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Black Hills Blog

Why Heating Repair Matters So Much at the End of Heating Season

The weather in Washington is still chilly enough that we’ll need to use or heaters for another few weeks before we can expect the spring thaw. But that warmer weather will be here sooner than we think.  If your heater has repair needs, you may feel tempted to let them go and wait until you need your heater again in the fall to deal with them.

We understand the temptation to procrastinate on heating repairs as the end of the season. However, it can make a major difference in your heating to have any necessary repairs done now, when your heater is still running, before you shut it down for the warmer season.

Repairs don’t have to be a hassle: you can contact Black Hills, Inc. Heating & Air Conditioning for professional heating repair service. We’ve served the South Puget Sound are with HVAC service since 1993.

Reasons you need to have heating repair taken care of now:

Avoid an unpleasant surprise in fall: if you’re tempted to let repairs go now for the sake of convenience, it could end up as a huge inconvenience later when you turn your heater on for the cold season for the first time… and it doesn’t work. The last time you want a heater to fail is when you really need it.

Keep repair costs down: The longer a malfunction repair goes without attention, the more likely that it will become a higher-cost repair in the future. IF your heater comes on in the fall and starts to fail right away, it will probably cost more to repair it than if you attended to it at the end of the season.

Ease of Scheduling: During the first burst of cold weather in the late fall, many people will need repairs for their heaters, and this will keep HVAC technicians extremely busy. You’ll have a harder time finding convenient scheduling for your repairs, and may need to wait longer for service that will restore your regular level of heat.

Make sure you have your maintenance taken care

If your heater currently appears to have no repair needs, you can always find out for sure with an inspection from a maintenance technician. If you did not have a maintenance check during the fall, it is especially important that you schedule it now: your HVAC repair specialists will locate malfunctions or impending problems and fix them.

Black Hills, Inc. is ready to handle the heating repair you need for peace of mind later in the year. You can also call us for a maintenance inspection to make sure your heater will be ready when it returns from its summer vacation.
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3 Problems Caused by a Faulty Thermostat

The modern thermostat is just a small part of your heating and cooling systems in your home, the thermostat plays an enormous role. It must stay in good repair and operating conditioning for your HVAC system to run the way you need it. Often, thermostat malfunctions are mistaken for faults in other parts of a comfort system, although trained professionals can quickly get to the source and provide the repairs or replacements needed to fix the thermostat.


Below are some common thermostat problems:

Heater won’t run: when an HVAC system fails to come on, it cause an immediate sense of alarm. Although it’s possible that a catastrophic mechanical failure or power loss has caused this, a more common cause is a thermostat that has lost connection to the system. Thermostats use five different wires to communicate to the HVAC system, and it only takes a lost connection in the ones responsible for turning on/off your heater to cause the system to stop running.

Heater won’t stop running: the opposite problem can also occur. Crossed connections can lead to the heater continually running, wasting energy and making your home extremely uncomfortable. This can also occur because of a thermostat miscalibration, meaning the thermostat is misreading the temperature in your home and believing the HVAC system must continue to run to reach the target temperature.

Uneven heating: a miscalibrated thermostat can also cause a heater to run too briefly to be able to spread heat evenly through your home. If you start to notice rooms in your home that are hotter or colder than others, the thermostat is one of the likely reasons for it.

If the thermostat is behind any of these problems, it isn’t difficult for a trained repair technician to fix the problem. Often, it will require a new thermostat installation, and you should take this opportunity to update your model to the newest technology: an advanced thermostat will save you money with precision controls and the ability to program it or access it remotely.
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What Exactly Does A Heat Exchanger Do?

Have you ever been in a position where your furnace wasn’t producing enough heat? Like most homeowners, you have called a technician to diagnose the problem.

After waiting on to find out what is wrong with your furnace, the technicians comes back to inform you that the heat exchanger in your furnace is cracked and your furnace needs to be replaced.

Why would your furnace need to be replaced if the heat exchanger is cracked? Couldn’t it simply be repaired? What happens if a crack heat exchanger goes without attention? What exactly does this heat exchange do, how does it work when it is not damaged?

These are all common questions that are asked when a homeowner is given the news that a simple service call has turned into an expensive replacement.


What does a heat exchanger do? How does it work? 

When your furnace turns on, burners send hot combustible gases to your heat exchanger. From there, heat from the combustion gases gets transferred to the metal walls within the heat exchanger, which causes those metal walls to heat up.

Now that the walls, are heated up, cold air from your house goes over those hot metal walls on the outside of the heat exchanger. This allows air from your home to heat up without picking up those dangerous combustible gases within the heat exchanger. Warm air is then distributed throughout your home using your duct work.

However, those dangerous combustible gases need a place to go, or vent to.

With standard furnaces, those gases are blown out of the heat exchanger and vented outside of your home. If you have a high efficiency furnace, those gases are cycled through a second heat exchanger, where even more heat is pulled from those gases and used to further heat your home


2. What does it mean when your heat exchanger is cracked? Can it simply be repaired? 

Severely cracked heat exchanger

Cracks in a heat exchanger can’t be fixed long-term, and repeated short-term repairs can cost more than a new heating unit. The metal of the heat exchanger is generally too thin to weld shut and nearly impossible to access without removing it completely. Often even more cracks are found along the way to attempting the repair of the original.


