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Winterize Your HVAC System
Posted: November 15, 2018 by Andy
Before you spend those chilly winter days bundled up and staying warm inside, you need to get your heating and cooling system ready for the colder weather. You'll be relying on your furnace to keep inside temperatures cozy for the next few months, and even though your air conditioner hibernates for the winter, it'll need to be protected from the harsh elements, too.
Winterizing your home and your HVAC system now means that you'll be able to rely on it all winter long without worry. A professionally inspected and tuned-up furnace will operate safely, keep your home warm, and will help you lower those high energy bills during the winter. Follow these smart tips to get your home ready for the season.
Prepare your home for cold weather
Your home is the first place to start in the winterization process, before even looking at your HVAC system. By checking the following items, you'll save on energy costs, and you'll be able to trust that your heating system is running as well as it can.
Check for drafts. If you can feel cold through a window or you test it with a lighter and see the flame flicker, you'll need to reseal it. Poorly insulated windows make your furnace work harder to keep your home warm, decreasing the unit's longevity and causing your energy costs to increase. If you feel a draft, install weather stripping or apply caulk to the affected area.
Add a programmable thermostat. When you're not at home, your heat doesn't need to be running as much. But, when you return, you want a warm house to come home to. With a standard thermostat, you have to turn it set the temperature lower before you leave to save money and turn it back up again when you come back. A programmable thermostat does this for you, and smart thermostats can even learn your home/away patterns to keep you and your heating budget even more comfortable!
Inspect your home's insulation. Insulation helps keep the warm air in and the cold air out during the winter, and vice-versa in the summer. Start the inspection process by reviewing this outstanding article on Energy.gov and then comparing your home's insulation to the recommended levels. Add insulation everywhere your home falls short - it may cost you a little now, but it'll save you a lot over time.
Winterize your air conditioner
The arrival of winter means that you won't be needing to run your air conditioner. In all likelihood, you won't be turning your AC on again until spring. This doesn't mean you can stop thinking about the cooling part of your HVAC system until then, though. Your air conditioning unit is outside, exposed to the elements, and needs to be winterized, too. Following these steps will protect it from snow, ice, rust, and worse.
Remove debris. Cleaning up leaves, twigs and other debris in and around your air conditioning unit will prevent it from damaging your unit.
Turn off the power to the unit. If a fluke warm day happens during winter, you don't want your air conditioner to turn on unexpectedly. Make sure that no electricity can flow to the system. This prevents the lines from freezing if that unseasonably warm day turns into a cold night.
Add insulating foam around your pipes. Insulating your AC lines will help keep them from freezing. Just like a can of soda will burst in your freezer, allowing the fluids to freeze in your system's lines can cause severe damage.
Cover the outside unit. Get a waterproof cover to prevent snow and other debris from falling into your AC unit. Allowing things to sit inside your outdoor unit throughout the winter could cause damage to internal parts.
Check the unit often. After snowstorms, or even just occasionally throughout winter, inspect your air conditioning system inside and outside for damage or debris. Regular inspections mean that you'll be able to turn it back on worry-free when spring comes.
Winterize your furnace
Your furnace will probably be running all winter long, and you want it to run safely and efficiently. Follow these steps to make sure it handles those cold nights.
Clean up around your furnace. Your furnace will be a source of considerable heat during the winter, and you'll want to make sure the area around the unit is clear of any flammable materials. Don't keep cardboard boxes, household cleaning products, cans of paint, etc. near it. Failure to remove these items could cause a fire and damage much more than just your furnace.
Check your furnace's exhaust. When clearing the furnace area of any debris, also make sure its exhaust vents are clear. If you discover an obstruction, call us, and we'll come out, clear the blockage and ensure your furnace is exhausting waste gas properly.
Test your carbon monoxide detector (or install one). Keep your family safe by making sure you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector and that it's working as it should. Carbon monoxide gas is an invisible killer - it's odorless and colorless, so it is essential to have a detector in place to prevent a potential tragedy, should your furnace malfunction and allow CO gas to accumulate in your home.
Have your furnace professionally serviced. With months of hard work ahead of it, your furnace needs to be in tip-top shape. We'll check the blower belt, oil the blower motor, and inspect all mechanical aspects of your heating system. With temperatures already dropping, our schedule is filling up fast, so call us today to have your system serviced before it really gets cold outside!
Replace your filter. To make sure the air coming into your home is as clean as it can be - and that your furnace doesn't pull in any debris - replace your filter regularly. It's also handy to have a few spare filters on hand so you can easily keep a fresh filter in your system throughout the season.
