The Cracked Heater Exchanger in the Furnace: It MUST Be Fixed!

Monday, January 14th, 2019

An example of corrosion creating pinhole leaks in the heat exchanger.

Hi folks. I must go into the full “Serious Olive” mode. The “No Fun” Olive. Because what I’m going to talk about today is serious and no fun. It’s an important furnace safety issue that everyone here at Russell & Abbott needs our customers and potential customers to know about. It’s the cracked heat exchanger in the gas furnace. Since most homes in the area rely on gas furnaces for comfort during the winter, this is advice many people need to hear—because a cracked heat exchanger is an issue that must be fixed as soon as it’s found, or else it can lead to illness and even death in your household!

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Why Your House May Not Be Heating Up

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

cold-sweater-manWelcome to the New Year! But that means we’re still in winter. In fact, we’re heading into the coldest stretch of the season.

A big part of my job as an HVAC blogger dog—at least during winter—is to make sure people have the info they need to stay comfortable. Even with my own permanent fur coat to help me stay warm, I’m no stranger to how bad things can get in a house that won’t heat up when the heater’s running. If this is what you’re dealing with, I can shed some light on what might be happening—and what you can do about it.

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What’s a Merry Christmas Without a Warm Furnace?

Monday, December 17th, 2018

santa-oliveI love this time of year—when I can go running into snow banks, muzzle first, and everybody wants to snap pictures of it and share it online. Let me tell you folks, if you’ve never gotten to be a dog for Christmas, I highly recommend it! You get a fur coat and people want to put Santa hats on you and shower you with attention.

Now I know you can’t actually get to be a dog for a season—and you don’t really need to have a thick coat of fur when you’re indoors because you have a furnace to keep the holidays merry and bright and warm. A furnace isn’t exactly a festive item. After all, nobody puts tinsel and other decorations on their furnace. (And they absolutely shouldn’t! This can create a fire hazard.) But if you lost the use of your furnace during the holidays, you wouldn’t have much of a merry Christmas. Not when your home is as cold as old Scrooge’s place!

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A Thanksgiving Reminder and Some Furnace Health Tips

Monday, November 19th, 2018

fall-cornucopiaOlive here getting in early on wishing you a happy Thanksgiving—and also reminding you to check out a holiday safety post about Thanksgiving food and your pets I wrote last year. The short version: Don’t use your pets like a garbage disposal after Thanksgiving feasting! Not all of those leftovers are healthy for dogs and cats, and many can be downright dangerous. Stuffing, the seasoning on turkey skin, grapes, artificial sweeteners, meat bones, and any kind of chocolate are all out of the question. Please help make this season a happy one for your household and your pets with this simple guide.

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Let’s Talk Gas Furnace Safety: Combustion Analysis

Monday, November 5th, 2018

furnace-oldI have plenty of important roles as the HVAC blogger dog for Russell & Abbott and the community we serve. I keep people informed about ways to save energy with their air conditioning systems, how to improve their heating during the winter, ways to boost their air quality. I even occasionally offer advice about pets—hey, it’s the least I can do for my furry brothers and sisters!

But there’s no HVAC blogging job that’s more important to me, or a subject more important to our Russell & Abbott team than SAFETY. We want all of our customers to have HVAC systems that keep them safe as well as comfortable. That’s why we make combustion analysis an essential part of our service for furnaces.

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Let It Snow! Free HVAC Equipment If It Snows on December 25!

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

onyx-equipment-presentHave you got your Halloween decorations stashed away and extra candy kept somewhere safe? (I.e. where your dogs can’t get to it? Chocolate is not good for me and my canine pals!) Then that must mean it’s already time to start thinking about the festive winter season.

No, I’m not here to get you stressed early about Christmas shopping. I’m here to make part of your season easier and possibly less expensive. This year we’re again holding our special Let It Snow! event. This is our way of embracing the holiday spirit and the season of giving!

If you purchase HVAC equipment from us between 11/1/18 and 12/20/18, and it snows two inches on Christmas Day (as measured at McGhee Tyson Airport), your purchase is FREE.

If you want more details about our HVAC equipment or you want to schedule installation service, call our offices today. If you’re looking for a new heating option for the coming winter, there’s never been a better time to arrange for it!

Stay warm (and hope for snow),


Russell & Abbott provides heating services in Maryville, Knoxville, Alcoa, Blount County, Knox County and Loudon County.

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You Can Never Know Too Much About Furnace Maintenance

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

autumn background

If you follow my blog (and hey, thanks!), then you know one of my favorite fall topics is furnace maintenance. I don’t do this just because I find it interesting—although I do—but because few parts of the job our team at Russell & Abbott do are more important for the comfort and safety of our clients than regular furnace maintenance.

