(770) 455-6722

Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

Furnace Flame Sensor Problems

There are a multitude of different components inside of a gas furnace, all of which have to be kept working to ensure that your house stays heated. When things do go wrong, it pays to be able to understand the various roles of the components in your furnace. This will make it easier to diagnose potential problems, thus saving your repair person the trouble of starting from scratch. In this article, you will learn about what the flame sensor is used for–and what can cause it to stop working.

The Flame Sensor 

Flame sensors are found in gas furnaces that utilize hot surface igniters rather than pilot lights. A hot surface igniter utilizes electrical energy as a way of sparking the combustion at the heart of your furnace. The flame sensor’s job is to test for the increased heat that should accompany this combustion. If it does, gas is allowed to continue flowing into the combustion chamber. If it does not, it will shut down the gas flow, thus preventing the risk of explosions and gas poisoning.

Problems 

As you can see, the flame sensor is a vital piece of your furnace’s safety system. Yet it can lead to unwanted problems if it loses its ability to correctly assess the temperature inside the furnace. This will cause the sensor to cut off the gas flow even when combustion is taking place–thus keeping your furnace from warming up your home.

By far the most common cause of a malfunctioning flame sensor is that it has become excessively dirty. As layers of soot and other combustion by products build up, they make it harder and harder for the sensor to detect heat. Fortunately, this problem can be kept at bay by having your flame sensor cleaned on a yearly basis.

Questions? Call Cunningham Associates, we’re a heating repair company in Atlanta GA, today at (770) 455-6722.

Furnace Repair Expert Offers Four Tips on Improving Winter Home Air Quality

Many homeowners today keep their heating bills down over the winter by insulating their homes against the cold and sealing off cold air drafts entering from the outside. However, without the influx of fresh outside air, the air inside becomes stale and unhealthy.

Dust, pet dander, and other allergens build up. Combustion gases from gas stoves, and heating systems badly in need of furnace repair also contribute to the unhealthy air. While opening the windows isn’t an option in the winter, there are other ways of solving this problem. Here are four suggestions:

  • Use your fan hood when cooking. While in use, your gas stove releases combustion gases into the kitchen air. You may not see or smell them, but they are there if you don’t use a fan hood. These combustion gases include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.
  • Keep your house clean. House dust contains skin cells, human hair, pet dander, cloth fibers, paper fibers, mold spores, and plant pollen. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which filters out small particles that would otherwise get blown back into the air. Have your HVAC ducting system cleaned of dirt and debris buildup and get it sealed to prevent it from drawing in contaminants.
  • Use heat recovery ventilators. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) draws in fresh outside air with one fan, and exhausts stale indoor air to the outside with a second fan. The heat from the outgoing air is extracted and transferred to the incoming air. HRVs use heat exchangers that allow heat from the warm outgoing air to flow into and warm up the cool incoming air. HRVs also use filters to remove particulate matter.
  • Keep up with your furnace maintenance. An inefficient and poorly maintained furnace can produce and possibly release carbon monoxide and other combustion gases into your home. A furnace has many components that age and become filled with dirt over the years. Like all mechanical systems, it requires regular maintenance.

To prevent your furnace from breaking down or contributing to air quality problems this winter, call Cunningham Associates, we’re a heating repair company in Atlanta, GA, today at (770) 455-6722.

The Basics of Furnace Combustion Analysis

Hiring a professional furnace technician to perform regular maintenance can do much more than simply keep your furnace running. Thanks to the technique known as combustion analysis, a trained HVAC professional can also improve your energy efficiency and your family’s safety. Read on to learn more about what combustion analysis is–and what it can do for you.

The Basic Idea

The reaction taking place at the heart of your furnace is both complex and difficult to measure accurately. The ratio of air and fuel being mixed in the combustion chamber, as well as other factors, can directly influence how much heat your furnace is able to generate. Combustion analysis is a technique that allows you to get a better picture of how efficiently your furnace is working by taking measurements of the chemical substances present in your exhaust gases.

The Tools

Combustion analysis is performed using a tool known as a digital combustion analyzer. This tool has two components. First there is a probe that is inserted into the flue pipe coming out of your furnace. This probe is capable of measuring the amounts of various exhaust substances. This data is then sent to a hand-held analyzer, which allows the technician to understand the amounts of the various exhaust substances being produced.

Benefits of Combustion Analysis

When the levels of unwanted substances such as carbon monoxide and sulfur monoxide are too high, this is generally a sign that the combustion taking place in your furnace is incomplete. By altering the amount and/or the pressure of the fuel entering the chamber, a furnace technician can help your furnace reach peak efficiency. Such adjustments will also act to decrease the levels of toxic substances, thus protecting both your family and the environment.

 
For more information about furnaces contact Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.

Common Problems Requiring Heating Service

Having problems with your furnace is a major concern, especially with winter quickly approaching! A broken furnace isn’t an option or something you can just live without for a while. Below are three common problems with furnaces that require service. If you have one of these problems, you may need to contact an HVAC specialist you can trust.

