The Los Angeles area reached a population of over 2 million as early as the 1920’s. Many of the buildings and homes from that time remain to this day. While large numbers of these homes have undergone renovations and now have modern heating and cooling systems, some residences still feature older heating technologies. A common example of an older heating technology is the gravity furnace. If your home has a gravity furnace, you face special challenges that fall beyond the capabilities of many repair and replacement companies. At West Coast Chief, we have the expertise and decades of experience required to properly assess the health of your gravity furnace and perform an appropriate repair or replacement.
What is a Gravity Furnace?
Gravity furnace is the common term for a type of heating unit popular from the late 1800s up through the 1950s. In Southern California and other regions throughout the country, these units still sometimes provide heat for older homes. A gravity furnace gets its name because it relies on the natural forces of gravity to disperse heated air throughout a building. A centralized unit burns fuel to generate heat. Since hot air is less dense it rises, this heat passes upward through a connected system of ducts. At the same time, cool air (which is denser) passes downward to the furnace, where it eventually enters the unit and heats up. As long as the fuel in the furnace lasts, this process will continue indefinitely.
Unlike a modern furnace, heat pump, or HVAC unit, a gravity furnace does not have a blower that forces air through the system. Because the generated heat rises on its own, the multiple ducts used to carry that heat are typically quite large in diameter. For this reason, they are also sometimes known as “octopus” furnaces. Because of their inefficiency, these types of furnaces are usually much larger than modern heating units. In addition, they generate adequate levels of heat at a much slower rate. Originally, most gravity furnaces used coal as a fuel source. However, many coal-fed units have undergone retrofitting that switched them over to propane, fuel oil or natural gas.
Why Opt for a Repair?
Gravity furnaces are an outdated form of heating technology. They are immensely inefficient, with around 50% of the energy generated getting lost through the chimney. In most cases, it makes more sense to replace rather than to spend money on repairs. However, in certain situations, people opt for a repair.
Several factors may make repair a more attractive option than replacement. This is especially true since it can cost a considerable amount of money to remove the main furnace unit and install new ducting that meets the requirements of a modern furnace, HVAC unit or heat pump. Costs of replacement rise even higher if asbestos is present. Asbestos is a carcinogenic material that calls for the use of special, expensive removal protocols.
The heating experts at West Coast Chief Repair can perform gravity furnace repairs that address all potential issues, including airflow problems in the main unit and ducting. We can also help you develop a maintenance routine that prevents airflow-related issues and the unwanted buildup of lint or dust. In addition, our professional staff can perform a detailed assessment to help you determine if the time has come for a replacement.
Why Opt for Replacement?
There are several reasons to strongly consider replacing a gravity furnace instead of opting for a repair, even though a replacement may cost you a relatively large amount of money up front. First, you may want to consider a replacement if you repeatedly need to repair your furnace, or if your unit has serious issues with corrosion. In addition, even a gravity furnace in peak working condition will waste much more fuel than a modern heating unit. Only 50 percent of the heat generated by a gravity-reliant unit will actually contribute to warming the interior of a building. In stark contrast, modern units commonly utilize 90 percent or more of the heat they produce.
You may also want to opt for a replacement if your gravity furnace has lost structural integrity in one or more of its seams. That’s because a damaged seam on this type of unit can release dangerous carbon monoxide into the interior of your home. Other reasons for replacement include the desire to install a system capable of air conditioning as well as heating. Environmental considerations are also important as the inefficiency make this heating method a heavy polluter by emitting excessive amounts of greenhouse gases.
If you decide to replace your gravity furnace, let our highly skilled technicians handle every detail of the job. We have the knowledge and experience required to follow all asbestos removal procedures and ensure the safe, efficient removal of your old unit. You can also count on us to fit a more suitable, modern heating solution. Whether you want to install a new furnace, heat pump or HVAC unit, we can help you review your options and pick the make and model that best fits your needs and your budget. Once you make your selections, we will perform a complete installation of your main unit and all required ductwork. In all cases, we rely on new, top-quality parts and components.
Our Gravity Furnace Repair Guarantee
Throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding communities, West Coast Chief Repair has developed a long-standing track record for excellence in furnace repair. All repairs we provide come with a parts warranty of at least 90 days, as well as a 30-day labor warranty. In all cases, our technicians complete their work with high-quality parts designed to extend the life of your gravity furnace for as long as possible.
At West Coast Chief Repair, we understand the importance of addressing your heating problems quickly and efficiently. If you contact us before noon, technicians based at one of our three L.A.-area locations can typically provide same-day service.