Home Heating Systems: A History Lesson

Aren’t we lucky to be able to keep the frigid Colorado winter temperatures outside and keep the inside of our homes so nice, warm, and cozy? For so many of us, we take that for granted. We know that if we push the up arrow on our thermostat, our house gets warmer, and we don’t give it another thought. But how did that come about? Our ancestors didn’t always have the luxury of an automatic in-home heating system. Let’s go back in time to thank those who gave us such warm comfort!

Millions of years ago: The first humans on this planet created a campfire. The campfires were then brought into their living space in an effort to heat their home.
2500BC: Ancient Greeks were found to have been the first to develop central heating using radiant heat by way of the ground. There has also been evidence that the Roman Empire used hypocaust furnaces throughout their structures. These ancient furnaces would filter warm air through hollow spaces under the floor.
1200AD: The first types of chimneys appeared around this time created and used by Cistercian monks in Europe.
1624: Thanks to French architect Louis Savot, the use of a raised grate underneath firewood allowed the heat to circulate within the fireplace. It would draw the cool air in through the grates and fuel the fire.
1742: Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin Stove. This cast iron furnace was designed to produce more heat and less smoke than an open fireplace. The cast-iron would also absorb and radiate heat for a longer period of time.
1880: Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, which in itself, creates heat.
1885: Professor Warren Johnson invented the first electric thermostat resulting in the Johnson Electric Service Company.
1905: American metallurgist Albert Marsh and inventor and entrepreneur William Hoskins patented the alloy chromel (known as nichrome today), which was over 300 times stronger than other available alloys. This durable and high resistance wire was needed in order for the electric heater to work. (This is the heating element used in a toaster).This invention dubbed Marsh as the “father of the electrical heating industry.”
1919: Alice H. Parker received the first patent for inventing the central heating system using natural gas. Her design allowed cool air to be drawn into the furnace, transmitted through a heat exchanger which then delivered the heat to individual rooms through ducts.
1935: Scientists invented a forced convection wall heater which used a coal furnace and an electric fan, to push heat through ducts.
1943: George Löf designed a flat-plate solar heating unit and installed it on the roof of his house in Boulder, Colorado.
1948: Robert C. Webber created the first electric heat pump by reusing the wasted boiling water from his deep freezer.
2017: Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research developed a technology that allows solar energy from the summer to be stored in the form of chemical energy to be used in the winter. It’s still a prototype but could be a way of the future.
2019: Today we are blessed to have an assortment of ways to heat our house, but the majority of Americans use a central furnace to provide whole-house heat.

Many of our modern day conveniences wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for all the inventors of times past. We can enjoy warm and comfortable homes, even in the freezing cold temperatures of winter. We can keep your furnace up and running to keep you warm. Heating systems are one of the biggest utility expenses for Colorado homes on the Western Slope. We can identify any inefficiencies, as well as provide you with options for a new high-efficiency system if necessary.


Sometimes blessings are curses because even today our furnaces need to be maintained, repaired, and replaced as they age or break. If you experience an issue with your furnace give SAM’s a call and we’ll send a professional technician to evaluate the issue. In the meantime, jot down our phone number (970) 249-6790 and then settle in your comfy clothes and appreciate the history of how convenient warming your house is.

10 Most Common HVAC Problems

This symbol indicates a possible danger — if this is located next to the issue you’re experiencing, contact a professional HVAC technician immediately!

1) Lack of Maintenance

Just like any good technician will tell you, regularly scheduled maintenance by a professional is a must to keeping your high-end purchases in tip-top shape. Many common HVAC problems can be avoided with proper maintenance by a certified service contractor. Neglecting to perform regular maintenance on your HVAC system will most likely result in costly repairs down the road and a possibly poor-functioning system.

Regular maintenance on your HVAC system also means getting your ducts cleaned. Sam’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers this service. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment. Professionally having your ducts cleaned out is also a great idea if you just renovated your home, had animals living in your system, recently encountered mold or other contaminants within your system, or if someone in your home is suffering from an unexplained allergy-related illness.

2) Dirty/Clogged Filters

With time, HVAC unit filters get dirty and clogged. Filters should be changed regularly to prevent this from happening. When a clogged filter isn’t changed, the airflow is reduced causing the system to work overtime — this can lead to an increase in your energy bill. A dirty filter can also cause more allergens to circulate through the HVAC system. Holding a filter up to the light is a good indicator of whether it needs to be replaced or not. If no light passes through, it’s time to change the filter.

