Category Archives: EnergyStar

Troubleshooting Power Vent Water Heaters

Venting

When troubleshooting a Power Vent water heater the venting often goes unnoticed even if there is an issue. The venting is so important to inspect on Power Vent Water Heaters because if they are sloped the wrong direction condensation will makes its way to the blower and damage it. Power vents don’t always form condensation, but there are a couple different variables that do cause them to condensate.

-Ambient temperature and humidity of installation location

-Ambient temperature and humidity of venting space

-Vent distance, slope, and correct product usage

-Vent has slope minimum of 1/8″ AWAY from the blower – Horizontal Applications

-Know the proper vent lengths for the model water heater (see table below)

These are the variables you need to pay especially close attention to when inspecting the venting. If you do notice an issue where the Power Vent is condensating a condensate kit is available to install. This is a Fernco exhaust adapter with a drain outlet that you pipe to the drain using vinyl tubing. An inexpensive part that will solve the condensate problem.

Check for vent blockage and determine if the vent could become clogged by surrounding vegetation. If so, consult with the home owner on a solution to make sure the problem does not repeat itself.

Its extremely important to make sure there is adequate air for combustion and ventilation. An insufficient supply of air will cause re-circulation of combustion products resulting in air contamination that may be hazardous to life. In Such conditions you will notice a yellow,luminous burner flame, causing carbon build up or sooting of the combustion chamber, burners and flue tubes with possible damage to the water heater.

Vents are susceptible to freezing and can be very easy to overlook. If the burner wont stay lit you should check to make sure there are no obstructions and investigate the possibility of frozen vent.

Troubleshooting codes and Vent Length Table

The link below includes a table to troubleshoot any issues you may have

The link also includes Maximum vent length including number of allowed elbows

vent-length-table-troubleshooting-codes-and-cause

Proper Combustion Air

Combustion air is very important for a water heater to run correctly. All different variables should be considered. When an exhaust fan is installed in the same room with a water heater, sufficient openings for air must be provided in the walls. Undersized openings will cause air to be drawn into the room through the venting and causing circulation of combustion products. A very common solution to this problem is the installation of a louvered door.

The formula to correctly determine proper openings

All air coming from inside the building: an opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 1000 BTU (0.29 kw) per hour of the total input rating of all gas utilization equipment in the confined space, but not less than 100 inches² (645 cm²). One opening must be within 12 inches (31 cm) of the top and one with 12 inches (31 cm) of the bottom of the enclosure.

All Air coming from Outdoors: The confined space must be provided with two permanent openings, one commencing within 12 inches (31 cm) of the top and one commencing within 12 inches (31 cm) from the bottom of the enclosure. The openings must communicate directly, or by ducts, with the outdoors or spaces (crawl or attic) that freely communicate with the outdoors.

  1. When directly communicating with the outdoors, each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 4000 BTU (1.2 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  2. When communicating with the outdoors through vertical ducts, each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 4000 BTU (1.2 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  3. When communicating with the outdoors through the horizontal ducts , each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²)  per 2000 BTU (0.6 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  4. When ducts are used, they must be of the same cross-sectional area as the free area of the openings to which the connect. The minimum dimensions of rectangular air ducts must be not less than 3 inches (7.5cm)

Specially Engineered Installations

The requirements noted under the CONFINED SPACES above must not necessarily govern when special engineering, approved by the authority having jurisdiction, provides an adequate supply of air for combustion, ventilation, and dilution of flue gases.

Sequence of Operation

The sequence of operation is important to know so you can properly diagnose the problem.

Control Sequence of Operation

Start up sequence

Upon powering up, the control checks for the presence of the resistive plug, if the resistance is in the expected range the control will begin normal operation after 5 to 8 seconds.

Normal Heating Sequence

  1. The thermostat senses a need for heat.
  2. The control checks the pressure switch condition.
  3. If the pressure switch is open, the control sends power to the blower motor.
  4. The blower starts moving combustion air through the combustion system.
  5. The pressure switches closes.
  6. The control senses the closed pressure switch and starts the ignition process by providing a spark at the pilot electrode and allowing gas to flow to the pilot.
  7. When the pilot is lit the gas control senses the pilot flame and opens the main gas valve.
  8. The main burner is lit.
  9. The main burner and blower continue to operate until the thermostat is satisfied.
  10. When the thermostat is satisfied the main and pilot gas valves close.
  11. The blower operates for a short post purge period before shutting down.
  12. The water heater remains in the stand-by mode until the next call for heat.
  13. Make sure Power Vent is plugged into a grounded outlet.
  14. Make sure you have correct continuinty

