Althoff Home Services Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Residential Heating’

Why Does My Heater Make a Screeching Sound

Monday, November 26th, 2018

You finally get home after a long, chilly day. As soon as you come inside, you crank up the thermostat hoping to knock some of the chill out of your bones. But instead of being greeted with a warm, gentle breeze from the furnace, you’re startled by the sound of an earsplitting, hair-raising screech.

Your first thought is probably, “That sounds expensive.”

A screeching heater is unnerving. However, most of the time, it’s a simple fix that requires a bit of expert knowledge and skilled hands to repair. It’s not a sound that you want to turn up the TV and ignore, though—the longer your heater screeches, the more you risk costly damage.

Let’s take a look at the most common causes of a screeching or squealing heater.

Blower Motor Failure

Your furnace’s blower motor creates a lot of force—blowing enough air to warm the whole home is a tough job. While blower motors are engineered for the job, like any other machine, the parts will wear down over time with use. When this happens, these parts can literally “scream” for help—that’s the squealing or screeching noise you’re hearing.

  • First, it could be the blower motor bearings. As the lubricating oil breaks down with wear, the bearings can seize up and ultimately fail. When the bearings can’t move freely, they can emit a loud, unsettling screeching noise.
  • The screeching could be coming from the blower wheel. An out of balance blower wheel will cause noise, vibration, and over time ruin the bearings on the motor. A loud screeching sound can result from metal pieces rubbing together.

An expert furnace technician can find and fix the root cause of the blower motor problem. If you hear a screeching sound from your furnace, don’t put off the call. In many cases, a simple fix (like lubricating the motor bearings) can prevent further damage and costly repairs.

Regular furnace maintenance, like an annual tune-up, can spot potential problems with the blower motor and keep it in good repair.

Is a screeching heater keeping you up at night?

Serving the Greater Chicago area, Althoff Industries can help you rest easy knowing your home will be warm when the temperature drops. Your heater’s screeching is a cry for help—call us at 800-225-2443.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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Why Is My Furnace Running but Not Blowing Hot Air?

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Your furnace clicks on and the blower motor is running, but the air coming from the vents is cold or cool instead of hot. Or maybe the air starts off hot, then turns cool before the furnace shuts down.

Let’s look at some of the solutions to this common furnace problem.

1. Check the air filter.

Has it been awhile since you changed your furnace air filter? If you use disposable air filters, we recommend checking them every month and changing them if they’re dirty.

A dirty air filter affects more than just your home’s air quality (though don’t get us wrong, that’s important). The humble air filter is at the root of many furnace problems.

A clogged, dirty air filter blocks the return air flow to the furnace, meaning:

  • There’s less air to blow out of your vents. This could account for your “cold air” feeling.
  • The furnace can overheat. The furnace is suffocating without enough air, so it has to work harder and run longer to heat your home. Imagine trying to run a marathon with a heavy cloth around your mouth and nose, and you’ll get the idea. Soot builds up on the heat exchanger over time, making it even less efficient. All this can easily cause the heat exchanger to overheat. Your furnace has safety controls that automatically shut down the burners in case of overheating. Though the hot air stops, cool or cold air will continue to blow for awhile in order to cool down the unit to safe level.

Try changing the air filter to see if this resolves your cold air problem. If that doesn’t help but you still suspect your furnace is overheating, it’s time to call in a professional HVAC technician. Repeated overheating will damage the heat exchanger and lead to a big repair bill.

2. Check the thermostat.

If you’re getting cool air instead of warm, the problem may not be your furnace at all. It may be an issue with the thermostat. Thermostats are fiddly things—plus, you never know who in the house might have done some “unauthorized adjustments.”

