Night Trade School – Evening Programs at Coyne College


Do you have the desire to learn a new trade that is marketable and provides financial security? Are you tired of working hard for minimum wage and want to invest in a long-term career? Now you can learn a trade while you continue to work with evening trade programs at Coyne College.

Trade Programs

Trade Programs teach valuable skills that will prepare you for a rewarding career in as little as 42 weeks. Spend less time in unrelated topics and more time in hands-on learning and application of skills that will make you immediately employable.

Electrician Night Classes

  • Work with your hands
  • Troubleshoot
  • Learn how to install electrical devices and components and wire
  • Develop your mechanical skills and aptitude

HVAC Night Classes

  • Learn to install, troubleshoot and service residential and commercial HVAC units
  • Build skills in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration
  • Stay ahead of technological advancements and energy-efficient methods


Careers for electricians and HVAC technicians are projected to continue to grow over the coming years. Invest in yourself and your future by learning a trade that will benefit you and serve others. Get your certification and get to work in short order when you enroll in night classes in Chicago at Coyne College. Contact us for more information.

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HVAC System Summer Preparation Tips


Prepare for a hot summer with a tuned-up HVAC system. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system is designed to provide comfortable interior temperatures year round. Without routine maintenance, your system may be costing more in monthly utility bills or operating inefficiently. Learn more about hvac system summer preparation tips and how to receive professional training at a HVAC program near you.

What Is an HVAC System?

There are many components that work together to create comfortable indoor temperatures. Your home uses one or more of these systems to adjust the temperature and purify the air of your home:

  • Furnace
  • Ductwork
  • Thermostat
  • Central AC system
  • Window AC unit
  • Ductless air conditioner

Many homes are equipped with a central AC system or a ductless system. These systems come with a SEER rating to describe the energy efficiency of the unit. A qualified AC technician can inspect a system and determine whether it needs maintenance, repairs or if you should consider replacing your unit.

HVAC System Works

How Can I Prepare an HVAC System for the Summer?

Prepare for a summer in Chicago by following these maintenance steps and considering an HVAC upgrade. Be sure to inspect your air conditioner before summer starts to avoid causing additional damage to your unit or to spend days or weeks without cool air.

Summer is also a great time to inspect your furnace. After you turn off your furnace for the last time, inspect it to see if there are any signs of damage or needed maintenance. Summer is a great time to repair your furnace and have it ready for a chilly fall.

  1. Check the Filter

    The most common summer maintenance task is to check your HVAC filter. Window AC units have their own filters and central AC systems use the same blower and filter as your furnace. Most filters need to be replaced every three months, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations before replacing. Choose a quality filter to improve your indoor air quality this summer.

  2. Clear the Area

    Outdoor units can become clogged with leaves, branches and other debris. Check your air conditioner before turning it on for the summer. Use caution when clearing any brush and try to have at least two feet clear around your AC unit.

  3. Clean Out Vents

    Air ducts are an efficient way to spread cool, comfortable air throughout your home in Chicago. Unfortunately, they are also prone to clogging. Professional cleaning services can remove dust, debris and mold that may be residing in your ductwork. This will increase the energy efficiency of your AC system this summer and dramatically improve your indoor air quality.

What Are Common HVAC Upgrades?

Look for signs that you need an update as you check your system. An older AC may still be operating, but it could be increasing your monthly energy bill. A local trade school has more information on the state-of-the-art HVAC features available for your home.

1. Window Treatments

An affordable and low-tech option for upgrading the efficiency of your system is using new window treatments. Curtains, blinds and drapes not only provide privacy but also reduce the amount of heat that penetrates your windows. This is particularly important if your home has large windows.

2. Modern Thermostats

The latest thermostat options allow you to program your system and adjust features from your smartphone. A programmable, smart thermostat can dramatically reduce your costs and offer more personalized comfort. Compare the latest thermostat options to find out how you can tailor your home to match your lifestyle. A thermostat requires professional training to safely install, so be sure you have the proper training before tackling this upgrade.

3. New Fans

Modern ceiling fans are far more energy efficient and quiet than older models. If you’re tired of a loud, slow fan or you need to add fans to increase air flow, professional HVAC training can help you determine the best placement of new fans.

What Are the Signs I Need HVAC Repairs?

Some systems just need a tune up. If you have a damaged air conditioner or other component in your HVAC system, essential repairs can improve the convenience and cost of your system. At Coyne College, you can learn more about how to diagnose these signs and repair your system.

1. Inefficient Operation
Is your AC blowing hot air? An inefficient AC unit may need to be recharged or repaired. A refrigerant leak or a condenser coil issue can affect the temperature of the air blowing through your system. A skilled technician can inspect the condenser, filter, blower and ductwork to find the cause of the inefficient operation and make any necessary repairs.

