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Warmer Weather And Your Thermostat
Posted: March 14, 2019 by Andy
Spring is just around the corner! Are you ready for warmer weather? We definitely are! Spring isn't here just yet, though, but we're already thinking about sunny days, gardening, and other outdoor activities. What's your favorite part of Spring?
Before temperatures rise, you'll want to make sure your air conditioner is ready for the heat. Call us to schedule spring maintenance so your cooling system operates properly when you need it most. Our expert technicians will catch and correct minor issues before they become big problems!
Of course, your air conditioner is only one piece (though it's the biggest piece) of the cooling equation. It's also good to keep your thermostat in mind.
The Department of Energy suggests a thermostat setting of 72° during the summer for maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness. You're likely to save more money on cooling at this temperature, but, you also want to make sure you make the seasonal transition at the right time. Drastic temperature swings can inflate your energy bills and decrease your system's performance.
During your maintenance appointment, ask us about your thermostat upgrade options. You can opt for anything from a traditional analog thermostat with a dial to a smart, WiFi-enabled model that'll learn your family's behavior patterns and tailor your interior environment for ideal comfort. Programmable thermostats fall between these two. You can set the temperature with a programmable model based on your schedule. It thinks for you, making airflow adjustments based on when you're home and when you're not. This way, you're using the ideal amount of energy to cool your home at all times.
Dramatic temperature swings aren't good for your comfort or your wallet, but small adjustments made by your thermostat on its own can make a significantly positive impact. A programmable thermostat might seem intimidating at first, but they're as easy to use as the ancient mercury unit that's been on your wall since your home was built! Modern thermostats are inexpensive, and they'll save you hundreds on your energy bills every year.
Prepare Your AC For The Season
Posted: February 28, 2019 by Andy
We'll probably still see some snow for a month or two yet, but when the sun is shining, we'll also experience temperatures into the 60s and 70s - that's Ohio weather in Spring for you!
Before you go turning on your air conditioning system, though, it's important to make sure it's ready for the warm weather ahead. Your AC has been lying unused all winter and the parts that are designed to move have instead been idle, unmoving. Its mechanical parts, along with its wiring, coil, ductwork, and filter should be thoroughly inspected before adjusting your thermostat to bring cool, refreshing air into your home.
Following our steps for preparing your air conditioner for use, your system will be ready to go from the first time you turn it on, all the way through Summer and into Fall when the leaves turn.
Do a visual inspection
The beginning of your AC season preparation starts with a thorough looking-over of every system component, indoors and out. Carefully inspect each part's condition and if you spy anything that looks worn (or suspect), now is the time to replace it.
Step 1: Ductwork. Give any exposed ductwork in your home a once-over to check for potential leaks or damage. Ductwork typically runs through your attic or basement, so those are both great places to start looking. Identifying ductwork issues now will prevent cooling inefficiencies in your home later on.
Step 2: Supply and return air vents. Spending life mostly inside during the winter tends to result in some things lying around your house that aren't normally there. Or, you might have done some rearranging of your living spaces while stuck indoors. Either way, your vents may have become blocked by furniture, a bookshelf, or countless other objects. Check behind your furniture and move anything that might now be blocking airflow in your home. This will ensure that your hard-working AC system isn't putting in all that effort for no reward.
Step 3: Condensation drain line. One way your air conditioning system keeps you cool is by removing moisture from your home's air. Via the condensation process, humidity is drawn from the air and directed out of your home. The collected moisture flows out through a drain line, and it's important to keep the line clean and clear of debris. Clogs can be caused by things like algae, dirt buildup, or even an insect nest. During the warm months of the year, water drained through the line flushes these obstructions and keeps the line clear. During the winter, no water flows, and before you turn on your AC, it's essential to clear any clogs in the drain line manually.