  • Make sure the thermostat is set to “heat” instead of “cool.” (Yes, this sounds obvious, but it’s been the cause of many a service call!)
  • If your thermostat has a fan setting, set it to “auto” instead of “on.” If it’s set to “on,” the blower fan may run continuously even when the furnace isn’t heating the air up to the set temperature.
  • Open the thermostat panel and gently blow out any dust or debris. A dirty thermostat can sometimes malfunction.
  • If your thermostat runs on batteries, try replacing them. Most thermostats run off your home’s central power with battery backup, but some run exclusively on battery power. Dying batteries can cause the thermostat to send incorrect temperature information to the furnace.
  • Ensure that the thermostat is firmly attached to the wall and none of the wires are loose or damaged.
  • Take note of the air temperature near the thermostat. A thermostat reads the temperature of the air immediately around it. Is the thermostat in a spot that is noticeably warmer than the rest of your house? The thermostat will apply that temperature to the rest of your home, which can lead to cooler air than you wanted as the thermostat tries to regulate the temperature.

If all of these things check out but you still suspect a malfunction, the thermostat may need recalibration or replacement.

3. For gas furnaces: Make sure the gas supply valve is on.

Have you had any repairs done lately? Someone may have shut off the gas supply valve to do a repair and then forgot to turn it back on. Without the gas supply, there’s nothing for your furnace to burn to create the heat. Check that the gas valve handle is inline (parallel) with the gas pipe—that means it’s on. When it’s off, the handle is perpendicular to the pipe.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, and you smell gas, turn off your gas supply and call a professional right away. Gas leaks are dangerous.

4. For gas furnaces: Check the pilot ignitor, flame sensor and/or pilot light.

Problems with your pilot light can cause your gas furnace to blow cold air.

Most modern gas furnaces have an electronic pilot igniter coupled with a flame sensor rather than a physical pilot light. These can malfunction—repairing or replacing them is a job for a professional HVAC technician.

A dirty or clogged pilot ignitor can prevent the furnace from igniting properly. While working with the ignitor is a job for a pro, you can check for a dirty ignitor if you know how and feel absolutely comfortable shutting off power to your furnace, taking off the front panel, and locating the ignitor.

If you have an older gas furnace with a standing (physical) pilot light, the light can go out. This is usually the result of the gas company shutting down the gas lines for maintenance or an emergency. Once you’ve confirmed that the gas line is safely back in operation (a quick call to the gas company is a good idea), try relighting the pilot light according to the instructions for your unit. If it won’t stay lit, call a professional. There may be a problem with the thermocouple or ignition system.

5. Consider the air ducts.

Is your furnace blowing hot air in some rooms but not in others? Does it seem like the airflow is weaker than you remember? Problems with your vents or ductwork are likely to blame.

Take a look at the air vents and make sure that the dampers (the little handles on the front panel) are parallel with the ductwork. This means that that dampers are fully open and allowing for maximum airflow from your furnace.

Still getting cool air from the vents? You may have leaking ducts. Cracks, holes and gaps in your ductwork allow the hot air from your furnace to escape before it reaches the vents. Not only will you have cold spots, but leaky ductwork will run up your energy bills and pull in dust and debris that then gets circulated into your home.

Over time, ducts can actually break due to the stress of fluctuating temperatures. Insulation can break down and fall into the duct space, clogging it. If a duct has collapsed or is severely obstructed, you’ll experience a reduction in airflow. Your furnace’s heat exchanger may overheat due to the lack of air, causing the burners to shut down.

If you suspect a problem with your ductwork, contact a professional who specializes in that area.

Furnace still not blowing hot air? Call in a professional.

A furnace problem won’t fix itself. Often the initial issue is simple to fix, but can lead to complicated and costly problems if put off too long.

If you’re in the Greater Chicago area, schedule your furnace service online or give us a call at (815) 455-7000. Our licensed Chicago HVAC technicians can diagnose the problem and get it resolved fast so you’re not left in the cold.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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Why Do You Need a Draft Check and Combustion Analysis?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Gas fired appliances like furnaces, boilers and water heaters create gases as a byproduct of the combustion process. In order for these appliances to work safely, they must be vented properly and maintain a proper draft to make sure the gases exit your home. Gas leaks, high carbon monoxide levels, and improper drafting can all be dangerous if not addressed.

