Q: How does a furnace work?
Q: How does a boiler differ from a furnace?
Q: What should I do if my heating system doesn’t work?
Q: What is a cracked heat exchanger?
Q: On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates from being too hot to being too cold. How can I fix this?
Q: I hear a lot of talk about high-efficiency heating systems. How do you determine a heating system’s efficiency?
Q: Is there anything you can do about the smell of heating oil?
Q: At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
Q: Should I install a programmable thermostat?

Q: How does a furnace work?
A
: Heat is generated by burning oil inside the furnace. This happens in the combustion chamber, which gets very hot. Air absorbs this heat in the furnace’s heat exchanger. Next, the blower sends the heated air through a system of ducts, and warm air circulates through the home.

Q: How does a boiler differ from a furnace?
A:
The basic heating principle is the same. The difference is that a boiler heats water instead of air. A circulator pumps the hot water through a system of pipes, distributing the water to radiators, baseboards or air handlers throughout the home. Some boilers are designed to create steam, which circulates by means of a system of pipes. The pipes are connected to steam radiators throughout the home.

Q: What should I do if my heating system doesn’t work?
A:
If your heating system isn’t working, first check to see if the heating system is turned ON. Then double-check that the circuit breakers are on, as it is common for the circuit breakers to trip. Next, make sure that the oil tank is at least 1/8 full. This may save you the cost and inconvenience of an unnecessary service visit, and will ensure our technicians are working where they are most needed. If at this point you still don’t get heat, call us immediately.

When a service technician arrives, let him know everything you did to the system before he begins working on it. You should also let him know if anything out of the ordinary happened, like an unusual noise, a strange smell or smoke.

In many cases, this will help the technician find the problem—and get your heat back on again—faster.

Q: What is a cracked heat exchanger?
A:
The heat exchanger is the main component of your furnace. If the heat exchanger has a crack or a rust hole, combustion fumes (including carbon monoxide) can contaminate the air in your home. This is a potentially deadly situation and should be addressed IMMEDIATELY. A cracked heat exchanger is not a simple furnace repair; in fact, it usually requires replacing the entire furnace. If you suspect that you might have a cracked heat exchanger or a carbon monoxide problem caused by your furnace, turn the system off immediately. Then call us right away for service.

Q: On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates from being too hot to being too cold. How can I fix this?
A:
Installing a new furnace with a variable-speed motor is a good solution. These “smart” motors automatically adjust airflow volume and speed based on your home’s temperature requirements. There will be fewer on/off cycles, smaller temperature swings, consistent even heat and lower fuel bills.

Q: I hear a lot of talk about high-efficiency heating systems. How do you determine a heating system’s efficiency?
A:
There are two indicators of efficiency.
1. Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). All heating equipment manufactured after 1980 is required to have a label indicating its AFUE. The AFUE ratio is a measurement of a heating system’s seasonal efficiency, taking into account how well the system performs over an entire season of starts and stops. Modern heating systems range in efficiency from 81% – 95%. If your system’s AFUE is lower than this range, talk to us about your replacement options.

2. Combustion efficiency. When we tune up your heating system, we do a combustion efficiency test that tells us how well your burner is converting oil into heat. If your combustion efficiency is below 78, you may want to evaluate your upgrade options, which could include an oil burner retrofit. A new burner will burn the fuel/air mixture in a cleaner, more controlled manner, resulting in lower heating costs and less combustion bi-products going out of your chimney.

Q: Is there anything you can do about the smell of heating oil?
A:
Yes! As long as your heating system is working properly, you should not smell oil in your home. If you do, it means something is WRONG! A heating oil smell could come from a leak, combustion or burner troubles, heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. Call us and we’ll come over to correct the problem. If you have a leak, we’ll remove the oil and help get the smell out of your home. If you ever smell oil coming from your vents, call us immediately. That’s an indication of a faulty furnace that may be releasing dangerous gases in your home.

Q: At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
A:
Different people feel comfortable at different temperatures. Pay less attention to the number on the thermostat display (or the position of the temperature indicator on a nondigital display) and more to how comfortable the room feels to you. When you feel comfortable, check the setting. That’s the right temperature for you.

Q: Should I install a programmable thermostat?
A:
Absolutely! Programmable thermostats are especially useful for people who are away from home at regular intervals. They allow for customized comfort settings around the clock, and they can cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 10%!