2. Costly Energy Bill
A clogged air filter or refrigerant leak can result in inefficient operations. This causes your blower to blow for longer to achieve the same results. Don’t let a simple repair issue increase your monthly bill and decrease the lifespan of your blower.

3. Annual Maintenance
Most air conditioning systems should be maintained every year. A professional cleaning, inspection and sealing service offers great results and keeps your system going. This service requires a trained technician, so it’s important to receive professional training before maintaining your air conditioner.


Where Can I Learn More About HVAC Systems?

Ready for an exciting new career or a jumpstart on your HVAC career? Receive quality HVAC training at Coyne College in Chicago to learn all the skills you need to become a professional HVAC technician. Learn more about our program or call us at 800-720-3990 for more information about our dynamic, hands-on training program.

Coyne College Electrical Training


Coyne College is home to two electrical programs – Electrical Construction & Planning (ECP) and Electrical Construction & Maintenance (ECM). Through evening electrical classes at Coyne, students will learn how to become an electrician in no time.

In as little as 10 months, you will be ready to transform Chicago with the electrical skills you learned.

If you learn by doing, then this is the path for you. Elevate your career at Coyne College today.

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Electrical Safety Checklist for Your Home

Electricity in homes has become fairly essential to our everyday lives. For all of its advantages and capabilities, electricity in the home can be quite dangerous. Many dangers relating to electricity in homes are related to the potential for it to start fires. That’s why it’s crucial to take the proper safety precautions. Using this

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Alumni Spotlight: Apryl Raggs – Electrical Construction and Maintenance

“I chose Coyne College because it was close and I heard only good things about it”, stated graduate Apryl Raggs. Interested in a career in Electrical Construction and Maintenance? Hear from Electrical Program grad April Raggs on her experience at Coyne College and her advice to students. With a 120 years of teaching experience Coyne

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Alumni Spotlight: Ray Proskey

Ray Proskey was studying psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago when he came across an ad in a newspaper for Coyne College’s Electrical Construction and Maintenance program. “I was attending UIC at the time and didn’t know what I was going to do with a degree in psychology,” Proskey says. “I would always

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Electrical Safety Tips on the Job Site

It goes without say that electricity can be incredibly dangerous, especially for electricians. Each day, they have to work around and with high voltage components. That’s why practicing proper electrical safety is important. For newbies and experienced electrical workers, here are a few tips for maintaining peak safety at electrical job sites. These safety tips

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Essential Traits of Electrical Linemen

  What if we didn’t have access to the electricity that most of us take for granted? Thanks in part to electrical linemen, we don’t have to, save for the occasional power outage due to stormy weather. Electrical linemen are America’s unsung heroes. They are the ones who install power lines and restore electricity in

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How to Avoid the Most Common Electrical Code Violations

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In Coyne College’s Electrical Construction and Planning program in Chicago, you’ll get the hands-on electrical training and individualized instruction you need to prepare for a career as an electrician.

For More Details, Visit Coyne College.

Understanding the Value of Medical Assistant Externships


What Is a Medical Assisting Externship?

The externship portion of MA training at Coyne College is an essential part of preparing you to enter the healthcare field upon completion of your training course. Externship opportunities are designed to help you get the experience and mentorship you need before you begin applying for jobs. It’s a type of job shadowing, but you will not just be watching, but assisting doctors, nurses and other health professionals as they provide patient care.

Externships can take place in a variety of medical settings. Depending on where your interests lie, you can tailor your hands-on experience to be something that is exciting and engaging to you personally. A few locations where you might be able to job shadow an experienced medical assistant include

  • hospitals
  • medical billing offices
  • urgent cares
  • clinics
  • physician practices

Requirement for Certification

The hands-on hours you get during an externship are a requirement to complete your medical assistant coursework and get certified in most MA programs in Chicago and around the country. As you learn about your duties from an experienced MA, you will also get to put the skills you learned in the classroom into practice. You will be evaluated by the professionals overseeing your work to make sure you are developing the skills you need to be a good medical assistant. These reports go back to your instructors who use them to determine if you have completed the requirements for the course. The externship is usually the very last part of the course you need to complete before taking the certification exam.


Gain Real Life Experience

No matter how great classroom instruction is, nothing really prepares like real life experience. As you follow your mentor, you will start by observing what he does. Soon after, you will be given opportunities to try performing some of the tasks you have been observing and learning about. Whether performing assessments, giving medications, removing stitches, collecting specimens or educating patients, you will grow your knowledge and confidence as you practice. Medical assistant externships are a great way to gain experience so that you are ready to work on your own.

How do I Get an Externship in Medical Assisting?

Medical assisting is the frontline of healthcare. Since MAs are often the first person a patient sees when they come in to be seen, it is important that any medical assistant feels confident enough to keep the patient calm. An excellent way to increase your confidence as you train is to get lots of really good hands-on learning during your externship. Finding a good fit for your career aspirations is an important part of this process. Rather than taking whatever opportunity comes your way, there are things you can do to narrow down your options and make sure you will gain the experience and knowledge you need.