  1. Complete loss of heat. If you turn your heater on and nothing happens, there could be a number of problems. Is your furnace getting electricity? If not an electrician is the right person to call. Is the pilot light igniting? If not, there could be an issue with the gas. And although it seems like a no-brainer, it is always important to double-check that your thermostat is turned on, turned to heat, and set at a temperature that will trigger the heat to turn on.
  2. Partial loss of heat. When your furnace is turning on but you aren’t getting all the heat you want, you could have a problem with your ducts. If you have radiators, they may need to be bled to release trapped air.
  3. Malfunctioning thermostat. If your thermostat is doing all sorts of crazy things like misreading the temperature and not running when it should, you will need to contact a professional to recalibrate your thermostat.
    For more information about heating service contact Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.

3 Reasons Why the “Wait and See” Approach to Heating Repair or Replacement May Cost You More Money

As you think about the upcoming winter season, you may have some concerns when it comes to your heating system. Perhaps your furnace worked fine last winter, but it is older, and you’re not sure how long it will last. Maybe you saw signs of problems towards the end of last year, such as increasing noises, or poor performance. Some homeowners are determined to keep an old furnace until it completely dies, but there are several reasons why waiting on heating repair or replacement may cost you more money.

  1. Emergency fees. Unfortunately, when your heating system fails you on a cold day, you need to call for service immediately, even if it is on a weekend, holiday, or during the night. Most contractors will charge extra fees for service calls during those times.
  2. Alternative heating options. It isn’t an option to have no heat during the winter, so homeowners will need to work out another plan. Often that means investing in space heaters, and sometimes even staying in a hotel until the furnace is fixed.
  3. Damage to pipes. When your furnace isn’t working, the house can get extremely cold in some areas, which can lead to frozen pipes. If they burst, the pipes will not only need repair, but there can be damage to walls, floors, ceilings, and belongings.

If your heating system is older, or showing signs of not performing well, it’s best to get it checked out now before the coldest weather arrives. The “wait and see” approach often ends up costing homeowners more money in the long run. Contact Cunningham Associates today – we complete furnace installation in Atlanta, GA.

Want to Avoid High Heating Bills This Winter? Install an Energy Efficient System Now

The weather is still beautiful here in Georgia, but colder temperatures are just around the corner. And if you are one of the homeowners who are still paying off last winter’s heating bills, it’s time to be proactive.

 
In many cases, if your heating system is older, it’s a better decision to put your money into a more energy efficient system than keep paying those high utility bills. In time, the savings will pay for the system itself, and having a newer furnace will give you peace of mind that your heat will not suddenly stop working mid-winter.

 
If you’re considering a new furnace, but aren’t sure where to start, there are several factors to consider. First, look at energy efficiency. All furnaces have an efficiency rating, often referred to as AFUE. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and each unit is assigned a percentage of how much fuel it can convert into usable heat. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 90 means 90 percent of the fuel is used to heat, and 10 percent is lost. Most furnaces sold today have AFUE ratings of 80 percent, all the way up to 98 percent.

 
When choosing a new furnace, the higher the AFUE, the lower your utility bills will be, but some of the very high efficiency furnaces are also very expensive, so homeowners must weigh their options. When looking for other features that might make a furnace more efficient, electronic pilot, condensing gas furnaces, two-stage gas valves, and variable speed motors are other items that might save on bills.

 
While the options can be confusing, an experienced, reliable heating contractor can help you evaluate your current system, and give you an idea of how much you will save with a variety of new furnaces. This can help homeowners make an informed decision about which one to choose when it is time to replace the furnace. Contact Cunningham Associates today – we complete furnace installation in Atlanta, GA.

Heating Service: Five things to Consider

With temperatures in the eastern United States around 90 degrees F, you’re probably thinking about your AC rather than your heater. But, fall is the time for heating service. Here are some questions to ask in order to get your furnace or head pump ready for the cooler weather.

  1. Can I do any service myself? Yes–you can check your air filters. Typically, you should change the filters once every 3-6 months. If you aren’t sure about how to do this, a professional technician will be happy to help.
  2. When should I schedule the heating service? This fall. You’ll want to schedule a service visit ahead of the cooler weather.
  3. What if I skip heating service? Angie’s List reports that approximately 75% of winter service calls occur because the owner did not do annual maintenance.
  4. Will it extend the life of my heater? It can. Typically, HVAC units last 10-15 years. Annual service calls can help forestall major problems and keep the unit operating at its peak efficiency. This in turn, will help save you money over the life of the unit. In addition, annual maintenance can help address any safety or health issues that may develop around your heater.
  5. What if I need a new heater? We’ll be happy to help you assess whether you should repair or replace your heater. If you do need a new heater, we can discuss replacement options with you through our company.

Because you can prolong the life of your heater, improve your energy efficiency, and prevent emergency winter visits, make sure that you take the time to schedule annual maintenance within the next few weeks by calling Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.

A Big Spike In Power Bills? It Could Be An Air Conditioning Problem!