Step 4: Outdoor condenser unit. The air condenser is the most important part of your AC system. As such, it must be well-maintained for everything to run smoothly. During your preseason inspection, look all around the unit for any obstructions, damage, or other issues. Clear off leaves and other debris that could block airflow. Once cleared, look over all sides of the condenser for damage that may have occurred over the winter and could adversely affect its performance.
Step 5: Refrigerant lines. These lines connect the outdoor air condenser to your system's indoor evaporator coil. Inside each of these lines are cooled gasses or warm liquids. The gasses pass through a thick pipe, typically insulated copper. The warm liquids travel through an exposed copper pipe. Visually inspect these lines for leaks or damage and be sure also to check the condition of the insulation. If there are any cracks or tears, remove and replace the insulation, so there is no efficiency lost keeping those gasses cool. If you see damage to the pipes themselves, call us immediately to have these pipes repaired or replaced.
Step 6: Electrical wiring. The final step in your air conditioning system inspection is to check its wiring. Over time, the coating on the electrical wires can become brittle, leading to cracks and exposure. Exposed wires can develop shorts and other electrical issues. Additionally, if the wiring is near moisture, check for corrosion, as it will cause the wires to fail prematurely.
Replace your air filter
Now that your visual inspection is complete, the next task is to replace your air filter. This is an ideal way to ensure you are starting the warm season with your system operating at 100%. It also prevents any dust or dirt that built up in your ductwork over the winter from getting into your AC system and causing damage. A clean air filter also breathes better than a dirty one, resulting in up to 15% decrease in energy consumption and costs.
Get a professional AC tune-up
If you discovered any issues during your inspection, or you're just unsure of what to look for, your best bet is to call a professional. Our expert technicians will ensure that your system runs as efficiently and reliably as possible all summer long. Our tune-up service includes:
- Cleaning your condenser unit
- Refrigerant level and compressor performance check
- A review of all electrical wiring and connections for wear
- And more!
Turn on your thermostat
Your AC system has now been inspected, cleaned, and ready to power on, so your next stop is the thermostat. It's your system's control center and it lets you set your home's temperature to whatever level you desire. Without it, your system would not function.
Switch your thermostat to cooling mode to get started and set it to your desired temperature. Once the thermostat indicates that the system should be on, head outside to make sure the fan in your condenser unit is spinning smoothly and isn't making unusual sounds. After running for 10 to 15 minutes, you should start to feel cool air coming from your vents and into your home.
To get the most efficiency from your HVAC system this summer and beyond, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. These thermostats are truly "set and forget" and will save you 33% or more on your energy costs.
Enjoy a comfortable summer!
After following these steps, you can be sure that you can depend on your air conditioning system all summer long. Be diligent when visually inspecting all components, replacing your air filter, and cleaning ducts and piping. Your reward will be a comfortable home, no matter the temperature outside!
Time To Replace Your Furnace?
Posted: February 14, 2019 by Andy
Furnaces are far from everlasting, but if you take good care of yours, it will last considerably longer than if you neglect it. But, it still won't last forever. Here are six signs that it might be time to start looking for a new furnace.
1. It's been in service for a long time.
Furnaces typically last 15-20 years. After two decades of faithful service, they tend to start having more issues than they're worth. If you know your system is over 20 years old, you should start doing some new furnace homework. That way, if your furnace fails, you'll have a good idea about what to replace it with.
2. It's costing you too much.
As furnaces age, they become less efficient, especially when compared to newer furnaces. If your energy bills are climbing unreasonably, it's probably time to swap out your heater for a more efficient one.
3. It's noisy.
Furnaces usually do make some noise, but when they age, they're often louder due to components not operating as well as they did when new. Loud banging noises are a clear sign that immediate service is needed, regardless of whether your furnace is very new or very old.
4. It's not heating your home adequately.
When your furnace is getting close to the end of its working life, it can do a poor job of heating your home. If that monthly filter replacement isn't helping anymore, it's time to call our professionals out for a comprehensive assessment.
5. It needs to be repaired frequently.
The older a furnace is, the harder it is to keep running. If you find yourself scheduling repairs and buying replacement parts more than once every year or so, it's definitely new furnace time.