A little preparation in the fall will go a long way in the winter. Following the steps above to winterize your home will make sure that your AC stays protected and that your furnace keeps you warm all winter long. If you need help with preparing your home for winter or have questions in general, give us a call - we're happy to help! That's how neighbors should treat neighbors!™
Don't Close Those Vents!
Posted: November 8, 2018 by Andy
Heating and cooling your house accounts for about half of all energy usage in a typical home. To save some money, you might wonder if it's OK to close air vents in unused rooms. Unfortunately, this is a bad idea. Closing vents can cause your HVAC system to run inefficiently and possibly even damage it, costing you more in the long run.
Myth: Closing vents helps your system work less.
Fact: Your HVAC system was built to have a balanced air flow with all vents open. This means that your ductwork is sized for the amount of air coming in to match the volume of air going out. Your blower pulls air from the house through its return air ducts and then pushes it back into the house through its supply ducts. As a result, closing vents disrupts the balance of your HVAC system.
To put it another way, imagine you're running and breathing by inhaling through your mouth and exhaling through your nose. Now, close one nostril but continue to run at the same pace. You're continuing to use the same amount of air but via fewer airways. You can either use less air or put in more effort to breathe comfortably. The same airflow principle applies to your HVAC system. By closing vents in your home, you're not helping your system to work less - instead, you're just increasing the pressure in your air ducts. This is bad because your blower is only designed to deliver a certain amount of air against a certain amount of pressure.
Myth: Closing vents saves you money.
Fact: Closing vents can actually cause a variety of problems, depending on the type of blower your system has (PSC is the most common):
Permanent Split Capacitor (PSC) Blower. Closed vents will cause this blower to run more slowly because it can't handle additional pressure. This causes your home to become oxygen deprived, which can cause your air conditioner's evaporator coil (the part that cools the air) to get too cold and freeze up (ice over). A frozen coil can cause liquid refrigerant to flow back into the outdoor unit's compressor and will eventually destroy it. In the winter, your furnace's heat exchanger could overheat and crack, risking dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) in your home.
Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM) Blower. This type of blower can adjust its speed to different conditions. Closing the air vents will overwork the blower to overcome the extra pressure, resulting in a much higher energy expenditure.
Closing vents can cause other problems, too!
Duct leakage. Added pressure in your ductwork could cause small leaks to become large ones. You'll then be wasting money, paying to heat or cool your attic or crawlspace.
Noise and discomfort. With your blower delivering less air, your home will take longer to cool off or warm up, causing your system to run longer.
Mold growth. When warm and cool air meet, condensation and mold will form. This is especially common in the summer if there are leaks in your ductwork.
Closing one vent in your home won't instantly ruin your system, but it's not a good idea long-term. The best practice is to always keep all of your air vents open, even in unoccupied rooms. This might sound counterintuitive, but leaving every vent open will use less energy, will extend the life of your HVAC unit, and will save you considerably more money over time.
If your HVAC system isn't working as well as you like, give us a call! We also offer 24/7 emergency services.
Phew! Furnace Smells You Shouldn't Ignore
Posted: October 25, 2018 by Andy
Unexpected and unpleasant odors coming from your furnace, like burning electrical, rotten eggs, or chemicals, should never be ignored as they could be signs of a potentially serious or even dangerous problem. While it's quite common to notice a dusty burning smell the first time your furnace runs in the fall, if the odor persists, it should be checked out by a professional.
Dusty burning odor
As we mentioned above, a dusty burning smell when your furnace is started the first time each autumn is common and is usually nothing to worry about. Dust and dirt tend to accumulate during the summer while your unit is off, and the odor usually goes away after a few hours.
If the odor lingers, however, try changing your furnace filter. If that doesn't eliminate the dusty burning smell within an hour or so, it's time to call us for service. It could indicate that your furnace needs a proper cleaning, or it could have a more serious issue. Either way, it's smart to play it safe and have us take a look.
Rotten egg odor
The most repulsive odor you may notice from your furnace is a rotten egg smell, and that nearly always indicates a gas leak. Natural gas suppliers typically add an odoring agent (usually Sulfur) to the gas to make leaks easier to detect without equipment. A natural gas leak is a hazardous situation, so if you notice a rotten egg smell near your furnace, immediately open windows to let in fresh air, evacuate your home, and call your local gas company right away - or 911, if you think an explosion may be likely - to report the leak.
Burning electrical odor
If you notice an odor like burning plastic or rubber, or like an overheated motor, it could indicate that the blower motor on your furnace isn't spinning freely. The most common cause of this is worn bearings, and they'll cause the motor to overheat, use too much voltage, and possibly even melt the wires that feed electricity to it. If you notice this smell throughout your house, use your thermostat to shut off the furnace immediately and then call us to come inspect your HVAC system.