Gas fired appliances like furnaces, boilers and water heaters create gases as a byproduct of the combustion process. In order for these appliances to work safely, they must be vented properly and maintain a proper draft to make sure the gases exit your home. Gas leaks, high carbon monoxide levels, and improper drafting can all be dangerous if not addressed.

These gases are made up of oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. A safe burn is represented by having the correct mixture of these components. An improper mixture can mean poor performance of your system and worse a safety concern. Only by using a combustion analyzer can these be checked.

Draft and combustion should be checked every year to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your gas-fired appliances. Here’s why you should make sure your annual furnace maintenance includes these two elements.

What is a draft check and why is it important?

Draft is required to draw flue gases and carbon monoxide safely out of a living area. This is generally accomplished through a chimney or vent system.

This flue draft will occur naturally in properly installed appliances unless it is affected by some outside force. Outside forces can include an attic fan, kitchen fan, the removal of a vent cap during high winds, or even a birds nest or other animal intrusion into the chimney.

If the flue draft gets interrupted or is impeded, carbon monoxide can back up in the chimney, eventually leaking or “spilling” into the home through the draft hood.

Verifying draft and checking for spillage is an important safety consideration for your furnace. Using a draft gauge to measure draft pressure inside the flue can determine:

  • If the furnace has sufficient combustion air to operate properly
  • If the flue gases can flow freely out of the home

If improper draft is found, the cause should be remedied to protect your household from carbon monoxide and to ensure proper operation of the equipment.

What is a combustion analysis and why is it critical?

Your gas furnace is manufactured to repeatedly and automatically ignite its burners throughout the winter, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home. To accomplish this safely and efficiently, the right amount of combustion gases must be present.

A combustion analyzer measures the amount of carbon monoxide, the amount of oxygen, and the temperature of the flue gas in your furnace. This information is important for the following reasons:

  • Safety. Levels of carbon monoxide outside of the manufacturer guidelines can be dangerous.
  • If there is an imbalance or abnormality in the measurements, it helps the technician zero in on the underlying problem. Some hidden problems are impossible to diagnose without a combustion analyzer.
  • It provides an accurate measure of the efficiency of your furnace.
  • It reveals issues related to over firing and under firing. Both cause poor performance and shortened lifespan of your equipment if not corrected.

See a draft gauge and combustion analyzer at work.

This video shows how the draft gauge and combustion analyzer work to ensure your home is safer and your furnace is operating efficiently.

Make sure your annual furnace tune-up includes a draft check and combustion analysis.

Not every HVAC company doing furnace maintenance includes a combustion analysis and draft check as part of their gas furnace tune-up package. These steps are too important to skip, so always make sure you ask if they’re included before booking.

If you’re in the Greater Chicago area, schedule your heating system tune-up with Althoff Industries. Every gas furnace tune-up we perform includes a draft check and combustion analysis. We do it because it’s the only reliable way to assure the efficient and safe operation of your gas furnace.

Contact us at (815) 455-7000 to schedule.

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How to Keep Your Household Safe from Furnace Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Most of us view our homes as inanimate objects, constructed of wood, bricks, steel, glass, and roofing materials. Few look at our houses as a representation of who we are. Literally.

Take, for example, our home’s electrical system. It serves as the “nervous system” of our houses, providing the power it needs to function efficiently. A home’s plumbing serves much like our own and even our insulation qualities are similar. Have you ever given thought to the fact that your home’s HVAC system serves as the lungs of your home?

For the most part, in extremes of heat and cold, we rely on our heating and air conditioning to provide us with clean, refreshing air. There are those few months in Crystal Lake and NW Chicago that we can shut it all off and open our windows but for the most part, we rely on our HVAC “lungs” to provide us with comfortable, safe, clean air to breathe.

There is a potential problem that can occur, however, particularly in colder weather. It is the issue of a carbon monoxide leak. A furnace carbon monoxide leak is a serious issue that takes diligence to prevent and expert technicians to diagnose and resolve.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless flammable gas that is created when the combustion of carbon is not completed. The biggest issue with carbon monoxide is that it is toxic, causing illness, brain damage and even death can occur.

How is Carbon Monoxide Produced?

