as you thought.

Other factors involved in calculation include your home’s exposure to sunlight (which can naturally warm you home if you have a lot of it) and the amount of insulation it has (which will help it better retain the heat generated by the furnace). And of course, you need to estimate the square footage of your home, which remains the primary factor in determining the proper size.

As you might imagine, the calculations to estimate size for a replacement gas furnace can get very complicated with all of those variables to consider. That’s why you need trained professionals like the ones at Clean Air Act to help. We handle furnace services in Oregon City and we can properly size your new furnace to ensure you get the most value for your money. Give us a call today to set up an appointment!

Furnace Repair Issues to Take Care of at the End of Heating Season

Friday, April 4th, 2014

With winter fading, your home’s furnace will see less use, and soon the air conditioner will start up to keep you cool for the middle of the year. However, in Oregon we can expect our heating systems to come back on a few days during the summer, so it’s wise to make sure that your furnace has all its necessary repair needs taken care of after the hard labor over winter.

The stress of heating season will take a toll on any furnace, no matter its age; if you notice anything about your furnace that seems amiss during the spring, call up professional technicians to look into the issue and see what they can do about it. For high quality furnace repair service in Portland, OR, rely on Clean Air Act and our around-the-clock, around-the-calendar services.

Here are some common problems that furnaces can encounter at the end of winter that need prompt repairs:

  • Dirty burner: The burner is where the natural gas coming from the municipal line is burned to change it into the high temperature combustion gas that heats the air. The burner can develop a layer of dirt and grime across it during the winter, and this will restrict the oxygen necessary for the burners to ignite. If the burner in your furnace struggles to come on, sometimes goes out, or you hear a booming noise from inside the cabinet when the burner tries to come on, you will need to call for service to remove the burner and clean it. (Do not attempt to remove it on your own; you should not tamper with anything connected to a natural gas line.)
  • Failed electronic igniter: Electronic igniters have started to replace standing pilot lights as the method to start burning the gas coming from the burner. These igniters work similar to light bulbs, with current running through them creating a hot surface. Igniters will not last as long as a furnace, and they can burn out during the winter because of repeated use. A repair technician can easily replace a failed igniter.
  • Bent fan blades: The blower in the air handler can suffer damage due to debris getting into the cabinet (something that can happen during winter), and this usually results in bent fan blades. Misaligned blades will strike against the air handler casing, causing further damage unless fixed. Technicians will use special tools to straighten the blades without accidentally bending them too far the other way.

As mentioned above, you do not want to tamper with any appliance connected to a gas line: that includes your whole gas-powered furnace. The potential for injury from carbon monoxide exposure or explosion is too great to risk. If you think your furnace need attention, call up trained professionals right away and do not take any more steps yourself.

Clean Air Act can solve the problems in your furnace quickly and with minimum disruption to your heating. Trust us for all your need for furnace repair in Portland, OR.

Proper Ventilation for Improved Indoor Air Quality

Monday, October 1st, 2012

When you think about your Portland home’s furnace, you’re probably not thinking about indoor air quality. But the truth is that there are several ways in which your furnace can impact the quality of the air in your home. When you have a furnace in your home, it’s important to understand the relationship between these heating systems and your home’s indoor air quality.

Proper Ventilation for Byproducts of Combustion

Especially if you have a gas furnace, you need to be aware of the gasses that are produced by the combustion of natural gas to generate heat. The two that are the most relevant to indoor air quality are carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. In a furnace that’s working properly and is well maintained, these gasses will be kept from the living spaces of your home and vented outside where they can disperse and are not harmful.

Air Filters

In addition to venting fumes outside, your furnace also should have air filters that can remove all types of indoor air contaminants that may be found in your indoor air. These air filters are a great way to keep the quality of your indoor air high, but they also need to be changed out or cleaned on a regular basis to ensure they’re working properly and that you’re getting all of the benefit you should from them.

If you have a particularly severe indoor air quality problem, or if anyone in your home has asthma or allergies, you may want to invest in an upgrade to the stock filters that come with your furnace. Opting for a higher quality filter can dramatically improve the quality of your indoor air.

For more information about how to improve the air quality in your Portland home, give The Clean Air Act, Inc. a call today!

Troubleshooting Your Furnace’s Air Flow Problems

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Whenever you notice furnace air flow problems in your Mulino home, you can usually do a little troubleshooting and solve the issue on your own. Most air flow problems can be fixed easily and quickly. Here are a few guidelines to get you started, but if you need help or notice other problems with your furnace, call a qualifiedThe Clean Air Act Inc. heating technician.

Furnace Filters:
Checking the furnace filter is the first step you should take when there are any issues with your furnace, but especially with air flow problems. If a filter is dirty enough, the furnace will not come on at all. Ultimately, a clogged or dirty filter restricts the air flow, and this is the source of air flow problems ninety percent of the time.

Supply Registars and Cold Air Returns:
Once you’ve replaced or cleaned the filter, check your cold air returns, which are the vents that draw in the cold air in forced air systems. When a cold air return is blocked  by furniture or other obstructions, they cannot draw in enough air to allow the furnace to put out an adequate amount of hot air. Make sure they are open if nothing is blocking them.

Next, check your supply registers, which are the vents that supply the warm air, and make sure they are open as well. Whenever your heat is on, all of your supply registers should be open. Closing some vents will not increase the air flow in other vents in the house. Closing off one or two in areas where heat is not always needed will not hurt your system; however, when you close too many supply registers, it can cause problems with the ductwork and eventually damage the furnace if the air pressure is not correct.

