A-Avis Home Services Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog : Archive for November, 2014

Why Won’t My Furnace Stay Lit?

Friday, November 28th, 2014

There are few worse feelings than trying to turn on your heat during a cold day and getting nothing. Furnaces are combustion heaters, and rely on a few different parts to stay lit. If your furnace doesn’t turn on or stay lit, chances are it is because one or more of these key parts is malfunctioning. Let’s examine the various factors that can contribute to your furnace refusing to stay lit.

Bad Thermocouple

Chances are good that if you’re using a natural gas furnace, you’ve got a pilot light to serve as the ignition source. The pilot light is a small, constantly burning flame at the bottom of your furnace that is used to light the main burners and turn the furnace on. If the pilot light goes out, your furnace will not be able to light itself.

The thermocouple is a heat sensor that is installed next to the pilot light, and controls the gas valve that provides the fuel to keep the flame burning. When the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas valve to keep the gas from filling the house. If the thermocouple is malfunctioning, it often loses the ability to sense the heat from the pilot light. This causes it to close the gas valve while the pilot light is still on, smothering it and preventing the furnace from working. If your furnace isn’t staying lit, check your pilot light. If your pilot light won’t stay lit, there is a good chance that you have a bad thermocouple.

Burner Malfunction

The burners are the source of heat output for your furnace. If your burners aren’t working properly, your furnace will have no way to generate heat. Problems with the burners are less common than with the pilot light, but they do happen. Often, the burners on your furnace will become dirty and caked with carbon. This can hinder one or more burners from operating at peak efficiency. A blockage in the gas line is also possible, which can starve out the burners and prevent them from igniting at all.

If your furnace is refusing to stay lit, call Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air. We provide heating repairs throughout the Riverside area.

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Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

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Do I Need to Replace My Heat Pump?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Heat pumps are pretty amazing devices, but like other HVAC systems, your heat pump will someday need to be replaced. Deciding whether or not it’s time to replace a heat pump can be confusing for some, so following are some signs that it may be time to replace your system. The installation of any heating system, should always be handled by a trained specialist, so call the people you can count on: Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air.

Signs It May Be Time to Replace Your Heat Pump

Here are some of the more common signs that it may be time to replace your heat pump:

Costly Repairs

Are you spending a lot of money to keep your heat pump operational? At some point, making repairs can cost you more than installing a new heat pump for your home. If you are facing costly repairs, or have made several already, it may be time to review where your money is better spent.

Age of Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps have an average lifespan of 20-25 years, which is a somewhat longer lifespan than more traditional heating systems. At some point, though, the age of your heat pump will make a difference. Aging systems can have several drawbacks, including inefficiency, being more prone to needing repair and an inability to adequately heat your home. If your heat pump is at or over the age of the average lifespan, it may be time to consider a replacement.


One of the main benefits of a heat pump system is its efficiency. On average, a heat pump uses about 25% of the electricity of a whole-home AC system, and doesn’t use any fossil fuels. As such, if you are seeing your energy bills climb higher and higher, something is not right. If your heat pump is still relatively young, it may be worth repairing, but if you have an aging system, it may be time to replace.

Heat pumps can offer great benefits for your home, but only if they are working as they should. If your heat pump isn’t providing adequate heating with good energy efficiency, it may be time to consider replacement. Call Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air today to schedule the replacement of your heat pump in Riverside!

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How Does a Gas Furnace Work?

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Gas burning furnaces are among the most popular home heating systems on the market today. Many homeowners choose them because they are relatively cheap, easy to maintain and operate, and easy to replace if necessary. What a lot of homeowners don’t know, however, is how a gas furnace actually operates. Let us walk you through the operation of a gas furnace, to help you know your system better.

Pilot Light

The pilot light is a continuously burning flame under your furnace. It is supplied by its own gas line, controlled by a heat sensor called a “thermocouple.” When your thermostat orders the furnace to turn on, the pilot light ignites the burners that serve to keep the furnace going.


The burners are the main sources of heat for your furnace, while the furnace is running, the burners generate the heat that flows through the heat exchanger and warms the air being circulated. The burners are ignited by the pilot light, but stay lit by consuming a steady flow of natural gas from the gas line running into the furnace.

The Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is a long, winding tube that extends from the burners to the exhaust flue. As the heat from the burners rises through the heat exchanger, it radiates through it to warm the air passing over the outside of the tube. The toxic combustion gases that are byproducts of the burning process move through the tube to the exhaust flue, where they are harmlessly vented outside.

The Air Filter

The air filter is a fibrous mesh stretched over a plastic or metal framework, which is then inserted in the furnace return duct. This part is responsible for filtering out all the airborne contaminants, like dust and dander, which could buildup and damage the furnace. This part must be cleaned or replaced every few months, as it becomes clogged with debris over time.

So there you have it, a very basic outline of how your gas furnace operates. If you’d like to know more about the inner workings of your heating system, call Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air. We offer professional heating services throughout Riverside.

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