3) Pilot or Ignition Problems

Ignition problems can be due to a number of causes. A dirty pilot, flame sensor, or burner can cause a pilot outage, short cycling, furnace lockout, or delayed ignition of the burners. It could also be the result of a gas supply problem or wear and tear. Whatever the reasoning, this issue needs to be addressed by a professional since this deals with dangerous elements like natural gas and high voltage.

4) Thermostat Malfunctions

It’s easy to blame something within the HVAC system when things go awry, but occasionally the problem is within the thermostat itself. The good news is that sometimes the problem isn’t a problem at all, but just a minor issue with how the thermostat is set. Your thermostat regulates the timing and amount of hot or cold air your unit should produce. Referring to your owners manual may prevent you from paying for a costly or unnecessary service call. If your thermostat runs on batteries, be sure to check those as well.

5) Unusual Furnace Noises

Noise from your furnace can be part of normal operation, however, some sounds may be a warning or indication of a mechanical problem.

  • A high-pitched screeching noise can be a motor bearing problem. Another screeching sound could be a bad belt.
  • A sound that is similar to a card stuck inside the spokes of a bicycle typically indicates something is stuck in the blades of the blower or something is stuck inside the housing of the furnace.
  • In the unfortunate event that you hear a scraping sound like metal parts rubbing together, you’ll need to call a professional right away as this can be the result of a much larger issue such as a broken wheel or the blower assembly hitting the housing.

6) Blown Fuses or Tripped Breakers

A common reason the furnace trips a circuit breaker is that the blower is overworking. If something is blocking airflow to your system, your blower has to overcompensate. That being said, one of the main reasons is a dirty air filter. Check your filter and replace it if needed before resetting your circuit breaker.

7) Dirty Condenser or Evaporator Coils

Chances are regular maintenance isn’t being conducted if your HVAC unit has this issue. You can hose off the outdoor coil after shutting off the power to the condenser. The indoor evaporator coil will need to be cleaned by a professional if it is extremely dirty. If regular maintenance is performed on your HVAC unit, coils should remain relatively clean and could possibly only need a professional cleaning roughly every three years.

8) Drips and Leaks

While both air conditioners and high-efficiency furnaces can produce condensation, drips and leaks are traditionally signs of a bigger problem. The common causes of leaks are:

  • Gas Line Leaks – usually imply a broken or cracked furnace heat exchanger
  • Refrigerant Leaks – Mainly caused by weak joints or faulty connections in an AC or heat pump
  • Water around the air conditioner – typically caused by a clogged drain hose or dirty coil

9) Blower Runs Continuously

There are several reasons a furnace blower may run continuously. First, check to see if the fan switch on the thermostat is on – this will cause the motor to run continuously. If that didn’t do the trick, then you most likely have one of these three problems:

  1. Your furnace fan limit switch is set to “manual override”
  2. The fan limit switch is faulty and needs to be replaced
  3. There’s a problem in your thermostat wiring

Unfortunately, you’ll need a professional to fix those last two problems.

10) Outdated HVAC Design

Most heating and cooling equipment have a service life of around 20 years. However, unmaintained units face reduced efficiency and lifespans. Older units may need to be completely replaced, especially if home or office renovations have taken place since the original installation.

Another good reason to consult an HVAC expert: you may find that simple ductwork changes can make a huge difference in your HVAC airflow and comfort.

If your furnace is more than 10 years old, a new high-efficiency model may provide better comfort and cost far less to operate.


If you are experiencing problems with your HVAC unit(s), give Sam’s Heating and Air Conditioning a call at (970) 249-6790. Addressing a problem today could mean a more comfortable tomorrow!

What to Do When the Heat Goes Out

It’s cold outside, but luckily our heating systems allow us to stay nice and warm inside the comfort of our own homes. What happens if your heat stops working in the middle of Winter? Or maybe it doesn’t stop working but it stops working as well, and your home isn’t warming up enough for you to stay comfortable? There are professionals you can call to help with this issue, but there may not be someone available right away, or there may be just a minor problem causing the issue that you are able to fix. Keep reading to learn about the things you can check before having to call a technician.

Do You Have Fuel?