6. It's making the air in your home intolerable.
Besides warming the air, your furnace cleans and adds humidity to it. When your unit is beginning to fail, it can allow more dust and allergens through. People with allergies or asthma can have respiratory issues. Worse, it could develop a potentially lethal carbon monoxide (CO) gas leak. If your furnace is ancient and you don't have a CO detector, you're courting disaster. Don't gamble with your family's safety!
If one or more of these six issues apply to your furnace, call us right away. We'll be more than happy to expertly install a new, efficient, cost-effective heating system in your home. We have multiple easy financing options available, and you'll be amazed at how quickly your new unit pays for itself in monthly energy bill savings.
Handling Extreme Cold Well
Posted: January 31, 2019 by Andy
If you're a Game of Thrones fan, the phrase "winter is coming" has menacing familiarity. The last couple of days have shown residents in the midwest United States that winter is here. We're talking about temperatures so low that they make your face hurt as soon as you step outside. The frigid weather demands a different approach to heating your home, and here are some things you should take into consideration to ensure your family's safety and comfort.
Be prepared for cooler indoor temperatures. There's only so much your furnace can do to keep your home warm. In the middle of winter, sometimes even the best heating system is going to struggle. Break out the sweaters, throw extra blankets on the bed, drink a cup of hot cocoa, and let the heat from cooking at home help keep you toasty.
Don't crank up the heat. As mentioned above, your home may feel like it just can't get warm enough. Resist the temptation to turn your thermostat up. The best you'll achieve is a higher utility bill, and you could dramatically shorten your furnace's life. Go easy on it - you do not want it to fail during a polar vortex and jeopardize your family's safety.
Lower your thermostat a bit. This might sound ludicrous when it's below freezing outside, but if your furnace is always running, struggling to warm your home to an unreachably high temperature, consider setting a lower temperature target. This way, your furnace will achieve the easier-to-reach temperature and turn off sooner - saving you money on utility bills and significantly reducing wear on your unit.
Insulate your windows and doors. Drafts during freezing weather can make your home feel more like an igloo. Your local hardware store has weather stripping and easy-to-install indoor storm window kits to help eliminate these drafts. They're economical and do a great job of keeping that warm air where you want it - inside your home.
Make sure your furnace's outdoor vents are clear. Do you know where your gas furnace's exhaust vent is? Make sure this essential vent is clear from snow and winter debris to make sure those potentially harmful combustion byproducts are exiting your home correctly and safely.
Your indoor cold-air returns and supply registers should also be clear. Make sure things like rugs and furniture aren't blocking your indoor vents either. It's also wise to check the vents themselves periodically to make sure they're not accidentally closed. Obstructed vents and registers can cause cold rooms and costly damage to your HVAC system.
If you're leaving town, have a neighbor check on your home. Extremely cold weather can place a considerable strain on your furnace, and this can cause the unit to fail or malfunction. If you're not home to address the problem, this could result in frozen pipes and a variety of other health and safety issues. Have a neighbor walk through your house every day to make sure everything is running normally.
If you're using a portable heater, make sure you practice proper safety. During frigid weather, you may feel like you need supplemental heat. Using a space heater temporarily isn't necessarily a bad thing (although it'll result in a higher electric bill), but it must be attended at all times and that no flammable materials are nearby. Most importantly, if it is a gas or oil-fueled heater, make absolutely certain that its exhaust is vented outdoors - carbon monoxide (CO) is colorless, odorless, and deadly.
Feel like your furnace isn't handling the extreme cold adequately? Call us right away, and we'll be there to help as soon as we can!
Home Insulation Saves You Money
Posted: January 17, 2019 by Andy
HVAC systems are all about efficiency, and they become less efficient with age. Aside from age, another element that impacts your HVAC system's effectiveness is your home's insulation. It stands to reason that in order to maintain a comfortable and consistent indoor temperature, your walls, rafters, windows, ducts and other empty gaps in your home's structure should be well-insulated. But that's not all home insulation does for you.
