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It's a natural question for a homeowner: How long will a furnace last? With proper maintenance and annual cleaning, a furnace can provide 13 to 20 years of useful life with its original equipment. Of course, you want your furnace to last as long as possible, and you can do that by following some of these tips.

  • Get that annual cleaning and inspection: A decade of yearly tune-ups, inspections and cleanings can add years to your furnace. A trained HVAC service person can spot a little problem and keep it from getting larger. Check and change the air filter regularly, but otherwise let your qualified furnace technician do the heavy lifting when it comes to maintenance. You might pride yourself on your DIY abilities, but a furnace is a complicated piece of equipment.
  • Replace the part, not the whole: If you're diligent about your routine maintenance, you can keep breakdowns infrequent, and when you do have a problem, you can replace the part instead of the whole system.There will come a time, however, when your furnace is well past its parts cycle. Manufacturers may have moved on to newer models and something on your furnace can’t be replaced. Further, when your repair costs begin to mount, it's time to start looking for a replacement.
  • Lighten the load: Keeping ductwork properly insulated, sealing your home's air leaks and regularly replacing the filter will reduce the work your furnace has to do. Installing a programmable thermostat can also ease your system's workload.
  • Choose wisely: Treat your system kindly, but recognize when it's time to consider a replacement. Your furnace may be so inefficient, replacing it with a furnace that meets Energy Star program criteria will save you energy and money in the long run.

How long will a furnace last? For more help answering that, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling. We work with homeowners throughout the Richmond area.

The shorter days and chilly air mean that winter's about to arrive in the Richmond area. Now is the right time to start thinking about how to save money on your heating bill. It's easy to accomplish with a few helpful tips.

  • Call your HVAC contractor and schedule a precision furnace tune-up. This comprehensive checkup can improve its efficiency, and help you save money on your heating bill. The semi-annual maintenance includes cleaning or replacing the filter, but you should check it every month during the winter. If a furnace upgrade is recommended, opt for the most affordable model with the highest AFUE rating.
  • While your technician is there, ask about having a programmable thermostat installed. You could save as much as 30 percent on your heating bill by learning how to program it, and then setting it for a 10-degree temperature drop while you're sleeping, and whenever there's no one home.
  • Seal up leaks to conserve the air you're heating. Weatherstrip exterior doors, re-caulk and cover your windows with plastic film and install a chimney balloon. Don't forget to check the basement, garage and attic for any spots where cold air from these unheated areas can infiltrate your living space.
  • While you're in the attic, check your insulation situation. You should have 7 inches of an R-38 insulation (that's a minimum) to keep warm air from escaping through the roof.
  • Don't leave the basement without checking for leaks in any exposed ductwork. Make sure your furnace blower is running, and hold a lit candle up to the visible ductwork joints. If you find leaks, seal them with mastic tape.
  • Optimize your heat circulation. Set all your ceiling fans on reverse, and turn them on 'low' to push the warm air back down as it rises. If your home has two stories, let the rising heat help warm the rooms on the upper floor.

For more advice about saving money on your heating bill, contact us at Gilman Heating &;Cooling.

When a furnace blows cold air, it’s usually at the worst possible time, like the chilliest spell of the year or the night of an important family gathering. Furnaces are remarkably reliable and usually only an require an annual tune-up by an HVAC professional and regular filter changes by the homeowner. Normally, they'll provide a decade or more of trouble-free service before furnace replacement is required. When a furnace blows cold air, there may be a simple explanation or it may be a sign that something more serious has gone awry. That's when you need a service call from an HVAC professional to sort it out. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Nothing’s wrong. The answer we all like to hear. In fact, for the first moment of a furnace’s “on” cycle, the blower is normally flushing cold air out of the ducts. Warm air should follow quickly. If it doesn’t, schedule a service call with your local HVAC contractor.
  • Fan only operation. Check out the fan setting on the thermostat and make sure it’s set to “auto” and not to “on.” When the fan is in the “on” position the blower runs continuously, even when the furnace burner cycles off and only cold air is circulated. Operation in the “fan on” setting is usually utilized only to circulate air.
  • Pilot light out. If your furnace utilizes a standing pilot light, a safety sensor called a thermocouple constantly monitors the pilot flame. In the event the pilot flame goes out, the sensor cuts off the gas supply to the the main burner. The fan will still operate, but blow cold air.
  • Dirty flame sensor. Still another sensor monitors the state of the burner flame. If this sensor becomes coated with combustion residue, it may produce false readings and turn off gas to the main burner. This is usually the case when the furnace starts and briefly delivers heat, then blows cold air.