Carbon monoxide is produced by anything that burns carbon as a fuel. This includes water heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, kerosene, gas heaters, wood stoves, and even clothes dryers. The more energy an appliance uses, the greater the risk of the carbon monoxide it can produce.

Why is it a Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because takes the place of oxygen in the bloodstream and prevents oxygen from getting to the heart, brain, and organs. When exposed to carbon monoxide in large amounts, humans can be overcome in just a matter of minutes. This can cause a person to lose consciousness and ultimately suffocate in a relatively short period of time.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Family?

The best way to prevent yourself and family from carbon monoxide poisoning may be through the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. This will serve as a last line of defense in the event carbon monoxide levels in your home are becoming dangerous. There are steps you can take, however, to minimize your home’s carbon monoxide levels so they never reach the point of becoming dangerous.

  • Schedule an annual tune-up or maintenance check on your furnace. Most carbon monoxide issues develop over time and can be discovered and addressed by an annual maintenance check on your furnace. Many carbon monoxide issues develop gradually and can be prevented by these maintenance checks.
  • Change air filters often. As inexpensive and easy to change as air filters are, many homeowners simply forget or fail to change their air filters often enough. This can prevent fresh air from entering your furnace.  It also increases the risk of carbon monoxide production.
  • Make sure your furnace was installed correctly. It doesn’t matter whether your furnace was installed 10, 20 or 30 years ago, there may have been errors made in its installation. Poor ductwork, venting or blower installation can create carbon monoxide problems. They also may be inhibiting your furnace from operating efficiently. Standards are higher today. To make sure carbon monoxide is not an issue with your system, contact a professional.

Few things may be as frightening as the thought of a furnace carbon monoxide leak. We rely on our furnaces as a source of warmth and comfort. If it has been more than a year since you’ve had a furnace check-up, cleaning or tune-up, we would encourage you to schedule one today. Of course, we would call us at Althoff Industries. For over 50 years we’ve been keeping families safe and comfortable in NW Chicago. We would be honored to assist you.

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3 Most Common Winter Furnace Repairs

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

During winter’s blast, our furnaces work overtime to keep us comfortable without much regard to age or condition. Eventually, the weakest link in a heating system will fail, creating a need for a furnace repair. While your furnace may carry a decade or longer guarantee, some of the smaller, more susceptible parts, like those listed below, may fail prematurely.

Here are the most common furnace repairs our technicians encounter each winter.

1. Igniter Failure

Igniter failure is the single most common cause of gas furnace problems we see.

Furnace igniters replaced the pilot light systems that started gas furnaces in the past. If you remember “the pilot light going out” on your old gas furnace, you know that pilot lights were inefficient and often extinguished by drafts.

Rather than an actual standing flame, modern ignitors use electricity to heat small wires or filaments until they produce a spark to ignite the gas furnace. While igniters are safer and much more energy efficient than the old pilot lights, they’re still a common source of furnace issues.

Ignitors can malfunction with age, wear and tear. A dirty or clogged ignitor can prevent your gas furnace from igniting properly.

2. Issues With the Flame Sensor

The flame sensor is another part of the furnace ignition system that is prone to failure.

Older gas furnaces had a thermocouple, which could detect the heat put off by the pilot light. If the thermocouple determined there was no pilot light, it would prevent the flow of gas to the furnace for obvious safety reasons.

Modern furnaces use a flame sensor which, in essence, serves the same purpose. A flame sensor will prevent the flow of gas into your furnace if it detects there is no ignition source like a flame ignitor. The flame sensor must perform this task dozens if not hundreds of times per day throughout the cold weather months. Over time, the flame sensor can fail due to this great demand.

3. Problems With the High-Limit Switch

Have you noticed that your furnace will kick on minutes before warmer air begins to circulate throughout your home? This is the high-limit switch at work.

The high-limit switch has the important job of keeping the blower from powering air through your home until it’s heated sufficiently. Without a functioning high-limit switch, you’d be shivering in cold, unheated air!

This is another part of your furnace that is asked to perform thousands of times through the winter and will likely eventually fail.