Know Your Interests and Schedule

If you are particularly interested in a certain field of medicine, you may choose to pursue that route for an externship. As you reach out to potential sites, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the requirements are for your program, including the number of hours needed and timeline you have for completion. This will help the clinic or hospital determine if they will be able to give you the experience you need. It is also helpful to plan your schedule ahead of time so that you know exactly what days and times you will be available to be on site for the externship.

Reach Out to Your Instructors and Peers

Given that your teachers and staff members are experienced in the medical assisting field, they likely have lots of great connections to help you find an externship that suits your interests. You can also choose to speak to former students who have completed externships to see what their thoughts are on their experiences. If you aren’t sure if the positions you are looking at would be a good fit, discussing them with others can help you gain some insight.

What Will I Be Doing During my Externship?

Medical assistants play a vital role in the medical world. Depending on where you choose to complete your training, you may find yourself performing a variety of tasks including

  • Assessing patients by checking vital signs, reviewing patient history and performing preliminary observation of injuries or illnesses
  • Perform laboratory testing by collecting and processing blood and specimen samples, packing and sending samples to the lab and filling out necessary paperwork
  • Prepare patients for medical procedures such as EKG testing
  • Assist in clerical duties such as scheduling appointments, answering phones, collecting insurance information and preparing patient files
  • Administering medications orally and via injection as ordered by a physician
  • Assist patients with mobility and other activities of daily living
  • Educate patients about various health conditions, treatments and other recommendations from their physicians

Medical assisting is a fast-paced career that is vital to the healthcare industry today. It is essential to receive the right kind of training through classroom learning and hands on experience. As the first and last person patients see, a knowledgable and skilled medical assistant can make a big impact on how that they feel about their care. If becoming an MA sounds like an exciting career you would like to pursue, consider looking into programs in your area. As you prepare for a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry, you will learn the techniques, skills and knowledge it takes to be a true professional.

Furnace Replacement: A Guide for Homeowners


To replace your home furnace or not replace it. That is the question that may be on your mind—especially if you haven’t experienced the warmth and comfort level you’re used to. Furnace replacement or your entire HVAC system can be costly, so you must ask: is it time to replace your furnace and/or air conditioning system?

It helps to understand the parts of a gas furnace and what they do. A bit of troubleshooting may help you decide if now is the time to replace or just repair your HVAC system.

What are the parts of a furnace, and what do they do?

Regardless of the type of furnace you have—electric, gas or oil—they all have parts that serve similar functions.

  • Heat Exchanger
    Cold air is heated in the heat exchanger. Because of the dangerously high temperatures, there could be cracks leaking toxic carbon dioxide.
  • Burners and Manifold
    In many residential gas furnaces, a pilot light ignites burners that heat the air in the heat exchanger and then disperses it into the ductwork. Gas burners are connected to the furnace’s gas valve via the manifold. Newer models may offer multi-stage burners (modulating burners) that deliver different amounts of heat depending on the demand.
  • Blower Motor
    This is what actually pushes or cycles the air from the furnace into the ductwork. With a variable-speed blower, you can adjust the fan speed using furnace controls, but keep in mind that some blowers need to be lubricated annually.
  • Air Filtration
    All furnaces need something to reduce bad particles and filter them before they are circulated into main living spaces. If you fit your furnace with an electrostatic filter that traps particles through an electrical charge or install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate-arresting) filter, you can reduce the amount of dust that blows through the system.
  • Venting
    You don’t want byproduct gasses to stay inside your home; breathing them could be deadly. Venting pipes that go from the furnace to outside can eliminate this danger. However, you should regularly inspect the pipes to avoid leaks.

How do I know if it’s time to my furnace?

If it stops working completely, you know the answer. If not, ask yourself some questions. Does it heat effectively? Does it turn off and on irregularly? Do you make frequent repairs on it? Is it noisy or produce a foul odor? Do you notice you or your family members are having frequent respiratory issues? Are your energy bills going up? If your furnace is more than 12-15 years old or if you’re experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace your furnace.

What kind of furnace should I buy?

Before you buy anything, you should consider getting a home assessment. Hire a reliable contractor to come to your home and assess the situation.

  • The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
  • He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
  • The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality.

Once you get recommendations and know what’s best for your home, you can go shopping for a new furnace. If you are trying to avoid buying a new furnace—which costs, on average, $2,500-$7,150—make sure to have an HVAC technician regularly maintain and diagnose it for issues.

Home's Footage
The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
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Damage Check
He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
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Contractor Suggestion
The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality
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What are the features and benefits of today’s furnaces?

