In today’s competitive landscape, HVAC technicians must provide services that stand out from the crowd in order to improve and promote their businesses. One of the easiest ways to achieve these goals is through the use of instrumentation – and specifically combustion analyzers.
A Combustion Analyzer: a Business Investment
In fact, owning a combustion analyzer is one of the best business investments you can make as an HVAC professional and for your business. It isn’t solely for boilers either; in fact, a combustion can be used on all types of HVAC equipment.
President of Fire & Ice, Ray Wohlfarth writes, “One of the most cost-effective sales / service tools I have is a combustion analyzer. It has paid for itself many times over, as I use it for all types of HVAC equipment and not just boilers.”
With this in mind, we will be exploring the main reasons why you should be using a combustion analyzer, which include for combustion efficiency, safety, and business competitiveness. Let’s get started by first quickly looking at how a combustion analyzer works:
How Do Combustion Analyzers Work?
A combustion analyzer measures the content of flue gas. It allows installers to make sure the flame is adjusted correctly in an appliance and that excess (and potentially harmful) products are not being leaked into a home or building.
Most analyzers are handheld electronics that read out in percent combustion efficiency. Consequently, they are ideal for HVAC employees, which leads us to one of major points on why you should use one:
Combustion efficiency is the calculation/measurement, in percentage, of how well your equipment is burning a specific fuel. Complete combustion efficiency (100%) would extract all the energy available in the fuel. However, 100% combustion efficiency is not realistically achievable. Various combustion processes produce combustion efficiencies from 0% to 95+%.
Combustion efficiency calculations assume complete fuel combustion and are based on three factors:
- The chemistry of the fuel.
- The net temperature of the stack gases.
- The percentage of oxygen or CO2 by volume after combustion.
If your calculation shows that your equipment is losing 25% of the heating value of the fuel through stack losses, your equipment is running at 75% efficiency.
Eyeballing the Flame Doesn’t Allow Efficiency Optimization
Looking at the flame color, shape and stability has been used as a “rule of thumb” for many years but eyeballing will not allow you to optimize the efficiency of your HVAC equipment.
“What looks like a good flame could be spewing thousands of parts per million of dangerous carbon monoxide out the flue.” – Ray Wolfarth, Fire & Ice Heating and Air Conditioning
Just as doctors make use of the most sophisticated instrumentation possible when diagnosing their patients, the best way to make sure that your equipment is operating at maximum efficiency is by using a combustion analyzer.
Any issues can be discovered and resolved before they become major problems. For homeowners, this can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings.
The data these instruments provide about oxygen, carbon dioxide, and flue temperatures allows workers to adjust boilers and other systems for the optimal fuel efficiency. Because heat energy escaping the stack is typically the largest culprit in lost fuel efficiency, this is vital for cost savings.
Again, this means more money in the pockets of homeowners. Let’s move on now to our next major reasons why you should be using a combustion analyzer: for safety.
Your HVAC company should be utilizing a combustion analyzer to ensure the quality of a technician’s work and ensure the safety its customers. Some issues simply cannot be detected without the aid of this instrument.
Checking for a Cracked Heat Exchanger
While visual inspection of the heat exchanger should always be done first, it may not be possible with visual inspection alone to make sure that the heat exchanger has no cracks or pinhole leaks caused by corrosion.
One sign of a cracked heat exchanger is a change of oxygen concentration in the flue gases of greater than 1/2% oxygen, or a change in the carbon monoxide level greater than 25 ppm. This change is measured by comparing readings before and after the circulation blower has turned on. For this test to be valid, CO levels must be present in flue gas.
Although some cracks may be seen with visual inspection alone, the method described above can be used to find “invisible” cracks or cracks that may expand as the furnace heats up.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Additionally, many homeowners are inclined to feel protected from carbon monoxide because of in-house detectors. However, almost all detectors only pick up levels that can be harmful; they do not inform owners of lower emissions. A combustion analyzer, on the other hand, can pick up the slightest trace of harmful gases, alerting you to potential dangers down the road.
Further, by measuring the oxygen levels, maintenance workers and installers can produce a proper flame and maintain a safe level of carbon monoxide in the stack. Let’s now move on to our final reason why you should be using a combustion analyzer: for business competitiveness.
Differentiate Your HVAC Business
The final reason you, as an HVAC professional, need a combustion analyzer is to separate your company from the stiff competition.
Owning this device shows that you take your job seriously; you can investigate issues other companies can’t; and you are willing to go the extra mile to make sure your customer is safe.
Increasing Customer Loyalty
With this one instrument, you can offer a wider range of services, work faster and show results. For instance, some analyzers are equipped with wireless printing. This is convenient for you especially, as you can easily track data and provide receipts to customers.
Doing so enables your business provide efficient customer service. You can print off before and after combustion reports to demonstrate the savings consumers will experience and the changes that have been made. This better type of service will, in turn, increase customer loyalty and re-occurring business.
Protecting Your Business
Additionally, this documentation can be valuable if any legal disputes arise. If carbon monoxide poisoning or a malfunctioning furnace causes issues after a visit, all a business needs to do is show the documentation associated with that particular case. These print-outs are priceless in any lawsuit.
Such a simple function means a lot less chance of liability.
As you can see, using a combustion analyzer is an easy way to make your company stand out.
Bacharach’s Combustion Analyzer Reference Guide
Well, that concludes the main reasons why you should use a combustion analyzer.
Ultimately, investing in a combustion analyzer will help HVAC professionals maintain safer systems and healthier buildings. They also allow professionals to offer better and more accurate services.
If you’re wondering which combustion analyzer is best for you, check out our handy Combustion Analyzer Reference Guide, which provides a brief overview of our range of combustion analyzers. ∎
Has owning a combustion analyzer positively impacted your business? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.