My furnace is blowing cold air

My furnace is blowing cold air

Here in the Colorado Springs area, we often receive frantic calls from homeowners whose heating system has gone on the blink, and a typical call goes somewhat like this

Please help me! My furnace is blowing cold air. And is not keeping my house warm!

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what is the best furnace?

When faced with the need to replace their home’s furnace most consumers will ask me “what is the best furnace”?  And I really don’t have a stand pat answer in regards to what is the best furnace…

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why is my furnace blowing cold air?

“Why is my furnace blowing cold air?” is a question I hear often.  It’s a legitimate question. After all, aren’t furnaces supposed to blow warm air?

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How much does a new furnace cost?

The most asked question from a homeowner when faced with replacing an existing furnace is, “How much does a new furnace cost?” Whether your home’s furnace is just old and inefficient, or broken down beyond repair, eventually it will need to be replaced.

What’s the ballpark cost of a new furnace?

Honestly, it varies house-to-house. For the most accurate quote in the Colorado Springs area, give us a call. We’ll give you several options to fit your budget and your home.

Most furnaces last about 20 years. Well maintained furnaces will usually last years longer. And furnaces that have been neglected over time will fail prematurely.

Cost will vary depending on several factors. This includes the brand and type of the new furnace being installed, local permit fees, difficulty of the installation itself, and most importantly the selection of the installing heating contractor. How much does a new furnace cost the homeowner should also factor in long term costs, after the installation, to include operating costs, maintenance and repair costs. The true cost of a new furnace is not what you pay on the day of installation. It is the total cost in the long term of maintaining the new furnace and consideration of utility and repair costs over 15-20 years of use.

If you spend $2,200 to have a new furnace installed, yet accumulate $1,000 in repair costs over a 15 year period then your cost has now reached $3,200, not counting maintenance service and utility usage. Most new furnace manufacturers now offer a ten year parts warranty with the option to purchase extended labor coverage for 5 or 10 years. These extended labor warranties range from $99 to $400 depending on the brand. They are well worth the investment as modern furnaces are more prone to breakdowns simply because of their complexity and the number of parts they contain compared to furnaces of yester year.

High efficiency furnaces (those rated at or above 90% AFUE) will cost more initially to install, and although they cost less to operate, they are more prone to breaking down and need more regular service to keep running smoothly. They typically will not last as long either (12-15 years in most cases). This is mainly due to the effects of condensation issues and problems with the secondary heat exchanger which standard 80% efficient models do not encounter. In the long term, high efficiency models will end up costing you more money, even after factoring utility savings.

Most all new furnace models are available in single, dual or multi-stage heating BTU output, with or without high efficiency variable speed blowers and other bells and whistles. So how much does a new furnace cost? Depending on the model selected, a high efficiency furnace will range anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 installed. An 80% efficient model will fall in the $2,200 to $3,000 range in most areas of the country.

What’s the cost of a new furnace in Colorado Springs?

In the Colorado Springs area, the average cost from Basset Heating & Air Conditioning to install a new 80% efficient furnace with a standard blower motor is about $2,500. For one with a variable speed blower it’ll cost about $3,000.

Basset Heating & AC offers a 10 year parts warranty with an extended labor warranty option on all of their furnaces. They will also register the warranty for the homeowner and provide you with a copy of the warranty registration. The average cost to install a 90% efficient model is about $3,000 with a standard blower motor and around $3,500 with a variable speed model. To answer the question of how much does a new furnace cost? One must consider more than just the initial price.

Regardless of the brand and model you ultimately choose, the most important choice when installing a new furnace is the heating contractor that will do the work. Will they be there if a problem arises? Will they honor the warranty? Can you get service if the new furnace stops working at 1:00am on a Sunday morning? In the long term, paying too low of a price at the time of installation is an indicator of what kind of service to expect down the road if the new furnace suddenly develops problems. Many companies low ball bids to get the job, then aren’t around or will not respond after hours if a problem occurs.

High Efficiency Furnace Problems

Problems With a High Efficiency Furnace

High efficiency furnaces are becoming more common in homes across the country. Soon they are likely to become mandatory for all new furnaces installed here in the United States.The Department of Energy proposal to require all new furnaces installed in new homes or the replacement of existing furnaces is likely to soon take effect. The DOE is seeking to require a minimum efficiency rating (AFUE) of 92% on new furnaces. With high efficiency furnaces come high efficiency furnace problems.

high efficiency furnace problemThe DOE had previously made this proposal to increase efficiency standards to take effect back in 2007. However, this proposal was withdrawn as a result of a lawsuit filed by HVAC industry leaders citing numerous concerns on how the proposal was written and requirements within the proposal that were challenged.

But a new proposal is back on the table, and likely to soon go into effect. Homeowners across the country will be affected by this new mandatory requirement. High efficiency furnaces not only cost more to install. But high efficiency furnace problems will result in more repairs and required maintenance to keep these furnaces running properly.

Under the new proposal, homeowners who currently have a standard efficiency furnace will not be required to replace their furnace. That is, until their existing furnace must be replaced (due to failure that cannot be repaired). At that time the replacement furnace is required to be at least 92% efficient in order to meet the new DOE standards. And along with the higher cost to upgrade to a high efficiency furnace, comes the unwanted side effects of high efficiency furnace problems.

High Efficiency Gas Furnaces

High efficiency gas furnaces are condensing furnaces, which produce condensation moisture during the combustion process. And this is where the high efficiency furnace problems will eventually make their appearance.

Over the years of servicing all types of furnaces, I have often run across high efficiency furnace problems that I never see in standard 80% efficient furnaces. And the majority of the time these problems are directly linked to the condensation moisture produced by these condensing furnaces. But there are other issues as well.

