Frequently Asked Questions about Heating, A/C and Our Services
- Make sure the thermostat is set above room temperature or in the “heat” position. If it’s a digital thermostat and the display screen is blank, you either need new batteries or the power supply has been interrupted.
- Check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.
- Look to see if the power switch for your heating system is turned on. Sometimes, these get turned off accidentally.
- Check the tank to see if you have heating fuel.
- If you have an oil heating system, press the reset button on the burner relay—ONCE ONLY. If your system doesn’t start after you push the reset button, do not push it again. Doing so could cause your heating system to “flood.” Too much oil will get pumped into the combustion chamber, resulting in a lengthy and costly repair.
If at this point you still don’t get heat, call Black Bear 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.
- Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
All heating equipment manufactured after 1980 has been 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 can range in efficiency from 81% to 95%. If your system’s AFUE is lower than this range, talk to us about your replacement options.
- 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 air pollution going out of your chimney.
- Turn off your furnace or boiler.
- Call our office.
All fuel emergency deliveries are subject to an interruption in service charge and a start up fee. It is the customer’s responsibility to contact our office when tanks are reading 1/4 full before a run out, as it may take up to 5 business days to make a delivery.
Every year have your water heater inspected by a service technician to keep it in peak operating condition.
Ductless air conditioning systems consist of one or more indoor air distribution units linked by refrigeration lines to an outdoor compressor. This flexible tubing can be positioned inside your walls and ceilings with a minimum of inconvenience. Installing ductless air conditioning costs a little more than standard central air systems, but much less than the cost of installing ductwork and a central air conditioning system.
- The Little Paw Plan
- The Big Paw Plan
Annual tune-ups keep your system working at peak efficiency and give our technicians a chance to catch minor problems and signs of wear before they turn into major trouble down the road.
In addition, regular maintenance can extend the life of your equipment.
Replace or Repair
It’s a fact of life: Older systems are more likely to break down. That means a bigger chance of emergency service calls and repairs—and paying for them. Worse, a breakdown could mean extensive damage to your home (no heat on a cold winter day can allow your pipes to freeze).
There’s also an ongoing cost factor. Repairing an old system can only restore it to something less than its original level of efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bill and the frustration of a system breakdown, you’ll still be battling high energy bills. What’s more, even if a system doesn’t break down, it loses efficiency as it ages. A 15-year-old system doesn’t operate anywhere near the efficiency it had when it was new!
Plus, when compared with modern, technologically advanced equipment, 15-year-old heating and cooling systems are considered inefficient by today’s standards. The average homeowner can save up to 40% on heating and cooling costs with new high-efficiency equipment.
Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide whether to replace or repair.
Replace your system if:
- it is more than 10 years old and only in average condition.
- it does not keep you as comfortable as you would like.
- it breaks down frequently.
- it is burning too much fuel.
- you will be living in your home for at least five more years.
Repair your system if:
- it is less than 10 years old and in good condition.
- your heating and cooling costs have been acceptable.
- you’re pleased with your level of comfort.
- its performance is reliable.
- you will be moving within the next five years.
- it is still under warranty.
Don’t wait for an emergency breakdown—like losing your heat in the middle of the night when temperatures are below zero.
Proper design and replacement of heating systems requires thought and planning. Not all models are in stock and immediately available. It is better—and most times less expensive—to schedule equipment installations in the off-season when we have the luxury of time and warm weather.
Remember, you can trust Black Bear with all your installation needs. Our professional service technicians are trained in all areas of heating and air conditioning and fully licensed by the Maine Oil and Solid Fuel Board.