Get Maximum Performance From Your Furnace With These Tips

Some property owners do not know the importance of maintaining their heating systems. When this important detail is overlooked, it can lead to premature furnace repairs. The following are a few things you can do to ensure that your heating system performs optimally when you need it most. 

Start the cold season off with a heating system tune-up. 

The best way to ensure that your heat is working when the coldest temperatures hit is to ensure that you get a tune-up. The timing of this service is also important. Waiting until the coldest temperatures arrive means that you could be without heat due to high demand for heating services. Schedule your tune-up at the beginning of the fall to reduce the chances of a mishap such as furnace failure occurring. 

Ensure that vents are open and unblocked.

A number of things may be blocking the air vents in your home. Common culprits are draperies and furniture. Take a stroll through your home and note areas that need adjustment. You may have to rearrange furniture and raise or tie back draperies. If you have had your tune-up performed when you do this walkthrough, then you may not have debris on your vents because cleaning your heating system is part of the tune-up service. However, it is possible that other household dust may have settled on your vents. Wipe the vents to remove superficial dust, which can be an allergen for some individuals. It may also harden over time if it is not removed. This can happen if dust and moisture mix or as a result of thick coats of dust never getting removed from vents.

Maintain a proper air filter changing schedule.

Dirty filters can cause a number of issues for your heating system. One of the most serious issues is a potential fire. Less serious but problematic issues include interference with energy efficiency and dust spreading in the system. You may also need to increase the frequency of filter changes if you have someone in your household with allergies or a respiratory condition. 

Get your insulation checked.

Perhaps you get your annual heating system tune-up. You may also follow a strict air filter changing schedule. However, your heating bills may continue to be high or you may feel as though it is difficult to heat your home completely. This may not be an actual heating system issue. Your home may be losing heat as a result of poor insulation. An HVAC contractor is a good resource to use to determine why and how your home is losing heat. 

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Pros and Cons of Converting to a Gas Furnace

If you currently have an oil furnace and are trying to decide whether or not you should convert to gas, you’re in the right place. Both oil and gas furnaces have their strengths, but there are definite pros and cons to switching. As a homeowner, you want to know not only whether a gas furnace will serve you better and save you money, but also whether it will be safer and add value to your home in case you ever want to sell it. Here are some of the main pros and cons of switching to a gas furnace from an oil furnace.

Pros:

If you switch to natural gas heating, it’s true that you can save a lot on fuel over time. This is especially true when the prices of oil climb through the roof, which happens fairly regularly. In fact, when oil prices rise, gas heating can sometimes cost less than half as much per year as oil heating. In more reasonable years, there are still savings, but not such drastic ones. In addition, installation can be less expensive for gas heating systems than oil ones so, if you’re in a position where you have to replace your oil furnace anyway, switching could be a very good option right now. It’s also a better option if you’re an eco-friendly homeowner. Although both gas and oil furnaces come in high-efficiency models now, natural gas is less damaging to the environment than oil burning is.

Cons:

If you don’t need to replace your furnace right now, switching could cost you an extra several thousand dollars so, unless you have a well-padded home maintenance budget, your savings could take quite a hit from this decision. You’ll have to factor in labor expenses for the contractor and hookup fees as well. And, although natural gas has historically been more affordable than oil, that could always change, so your results aren’t guaranteed. It’s also true that switching to a new system can incur additional expenses that you wouldn’t have if you were simply switching to a newer oil furnace. For example, disposing of your oil storage system safely can be a considerable expense.

These pros and cons show that while it’s possible to have better long-term results with a natural gas furnace replacement, you’ll also need to plan on making a considerable investment of time and money. Fortunately, Hartman Heating, Air and Fireplaces can help you make the transition with as little expense and inconvenience as possible.

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Before You Head Off On Vacation, Prepare Your Air Conditioning System

Your summer vacation is supposed to be relaxing and rejuvenating. If you come home to a sky-high AC bill, or worse yet, get a phone call from your neighbor that your AC unit has blown into their yard, that relaxation will be ruined. Thankfully, you can prevent most AC-related problems by doing a little preparation before you head to the airport or set off on your summer road trip.