Maintenance

  1. Annually check the operation of the thermostat
  2. The flow of combustion and ventilation air MUST NOT be restricted. Clear the combustion air openings of any dirt, dust, or other restrictions. WARNING! The ventilation air system may be HOT.
  3. At all times keep the water heater area clear and free from combustible materials, gasoline and other flammable vapors and liquids.
  4. Bi-annually conduct a visual check of the main and pilot burner flames to determine that they are burning properly. see Burner Flame Check. If sooting or other burner anomalies are evident, shut down the water heater by turning off the gas per the instructions listed in this manual or as listed on the water heater.
  5. Annually remove the inner door and main burner assembly to clean orifices and related parts of any dirt or other foreign material. Inspect the burner ports for obstructions or debris and clean with a wire brush as needed. Wire brush and/or vacuum clean the combustion chamber as needed to remove scale deposits and debris. NOTE: It is imperative for proper operation of the water that the inner door replaced in the original location.
  6. At least once a year, check the combination temperature and pressure relief valve to insure that the valve has not become encrusted with lime. Lift the lever at the top of the valve several times until the valve seats properly without leaking.
  7. Monthly drain off a gallon of water to remove silt and sediment.
  8. If the combination temperature and pressure relief valve on the appliance discharges periodically, this may be due to thermal expansion in a closed water supply system. Contact the Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating and Air to help correct this problem. Do not plug the combination temperature and pressure relief valve outlet.
  9. A combination sacrificial anode rod/hot water outlet nipple has been installed to extend tank life. The anode rod should be inspected annual and replaced when necessary to prolong tank life. Water conditions in your area will influence the time interval for inspection and replacement of the anode rod. The use of a water softener may increase the speed of anode consumption. More frequent inspection of the anode is needed when using softened (or phosphate treated) water.
  10. The blower has sealed motor bearings and does not require adding oil.

Breaking Down the Energy Factor

Breaking Down the Energy Factor

 

Water heaters come with labels and information for consumers to use when purchasing a new one. These labels provide facts on how energy efficient the unit is with an energy factor label and Energy Guide. Be sure to understand which type and size of water heater that is required and will be most beneficial in your home and use the labels on the water heaters to compare the purchase price and cost to use each unit. If you have questions or live within the Northern Colorado area and need to schedule a repair or installation, Call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR today at 970-667-0300. We provide 24/7 emergency services in Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Longmont, Johnstown, Milliken, Greeley and Estes park.

 

What is Thermal Efficiency?

In thermodynamics, the thermal efficiency () is a dimensionless performance measure of a device that uses thermal energy, such as an internal combustions engine. Some examples would include

  • a refrigerator,
  • a furnace,
  • a boiler or
  • a water heater.

Efficiency indicates how well an energy conversion or transfer process is accomplished.

For a device that converts energy from another form into thermal energy, the thermal efficiency is

where the  quantities are heat-equivalent values. For instance, a boiler that produces 210 kW, or 700,000 BTU/h output for each 300 kW, or 1,000,000 BTU/h heat equivalent input, its thermal efficiency is

This means that 30% of the energy is lost to the environment.

An electric resistance heater has a thermal efficiency close to 100%. when Comparing heating units, such as a high efficiency electric resistance heater to a natural gas-fueled furnace with an 80% efficiency, an economic analysis is needed to determine the most cost-effective choice.

What is Energy Efficiency?

The thermal efficiency is sometimes called the energy efficiency, which is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide services and products. In the U.S., in everyday usage, the SEER is the more common measure of energy efficiency for cooling devices, as well as for heat pumps when in their heating mode. For energy-conversion heating devices, their peak steady-state thermal efficiency is often stated, for example, “the efficiency rating for this furnace is 90%”. There is a more detailed measure of seasonal energy effectiveness called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. For example, a 90% AFUE rating for a gas furnace means it outputs 90 BTUs of useful heating for every 100 BTUs of natural gas input. A higher AFUE means higher efficiency. Energy efficiency of a water heater is measured by its energy factor.

Water Heater Energy Factor

The energy factor (EF) indicates a water heater’s overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed over a typical day. This includes the following

  • Recovery efficiency – how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water
  • Standby losses – the percentage of heat loss per hour from the stored water compared to the heat content of the water this is most common in conventional storage water heaters
  • Cycling losses – the loss of heat as the water circulates through a water heater tank, and/or inlet and outlet pipes

The energy factor is what’s shown on the Energy Guide label which shows the unit’s overall operating costs, taking into account the burner and the heat exchanger efficiencies, as well as heat losses from the water tank. Most home appliances such as water heaters, dishwashers and clothes washers, display the prominent yellow-and-black Energy Guide which can be a valuable tool when purchasing theses types of products. The Energy Guide compares the average yearly operating costs of different water heaters, using the same criteria for all models tested. It lets you see which one would probably cost the less to run, which can also safe you money in the long run. Keep in mind that these figures are only estimates as the disclaimer at the bottom of the sticker explains; “Your cost will depend on your utility rates and use.”

how-to-read-an-energy-guide-label-600px

The higher the energy factor number, the higher the energy efficiency of the water heater. Electric water heaters have an average energy factor between .75 and .95, while gas water heaters range between .50 and .70.