When To Call An HVAC Professional

While it’s possible for experienced do-it-yourselfers to complete some of these common repairs on their own, we would caution against taking on such a task if you feel at all uncomfortable. Most modern furnaces combine electricity and gas to create combustion—two elements that require caution, know-how, and appropriate safety measures. When it comes to any furnace repair, the safety of you and your family is the primary concern.

If you’re in the Greater Chicago area, schedule your furnace service online or give us a call at (815) 455-7000. Our licensed Chicago HVAC technicians can diagnose your furnace problem and get it resolved fast so you’re not left in the cold.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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HVAC Installation Day: 6 Steps our Team Takes to Ensure Success

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

HVAC installation day for your new HVAC system is an exciting time for our team at Althoff Industries. While we try to minimize any negative impact HVAC installation day may have on you and your family, we want you to know what to expect. We also hope that the day brings a certain excitement to you, knowing you will soon have a new, more efficient HVAC system providing a more comfortable indoor environment.

There are six general steps our team takes to help ensure the successful installation of your new equipment.

  1. Loading and preparation at our shop. Installation day starts with making sure we not only have your new HVAC equipment aboard our trucks but all the tools, testing equipment, and components to complete your installation properly, safely, and efficiently. This takes making sure we have everything we need loaded before we head to your NW Chicago suburb area home.
  2. Arrival and meeting of the installation team. Once our technicians arrive, they will introduce themselves and explain a bit about the installation process and what you can expect. They will determine the best place to park vehicles as to offer as little inconvenience to you as possible.
  3. Preparation for installation. Preparation for installation includes determining the easiest and simplest pathway to the installation site(s) and making sure any flooring is covered to prevent any potential damage. Once access is determined, the real work is ready to begin.
  4. Removal and disposal of old equipment. Before we can install your new equipment, we must remove the older equipment it will be replacing. This can sometimes be a relatively simple process but in some instances where very old equipment is involved, it can be a challenge. We will remove all of the old equipment and get it ready for disposal upon our departure.
  5. Installation of new equipment. Once the old equipment is removed, we will bring your new HVAC equipment into place and begin the installation process. Even after installation, our job is not done as the HVAC system must be carefully tested and checked for safe, smooth, and efficient operation. This is done through an initial start-up and thorough monitoring and testing using specific HVAC testing equipment to monitor gasses, combustion, and airflow.
  6. We’ll explain your equipment and its operation. Once our technicians are completely satisfied your new HVAC equipment has been properly and safely installed, they will explain the operation of your equipment to you and the routine maintenance you can perform to keep it running at peak efficiency.

You should begin enjoying the benefits of your new HVAC equipment quickly through better heating and cooling of your home and lower energy bills! Our goal is to leave your home as we found it, only better!

We’ve prepared a brief video of our team preparing for an install. Enjoy the show!

You can help us on HVAC installation day by removing any items that may be in the path while we take out or bring in your equipment. For the safety of any pets as well as our technicians, please keep any animals in a separate area during the installation process. If you have a cat or dog that is sensitive to noise or strangers, you may want to consider having a friend or relative take your pet during the installation period.

Keep in mind, the installation of a new HVAC system is a major project. It is likely the largest mechanical system in your home. There will be noise and technicians will be coming in and going out of your house frequently. While we do everything we can to minimize disruptions, it is an involved process.

Thanks for choosing Althoff Industries. If you ever have any questions about your new HVAC system or would like to know more about keeping your indoor air as clean and comfortable as possible, please contact us.

Heating System Repairs 24 hours NW Chicago Suburbs (1)

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What To Do Before Calling for Emergency Furnace Repair

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

It’s a frigid winter day and you wake up to a cold house. You soon discover that the heater isn’t working! Your first thought is to call for emergency furnace repair.

Before you grab your phone, you can take a few simple steps to see if you may be able to resolve the issue on your own. This may help correct the problem quicker and without the expense of a potentially unnecessary emergency furnace repair call.