Change Your AC Filter

A dirty AC filter makes your system work harder, raising your energy bills. When you’re not home to vacuum up pet dander and dust your home regularly, more debris is going to make its way into your ducts and onto the filter. So, change your filter preemptively before you leave to keep your energy bills in check. This will also decrease the changes of your system freezing over while you’re gone, as a dirty filter reduces heat transfer and can cause the system to super-cool itself.

Raise the Temperature

There’s no need to cool your home to 68 or 70 when you’re not there. In most cases, it should be safe to raise your home temperature to 76 or 78. Turning up the temperature not only reduces your energy bill, it also reduces how hard your AC unit needs to work. And less work translates to a lower chance of breakdowns and malfunctions while you’re away. Household products are perfectly safe at these temperatures, and your home won’t feel super-sweltering when you do arrive home. If you have a programmable thermostat that lets you adjust the temperature by the date, you can set it to lower the temperature back down on the day you plan to return.

Secure Your Outdoor Unit

Is your outdoor AC unit anchored securely to the concrete pad beneath it? If not, it could get blown to the side during a wind storm while you’re away. You can secure the unit yourself with hurricane straps, which are metal slings that fit around the unit and attach to the concrete below. Find them in your local home improvement store, and then use a drill bit made for concrete to attach them. Your HVAC technician can do this for you if you don’t have the necessary tools or DIY skills.

Your summer vacation should be a relaxing experience, not an HVAC nightmare. Follow these tips before you go, and your AC system will be just fine without you. For more tips, check out sites like http://www.smedleyservice.com.

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How To Handle A Furnace That Won’t Turn On

If your heater hasn’t been working properly lately, then there are a number of reasons that might be to blame. Some such problems will require a professional touch, but many heating problems can be fixed by a dedicated homeowner that has a few hours to spare. Here is one of the most common heating problems and some tips to help you find a quick solution:

Is your furnace not turning on at all?

If your home is not warming up when you crank up the thermostat, then it’s time to take a look at your furnace and figure out exactly what’s going on. If you are dealing with some sort of disruption between the the power and your furnace, then there is a good chance that you will be able to handle everything without needing to call in the professionals. However, your exact plan will depend quite a bit on what kind of power your furnace uses.

Do you have a gas furnace?

If your furnace is powered by gas, then you are going to need to make sure that the gas line to your furnace is uninterrupted. Someone might have shut off your gas main or your home simply might not be getting gas at the moment due to a service disruption in your area.

If there is gas flowing, then you should check the pilot light if you have one. If the pilot light is not lit, then you may need to relight it.

If you are still having problems, then you may need to get a professional to take a look. However, if you have a gas furnace that is started with electricity, then you should proceed to the next question. If your furnace isn’t getting electricity, then it simply won’t turn on if it uses electricity at all, even if it’s mainly powered by gas.

Do you have an electric furnace?

You will want to make sure that electricity is getting to to your furnace, which means that you will need to check the power lines to the furnace and your circuit breaker.

The power lines to the furnace should be easy enough to check, since you are mainly looking for damage or an unplugged cord. If everything appears to be in order, then the problem is likely somewhere else.

The circuit breaker is similarly easy to check, since you really just need to flip the switches back into position if something is amiss. The bigger concern with circuit breakers is figuring out why the switches flipped in the first place, since that could be due to an overdrawing of power in your home. To rectify this, you could try redistributing high-wattage appliances throughout your home and limiting the amount of power that is being drawn in any one area at any given time.

For help fixing your furnace problems, contact J. P. Griffin Inc. or another local HVAC specialist in your area.

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Four Types Of Shade You Can Use To Keep Your House Cooler

If you’re looking for ways to decrease the strain on your AC unit and keep it from working itself into premature malfunction, keeping your house cool naturally is the way to go. Don’t sacrifice comfort just because the AC unit you have is too small for your house or is waiting for repairs. Some of these shade alternatives can be used in the short term and can help while you’re waiting for the repairman, but most are long-term solutions that will help you manage a living space slightly too large for your unit or help you reduce the amount of energy your unit uses. Choose whichever of these four shade options best suit your situation.