3. What happens if a cracked heat exchanger goes without attention?

These gases contain the products of combustion. If they get into your air supply circulating through your house, gases like Carbon Monoxide can have dangerous health consequences. Heat exchanger cracks cause interior pressure changes, affecting how well the furnace burns.

Poor combustion, when the furnace flame burns incompletely, produces higher carbon monoxide levels. Soot can block the venting of these lethal gases, sending it into the house, thus your family breathes them in. We’ve all heard the unfortunate news stories about family tragedy brought on by carbon monoxide exposure, especially in the winter heating season. The worst case of odorless, colorless carbon monoxide accumulation cause death. The main reasons carbon monoxide poisoning can happen are:


Small crack in heat exchanger

  • Inadequate or blocked gas vents

  • Heat exchanger problems

  • Incomplete combustion, resulting in high CO production

  • Lack of fresh, clean air and proper ventilation in the home

  • CO detectors missing or non-functional

Be sure you have working CO monitors/detectors, right outside each sleeping area. Don’t forget smoke alarms and radon detectors.


There you have it! Those are the basics of a heat exchanger and why they are so important to your heating system. If you have been given a diagnosis of a cracked heat exchanger and would like a second opinion, feel free to give us a call. 1 866 885 7885

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Common Heat Pump Problems

Heating repair companies like Black Hills, Inc. hand heat pumps as often as they handle traditional gas furnaces. Heat pumps essentially combine the functions of a heater and an air conditioner into one, resulting in a more efficient means of conditioning the air in your home. They work especially well in climates like ours, where the winters are fairly mild and homeowners have HVAC needs throughout the year. But just like any other appliance, heat pumps can experience problems requiring the services of a trained professional to correct. Here’s quick breakdown of common heat pump problems.

Heat Pumps use the same basic technology as air conditioners, which means their problems are pretty much the same. One common development is a leak in refrigerant gas, which can interfere with the heat pump’s ability to generate cool (and warm) air. Refrigerant needs to be at a specific level if the heat pump is to work the way it should. When those levels are out of balance, frost forms on the evaporator coils, representing lost cooling potential and further hampering the pump’s ability to do its job. Simply scraping the frost off won’t fix the problem: the source of the leak needs to be sealed and refrigerant levels recharged before the system will function again.

Other problems are little easier to grasp. For example, the fan motor can overheat, shutting the fan down and preventing the heat pump from moving conditioned air into your home. Clogs and blockages can form in various lines, preventing water from draining or keeping air from moving where it’s supposed to. Dust and dirt can build up to create friction between moving parts and eventually create breakdowns within individual components.

All of these have the same thing in common: repair bills, inefficiency and loss of heating and cooling just when you need it the most. To correct common heat pump problems, the heating system repair technicians at Black Hills, Inc. are experience and trained with all different types of heat pump systems. They will be able to fix the problem and get your system up and running again before you know it. Give our office a call today to set up an appointment!
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Why It’s Never Too Early or Late for Heating Maintenance

Heating maintenance isn’t strictly a repair service. It’s more like a tune-up for your heater. A trained technician will give your furnace thorough examination. They will check the burners to see if they are functioning correctly, clean any dust or build-up on components, tightens any loose bolts, and identifies any potential problem areas for future repair. Many homeowners will schedule their maintenance session right before the heating season begins to ensure that their system is running properly before they really need to use it. But you shouldn’t wait for a set time to schedule to plan for a session.

Here’s why it’s never too early or too late for heating maintenance.

The biggest advantage of a heating maintenance is preventing a problem before it starts. Dust and dirt can increase the strain on your heater, which in turn increased the risk of a breakdown. If a technician cleans off the dust – regardless of how much was built up – that can reduce the strain on the system. Not only does it help prevent issues later, but also helps your heater run more efficiently, which will help lower the monthly costs of heating your home.

Along those lines, a preventative maintenance can also help spot potential trouble areas before they get out of hand. For example, a loose bolt may cause the fan motor to rattle. If a technicians spots that during a maintenance appointment, they can tighten the bolt and fix the problem. However, if the bolt is left loose, it may damage the motor itself, requiring a far more expensive replacement later on down the line. Regardless of when you do a maintenance, if it catches something like that, it could save you a great deal of money.

In Olympia, WA (and surrounding areas) Black Hills, Inc. is the place to go for any heating service. We know why it’s never too early or too late for a Furnace Tune-up and our trained maintenance technicians are standing by to inspect your furnace whenever you a ready. Pick up the phone today and give our office a call to make your appointment today.
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"My wife and I can't overstate how good it feels to have a contractor guarantee and deliver above and beyond what they guarantee! The folks are the most professional and caring contractors I've ever worked with! from the apprentice to the Master electricians, plumbers, and HVAC personnel! Thank you and yes I would do it all over again. Thanks Again!!!!"

– Russell C.

"Service tech arrived on time, explained the process thoroughly, and answered all questions respectfully. Highly rate the experience."

– Mark G.

"Excellent service provided. Staff is verry professional and friendly."

– Afzal S.

"If I need work on my heat pump, etc. I would certainly continue to deal with Black Hills, right down to how they answer their phone!"

– Vicki T.

"The technician who serviced our furnace was very friendly and professional. He made a point of showing me before and after cleaning our furnace and gave specific test results when recommending that our capacitor be replaced. I highly recommend this company!"

– David B.

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