Above all, you’re going to want your furnace to work well for you while keeping operation costs down. The best furnaces today are energy efficient and abide by industry regulations. One that is energy efficient makes it easier to reduce your home’s energy use, saves you money and offers better safety controls and sensors. It doesn’t even require a chimney! These are some things to look for in a new gas furnace:

  • High AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating
    The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace. The minimum requirement today is 80 percent, but the most efficient models have ratings of 90-98 percent. Although they may have a higher upfront cost, they can save you more long term. Another plus is that many are eligible for rebates.
  • Multi-stage burners
    These modulating burners can be adjusted electronically to provide warmth at any given time. They also deliver different levels of heat depending on your personal requirements.
  • Programmable thermostats
    A programmable thermostat lets you adjust the temperature in your house based on your daily schedule. If you also add smart controls that can be operated remotely from your smart phone, they can monitor the outdoor temperature, humidity levels and system efficiency.
  • Multi-speed or variable blower motor
    Customize your comfort level with the force air goes through your house.
  • Electrical ignition system
    You can save energy with an electrical Hot Surface Ignition (HSI) system rather than the old-fashioned pilot light ignition.
  • Warranties
    Most quality furnaces come with warranties that can cover manufacturer parts and labor, heat exchanger and contractor parts and labor. Some even offer an optional extended service agreement.
Are there any enhancements I can request?

Several enhancements can help your furnace’s efficiency and increase your comfort.

  1. Air cleaners (stand alone or affixable to your HVAC system) to improve air quality
  2. Zoning systems that offer more precise control over different areas of your home
  3. Humidifiers (sand alone or affixable) to add moisture that can help with dry winter air
  4. UV lighting to help clean air as it moves through the system, eliminating bacteria.

Does HVAC sound like something you’d like to do? Consider enrolling in HVAC programs at Coyne College. Do you have a job during the day? Enroll in evening HVAC programs at Coyne College Chicago. Depending on your needs, choose between day and night courses to become an HVAC technician in as few as 42 weeks.

How to Deal with Unsafe Electrical Wiring


Even if you think of yourself as being pretty good with DIY projects, you may want to leave a potential electrical issue to the experts. Anytime there is unsafe wiring, it could cause a fire and severe shock. It’s crucial to understand the hazards and know how to stay safe.

Unsafe Electrical Wiring
Even if you think of yourself as being pretty good with DIY projects, you may want to leave a potential electrical issue to the experts.
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Understand Hazards
It’s crucial to understand the hazards and know how to stay safe.
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What could cause unsafe wiring?

Not all unsafe wiring is caused by old wiring, but damaged, worn, cracked or corroded wiring can certainly increase the likelihood of an electrical accident. These are a few possibilities:

  • Loose connections
  • Frayed cords
  • Pinched, pierced or cracked wire insulation
  • Overheated wires or cords
  • Damaged electrical appliances
  • Wiring that rodents may have chewed

What about electrical outlets and switches?

You definitely want to keep electrical outlets away from water, as water conducts electricity. Never use a radio, hair dryer, phone or anything else with an electrical cord near water—including pools and wet floors. Never plug damaged or frayed cords into an outlet, either.

How do I know if my wiring is old?

Most homes built before the 1940s used knob and tube wiring, named for the insulating knobs and tubes that ran wiring along and through the building’s frame: one black charged wire and one white neutral wire. Splices and wire connections made with tape placed around ungrounded soldered wires were the norm. The electrical tape insulated them and kept them from touching each other.

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How to Deal with Unsafe Electrical Wiring

Even if you think of yourself as being pretty good with DIY projects, you may want to leave a potential electrical issue to the experts. Anytime there is unsafe wiring, it could cause a fire and severe shock. It’s crucial to understand the hazards and know how to stay safe. Unsafe Electrical WiringEven if you

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Electrical Safety Checklist for Your Home

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Is old wiring always unsafe, and should I replace it?

Before 1960, wiring insulation was made of rubber that can crumble or flake. It’s dangerous if the insulation has worn away, was installed incorrectly or is covered with regular building insulation material (which could overheat and potentially cause a fire). National Electrical Code (NEC) doesn’t require you to replace knob and tube wiring—especially if you live in a historic home. If local code allows it and your wiring needs work, you can splice the old wiring with new NM (non-metallic) cable if you use a junction box, which protects wire connections.

What if I have a short circuit?

If the power suddenly goes out on an appliance or light or you notice a spark or smoke or smell burning wires, you could have a short circuit. If you suspect a short circuit, turn off the circuit panel, check to see which flip is switched and inspect power cords plugged into outlets along the particular circuit for damage. There are other steps you should take to find a short circuit. If you’ve done the troubleshooting and don’t find an obvious problem, it might be in hidden wiring that an electrician should check out.

The thing about electricity is that it always tries to go back to ground through the wiring circuit breaker panels and then through the utility wires. If the connections within the wiring network loosen or break, current can leak and try to take a shortcut to get to ground. That might mean through flammable material or even you!

Is a short circuit dangerous?