Does this mean that electric water heaters are more energy efficient?

Electric models make better use of energy, while gas water heaters lose some of their energy up the vent. Although electric models may be more energy efficient, electric energy usually costs three times more than gas, so if you have a choice, it is still cheaper to use natural gas.

Electricity is created and delivered, which uses energy. One must take into account the entire picture and when doing so, you will find that in most places, gas is more efficient since it usually uses less energy to mine and deliver natural gas than to acquire some other energy source, convert it into electricity and deliver it. You should also take into consideration the energy used building and maintaining the infrastructure to produce and deliver the energy.

If you are going to buy an electric water heater, it’s recommended that you look for one with an Energy Factor equal to .93 or greater. This represents a 5 to 10 percent savings compared to a standard efficiency electric water heater. This higher efficiency is achieved by better tank insulation to reduce standby losses, and a device to block cooler water from adjacent water pipes from sinking into the tank where it needs to be reheated. The savings pay for the slightly higher costs of these heaters within a year or two.

A standard efficiency 40 gallon natural gas water heater typically has an Energy factor of about .55 due to inefficiencies of combustion, a central flue carrying heat away with combustion exhaust, and a continuous gas pilot light, as well as standby losses through insulation and thermo-siphoning. A gas water heater with an Energy factor of .62 or greater represents a 10% savings compared to a standard efficiency gas water heater.

In addition to reducing standby losses with added insulation and anti-thermo–siphon device, or heat traps, these improved efficiencies can be achieved for very little added cost by using electronic ignition instead of a pilot light, having automatic draft dampers, and reducing losses out of the flue by recovering more of the heat first.

 

WARNING:

Never attempt to repair or replace the unit unless you know exactly what you are doing. Remember, you are dealing with dangers including scalding hot water, natural gas flames, heavy lifting and risk of electrocution. If you have any questions concerning your water heater, call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR today at 970-667-0300. We have experienced technicians and offer top quality service at an affordable price.

Furnace Replacement & Air Ease Models

Replacing the old furnace in your central heating system with a new, more efficient furnace can offset your energy prices. Money aside, today’s furnaces’ pollute less and can boost more comfort by producing more heat though out your home than older furnaces’.

How do most people know when to go about buying a new furnace?   Well in this case size really does matter, it matters a lot. The furnace’s speculations should fit your needs. A furnace that is too small won’t heat your house comfortable during extremely-cold weather.

Efficiency also matters. Gas is currently the most common heating fuel and most new central-heating systems use gas. How efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy is reflected in it’s annual fuel-utilization-efficiency rating, which is measured by the percentage. The higher the number, the more heat the furnace can wring from each therm of gas. Since furnaces few emissions, environmental consideration might also influence your decision.

Here is a Couple of Energy Star Most efficient furnaces of 2014:

Air Ease A97DSmV Series Comfort Sync Control

 Features:

  • Modulating Heat-Provides superior comfort over traditional single-stage and two stage products, further reducing temperature sings in your home.
  • Variable speed fan motor-By changing the speed of it’s over flow during start up, your furnace can adjust humidity levels and create more even temperatures though out your home, while enhancing efficiency and reducing  operating noise.
  • Quiet combustion technology – uses a smaller Btu input burner for quieter start-up and operation while providing more even heat distribution.
  • EHX technology- Armstrong Air’s propriety heat exchange design is made for stainless steel for corrosion resistance and maximum strength against thermal fatigue caused by repeated heating and cooling. Advanced air flow properties eliminate hot spots and distribute heat more evenly than conventional designs. All of these combine to extend the life of the heat exchanger.

Air Ease A97USMV Series Comfort Sync Control

Features:

  • Modulating Heat-Provides superior comfort over traditional single-stage and two stage products, further reducing temperature sings in your home.
  • Variable speed fan motor-By changing the speed of it’s over flow during start up, your furnace can adjust humidity levels and create more even temperatures though out your home, while enhancing efficiency and reducing  operating noise.
  • Quiet combustion technology – uses a smaller Btu input burner for quieter start-up and operation while providing more even heat distribution.
  • EHX technology- Armstrong Air’s propriety heat exchange design is made for stainless steel for corrosion resistance and maximum strength against thermal fatigue caused by repeated heating and cooling. Advanced air flow properties eliminate hot spots and distribute heat more evenly than conventional designs. All of these combine to extend the life of the heat exchanger.

Please go to energystar.gov to see more furnaces and to read more about the features.

You can make your home energy efficient in several ways. Turn down the thermostat in winter; just two degrees cooler will save you money. Draw the curtains at night to block the chill from a cold window. Keep the windows covered on a sunny days during the summer, and uncover them on sunny days in the winter to benefit from some free solar heating. Reduce heat loss from ducts by sealing leaks and, if needed installing ducts.