5 Quick Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

1. Check your thermostat.

  • Make sure that the thermostat is on and set to “heat.” This sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many service calls happen because the homeowner didn’t know that someone (like a guest or child) adjusted the settings!
  • If your thermostat has a fan setting, set it to “auto” instead of “on.” Otherwise, the fan may blow continually even when the air isn’t being heated.
  • If the room temperature is lower than the thermostat setting, try adjusting the setting up a few degrees to see if the furnace kicks in.

2. Make sure you have power to the furnace.

Even if you have a gas furnace, an interruption in electric power will interrupt your furnace from producing heat. You may have a circuit breaker that has tripped.

If that’s the case, you can reset it by turning the circuit all the way off and then on again. If the circuit immediately breaks again, call a professional.

3. Check your air filter.

An air filter that is extremely clogged will not allow the air to be heated properly. It may cause your furnace to overheat and shut down.

Remove the filter and hold it against the light. Can’t see any light through it? Replace it. We recommend checking your furnace filter every month and replacing as needed.


4. If you have a gas furnace, make sure the gas supply is on.

If you’ve had any repairs done lately, someone may have shut off the gas supply valve and then forgot to turn it back on. Or, the gas company may have shut down the gas lines for maintenance. A quick check with the gas company is a good idea if you think this may be the case.

  • Check the gas valve at the gas company’s meter.
  • Check the gas valve on your furnace. Your furnace’s gas valve is on when the handle is inline (parallel) with the pipe. If it’s off, the handle will be perpendicular to the pipe.

If you smell gas, turn off the supply and immediately call a professional.

5. Check the ignition source or pilot light.

Most modern furnaces have an igniter coupled with a flame sensor rather than a physical pilot light. Both of these can wear out and require repair. In fact, ignitor and flame sensor problems are some of the most common furnace repairs we encounter.

If you have an older furnace, your unit may have a physical pilot light. A draft or interruption in gas service can cause the pilot light to go out. If your pilot light is out, and you’ve already confirmed that you have a safe gas supply, try relighting it according to your owner’s manual. (This is usually done with a fireplace match or long barbeque-style lighter.)

If you’re not comfortable with this, or the pilot light won’t stay lit, call a technician.

4 Furnace Facts to Know When Calling for Repair

If the above steps do not resolve your issue, it’s time to call for furnace repair. Gathering the following information will help your technician resolve the issue more promptly.

  • Make note of your furnace brand and model number.
  • Make note of your furnace’s approximate age.
  • Write down the steps you took in trying to determine the problem.
  • Be sure to let the repair company know if they have done previous work for you.

Share the above information when you’re on the phone with the customer service representative when scheduling your service call.

At Althoff Industries, we appreciate having this information so our technician has a head start on the specific problem. He or she can make sure to have the appropriate part or parts to resolve the problem on the initial call.

Althoff Industries offers Chicago-area emergency furnace repair 24 / 7 / 365.

Waking up to a home without heat can interrupt your entire day. It is our goal at Althoff Industries to minimize any disturbance to you and your home and restore heat quickly and safely. If the loss of heat is the result of a deeper issue relating to the age or maintenance of your furnace, we will discuss your options with you.

If you live in the NW Chicago suburbs or Crystal Lake and McHenry County area, we invite you to make Althoff Industries your go-to team when it comes to the comfort of your indoor air. Any day, anytime, we are here to assist you. Call (815) 455-7000.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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Althoff HVAC Trucks: Fully Stocked to Finish Residential Service Jobs

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Those who live and work in the Crystal Lake, Northwest Chicago area, and its suburbs have likely seen our Althoff Industries service trucks on the area roadways. You may not, however, have given much thought to what all is contained in these vehicles.

It helps to understand that for our technicians, these trucks tend to serve as their offices on wheels. As such, they need to contain the parts and tools that we use most often. This better allows us to complete a repair on the first call properly. It also saves us, and you, time and money.