If your unit requires fuel to operate this is a very important factor to think about. Often times your fuel will run out and the way you find out is because your heat has stopped working. If you stay aware of the fuel you have available you can make sure to restock before you run into the issue of having no fuel and no heat.

Check Your Thermostat

Check that your thermostat is working, and is on the correct setting. Most thermostats have the options for ‘heat’, ‘cool’, ‘fan’, ‘auto’, or ‘on’. During the cold months, your thermostat should be on the ‘heat’ and ‘auto’ setting choosing a temperature you would like to be maintained. Your thermostat may either be hard-wired or battery operated. If your thermostat requires batteries, check to make sure those are not dead. If your batteries are dead your thermostat will not send the signal for the heat to kick on.

Is power reaching the heating unit?

First, check your electrical panel to make sure the breaker hasn’t tripped. If that is not the problem check that the boiler/furnace is in the on position. If you have a boiler, reset it or check to make sure the pilot light is on. If you have a furnace make sure your filter is not clogged.

 

If these simple solutions do not get your heat back up and running, there may be a bigger issue. If you run across the problem of having no heat and aren’t able to fix the problem on your own you need to get a professional to look at the problem.


Our team of professionals are available 24/7 for your HVAC needs. We will restore your heat in no time! Contact us today for a free service call.

Make Sure Your HVAC System Is Ready For Winter

Whether there is snow or not, the temperatures are dropping and you along with your HVAC system should be prepared for the cold months ahead. It may be cold outside, but you don’t want inside your home to feel the same. So get out this winter; build a snowman, go sledding, or simply shovel the snow from the sidewalk and driveway, but be able to come back to a warm home. In order to make sure your home stays warm throughout the winter there are some steps you can take to make sure your HVAC system operates efficiently throughout these cold months.

 #1-  Clean vents and clean air filter

You may not realize how much of a difference cleaning your vents can make. If you make the effort to clean your vents, even just once a month, it makes a difference. All you have to do is take the vacuum hose attachment to the vent. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to clean your air vents? Your air vents are responsible for circulating the air from your heating and air system in and out of each room, aka the air you are breathing. Keeping these vents clean can help insure you have adequate airflow and insure stuff doesn’t get caught up in your duct work.

The importance of a clean air filter cannot be stressed enough! Having a clean air filter helps prevent malfunctions and brings benefits to you and your home. Changing your air filter is a simple task and helps the life span of your HVAC system. Allowing build-up on your air filter can cause poor quality for your indoor air, raise the cost for operating your system, or cause damage to your HVAC system . You should change your filter monthly, but never go more than three months without changing it.

#2- Have an up-to-date thermostat 

Having a thermostat that is programmable can have many benefits. A big benefit and money saver of having a thermostat you can program is efficiency. If your programmable thermostat is used right it can save money. Some tips for using your thermostat correctly; have it set to 68 degrees while you are awake, and a bit lower while you are sleeping. This same rule applies to having it set while you are home/when you are away. Like most working people, you are probably out of the house for an average or 8 hours a day. Have your thermostat set lower for the time you are away, and program it to kick on shortly before you to arrive home. This way your house it always comfortable while you are there, and you are saving money because it doesn’t run all day when there is no need for it to.

#3- Get HVAC maintenance

Keeping on top of the maintenance of your system allows you to prevent bigger, more expensive problems from coming up. If you get your HVAC system checked annually a technician can catch small problems, and fix them before they turn into big ones. Paying for a certified technician to do a checkup on your home once a year is a lot cheaper than having major work done on your system, or the whole thing replaced because a small problem turned into a major one. Allow your system to stay up to date and prevent issues by getting a yearly checkup! A good time to do your yearly check up is right before winter in order to get it ready for extended use.


Call Sam’s Heating & Air Conditioning with confidence at (970) 249-6790 to schedule your appointment with a NATE Certified Technician. Located in Montrose, CO and serving the Western Slope.

 

SAM’S Heating  & Air Conditioning specializes in all HVAC-related services. Experience The Difference!

2726 Tender Drive, Montrose, CO
(970) 249-6790

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Areas We Service

Our NATE Certified Technicians are happy to serve Montrose, CO and our neighbors in Grand Junction, Clifton, Mesa, Whitewater,  Delta, Olathe, Crawford, Austin, Cedaredge, Fruita, Palisade, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Orchard City, Ridgway, Colona, Ouray, Cory, Eckert, and Lazear.