Gas HVAC Systems and Devices: Pros, Cons, and Why You Need to Keep Up with Maintenance

gas heatingIf you have gas in your home, you are in the majority of Sacramento homeowners. Especially in older homes, the use of gas for cooking and to heat water and air is very common. Whether propane or natural, gas is time-tested and very effective. It’s also almost always cheaper than electricity![1.]

Pros and Cons of Gas Heating and Devices

Gas can be used in both HVAC heaters and in water heaters. Often if a home has gas for one it will have gas for the other, although this is not always the case. Generally, once gas has been run to the home, the process of running it to other appliances is straightforward. And there are some serious benefits to running your oven, stovetop, water heater, and home heater on gas.

A gas stovetop heats quickly and evenly, and makes it easy to control heat to pans and pots. There’s a reason many professional kitchens use gas instead of electricity, and it’s not all about the money. Gas is reliable and trusted, in addition to being very cost-efficient.

That said, it also has some drawbacks and concerns. Both natural gas and propane are highly combustible and potentially dangerous if not contained in a well-maintained system. Gas leaks aren’t common but they do happen, and they are one of the more dangerous potential HVAC issues that can arise.

Maintenance of Gas Systems and Common Problems

Because of this potential, it’s really important to stay up-to-date on maintenance with any gas appliance. You’ll never hear Bell Brothers say that maintenance can be ignored on any device, but as realists we recognize that many people don’t stay on top of HVAC or plumbing maintenance. Gas is one area where you simply cannot afford to do that.  A well maintained gas heating system will last for up to 20 years if it is taken care of properly, but a poorly maintained one can be a hassle–or a danger.

Often people tell us that their pilot lights aren’t working right. There are several causes for this. Usually, the pilot light has been blown out, which in a properly-functioning system will shut off the flow of gas to the unit. Dirty pilot light holes and lines are also frequent causes of this issue, as minute particles of dust and debris will cause blockages. We recommend having a professional thoroughly clean your gas device when they relight the pilot light, especially if it frequently goes out.

Other parts, like heat exchangers and thermal couplings, just go bad. Many homeowners will relight a pilot light themselves, not wanting to spend the money to call a professional. But more serious maintenance issues, arising from old age and use, require a pro. Many of the gas systems we see are decades old and develop problems more frequently as they age. A lot of those issues are easily addressed, but only by a professional like Bell Brothers. The risk of property damage and personal injury is just too high with these devices to make it safe for a homeowner to do self-repair.

Replacing a Gas Device

In some cases, you may receive the bad news that your gas device has come to the end of its life span. We may be “The No Surprise Guys”, but we hate to deliver the news that your gas furnace needs to be replaced. Fortunately we don’t have to do it often, but sometimes the truth is that the safest and most fiscally sensible course is to get a new gas device.

In those cases you will face a choice: electric or gas? This is a case-by-case situation that we’ll help you through with expert analysis and advice. The truth is, our country is turning its back on residential gas use. The trend of the last few decades has been to replace old gas devices with new electric ones, mostly because electric systems tend to require less maintenance. It all comes down to your own home and preferences. If you’re the kind of person who keeps up-to-date on maintenance and hasn’t had problems with gas systems, you might want to get another gas device. If you’re not as fastidious about maintenance and don’t think about your system very often, electricity is likely for you. Bell Brothers would love to help you with your own gas system questions and issues—whether you’re replacing a device or just need a tune-up. Give Bell Brothers a call today!