The summer heat is brutal and our HVAC systems are running around the clock. We are not surprised when we get our higher electricity bills in the summer months. But, look closely. Is the bill unusually high? Is the cost increase more than it was last year? You could have an air conditioning problem.

A clogged up and dirty condenser coil results in overworked HVAC systems. The air is not freely flowing through the system. This could cause your system to continually cycle on and off using more electricity to maintain your comfort levels. A cleaning is a quick and inexpensive fix that will save your system and return your power bill to normal.

Thermostat problems are one of the most overlooked issues with our HVAC systems. If your thermostat is not correctly calibrated and working properly, it could cause your system to turn on and off too often. This is a common problem and (like with the coil issue), a cheap fix. Allow a professional to check, calibrate or if needed, replace your thermostat. This is a much less expensive option than a year of higher power bills.

A tiny leak in the refrigeration lines could be allowing small amounts of the refrigerant to leak out of the system. If the leak is small, you may not hear or feel the difference. But you can see the difference in the electric bills. Your HVAC system is struggling to keep the house at a cooler temperature with less than enough refrigerant to do so. Over time, the leak will get worse and eventually a costly repair is necessary. Fixing a minor leak allows minor problems to remain minor.

All of these little issues can cause you headaches and cost big money if neglected. All of them would be addressed in your bi-annual cleaning and system checkup.

Do not let your hard-earned money be stolen by unnecessary electric bill surges. Make sure that you call Cunningham Associates today for an air conditioning system inspection in Atlanta, GA.

3 Things to Do Before Worrying About Your Air Conditioner

It’s summer time! That means fireworks, pool time, cold lemonade, watermelon, and barbecues. Summer can also mean hot days and staying inside just to stay cool. This can be fun for a little while, but staying inside can mean running your air conditioner all day. That can result in lots of questions. Is it normal for my air condition to always be running? Why won’t my air conditioner turn off? Why does it seem like my air conditioning isn’t getting cold enough? Don’t fret yet! These are all common questions. Below is a list of three easy steps to try first before letting the stress sink in.

 

1. Make sure you actually have a problem

 
With the air conditioner running constantly, it’s easy to assume something is wrong. However, remember that it is summer. If your home is reaching the air conditioner temp without problem and you energy bills are roughly what they were at this time last year, then you may be stressing over nothing. Expect that your air conditioner will be running more frequently because it is hot outside!

 

2. Make easy changes

 
One tiny issue with something as important as the air conditioner can cause people to go into a frenzy. But, before you completely freak out, there are some easy things to check. Make sure that your air filters are clean. At the very least, air filters should be changed every three months. But, when your air is being used constantly, changing it monthly may be necessary. Also, make sure your vents aren’t being blocked. Something as simple as moving drapes, curtains, or furniture can make a huge difference in the amount of airflow allowed in your home.

 

3. Talk to an expert

 
Few and far between have much knowledge of the internal workings of your air conditioner. So, if you’ve tried the easy options, it may be time to call someone who knows. When looking for a good technician, trust is important. Pick a company that has state of the art devices to get accurate information, but also gives you a home town feel.

 
Don’t let something as silly as your air conditioner ruin your summer. Contact Cunningham Associates today. They’ll be able to answer your air conditioning service questions or concerns.

3 Great Things About Your Air Conditioning Contractor

With summer’s sizzling days making us swelter and evening’s stuffiness stifling us, people are quick to vote air conditioning as one of the greatest modern inventions (alongside the swimming pool!). Everyone loves the summer, but most of us don’t want our houses to feel like summer inside. It can be miserable just walking from the car to the next air-conditioned place when it’s ninety plus outside. So, most of us have it admit, it’s pretty amazing to walk into the house, open the door, and feel the blast of ice-cold air blowing on us. However, what happens when the door swings open and the air is hot and suffocating? It is time to contact your trusted air conditioning contractor. Below we’ve listed three great things about air conditioning contractors and how they can help you out during the hot summer months.

He/she knows exactly how to get that air cold again

When you hire a certified air conditioning contractor, be assured that your air conditioner will be up and running and feeling cold again. Why? Air conditioning contractors have undergone training and obtained certification to work on your A/C unit. They often continue their education to keep updated on the newest A/C units and industry. So, they really know what they’re doing.

He/she will explain what is wrong and give you options

If you are like most people, you will want to know what went wrong and why. A top-rated air conditioning contractor has the expertise to inform you about the details of your air conditioner’s failure. Furthermore, if options are available, a contractor advises on different solutions you can consider.

He/she gets the job done promptly

Who doesn’t want their ac working sooner rather than later? Air conditioning contractors not only have the experience to diagnose and fix the problem, but they have access to parts that homeowners cannot obtain. Most HVAC supply stores require individuals to possess a contractor’s license in order to purchase the items needed to repair a unit. A certified, licensed contractor is able to purchase your needed parts in a timely manner.

Having an air conditioning contractor you can count on will keep your home cool when you need it! Are you having issues with your air conditioning unit? If so, give us a call today to schedule an inspection!