Of course, with so many brands, types, sizes, and configurations of heating and air conditioning equipment, this leads to quite a collection of parts and tools. Is it always pretty and well-organized in the back of our service trucks? Not very often. But through the years, however, we have become quite adept at making sure our trucks are equipped to handle the most common HVAC and plumbing related problems on an initial call. Let’s take a closer look at what you may typically find in an Althoff HVAC residential repair truck.

Hand and Power Tools

Of course, one of the most critical factors in residential HVAC repair is having the right tool for the right job. This means a variety of both common and specialized hand and power tools that range from hammers and pliers to sheet metal cutting tools and soldering equipment.

Gauges, Diagnostic and Measuring Equipment

At Althoff Industries, our primary concern is that of the safety of your family. This makes it necessary that we have a variety of gauges and measuring equipment to help us properly diagnose any potentially dangerous conditions. These devices include equipment like a combustion analyzer, draft gauge, manometer, and more. Humidity and temperature gauges also help us in determining HVAC related issues.

Various Nuts, Bolts, and Small Parts

The back of one of our residential HVAC repair trucks will have a variety of nuts, bolts, screws, and small parts to help technicians complete their tasks. This will also include a variety of sealers, electrical tapes, duct tape, and PVC and sheet metal parts.

Parts that Commonly Fail

Some HVAC parts are more prone to failure than others. These include relays, transformers, circuit boards, capacitors, thermostats, thermocouples, blower motors, igniters, and more. Our trucks contain a variety of these parts including replacement hoses and valves, wiring, switches, connectors, breakers, and others.

The Most Important Part 

Our trucks contain refrigerant, refrigerant reclaim jugs, flush kits, glycol and glycol pumps, and so much more. But it is what you don’t see in the back of our HVAC contractor truck that is perhaps most important. That is the knowledge, training, and experience of our Althoff Industries technicians.

When you contact us for a service call, you likely want that call completed as efficiently and quickly as possible. A properly equipped and stocked truck can help us better accomplish that.

Keeping our trucks properly stocked and outfitted with the latest tools is part of the cost of doing business. So is properly maintaining our vehicles so they are ready to go when you need us. Whether your furnace decides to give out during the coldest day of the winter or your AC fails in the mid-summer heat, you can count on the team at Althoff Industries to be prepared. When you experience HVAC issues, we invite you to contact us, at Althoff Industries.

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10 Tips to Save on Illinois Energy Costs this Winter

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Odds are you and your neighbors are looking for ways to save on heating costs this winter. You’ll be glad to know you can cut Illinois energy costs without expensive remodeling or the purchase of brand new HVAC equipment. Here are some relatively simple, low-cost ways you can cut your heating costs on your Illinois energy bill this winter.

10 Tips to Save on Heating Costs

  1. Check the height of your exterior door thresholds. You should not be able to see any light between the bottom of your exterior doors and the bottom threshold under the door. If you can, you are giving warm air an easy way to get out and drafty cold air an easy entry point. Cure this issue by raising the threshold height or by adding a door sweep to the bottom of the door. You can also use a variety of tubular, stuffed draft stoppers that you can lay across the bottom of your door once you are inside.
  2. Use a portable heater to help heat the room in which your family spends the most time. Most of us heat our entire home to the temperature we are most comfortable, yet many of the rooms are empty. Consider a space heater or portable heaters for the rooms you use most. This will keep you cozy without wasting money overheating rooms that aren’t being used.
  3. Check your ductwork for leaks. The sheet metal pieces of your ductwork can develop leaks and creases over-time. This prevents all of the heated air from getting to the specified heating vents. You can save on heating costs by inspecting ductwork where you can and sealing any seam that appears loose with duct tape.
  4. Buy a programmable thermostat. You will likely save heating costs by purchasing a thermostat that you can program to comfortable temperatures when you are at home and save energy when you are not. Thermostats are inexpensive, usually under $50.
  5. Buy heavier, insulated curtains to help keep your home warm. Heavier blinds, curtains, and shades can do wonders keeping out the cold, especially if you have older windows. At the same time, you can use windows that face the sun to “capture” natural sunlight to help warm your home during daylight.
  6. Check weatherstripping around windows and doors. It may seem like last year when you replaced weatherstripping around your doors and windows but it may be much longer. Weatherstripping loses its ability to be effective after several years and replacing it can help you save on heating bills.
  7. Caulk or use expanding liquid foam to insulate where pipes and vents enter your home. Anywhere there is a breach into your home where cold air or drafts can enter is likely costing you money. Look under your sinks, around your dryer’s vent, and take electrical socket covers off to see where you can save on heating bills.
  8. Install clear plastic film over windows. Today’s modern, plastic fill products are easy to install and are hardly noticeable once installed. Using a simple blower hair dryer will stretch the film to be virtually invisible. The impact they can have to cut heating costs can be surprising.
  9. Reverse ceiling fans. You may know that heat rises but did you know that your ceiling fan can help recirculate that warm air back down from the ceiling to save on heating bills? There is likely a switch on your fan that can reverse the direction of the blades to counterclockwise in the winter, helping you use energy more efficiently.
  10. Change your furnace air filters. We say this so often but it is absolutely critical if you want to save on heating costs. Furnace filters are inexpensive and easy to change and should be step number one if you want to cut heating costs.