1. Shade trees and vines

Shade trees are understandably a very long-term solution, so you may not want to wait that long. You should also check with your homeowner’s association to make sure you’re allowed to plant trees, because trees too near a house can be a nuisance or a hazard. If you want shade that will help this summer and won’t take years to grow, you can try planting fast-growing vines (such as hops) on trellises next to your walls. Don’t let vines grow on the house itself, or they may damage it.

2. Shade cloth or sails

Shade sails can be installed over your roof to take the brunt of the sun’s force during the day. Some companies will also install shade cloth with a system that floats it just a few inches above the roof, which provides for maximum coverage while still allowing for ventilation. These types of shade help keep your roof cool by intercepting light and heat rays and then allowing them to dissipate into the air. This prevents a considerable amount of heat transfer through the roof, even if you have plenty of insulation; a black asphalt roof can commonly get up to 150-160 degrees in the summer sun.

3. Awnings

Awnings can shade your windows, preventing the “greenhouse effect” of sun shining through glass. The sun hits the awning and dissipates before it reaches the glass in an ideal situation, but for sunny windows, you may have to install quite a large awning if you want to be sure no sun will reach the glass

4. Shutters

If your windows are too large or too tall for an awning to be practical, you may wish to make use of shutters or external blinds. These block heat over the entire window surface and can easily be opened in the cool evening to encourage airflow.

These four types of shade can all help save your house from accumulating too much heat. If you want to pick just one area of the house to focus on, pick the roof; its 150-degree temperatures may be the single biggest contributor to your house’s heat gain, and cooling your roof helps it last longer by protecting it from thermal shock.

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Low Refrigerant Charge And Premature Air Conditioner Repairs

An air conditioner’s refrigerant usually plays one of the most important roles in the system’s cooling process. This is because it is the liquid refrigerant’s change of state – from a liquid to a gas – that causes the cooling effect responsible for cooling the air passing over the evaporator coils. Having too little of this liquid is therefore bound to affect the functioning of the air conditioning system. Here are some of the ways through which having a low refrigerant charge can lead to premature air conditioner repairs.

Air conditioning system’s lifespan

When there is too little refrigerant in an air conditioning system, there is usually a reduction in the efficiency with which the unit cools a given space. This is mainly because of the effect that too little refrigerant has on the evaporator coils.

Under normal operations, the liquid refrigerant is usually under low pressure when it arrives at the cooling coil area. The low pressure usually forms an environment that is conducive enough for the refrigerant to absorb heat from the air passing over the cooling coils, a process that then causes it to change from a liquid into a gas.

However, when the air conditioning system is low on refrigerant, the refrigerant usually arrives at the evaporator coil region at too low a pressure. The resulting cooling effect given off by the refrigerant under these circumstances is usually enough not only to condense moisture from the air passing over the coils, but also to freeze it. This then leads to coil icing complications that eventually reduce the efficiency with which your system will cool your home.

Reduced cooling efficiency usually means that the air conditioning system dumps into your home won’t be as cold as it should be. The system will therefore have to take longer in order to get your home’s temperature to the desired level. This overworking of the system will accelerate the rate at which the unit’s parts deteriorate, something that will have you worrying about repairs way earlier than you should.

Damaged compressor motor

While it usually takes time for a homeowner to feel the financial heat of accelerated wear and tear, compressor motor damage is something that he or she may have to deal with early on.

Low refrigerant usually causes compressor motor damage in air conditioning systems that rely on the refrigerant to cool the motor. This is because having too little of the refrigerant in the system leads to a cooling system that is too ineffective to cool the compressor motor. This then causes the motor to overheat. And if the system continues to run under these circumstances, the compressor motor may end up getting completely damaged. Replacing it may then be the only way of getting your air conditioning system running again.

For air conditioning repair, contact a company such as American Heating & Air.