When there’s additional electricity flowing through a switch, outlet or appliance, it generates additional heat. If the affected wires come in contact with flammable parts in your home, they can cause a fire. If you or a pet touches a live or damaged wire or cord, you can get shocked because you both conduct electricity. When the current flows through to the ground, it results in electrical shock.

What a short circuit?

Although there are several possible causes, three are most common:

  • Poor circuit wire insulation: If your wiring insulation is old or damaged, a faulty neutral wire connection touching a hot wire can trigger a short circuit.
  • Loose wire connections: When attachments loosen, neutral and live wires might touch, creating unsafe wiring that should be repaired by a professional electrician.
  • Appliance wiring issues: When you plug an appliance into a wall outlet, the wiring in the cord becomes an extension of the circuit. If the cord has issues, they become circuit issues.
What if I think I know enough to do a wiring job and stay safe?

It’s critical that you make tight electrical connections because if wires loosen, there might be arcing and overheating. That spells potential fire. However, if you make a proper wire nut connection, have reliable terminals and know what else to watch for, it’s possible to make safe connections.

With many electrical wiring projects, you may need to repair the main service panel. That’s the place where utility wires send electricity for distribution throughout the circuits of your home. Again, it’s something that you may be able to do on your own—if you have some electrical experience.

If you know you have unsafe wiring—or even think you may—it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Contact a certified electrician to do the job.

How can I become a certified electrician?

According to O*NETOnLine, the projected job growth for electricians through 2028 is faster than average for other occupations. Have you thought about enrolling in electrician programs in Chicago? Consider taking day and night electrical program classes at Coyne College Chicago. You’ll get the hands-on electrical training and individualized instruction you need to prepare for an in-demand career as an electrician. If you have a day job, Coyne College offers evening electrical classes that could work with your schedule.

Register now for electrical programs at Coyne College.

Types of Furnaces: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning


A furnace heats the air that is circulated by your home’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. A thermostat has a direct link to a furnace so that changes in the thermostat will immediately trigger a furnace to turn on or off. When considering a replacement or upgrade for your home’s (HVAC) system, the type of furnace that will be best for your home depends on the way your house is shaped and designed. That is why it is beneficial to know the four different types of furnaces and to understand the features of each one.

Keep These Things in Mind

As you start your search for a furnace, be mindful of come of the features of your home that will limit or necessitate certain options. Is your climate dry or humid? Do you experience cold and icy winters or relatively mild ones? You may also need to consult a professional to determine what level of heat you need to generate to properly warm your home. You need to be able to know the amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) that you require a furnace to produce.

Propane Furnace

Propane furnaces are used in about 10% of households in the U.S. As a byproduct of the production of gas and oil, propane can be just as effective as any other natural gas. The downside to these furnaces is that you have to change the propane tank every so often. However, in some areas, oil and gas are not easily accessible. If your home does not have a natural gas pipeline, then you will probably be looking at propane furnaces.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces use an electric heating element to transfer heat to the air that cycles through them. They are less efficient than natural gas furnaces, but they have the advantage of being smaller, allowing them to fit into more compact spaces. They tend to rack up more costs on your energy bill, but they end up being cheaper than most natural gas furnaces.

Again, if you do not have a source of natural gas connected to your house, and you don’t want to haul propane tanks around, an electric furnace could be a good option for you. Your decision may also ride on the cost of electricity in your area.

One advantage of electric furnaces is that they can last as much as ten years longer than gas or oil furnaces. If you are doing the installation yourself, you will also find that an electric furnace is easier to install. Be aware that there can be a safety risk to installing any kind of heating system in your home without the aid of a professional if you are not properly trained yourself.

Oil Furnace

An oil furnace burns oil to produce a heating flame. One of these may be the better option if you are not looking to spend as much money as you would on a natural gas furnace. You can expect to pay approximately 25 percent less on average compared to a natural gas furnace.

Do be aware, however, that natural gas furnaces tend to run more efficiently. An oil furnace will usually run at an efficiency of 80-90 percent. A lot of homes in the northeastern U.S. use oil furnaces.


The most widely used heating source in America, natural gas furnaces can be found in about half of all U.S. homes. They do a great job of providing even heating throughout an entire home. Jets of gas are propelled along a burner to make a big directional flame that makes hot air, which is then circulated through the HVAC ducts via fans.

These furnaces are highly effective but can be a bit pricey compared to electric or oil furnaces. The newer gas furnaces can run at up to 98 percent efficiency. Many of the older types of gas furnaces average at about 65 percent efficiency. If you have an old-style natural gas furnace that is not providing enough heat for your home, it may be time for an upgrade. Either way, natural gas furnaces tend to make less of an impact on the utility bill, due to the lower price of gas.

