Winter Months on the Central Coast – Is your Furnace Working Safely & Efficiently?

Is there a foolproof way to verify that a furnace is still good? 

Electronic gas sniffer can help find bad heat exchanges, but it is important that they never be used as the reason to condemn a furnace.  They can be fooled and are wrong in a great many circumstances.  The only true way to know for fur if your heat exchanger is cracked is to visually see the crack.  This can be accomplished by either removing the blower, or cutting an access into the ductwork on the top of the furnace and then inserting a light into the burner area where the flame usually is.  If the heat exchanger is cracked you will see light shining through the crack.

The surest and most accurate way to verify the problem is to see it for yourself.  In fact, a reputable company will always personally show you the crack or hole, so there is no doubt in your mind about their integrity or honest.  Ric Schorer of Wighton’s Heating and Air Conditioning agrees that people should always be cautious when this diagnosis is given because the repair or replacement can be quite an investment.  The customer should always have proof.  This is why his company has invested over $10,000 to train service technicians about all the different brands of furnaces installed on the Central Coast, so they can know where to look and are able to show customer the cracks.  Customers can always see any problems for themselves.

Remember, if the serviceman claims to be able to see a hole in your heat exchanger he should be willing to let you see it as well.  Before a surgeon operates, he shows you the X-ray first.  If the serviceman is not willing to show you the hole but has some other test that he “trust completely” make sure he really trusts it.  He should “trust it enough” to offer in writing to pay for the new heat exchanger or furnace if not hole is found on closed inspection upon removal of the old equipment.  If you have doubts a second opinion is always wise.

Mr. Schorer went on to point out, “A customer should never stay with a company that doesn’t cherish their trust.  We never take our customer’s trust and loyalty for granted.  Wighton’s success is based on our employee’s commitment to be the most professional and solution oriented HVAC company on the Central Coast.  This is why, unlike other area companies, we offer our customers a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee on everything we sell, offer 24-hour emergency service and have financing available to help budges when unexpected needs occur.”

What if I don’t feel confident checking my owner heat exchanger? 

If you want to know the condition of your furnace’s heat exchanger, but don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself there are many local companies that offer fall tune-ups and inspections.  Many companies offer an inspection service for around $80.  However, these include very little, if any, actual cleaning of the furnace and it will typically take them about 30 to 45 minutes.  This type of program may provide a feeling of confidence in your HVAC equipment but it doesn’t make the furnace run any better.

A better investment is a complete tune up and cleaning that includes a heat exchanger inspection.  However, when comparing prices it is important to know that a good tune up should take a technician anywhere from 1 to 2 hours and will include the removal and cleaning of the blower motor, and inspection of ductwork.  The blower cleaning is critical since a build up of dirt on the blower blades will cause it to use more electricity.  Don’t be fooled by non-licensed HVAC companies that perform “duct cleaning” on your system, and call it maintenance, they can’t even take your furnace apart to perform the needed critical cleaning to the blower.  While duct cleaning is needed on residential HVAC systems is should be performed as an added item to a furnace precision tune up never in place of the tune up.

For any HVAC questions or concerns – contact the experts at Wighton’s Heating & Air 805-543-4881 or

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