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Common Pellet Stove Challenges And How To Get Around Them

Pellet stoves, which burn pellets made from wood scraps, provide many homeowners with eco-friendly heating. With automatic feeding apparatuses and air circulation devices, they can warm entire small homes or serve as supplemental heating in really cold environments. However, many people do not use their pellet stoves as much as they’d like to because they run into some challenges along the way. Here’s a look at some of the most common pellet stove challenges and how to get around them.

When the power goes out, you don’t have a heating source.

Since pellet stoves have electric ignitions and need electricity to power their air blowers, many homeowners become frustrated when the power goes out and they can’t use their pellet stoves. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this. Most pellet stoves can be fitted with a backup battery. Some come with factory-installed hookups for a battery, and others must be modified by an HVAC technician who has experience with pellet stoves. In either case, once you have your pellet stove hooked up to a backup battery, you can continue using it to heat your home in the event of a power outage.

Pellets can be tough to find.

When the cold weather starts rolling in, everyone who has a pellet stove flocks to the store to stock up on pellets. This can lead to shortages. To avoid being left without pellets when you need them the most, plan ahead more carefully. Look for pellets in the middle of the summer, when hardly anyone else will be buying them, and store them in plastic totes in your basement or attic to keep them from absorbing moisture in the meantime. Also, see if any of the HVAC companies in your area offer pellet delivery services and will deliver them to you on a monthly basis. Not only will this save you the hassle of potentially running out of pellets, but you won’t even have to drive to the store.

You’re not always around to turn the stove on and off.

Many pellet stoves can actually be hooked up to a thermostat, which solves this problem completely. When the temperature drops below a certain level, the electronic ignition will automatically light the stove. When the temperature rises again, the stove will stop burning pellets until the temperature drops again. If your pellet stove is not currently connected to a thermostat, have your HVAC technician make this upgrade. It will make your life so much easier.

Visit a site like http://www.alliedme.com for any other information you need about pellet stoves.

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Winterizing Your Air Conditioner

With the onset of the cold weather, it is time to turn off the air conditioner and turn on the heater. However, it is important to remember that turning off the air conditioner and preparing it for the cold winter months is a lot more than just flipping the off switch to the air conditioner. You will need to take a variety of different simple steps to get the air conditioner winterized so that it lasts through the winter and is ready to use in the spring once again. Below are some of the different steps that you should take.

1. Turn Power Off to Unit. If the air conditioner is accidentally turned on during the cold winter, it could damage some of the components. You will want to make sure that the air conditioner is completely shut off and that it cannot be accidentally turned on. If there is a breaker that controls the air conditioner, you may want to move it to the off position.

2. Clean Inside and Around the A/C Unit. You will want to make sure that you keep sticks, leaves, and other debris from inside the unit. This can clog the unit and make it less likely to work in the spring. It can also encourage animals and other pests to take up residence which can cause even more damage. You will want to rake leaves and cut down plants around the unit as well so that they do not begin to grow into the unit.

3. Drain Condensation. Another useful step is to clean or drain the air conditioner unit of any moisture buildup. There is typically a drain at the bottom of the unit that will release the moisture. This will prevent mildew, rust, and damage from the water freezing inside the unit. An air conditioning service technician or maintenance company can help with this step as well.

4. Cover Top of Unit. Covering the top of your unit with a piece of plywood can also be useful for protecting your air conditioner. It helps to keep leaves, snow, and debris out of the unit so that it will not be damaged. It is inexpensive but very valuable.

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your air conditioner is ready for winter. You will find that your air conditioner lasts a lot longer when you take good care of it and get it winterized properly.

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Keeping Your Air Conditioner Maintained And Your Energy Bills Low

Each year, you should take a few moments and follow some simple maintenance tips to make sure your central air conditioning is in good working order and being properly maintained. Following a few simple steps will help prevent it from suffering mechanical problems and ensure you are getting the best usage for your energy bills. Follow the tips detailed below so you know you are doing your part to protect your air conditioning unit and keep your bills down.