Of course, if you are still frustrated with your heating bills, we invite you to call the indoor air experts at Althoff Industries.  We’ve been helping keep Chicago and Illinois area homeowners comfortable for over 50 years.

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Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Regular maintenance goes a long way in extending the life of your furnace. There are points, however, when even a well-maintained furnace may need replacing. Like any other appliance, furnaces don’t go on running forever.

Here are signs that it may be time to replace your furnace.

5 Furnace Replacement Signs

1. Your furnace is old enough to drive.

Once your furnace reaches 15 years of age, it’s beginning to live on borrowed time.

Even if your 15-year-old furnace seems to be operating properly, you may notice escalating heating bills. Once you start repairing an aging furnace, those repairs often become more regular, extensive and expensive.

That’s not to say that a well-maintained furnace may not last five or ten years longer. Still, the 15-year lifespan serves as a guidepost to prepare for repairs or replacement. Like an aging car in need of constant repair, there will be a time you need to decide when to draw the line and replace it.

2. Your home doesn’t feel as comfortable as it once was.

Are you reaching for your coat even when you’re indoors? Are the kids bundling up for dinner? Are you constantly adjusting the thermostat because your living room is warm but the bedroom feels like the North Pole?

Poor and uneven heating are common symptoms of furnace problems. If your furnace is still young, it may only need a simple furnace filter change or other routine maintenance.

If you have an aging furnace, however, it may be time to budget for a replacement.

3. Your furnace is becoming the soundtrack of winter in your home.

A well-operating, efficient furnace should be almost imperceptible when it’s running. At the very least, it shouldn’t attract attention to itself.

Rattling, screeching, clamoring, popping, and rumbling noises are likely signs your furnace has an issue and needs professional attention.

If the furnace has reached the 15-year milestone, these sounds may be a cry for a furnace replacement.

4. Your heating bills are climbing.

If your rates have stayed steady and it’s not an extraordinarily cold winter—yet you still notice higher energy bills—your furnace may be picking your pocket and it needs to go.

Higher energy bills are a common motivator for furnace replacement. This can ultimately prove a prudent decision as opposed to repair. If your bills are climbing now because of an inefficient furnace, they aren’t going to suddenly become cheaper.

5. Your house has never been comfortable in the winter.

If your home has never quite seemed comfortable during the winter months, the problem could be drafty windows or poor insulation. But, it could also mean your furnace was never properly sized or installed. In the Greater Chicago area, contact Althoff Industries and we’ll help you determine what can be done or if a furnace replacement will solve your problem.

Repair or Replace?

Even when a furnace replacement is necessary, it’s not all bad news. A new furnace will operate quietly and more efficiently. Many of our customers experience savings so significant, they tell us they wish they’d replaced their furnace sooner!

If you suspect your furnace is reaching retirement age, call Althoff Industries at (815) 455-7000. We serve customers throughout the Greater Chicago area, and can help you determine whether your furnace is worth saving or replacing.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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