For fast service when your furnace blows cold air in the Richmond area, contact us at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

Where central heating ducts aren’t installed, ductless heating or a portable heater are two viable solutions. In many cases, extending ducts to a new add-on or remodel in an existing home is financially prohibitive or just not worth the disruption of opening up walls and ceilings.  Choosing between ductless heating or a portable heater involves drawing clear distinctions between the pros and cons of each.

Portable Heater Pros

  • Low upfront purchase price.
  • Transferable to different rooms as occupants move.
  • Eliminates cold spots without overheating the entire house.
  • Often the lowest operating costs to heat just one room.

Portable Heater Cons

  • Fire hazard and dangerous combustion gases from gas-fired space heaters.
  • Burn and fire hazard from heating elements in electric heaters.
  • Requirement for venting of gas-fired space heaters.
  • Unvented gas- or kerosene-fired space heaters should not be used indoors.

How does a ductless mini-split heat pump work? Ductless technology takes the best of central heating and cooling, subtracts the ductwork, and delivers safe, reliable comfort at a higher efficiency than a central system. A ductless heat pump incorporates an outside coil and compressor to extract heat energy from outdoor air. This heat is transferred to refrigerant and conveyed indoors in a small conduit to one or more wall- or ceiling-mounted air handlers incorporating a coil. Hot refrigerant warms the coil and the heat is dispersed into the room by a blower fan. In summer, the system reverses and the coils trade functions. Indoor heat is extracted, transferred outside and dispersed into outdoor air. Ductless Heating Pros

  • Heating and cooling in one unit.
  • No leaky or dirty ductwork to maintain.
  • High-efficiency in moderate climates.
  • Simplified installation – only a 3-inch hole in one exterior wall.
  • No issues with burns, fire hazards or dangerous emissions.

Ductless System Cons

  • In temperatures below freezing, the heating function activates supplemental electric heating that reduces efficiency.
  • Professional sizing of units is advised to avoid oversized or undersized installation.
  • Installation should be performed by specialists experienced with ductless units, not amateurs or DIY.
  • Costlier than portable heating at installation (but cheaper to operate over the long run)

For information about the benefits of ductless heating versus a portable heater, in the Richmond area contact us at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

If you’ve ever laid awake at night listening to the sound of a furnace turning on and off repeatedly, you know how monotonous and annoying it can be. You may also know it’s wasting money and decreasing household comfort as well. A furnace operates at optimum efficiency when all components remain at the steady, proper operating temperature. When the system cycles on and off rapidly, the quick heating and cooling of components degrades efficiency. In addition, rapid short cycles cause abrupt temperature fluctuations instead of evenly heating the living spaces in your home.

Here are some possible reasons why your furnace is turning on and off too much:


A new furnace upgrade that wasn’t properly sized for the thermal requirements of your home will frequently short cycle, turning on and off rapidly. All new installations should be preceded by a load calculation performed by an HVAC professional to accurately match the output of the furnace to the heating needs of the house.


When the internal temperature of the furnace exceeds design limits, a safety sensor called a high-limit switch automatically shuts down the furnace. After the unit cools, the switch will allow the furnace to activate again and the pattern will recur.

Overheating in a furnace is often a consequence of inadequate airflow. The most common cause of low airflow is a clogged air filter. Filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommended interval.

Another reason for excessive heat build-up inside the furnace is a blocked exhaust vent. Birds nests, leaves or other debris may clog the vent pipe from the exterior. A blocked vent not only causes overheating, it increases the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide gas infiltrating your home.

Because of the fire hazard and health and safety issues posed by an overheating furnace, homeowners who notice short-cycling should schedule a furnace inspection with a reputable HVAC contractor.

For prompt professional diagnosis of a furnace turning on and off too frequently, contact us in Richmond at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

Virginia Service Areas

Ashland | Chester | Chesterfield | Glen Allen | Gloucester | Goochland | Hanover | Henrico | Kilmarnock | Mechanicsville | Midlothian | New Kent | Northern Neck | Powhatan | Richmond | Short Pump | Tappahannock