Here are the most common high efficiency furnace problems that I have encountered:

  • Plugged condensate drains. High efficiency furnaces produce high amounts of condensation moisture in the exhaust vent, which is designed to run back into and through the furnace in order to drain out into either a floor drain or other approved draining system. The problem is that these drains, which taper down from a 2″ or 3″ PVC exhaust pipe, easily become plugged with debris, such as dirt or insects that have made their way into the main PVC exhaust vent. If the drain becomes plugged, or even partially plugged resulting in slow drainage, the furnace will stop working. If you notice water on the floor around your high efficiency furnace, or water or rust stains within the cabinet, your furnace is not draining properly.
  • Plugged exterior vents.  Depending on the installation, a high efficiency furnace will have at least one, and sometimes two, PVC pipes exiting the home. In newly built homes these vents will usually exit thru the roof. But in most existing homes where the high efficiency furnace replaced an older existing 80% efficient furnace, these pipes will usually be found existing an exterior wall of the home. One pipe is always required, which is for the exhaust. If there are two pipes, one is for the combustion air intake. If either of these pipes become obstructed, the furnace will not operate. The wall exiting pipes are far more prone to blockage, usually from snow or ice buildup. The area around these pipes must be kept clear of bushes, weeds, and other objects. But insects, such as wasps or moths, or rodents such as mice or squirrels, can also enter thru these pipe openings and cause high efficiency furnace problems. Screens are available to cover these pipe openings, but in colder climates where snow falls, these screens can actually cause the problem, as the warm air exhausting from the pipe creates condensation on the screen which in turn ices over, causing the furnace to stop working. Here in Colorado, code does not allow a screen over the pipe termination due to this potential problem. And all pipes exiting the home must be located above the anticipated normal snow fall grade. But even so, they may still become plugged.
  • Plugged heat exchanger.  High efficiency furnaces, unlike standard efficiency models, have a secondary heat exchanger. This heat exchanger, similar to a car radiator in appearance, is located in the furnace before the primary (or main) heat exchanger. It is located just above the blower housing (in upflow models) or just after the blower (in horizontal models). Because the fin spacing on these secondary heat exchangers is so narrow, these heat exchangers are highly prone to becoming plugged with dirt, dust, pet hair, etc that passes thru or by the furnace’s filter and becomes lodged on these fins. The result is a very inefficient working furnace that is short cycling on high temperature limit control (due to over heating caused by restricted airflow), reduction in airflow thru the primary heat exchanger, or a furnace that will not stay on long enough to heat the home at all. And if your home also has a central air conditioning system with an indoor cooling coil mounted on the furnace, your AC system is going to have problems as well. It is imperative that you have a tight fitting, clean and good furnace filter in a high efficiency furnace to prevent the secondary heat exchanger from becoming plugged.

How can you prevent these high-efficiency furnace problems?

Well the simple answer is to not install one. But this will not be a choice in the near future. If your home currently has a 80% efficient model furnace that is 15 years old or more, you may want to consider replacing it now before the new efficiency standards go into effect. 80% efficient furnace models are available with 2-stage heating and high efficiency variable speed blowers (not to be confused with condensing high efficiency models). And Amana offers these models not only with a lifetime heat exchanger warranty, but certain models include a lifetime unit replacement warranty, meaning it’ll be the last furnace you ever need to purchase.

If your home currently has a high efficiency condensing gas furnace, it is important to have it properly serviced every year. This includes inspecting and cleaning of all condensate drain pipes, tubing, traps, etc as well as ensuring a proper fitted filter. And inspecting the PVC pipe terminations and insuring there are no obstructions (particularly on side wall vented units).

The money you save on your heating bill with a high efficiency gas furnace will not give you a return on your investment when you consider the initial higher cost of installation of these furnaces, along with the cost of maintaining these models. Breakdowns due to plugged vents, drains and heat exchangers can not only be costly to correct, they are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty either. The warranty provides to cover the cost of a failed part, but not for care and maintenance of the unit. Given the choice, I would much rather install a good 80% efficient model over a high efficiency model hands down.

The problem is this choice will likely not be available in the near future.

furnace preventive maintenance

Today’s article will address the importance of furnace preventive maintenance. On a recent service call in the Colorado Springs area I had to replace a blower motor in a furnace that had failed due to neglect. Not neglect on the part of the homeowner, but rather neglect on the part of the home builder.

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common heating repair scams

Colder weather has arrived in the Pikes Peak region and many Colorado Springs area homeowners are having their furnaces serviced and inspected for the coming winter season. While having your home’s heating system serviced and inspected annually is highly recommended, homeowners need to be aware of some common heating repair scams.  While most local heating repair companies are reputable, there are a few that use unethical practices in order to create revenue for their business.

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indoor air quality solutions

There are many products available for indoor air quality solutions. Contaminants in the air can cause you to suffer from sick building syndrome and adverse health issues. Today we will look at some of the products that can help with indoor air quality solutions.

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furnaces & carbon monoxide leaks

There is a common myth about furnaces & carbon monoxide leaks. And that myth is that a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger will leak carbon monoxide into your home and potentially kill everyone inside the home.

Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? Not likely.

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improve indoor air quality

Many people suffer the effects of sick building syndrome.  Yet many are unaware that they are being inflicted by this rather common problem.  Sick building syndrome is the result of poor indoor air quality.   Many indoor air pollutants may be present in your home or workplace.  Indoor air quality (IAQ) will impact your health and how you feel. There are ways to improve indoor air quality in your home.

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