Modulating Furnace

A modulating furnace combines the efficiency of natural gas with the cost-effectiveness of a cheaper furnace. While these furnaces require a bigger investment upfront, they end up saving you money on your energy bill thanks to their extremely energy-efficient design. In addition, these furnaces have a much more precise heating capability, typically landing within half a degree of the target temperature, compared to the 4-6 degree margin of error found on other types of furnaces. This is made possible by a design which, rather than shutting off and on, modulates a continuous flow of gas that adjusts based on the ratio of the home’s temperature to the temperature on the thermostat.

Become a True Expert

Are you interested in learning more about the ins and outs of the different types of furnaces? If you see yourself advising people on their HVAC systems and installing furnaces in their homes, consider getting an education in Electrical Construction and Maintenance or Electrical Construction and Planning at Coyne College. Our instructors have years of experience in the field and have given many students the tools of success. The HVAC industry has a lot of opportunities, as there will always be a need for people who know how to install and repair these systems. For more information, call our admissions department at 800-720-3990.

What You Need To Know About Electrical Outlet Types


In the average American home, there are 75 electrical outlets. While most of these are typical three-prong, 15-amp outlets, there are many other options. If you want to work in electrical construction and maintenance, you will need to understand each of these commonly used electrical outlets and their applications. At Coyne College in Chicago, we have electrical programs to teach you everything you need to know for a career as an electrician.

The Most Common American Outlets

There are six major types of outlets you can expect to find in most homes. While not every home has all of these, nearly all have at least a couple of these options. Anyone working in the electrical field needs to be very familiar with these common types.

2-Prong Outlets

This type of outlet is very common in older houses but almost non-existent in new buildings. It is a 15-amp, 125-volt outlet that takes two wires on an ungrounded circuit. Since it lacks a ground wire, it is significantly less safe than the superior three-prong option. Furthermore, it is quickly becoming obsolete due to modern building codes. Expect to have to replace these in renovation jobs.

3-Prong Outlets

This is without a doubt the most common outlet in modern homes. It replaced the two-prong alternative as the go-to outlet for general electrical usage. It also is a 15-amp, 125-volt outlet but it has a third prong for grounding. It is significantly safer than the older version and is compliant with modern building codes.

GFCI Outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets are a shockingly safe choice of outlet. It is often used in kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere that the outlet may be near water. The outlet monitors the electrical flow in the circuit. If the current spikes or leaks, the GFCI outlet will interrupt the current to avoid a hazard. The outlet features two buttons for testing and resetting the interrupter.

AFCI Outlets

An arc fault circuit interrupter looks very similar to a GFCI outlet. Its purpose is to protect against arcs when electricity jumps from one wire to another. Arcing is a fire hazard, so this typica of circuit protection is important. In modern construction, AFCI circuits are built into the breaker. However, on older homes, this technology can be added using a special outlet.

20-Amp, 125-Volt Outlets

Many large appliances need a 20-amp current to operate. These are especially common for refrigerators and laundry machines. They are similar to the three-prong, 15-amp outlets but have a horizontal or T-shaped pin on the left. This helps prevent people from plugging items into the wrong type of outlet.

20-Amp, 250-Volt Outlets

These outlets are similar to the 125-volt ones used for appliances, but they have an even higher voltage. They look very similar and are sometimes used for tools such as air compressors. In a home, these outlets are usually installed by hobbyists for their shops. However, they are also common in commercial spaces.

Switch and Outlet Combinations

Unlike the other options above, this doesn’t offer any sort of electrical benefits or drawbacks. Instead, this marvelous multi-tasker allows the addition of a switch or outlet to a receptacle. Rather than having to add wiring to put a switch in the wall, an outlet can be converted to have an integrated switch. This is great for use in new bedrooms or to help make a room more practical.

Newer Types of Outlets

Many homes are adopting newer types of electrical outlets. These alternatives offer special features that are more convenient for modern living. Many of them can be installed without at most basic wiring work. If working a new construction job, it is likely that at least one of these could be requested. This is even more likely on a renovation job for the homeowner.

Recessed Outlets

The connection point on these outlets is recessed into the box rather than flush with the wall plate. This means that electronics can be plugged in with less cable protruding. The end result is that less space needs to be allowed behind furniture to plus items in. This is popular in living rooms and other places with outlets typically hidden behind furniture.

Temper Resistant Receptacles

These receptacles are now required by building codes in many areas. They have a special barrier than stops objects from being inserted to them by children. It is a similar concept to plastic outlet plug covers but more effective. The barrier can only be pushed aside by a plug or similar object. This is very effective in preventing accidental insertions.

USB Outlets

These outlets have USB charging ports integrated into them. They are growing very popular thanks to the prevalence of USB-charged smartphones, tablets and other devices. The key advantage is that the charging cable does not take up an outlet.

LED Outlets

This style of outlet has a built-in LED that can act as a nightlight. Many people find this convenient for young children or for providing minimal lighting in bathrooms and other areas that may need to be reached at night.

