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Alright, my main question revolves around not understanding natural gas. Before we shell out a high dollar amount to replace our furnace and pipes and upgrade to Central heating & air, we want to double check that this isn't an issue of something that can be fixed for much cheaper.

We live in an older house, probably built around the 60s.

Here's what I know:

  • When temperature outside drops below 35 degrees, the house can no longer maintain temperature at 69. The longer the outside temperature stays 35 or below, the lower the inside will drop until it hits the 50s. Once outside temperature goes above 35, the house begins to climb back up to where the thermostat is set. This is a major issue in winter. In KY, there are a couple of months of the year where this means the house will be uncomfortably cold. -New roof and new insulation have been installed since moving in. -Two story house, the upstairs is warmer, but we don't really use the upstairs for daily living. -I can time it for more accurate measures but if a rough estimate helps, the furnace for heating the water that heats the house comes on once every 35-45 minutes and stays on for about 10 minutes. Let me know if an exact time needs to be figured out.

Other signs/issues:

  • Gas stove top requires that I turn the gas on high for about 8 seconds before switching to the ignition which will light the flame immediately at that point. To my knowledge, what should be required is going straight to flame ignition. If I actually do this, it will click for about 20 seconds before any flame ignites. Making me think there could be an issue with needing more gas. This is true for all 4 burners, and has always been true. The stove was new when we installed it and has always been this way. (The flames are blue, but very small.)

It could have been a coincidence, but while boiling water a few days ago, I turned on the hot water in the sink. It ran for about 3 minutes, probably causing the water heater to kick on. I noticed a couple of minutes later that the burner for the water had actually cut off. The knob still showed it was on, however. So I had to cut it off and reignite to get it to work again. I've never seen this happen, and when I tried to repeat it, it didn't happen.

I wonder if the gas pressure isn't high enough to the house being the reason that I have gas related issues. But if this sounds more like the stove has its own internal issue, and the heating is it's own issue that has to be fixed another way, please let me know your advice.

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  • What type of heating system do you have now? You mention a "furnace for heating the water that heats the house"....do you mean a boiler? Do you have radiators? In floor heating? baseboard heating fed by the boiler? If the "furnace/boiler" is only running a small percentage of the time, there may be settings that could be changed (like cut in/cut out settings), you may also have a bad gas regulator / meter. Or like you suspect, simply an inadequate supply. You'll need to get the gas company out to help sort this out. – George Anderson Feb 4 at 23:38
  • Apologies, we have radiators that have heated water in them, forget what this is called, but we did make sure the psi on those are correct. One boiler for house water like sink and shower and one furnace that heats water which cycles the pipes along the walls of each room. I might mention that these pipes are hot to touch but by no means burn. I'm not saying I'd like it to burn but if they should burn but aren't that hot perhaps this too is a symptom. – Malsi Feb 4 at 23:47
  • What is your gas usage per month? – Kris Feb 5 at 0:01
  • Most recently, 400 ccf. During summer its about 20. So almost all of that 400 ccf is heating i would presume. Which is a pretty hefty charge. – Malsi Feb 5 at 0:06
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    It must be miserable to live in a house that can't make it to setpoint even when the heat is on! Like I said in another post, you must have major heat loss problems: Drafts, poor sealing of outdoor air, poor insulation. One suggestion, just for now....try putting fans blowing air on the radiators. I might help draw more of the heat out of the radiators (probably also increase your gas bill). Many wood stoves have fans on them for the same reason. See my other comments, I just don't think you have enough radiation capacity for your existing heat loss. – George Anderson Feb 5 at 0:22
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I would say that your gas pressure / supply in general needs to be checked (that part might even be free from the gas company - call and report your symptoms)

and

that your boiler (despite not actually boiling if doing hot water rather than steam, that's what "a furnace for heating water" is normally called) and hydronic (hot water) heating controls need to be checked and corrected (even if the gas pressure is fine - or even if the gas pressure is low and gets corrected.) That part will almost certainly involve paying for a service call from a qualified heating system person.

Do them in that order, since servicing the boiler will go more smoothly if the gas pressure is correct.

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  • Yeah, + on that answer. I think the boiler might be cycling properly (the OP said that pipes where hot), but they just don't have sufficient radiation capacity to heat the home. That and/or not enough insulation, drafts, leaks, maybe single pane windows could be contributing to the inability of the system to maintain setpoint. – George Anderson Feb 5 at 0:14
  • How would I go about increasing radiation capacity? – Malsi Feb 5 at 0:17
  • @Malsi Just posted above. try some fans blowing on the radiators to extract more heat. – George Anderson Feb 5 at 0:23
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    I would not start with "fans on the radiators" - I would start with making sure that the system is performing as intended - there might be air bubbles leading to reduced flow in the radiators, there might be balancing valves that need to be adjusted, the system temperature or pressure may not be as intended. – Ecnerwal Feb 5 at 0:59
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    I'm very experienced at various DIY things - plumbing, electrical, etc. For the fire in a box inside my house that could burn the house down or kill me in other ways I call in a licensed professional when it gets out of whack, and for a yearly inspection/adjustment/checkover. While they are there, I'd ask them to advise you where the various dials should be reading so you'll know if they are out of whack again, but I don't think boiler control adjustments are a good fit for DIY. – Ecnerwal Feb 5 at 14:12
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As some of the other guys have written, you need to call the gas company that is the utility that supplies the nat gas to your home. They can access any problems with your in-coming gas supply and gas pressure. Next, have an HVAC service company check and service your heating boiler. They can adjust the gas input to factory specs, and check the whole heating system to make sure that everything is working properly. It sounds to me, from what you wrote, that the gas pressure to your home is too low. The gas company can determine the cause and take the appropriate action to correct it. You should be able to adjust the home's temperature to any comfort level you desire. My 2 cents.

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