A pungent chemical odor could be a sign that your furnace's heat exchanger is cracked. This is another potentially dangerous problem because it can allow carbon monoxide (CO) gas to circulate through your home's ductwork. CO gas inhalation is very dangerous and can be fatal - don't risk your family's safety! Carbon monoxide detectors should be located on each level of your home, especially near your furnace, because CO gas is odorless and colorless - without detectors, you wouldn't know the gas was present until you were overcome by it. If you notice a chemical smell in the area around your furnace, turn the unit off immediately and call us to inspect your heating system as soon as possible.
Leave Furnace Repair And Installs To Us
Posted: October 18, 2018 by Andy
DIY home repair projects are often lots of fun and are an excellent way to learn new things. You can also save money on repairs by doing them yourself. However, there are some repair jobs that you should avoid, opting instead to hire a professional contractor. Two potentially dangerous jobs that you should never try yourself are furnace repair and installation.
Installing a new heating system in your home or repairing the one you have are not easy tasks. You need the right knowledge, skills, and training to do the job properly. If you're like most homeowners, your heating system feels like rocket science. It's not something you can figure out yourself just by reading the owner's manual.
Installing a new heating unit is a complicated project, and a potentially dangerous one. You must have a proper set of tools and equipment in order to install a heating system, make it operational, and keep yourself safe, all at the same time. If you do the job incorrectly, the problem(s) you create can be difficult and costly to fix, even for a professional contractor. Do not try heating repairs or installations yourself. It's far better to have a professional, licensed, bonded and insured HVAC contractor do the work for you.
There are three main elements in furnace installation that only a qualified technician that has the knowledge, skills, and equipment to do properly:
Power and wiring. Furnaces are not simple appliances that you just plug in a wall socket. They're directly wired into the main electrical system of your home. Our experts know how to turn off the main power to the unit and which wires to cut - doing it yourself, you risk burning down your house or electrocuting yourself.
Removal and replacement. This process usually requires some cutting and grinding down of existing metal pieces, fabricating new ones, and our professional HVAC installation technicians have all the necessary tools needed to finish these often-complicated tasks. They're not tools that you'll find in an ordinary toolbox. There are also many other elements to the process an amateur installer may not consider, such as placement and leveling of the unit, ensuring that the wiring and power are correct, among others.
Ductwork modifications. Your old furnace is not the only thing in your heating system that needs replacing. If your ducts that circulate heat around your home are in bad shape, they will require replacement or repairs as well. Duct repairs, done correctly, require plenty of sheet metal work, and this hazardous work is best performed by a skilled expert. Sheet metal has razor-sharp edges that absolutely will cause a trip to the emergency room if the proper safety equipment isn't worn, in addition to great care being taken during fabrication.
These are just a few of the many reasons why you should leave furnace installation and repair to our expert technicians. We're trained to do the work properly, safely, and without wasting time and materials. By hiring us to work on your home's heating system, you'll actually save money and have peace of mind. That's how neighbors should treat neighbors!™
Preventative Maintenance Matters
Posted: October 4, 2018 by Andy
Most homeowners don't want to spend money on home repairs and maintenance unless they absolutely must. That makes sense to an extent, but part of being a responsible homeowner is keeping your home safe and comfortable. Toward that end, a properly functioning HVAC system is essential to provide your family with a cozy indoor environment year-round. As such, it's crucial to have your HVAC system inspected every year. Let's look at the benefits of preventive maintenance and why it's worthwhile in the long run.
Avoid costly repairs
A well-maintained system is much less likely to experience serious problems. During your inspection, one of our expert HVAC technicians will check various parts of your system to ensure that it's operating correctly. An annual checkup will catch minor problems before they grow into major ones, preventing breakdowns and costly repair services. This gives you peace of mind.
Extend the life of your equipment
Considering that HVAC systems are a big-ticket item for a homeowner, you want to keep it running well for as long as possible. For this to happen, your system needs proper care and regular maintenance.
By hiring us to inspect and perform maintenance on your system, you'll be sure that your HVAC system stays in good repair. This will help keep your home cozy-warm in winter and comfortably cool in the summer - and will extend your equipment's life.
Increase energy efficiency
Your HVAC system can be a huge energy hog. In fact, up to half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. Proper maintenance goes a long way toward reducing your energy expense.
Clogged air filters and dirty coils lead to poor airflow. Your system needs to work harder to produce the same amount of heating or cooling that clean and well-maintained equipment provides. Dirt alone can be attributed to an additional 15% in energy cost.
Keeping your system well maintained will help keep it operating properly for a long time to come. This means you'll spend less money on electricity and you'll also spend less time worrying if your furnace will let you down on those cold winter nights coming very soon. Our Preventative Maintenance Program will help your home run smoothly. Please contact us for more information.
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