Learn More About Outlets and Other Electrical Components

Working in the electrical construction and maintenance field can be very rewarding. However, it is important to learn the trade if you want to land a good job. If you are thinking about going to trade school, consider Coyne College in Chicago.

Our electrical programs can help you learn all about wiring houses and other properties. This could be your first step towards a bright future. Contact us today to learn about enrolling at Coyne College.

6 of the Most Common Furnace Problems and How To Solve Them


If doesn’t matter if you’re conquering another Chicago winter or if your idea of “cold” is a balmy 65 degrees: A working furnace is vital to a comfortable winter. While it requires regular upkeep to work properly, even a well-maintained furnace can fail. Here are six common furnace problems and how to solve them.

1. The Air Filter Is Clogged

Your first step should be to examine the filter. Not only is this one of the most common causes of a struggling furnace, but it’s also one of the easiest, fastest and least expensive problems to fix.
While the air filter’s job it to get dirty, if it traps too much dirt and debris, it can become clogged and restrict airflow, forcing the furnace’s air handler work even harder. At best, this can diminish the air quality in your home, overheat your heat exchanger or and drive up your energy bill. At worst, it can become a fire hazard.

Safely checking your furnace filter is simple:

  • Turn off both the thermostat and furnace.
  • Find the filter. Some filters are inside the furnace itself. Others are in the intake and will resemble a grate in the wall, ceiling or floor.
  • Remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If your filter’s so congested that light can’t pass through, it’s time to swap it out.
  • Insert the new filter. Make sure the arrows point in the direction of airflow. Installing it backwards makes it less effective.

Many professionals suggest replacing your air filter every 90 days. If you have pets or household members with respiratory conditions, it may be necessary to change your filter more often. Generally speaking, if the air smells musty, the filter likely needs to be changed.

2. The Vents Are Blocked

If the furnace is running, but it’s still chilly indoors, take a quick tour of your home’s vents: both the supply and return registers. Each should be open all the way and unhindered by furniture, rugs or other items. Blocked registers can cause leaks in your home’s air ducts that may result in a malfunctioning unit.

3. The Thermostat Went Haywire

If the filter’s not to blame and your vents are wide open, the issue could be hanging right there on the wall. Troubleshoot the thermostat by performing the following checks:

  • Bump the temperature up by 5 degrees and see if that resolves the problem.
  • Replace the batteries.
  • Verify that it’s not being triggered by sunlight, a space heater or another heat source heat that can prompt a false reading and convince your furnace it’s warmer indoors than it actually is.
  • If you have an electromechanical thermostat, crack it open and dust the contact plate and coils with a soft brush.

4. The Furnace Power

In some cases, troubleshooting a furnace is a power struggle — literally. If you’ve ruled out the filter, vents, and thermostat, it’s time to check the energy supply.

Check the Furnace Switch
First, locate the furnace’s power switch and verify that no one turned it off by accident. It should be located near the unit itself.

Check the Breaker
Next, take a peek at your home’s breaker box. Before you start flipping switches, check for moisture or evidence of electrical damage. If you find any, call an electrician. If everything looks OK, first check that the HVAC breaker is on. It’s the one that faces in a different direction than the other switches.
If it’s off, manually test it by flipping it back and forth. You’re looking to confirm that it stays in the “On” position once there and doesn’t continue turning off.

Check the Furnace Fuse
If the breaker’s on and seems to be working properly, turn it off and inspect the furnace’s fuse. Replace it if it’s discolored or melted, either by calling an electrician or by unscrewing the blown fuse and taking it to your local hardware store to find the correct substitute.

5. The Flame Went Out

Check your furnace flame and verify that it’s evenly shaped and a healthy blue color. This means that it’s safely burning fuel. If the flame is any other color, the burner likely needs to be cleaned. While it’s possible to remove dust, soot and debris on your own using a vacuum, it’s generally a job that’s best left to an HVAC professional. Better still, schedule an annual cleaning.

If the flame is out entirely, there are variety of reasons why:

  • Drafts
  • Clogs
  • A faulty ignition system

To relight it, first turn the furnace off and on using the furnace switch. This will reset the ignition system. If that’s unsuccessful and you feel comfortable about relighting the pilot light yourself, turn the gas off for 15 minutes. During that time, consult the unit’s operation manual. If you smell gas, leave immediately and alert the gas company.

6. The Safety Switch Was Tripped

Most furnaces have a safety switch on the door that stops the burner and the fan from operating when the door is removed. When the access panel is taken off, the switch pops. If the panel is not put back on properly, nudged loose or damaged, the safety switch stays tripped, thereby preventing the furnace from running.

To fix this issue, simply reinstate the door. If you need an all-new safety switch, however, it’s best to contact an HVAC professional to do the wiring and installation.

Ideally, the furnace is your home’s workhorse. It’s neither seen nor heard — it just works. Even with regular maintenance, however, it can fail. When that happens, check for these six common problems, and don’t hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced furnace repair professional.