Clean the filter

You want to make sure you clean the filter before you turn the air conditioner on. If you have a reusable filter then you should take it out in the yard and rinse it with the garden hose. Allow it to dry before putting it back in. Along with taking care of the filter at the start of the season, you also want to check to make sure it’s clean on a regular basis. If you live in a dusty region or have pets in your home, you’ll want to be extra diligent about checking your filter often.

Dust all the registers

Dusting off all the registers before you turn on the air conditioner will prevent all the dust that’s collected on them from blowing in the room. When the dust blows in the room, it can negatively affect anyone with allergies, make your home dusty faster and make its way into the filter you just cleaned.

Check the area surrounding the condenser

The condenser should be checked to make sure there isn’t debris around it, or weeds and other foliage growing near it. Anything that’s within a couple of feet from your condenser should be cleared away. Otherwise, dust and debris can make its way in the condenser and clog up the fan.

Check the air flow

As soon as you turn on the air conditioner for the first time, you should go into each room and check the registers. Make sure they are all open and that the same amount of cool air is coming through them. If you notice one of the registers isn’t blowing out as much air, there may be a leak along that part of the vent or there could be a blockage inside the vent. This will require the assistance of an HVAC technician.

It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC technician from a company like Snipps Heat & Air Inc come out and check the system. They can make sure everything is running correctly and verify there are no leaks.

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The Ultimate Guide To Furnace Replacement

A malfunctioning furnace is a major emergency in most households, especially if the furnace stops working during the winter. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, you may be left wondering whether you should call a repairman or bite the bullet and splurge for a new unit to prevent future breakdowns. Of course, furnaces don’t come cheap, so the decision on whether to repair or replace can be a stressful one. Check out these five tips to help you determine whether you can have your furnace repaired to working condition, or whether investing in a new unit makes sense for your family and your budget.

Consider Its Age

Furnaces last an average of 15 to 20 years, so if you know your furnace was installed close to 20 years ago, it’s generally  better to replace it than to attempt a repair. If your furnace is on the new side, however, compare the repair cost to the cost of replacement to help you make your choice. Generally, a new furnace costs about $3,000. If your estimated repair bill is higher than one-third of this amount, or $1,000, spring for a new furnace and skip the repairs.

Check Its Condition

Just because the average furnace lasts 15 to 20 years, it doesn’t mean your furnace will last this long. If your furnace can no longer keep your house warm enough for your family, it’s time for a new unit. You should also consider a new furnace if the unit is extremely noisy, your family is suffering from excessively dry skin thanks to the dry air in the home, or you’re simply tired of dealing with repair and maintenance issues.

Review Your Bills

If you’re on the fence about repairing or replacing your furnace, pull out your last six months of energy bills and let them serve as a guide. Furnaces tend to get less efficient as they reach the end of their life, which means your bills keep going up, no matter how much you try to conserve energy. If you notice your bills keep climbing, it’s time to ditch the furnace and spring for a new model.

Consider Savings

If you have a standard 80 percent efficiency furnace, switching to one rated at 97 percent efficiency will cut your heating costs by 20 percent each month, according to This Old House. Use old bills to calculate how much you will save each month, then multiply this amount by 12 to realize annual savings. Once you know your annual savings, multiply by 15 to determine savings over the life of the furnace. If this amount if greater than the cost of a new unit, consider springing for a new unit to save money.

Look for Deals

You may be surprised to find out just how many organizations are willing to offer you money to convince you to upgrade to a more efficient furnace. Check for offers through the U.S. Department of Energy as well as national energy-efficiency databases to find offers. A generous tax credit, discount or cash rebate may help make up your mind about repairing or replacing your furnace. Contact a local company, like Wm Jean Electric Co, for any questions.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Speedy, or at least, that's what my friends call me. I have always loved rec centers and what they contribute to a community. I am also uniquely interested in how they function, what they need to run and how their HVAC systems work. During the day, I work in investment finance, but in the evening, I love to read about hands on ideas related to everything from building to plumbing to HVAC. If you run or are planning to build a gym, a rec center, a swimming pool or a similar facility, you need a special HVAC system for that project. Please, explore this blog and learn about HVAC systems for those facilities. I hope you enjoy reading and that your questions are answered.

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