Clean Your Vents:
You should have a qualified Mulino HVAC technician professionally clean your ducts and vents at least once a year, which is another reason it’s important to schedule annual maintenance visits. A professional cleaning is typically part of the yearly heating system inspection. You can help by vacuuming your vents regularly, particularly during the months the heating system is not in use, or at least before you turn it on in the fall. Simply cleaning your vents can help air flow and extend the life of your entire heating system.

If you continue to experience air flow problems, call a certified heating technician at The Clean Air Act Inc.. There could be a more serious issue, or if you have a newer furnace, your original ductwork could be the wrong size for that furnace model.

Furnace Air Temperature

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

When your furnace turns on every day and warms your Gladstone home, just how hot is the air being blown through your vents? It’s a common question and while it varies depending on the type of furnace you have and the length of your ductwork, normally, the air is about the same temperature in most homes.

The Heating Process

When you turn on your furnace, it ignites fuel (gas or oil) or heats elements (electricity). A blower fan blows air through the heat exchanger and then into ductwork that distributes the heated air to vents around your home. When the combustion occurs and air is first heated, the temperature is between 140 degrees F and 170 degrees F.

This is extremely warm and could be dangerous to anyone if they got too close to it or it was blown directly into your home. However, as the heated air is distributed into your home it starts to cool. In some cases, it loses a significant amount of its energy in the ductwork.

This is intended, of course, because the temperature would be much too high if it was distributed directly to your rooms. That’s why high velocity ductwork often requires regulation to avoid overheating of the air. Cooling like this is normal and results in a better, more evenly distributed airflow.

When Something’s Wrong

To know something is wrong with your heating system, you must first understand what temperature air normally is when distributed through the vents. This will vary depending on which room you are in and how big your home (and furnace) are. However, if you notice a sharp drop off in comfort level in your home, it takes longer to heat rooms when cold or if that heating is suddenly uneven, it may be time for someone to inspect your furnace and check for potential problems.

A technician will then check to see if the air is being heated to the target 140-170 degrees F or if heat is being lost in the air handler or ductwork. There are a number of issues that can contribute to lost heat in your heating system – the easiest way to be sure the problem is solved properly is to call a professional when you notice the problem.

High Efficiency Furnaces and Chimney Concerns

Monday, December 26th, 2011

When upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace in Portland, you may need to make some upgrades to your chimney. Older chimneys built for standard furnaces with normal exhaust needs are not built to the specifications needed by today’s high efficiency models. Not only is it unsafe to leave it as is, but the cost of repairs if you don’t have it upgraded can be substantial.


A common concern when upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace is the issue of condensation and draft. Because the amount of exhaust being vented is reduced by a high efficiency furnace, your current setup is not sufficient for the new model. So, it needs to be reduced in size by a professional to avoid backup of exhaust. Proper chimney sizing is a complex process that requires professional guidelines and careful measurements of all appliances in your home.

Because the chimney often isn’t used at all for a high efficiency furnace (often PVC pipe used instead), the extra airflow in the chimney can become a major issue.

Chimney Condensation

The biggest concern for the chimney when changing the furnace efficiency is condensation. Specifically, acidic condensation droplets can build up in the chimney if not properly stopped. A new chimney liner must be placed in the chimney to avoid excessive corrosion due to the acid droplets. Keep in mind that the efficiency of your new furnace will determine whether you will use the traditional chimney for exhaust or if a new line will be installed to vent your furnace.

When to Take Action

If you have your furnace replaced, your technician will likely discuss the chimney situation in your home with you. Keep in mind that this might be necessary and that there might be an added cost involved because of it. Modern furnaces are not designed to accommodate aging chimneys and your safety and the integrity of your house are at risk if you don’t retrofit the chimney if necessary.

Signs of an Oversized Furnace

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Most people, when they choose a new furnace for their Wilsonville home, think that “bigger is better”. However, an oversized furnace can present just as many if not more problems than an undersized furnace. So, if you feel you may have overdone it in the past or you want to avoid making a mistake in the future, here are some signs that your furnace may be oversized.

Short Cycling

The most common sign of oversizing is short cycling. Short cycling occurs when your furnace turns on and off frequently because it reaches the thermostat setting so fast. Basically, your furnace is so powerful that it can produce what you need rapidly and then shuts off. But, because it does this, the temperature in your home is likely to cool much faster as well since the furnace isn’t on all the time.

Additionally, the on and off short cycling has a negative effect on your furnace, causing excess wear and tear on the system and eventually leading to extra repairs and in some cases early replacement.

High and Low Temperatures

When your furnace is turned on for a comfortable indoor temperature like 70 degrees F, the high and low temperature between cycles should be relatively close to that temperature. In an ideal situation, you shouldn’t even notice a fluctuation.

So, if the high temperature gets close to 75 degrees F and the low temperature is around 66 degrees F, you have a furnace much too large for the size of your home.

Furnace Room Issues

You might find that the space and exhaust given for the furnace are not sufficient either, especially if your previous furnace was replaced with this oversized unit. Backflow of a gas or oil smell or excess heat in and near your furnace room are both common signs that the furnace is much too large.

So, what should you do about your oversized furnace? If you have had that furnace for some time or just moved into a new home, it’s a good idea to have a new one installed. Have a proper load calculation done and then get a new furnace installed so you don’t have to worry about the system cycling on and off so often. If it’s a newer unit, call your heating technician and discuss possible options to reduce the negative effects of the miscalculation of its size.