You can join the many talented HVAC technicians by starting your career at Coyne College in Chicago.

Coyne College’s HVAC Refrigeration program will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the field with confidence.

Common Household Electrical Problems


Your home’s electrical system uses high-voltage wiring to power appliances, lights and electronics throughout your home. If you experience an issue with your electrical system, it can be difficult to determine the cause or solution. Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to restore your electrical appliances and stay safe. Consider joining an electrical program near you for more information and expert raining.

What Are the Most Household Electrical Problems?

These are the most common issues homeowners face. Whether you’re just moved into a new home or you’re finally tackling home improvement projects around your house, here are some common issues that you may be dealing with:

  • Light switches not working: If your light switch doesn’t turn on a light or fan, there are a few common causes. First, check to see if your lightbulb is burnt out or your breaker is tripped. If not, the issue could be faulty wiring or a damaged light switch.
  • Unusual power surges: Power surges are signs that your breaker or wiring isn’t equipped to handle your power load. You may have too many appliances and electronics plugged into a single breaker or you may have low-gauge wiring.
  • Outlet not working: The most common cause of a faulty outlet is a tripped breaker or GFCI outlet. Reset both the breaker and, if applicable, the GFCI. Otherwise, you may need a new outlet installed.
  • Expensive energy bill: High energy bills are typically caused by inefficient lighting, hot water heater issues or power surges. It could be a sign of inefficient appliances or a more serious electrical issue.
  • Burnt-out lightbulb: A burnt-out bulb is a common and easy maintenance task. However, if your bulbs continue to burn out quickly, it may be a sign of another issue. It may be caused by incorrect wattage, a dimmer switch or bad wiring.
Light Switches Not Working
Check Breaker.
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Power Surge
Breaker or Wiring isn't equipped to Handle Your Load.
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These household electrical issues range from harmless to hazardous. It can be difficult to determine whether you can solve the problem on your own or you need to contact a professional electrician. Compare problems that you can solve with problems that require electrical experience to safely solve.

Which Problems Can I Solve?

These common electrical issues in your home are easy to solve. Be cautious when working around electricity, particularly your breaker box. Here are problems that can typically be solved on your own:

  • Replacing a lightbulb: The most common causes of a burnt-out lightbulb are an old bulb and a bulb with the wrong wattage. Both of these issues are easy for homeowners to solve. Fix dimming lights or burnt-out bulbs by swapping them out. Simply purchase a new lightbulb with the correct wattage for your light fixture and replace it.
  • Reducing your energy bill: Some energy issues are simply caused by inefficient appliances and lighting. Switch to LED lightbulbs, turn down your hot water heater and look for energy-efficient appliances to reduce your electricity use.
  • Resetting a breaker: A poor connection can cause a breaker to trip. This will prevent your outlet or light fixture from working. Simply find the correct breaker in your breaker box and reset it. If the breaker immediately trips again, it’s a sign of a more serious issue.

There are a few warning signs that you should look out for. First, don’t attempt to reset a breaker if you hear popping or crackling around your breaker box. If a light fixture, outlet or other electrical device sparks and pops, don’t attempt to touch it. These issues are best left to an experienced electrician or handled after you’ve received professional training.


Do I Need To Call an Electrician?

Not all problems are easy to solve for a DIY homeowner. Here are some common household issues that are best left to the professionals. Work with an experienced electrician or learn more about electrical repairs before you attempt to fix these issues:

  • Hot outlets: An outlet or outlet cover that heats up is typically hiding a serious electrical issue. It’s usually caused by an electrical surge or a low-gauge wire.
  • Loose outlets: A wobbly outlet is a sign of poor installation. Your outlet may need a completely new box, which means removing and rewiring your outlet.
  • Burning smells: Burning smells around your electrical wiring is a sure sign of trouble. This is typically caused by a short in the wire. Either the plastic coating is melting or a particularly hot wire is causing your insulation or another material to heat up.
  • Popping sounds: Popping sounds and sparks are signs of improper wiring. Whether an electrical surge or an electrical short, both are bad news.

These issues require electrical tools and experience. You’ll need to work with wires and ensure they are the correct gauge and correctly installed. While you can learn these skills, they require expert guidance and hands-on training before you should tackle these projects in your own home.

What are Some Safety Steps?

The best way to prevent dead outlets, warm switches and circuit breaker issues is to use electrical safety. Keep your home safe by keeping your electrical system maintained and routinely inspecting it for signs of serious issues.

It’s important to use surge protectors for your appliances and electronics. A surge protector is a great way to avoid the risk of electrical shock or damage to your electronics. You can pick up a surge protector power strip, but be sure you don’t connect too many devices to a single outlet.

Where Can I Learn More About Fixing Electrical Problems?

If you’re interested in learning more about electrical repairs and safety, look for electrical programs in Chicago. Apply online at Coyne College for hands-on, in-depth training in electrical construction and maintenance courses.