On January 15th, Brian Schutt—co-founder of Homesense—joined the Indy Style team on Wish-TV 8 to share some common reasons that furnaces stop working, and what to look out for with furnace inspections. Watch the video above, or read it all below.
Tracy Forner, Indy Style Host: Brian’s here from Homesense Heating. Good to see you. Appreciate it taking the time. This is a busy season for you.
Brian Schutt, Homesense Co-Founder: It is a little cold.
Tracy: But we can prevent it from being as busy for you and your company by doing some things and maintaining some things ourselves.
Brian: Yes absolutely. We get calls in that “Oh crap!” moment when everybody wants it 70 degrees and then you don’t really realize what’s not working until it’s 60 degrees in your home. And what we find is it’s scary for people because, for most homeowners understandably, it’s just a box that makes heat. So what we try to do is, and part of our mission is, to make the complex simplified so that people can have piece of mind and trust who they’re working with. So I brought some props today so that hopefully your viewers can have a little bit more knowledge.
Brian: If things break in their home so that they can have a more trustworthy and trusting experience with their service provider.
Tracy: Yes and this is one that everybody needs to know.
Brian: Yes so like…
Tracy: You cannot tell this enough.
Brian: Step 1: Like getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles, change your filters. So we took this out of a furnace yesterday, someone called us. They left it in there about six months or so. The dirty filter caused subsequent issues. Umm, it’s very preventable. I mean these are $5 filters. I mean obviously filters go up from there and can do a lot more things.
Tracy: Sure. Yea Exactly.
Brian: But this is the basics. Do this.
Tracy: And it’s not just a matter of the furnace working more efficiently. It has the potential to cause damage.
Brian: Absolutely. A lack of airflow really really kills your furnace. So these are some parts that might break if you don’t maintain, if you don’t change the filters.
Tracy: This is thing that I wiggle when the furnace stops working. I take the panel off and my wife expects me to do something.
Brian: Yea, that’s good.
Tracy: I just go like that.
Brian: You’re a DIY guy. So this is what we call a flame sensor. So when you look in your furnace and see those flames coming out. The flame sensor actually it senses a flame—as you would imagine with a name like that—which allows other components to come on. So this is a small repair. These are kind of the best-case-scenario repairs. These are, all said and done, $200-$400 in repairs most of these, depending on some of the specifics.
Brian: You have your flame sensor here. This is kind of the spark plug of your system. This is called the hot surface ignitor, so this kicks on the furnace.
Brian: When the gas comes through…this is a gas valve…so this allows the gas in a gas furnace to come through. Over time, if your gas is not necessarily clean or if there are some other electrical issues, this might go out.
Brian: These are all kind of the initial ignition parts. The final thing I brought is what’s called a high limit switch or a limit switch.
Tracy: Oh ok.
Brian: This is a safety mechanism that prevents your furnace from getting too hot. This one I believe reaches a high temperature of 220 degrees. And so if it reaches that, then it shuts the system down. Again, you can imagine if airflow gets stifled, your system gets hotter. So this prevents the system from getting too hot to have any risks to your furnace and your home.
Tracy: Well on the occasion where mine has stopped working, I’ve done the troubleshooting I’m comfortable with. My wife will, well…and I go, “Honey it’s a series of events. It’s a chain reaction every time.”
Brian: Right, right. You’re like, “Let me Tweet Brian, and I’ll figure this out.”
Tracy: Hahaha exactly. And then you brought this.
Brian: Yes so this is a much bigger issue. And we actually took this out of a furnace last week. So this right here is called a “cracked heat exchanger.” So your heat exchanger, your system kicks on, you get the flames going, your gas is on, it fires into a heat exchanger. You have four or five of these in your furnace. These get really hot. You have your fan blow through these really hot things, that’s how you have warm air come out.
Brian: So inside of there, this is your combustion air—your gas with heat, like any other sort of combustion process. This is a closed system and the combustion air is supposed to come out of the flue of your house to get it out.
Brian: So when a crack develops that can get carbon monoxide and other combustion air components into your breathing air. So this a really serious issue.
Tracy: Potential hazard yes.
Brian: But also one that some HVAC companies can take advantage of and that’s something that we really like to educate people on. If there’s a crack in your heat exchanger, you can see it. So ask to see it if there is a crack in your heat exchanger.
Tracy: Ahh because that’s sort of a buzzword around the industry that people would hear that. Then they start thinking in their head; alright I’m about to spend a whole bunch of money.
Brian: Right. And so what do you do? You say, “do it as quickly as possibly.” We really want to educate folks so that you don’t get pushed into something that you don’t need by scare tactics. So I figured seeing it physically would be good.
Tracy: Yea sure exactly ask. It makes perfect sense. And I did it once. Get a second opinion maybe if you’re not comfortable on what somebody’s telling you.
Brian: Just tweet me. I’ll come out.
Tracy: Yea there you go. Believe me he’s great on social media. He’s done really well. We’ll have all the links on Indystyle.com.
Tracy: I appreciate the education.
Brian: Yea no doubt.
Tracy: Learning all the time Amber. Learning, learning, learning.