What Does Furnace Maintenance Actually Do?

Plenty! The gas furnaces built today are durable and have high safety standards. Our own Onyx equipment is a good example of this.

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Onyx Heating/Cooling Equipment Gets the Green Light, Plus Some Other Cool Features

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Green Glow Assures Protection from Power Surges.

Homeowners may be relieved to know that the slightly eerie green glow on outdoor Onyx units is a good thing because it affirms that your surge protector is working properly.

“The electronic boards in today’s heating and cooling systems can ‘fry’ during power surges,  and a damaged board is one of the most common reasons for unit failure,” explained Chris Hurley, president of Russell & Abbott Heating and Cooling. “However, this component can almost always be saved with a surge protector which are standard in every piece of Onyx equipment.”

Hurley said that on a dark night, Onyx owners can to see if the surge protector is functioning.  “Green means you are good to go; a red glow indicates the surge protector is off and you may need to call us for service.” Hurley said.

All Parts are Created Equal, Except When They’re Not.

Another feature that makes Onyx equipment less susceptible to common electrical component failure is its use of American-made capacitors.  Capacitors, which are about the size and shape of a small can of tomato paste, store electrical electrons. Capacitors are attached to the three motors in HVAC units: the compressor, the blower motor and the outside fan. When there is a demand for energy, such as starting a motor, capacitors release energy, allowing the heating/cooling unit to run.

“We’ve found that the majority of HVAC equipment on the market uses cheap–and in my opinion, sub-standard–capacitors that are made in China.  They just don’t hold up and it’s not fair to consumers,” Hurley said. “That’s why we sourced American made capacitors for our line of Onyx equipment.”

Hurley said that American made capacitors have a life expectancy of 10 years, and are warranted for five years.  At Russell & Abbott, capacitors are included as part of the Unbeatable 10-10-10 Warranty.

“Our computerized maintenance management system prompts us to change capacitors at 4.5 and 9 years so that customers don’t have a problem,” Hurley said.

Hot Topic: Microchannel Coils vs. Traditional Spiny or Tube and Fin Coils.

Technicians in the HVAC industry seem to be polarized by a coil type issue.   Individuals either look very favorably on microchannel coils or are strongly opposed to their use.  Russell & Abbott is pro microchannel coils, based on actual failure rates and willingness (or unwillingness) of manufacturers to warrant those failures.

“We have experienced less than one percent failure from microchannel coils in our exclusive Onyx equipment,” Hurley said.  “Tube and fin style in other brands have consistently produced double digit failure rates.”

Consumers might ask why, then, would contractors offer consumers a style of system that has a proven large failure rate? Hurley speculates that most contractors are “stuck with what the major manufacturers are providing to them” on certain brands of equipment.

Industry naysayers to microchannel coil technology cite that microchannel coils are harder to work with because they are more complex.  Hurley insists that working with microchannel coils is no more difficult, just different. “Proper training makes the difference for technicians,” he said.

Plus, Hurley said, consumers benefit from these advantages of a microchannel coil system over a tube and fin or spiny fin system:

  • Smaller coils
  • Increased efficiency
  • Less refrigerant
  • More durable
  • Easier to clean

“At the end of the day, customers want a reliable heating and cooling system for their home.  One way Russell & Abbott provides that is by selecting components that give Onyx an edge over other equipment, and following up with an unbeatable 10-year warranty on labor, all parts, and maintenance.”

For more information about Onyx, visit or call (865) 982-5133 and ask to speak to an equipment replacement specialist.

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Hey Olive, What’s This “Onyx” Stuff?

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

onyx_logoIf you’ve skimmed around my blog or maybe our site, you’ve probably noticed that I talk about “Onyx” a lot. I recommend it often. I don’t do that for just anything. For example, my taste in dog food runs to the high-quality canned food from specialty pet stores, not the discount cans from the supermarket that hardly have any meat in them. That’s not being ­picky—that’s just being a smart canine consumer and knowing what the best products are.

So what is “Onyx” and why do I recommend it?

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Is That Ductless Heating System Not Working? Let’s Take a Look…

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

ducltess-mini-split-wall-unitI do a lot of research on furnaces, especially gas-powered ones, because they are the most common type of heating system you find around here. If I were a betting dog, I’d put my money on “furnace” when asked to guess what type of heater a home around here has.

However, I don’t want you good readers who don’t use a furnace to feel left out. There are other heating options, and maybe you’re one of the homeowners who has a ductless mini split heat pump installed. These are great for those older homes that don’t have room for ductwork, or for building a new home without ducts hogging up all that space. It’s always great to have a heating system that also works as an air conditioner during the middle of the year.

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