Why should I add insulation?
You may have invested a significant amount of money to repair your HVAC system or install a new one recently. That's only half of the job, though. Now, you should make sure that your home is doing its part to promote efficient heating. That's where proper insulation throughout the house comes in. Without adequate insulation, a considerable amount of the heated air will escape your home, forcing your system to work much harder. Naturally, that translates into higher energy bills and a reduced comfort level.
Poor insulation can also lead to health issues for your family. Mother Nature can be relentless during Ohio winters, and a quick look at this weekend's forecast shows that she won't be easing up anytime soon. Even the best HVAC systems can fail due to poor insulation, leaving your family without heat at the worst possible time. Also, inadequate insulation causes drafty living spaces, which leads to an increased chance of illness. Winter is hard enough without being sick more often!
Where should I insulate?
Generally speaking, you should insulate every part of your home that is adjacent to the outside elements. Some of the following areas are obvious, but there are a few that the average homeowner might not have considered: roof, attic, walls, windows, doors, ducts, floors, and ceilings. Insulation differs for each of these areas, but the principle remains the same - keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside (and vice-versa during the summer months, of course).
What type of insulation do I need?
There are several types of insulation, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.
Fiberglass. The most common type of insulation, fiberglass can be purchased as batts (usually in rolls) or as loose fill. Batts are simple to install since they are woven blankets of insulation that include a paper or foil moisture barrier. Even though fiberglass is inexpensive, it provides desirable features like resistance to water damage and fire.
Mineral wool. Similar in structure to fiberglass, mineral wool is more expensive and not as easy to find. Mineral wool can be compared to dryer lint in terms of physical appearance. A disadvantage to mineral wool is that it cakes when wet and also settles over time, which results in less effectiveness.
Cellulose. Made from recycled paper, cellulose insulation is available as a loose fill product that has been treated to resist damage from moisture and pests. However, like mineral wool, when moisture absorption occurs, cellulose becomes compacted, dense and less effective.
Spray foam. Touted as a green product, spray foam is a polyurethane product created by mixing two chemicals. It is then applied with a hose. While most spray foam can be installed without issues, serious problems can occur, including difficulty breathing, unpleasant odors, and other health problems if the job is done incorrectly.
How much will insulation cost me?
Before we look into the costs, it's important to remember that a well-insulated home will translate to tremendous long-term savings on your monthly energy bills. Insulation costs will vary based on the materials and method of installation. Many homeowners opt to install their own insulation, but it can be helpful to work with a professional who will expertly calculate your needs in the spaces in question. Working with a professional is essential if your insulation project is subject to local building codes.
A recent study found that after analyzing over 7,500 home insulation projects, the average cost to install home insulation is nearly $1,300. Your costs will be more if you're removing old material. In older homes, insulation materials likely have degraded due to a lack of standards at the time of installation. Cellulose, for example, was very popular in the late 1970s as homeowners took steps to improve home energy costs in the face of the Middle Eastern oil embargo. As a result, insulation standards were developed, to address issues like fire resistance and R-value.
How can I save money on my insulation project?
Like most household projects, you can save a significant amount of money by installing the insulation yourself. Home insulation is a very user-friendly DIY project, but hiring a contractor does have its benefits. Hiring a professional insulation contractor can save you time, materials and aggravation. A professional's expertise, specialized equipment, and precise calculations equal even greater energy efficiency, leading to lower energy costs for you in the long run. A professional will also be bonded and insured, so it's in their best interest to install your new insulation properly and safely.
Is new insulation worth it?
Absolutely! Between 50% and 70% of the average American home's energy is used for heating and cooling. That means that up to 70% of your monthly energy expense is tied to your HVAC system and home insulation. If you want to save money on your energy bills - and who doesn't? - make sure you have the best home insulation available - otherwise, the money you spend heating your home could be literally going out the window!
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