Thursday, 23 August 2018

August Home Checklist

August is a good time to get the house ready for the changing season by ticking off some of these things on your checklist.

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Check all of your safety devices. 

Make sure you test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and get all your batteries replaced as needed. Watch for the expiration date on the extinguisher and replace what is needed.
Remove all your window air conditioning units. 

If you make use of window AC units, it is now time to either cover them with insulation or remove them. It is best to remove the units as this will help you to shut the windows, reducing loss of heat during the chilly weather. In case you choose to leave them during the coming months, make sure to buy insulating covers made for this purpose and attach them outside securely.

Use weather stripping. 

The contemporary double-pane windows do not require weatherstripping, However, if you have old windows, then weatherstripping can assist in retaining heat and stopping drafts. Inspect areas that have weatherstripping from last season and replace or remove as needed.

Check the gutters and roofs. 

It is normally fine to wait till all the autumn leaves have fallen for cleaning out the downspouts and gutters, but giving a quick visual check to these areas is always a good idea. Pull out the debris obstructing the gutters, and keep a note of any seals that are worn-out around chimneys and vent pipes. In case you feel uncomfortable using a ladder, hire a specialist to do the job for you. Plan any required repairs now to make sure your house is secure during the winter months.

Schedule furnace and chimney maintenance. 

Make sure the heating system and fireplace are safe, clean, and ready by having a professional inspect it. If your chimney is clean, make sure you don’t start a fire with an animal family inside. And in case there is no chimney cap, get one installed. 

Consider increasing the insulation. 

If you want to save on your electricity bills this season you should think about adding more insulation to the attic space or within the walls. This will help and make a huge difference in how well the house retains heat during winter time and how the house stays cool during the summers.

Order firewood. 

In case you utilize a wood stove to get the coziness and warmth, it is a good time now to stock upon firewood. However, to avoid pests, do not store the wood right against the house, but make sure you keep it secured from snow and rain by keeping it beneath a shelter.

It is time to get everything in place so that your house is cozy and comfortable during the entire season. You can also call a professional HVAC expert to get your space in good shape.

Monday, 23 July 2018

What to Look for When Considering a Used Furnace?

If your furnace has stopped working, you may be exploring different ways for saving on replacing the system. Buying a new furnace can be extremely expensive but there is another way of saving money: by buying a used furnace.

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Here are some things one must look for to get a good deal.

Always buy from a commercial seller who offers refurbished furnace

You may be tempted to buy a used unit from a private seller. However, the possibility of added costs and scams are not worth it. The seller may hide problems, and in case the system requires uninstallation, that will be an added cost.

Purchasing from a commercial seller is a lot safer. You can depend on the claimed quality of the equipment. However, it is still wise to get a technician to inspect the unit professionally before buying it.

Things you should ask a seller selling a used furnace:

Do not get roped into promises of a cheap rate. You must ask the furnace seller the following questions:

  1. How old is the furnace?
  2. Why did the previous owner want to sell?
  3. Which brand is this?
  4. What kind of fuel does the furnace use?
  5. How good is the performance?
  6. Has the furnace received regular maintenance?
  7. Is the furnace under warranty?
Some of the things you must check before making the purchase:

You must remember that any heater that was previously owned has experienced at least a little wear and tear. This may lead to several issues. Make sure you check the state of following components before you purchase a used furnace:

  1. Pilot light or electronic ignition
  2. Burners
  3. Heat exchanger
  4. Motor and blower fan
  5. Pressure switches, limit switch
  6. Mechanical gears that may squeak, rumble, or rattle
Things to consider when installing a used furnace:

Installing a refurbished furnace to save money is a great idea. However, if you do not get it installed professionally, you may miss an important aspects required for efficient, safe, operation, such as fuel and venting pipes needed for models with high-efficiency. The ductwork may also waste energy by leaking, leading to increased heating bills.

Investing in a proper installation done by a specialist will add to the upfront cost of purchasing a refurbished furnace. However, improved longevity and performance are all worth it! Moreover, you can be rest assured that your system is properly installed.

If you are worried about investing money in a refurbished or used product, you have other choices for saving money. You can purchase a furnace from a wholesaler at reasonable rates. Models of the previous year can also be bought at a discounted rate.

Irrespective of where you purchase a new furnace for sale, it is extremely important to hire a professional HVAC expert. It takes years of knowledge and experience to diagnose the issues, determine overall condition and assess the age of the furnace.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Technical Talk: Budget for an AC Replacement This Summer

Having an AC to keep you cool is a necessity during those hot summer months. But do you find your AC performing at its optimum? This is a good time to re-evaluate how well your unit is working. Is it being able to run efficiently? Or, is the air-conditioning struggling to perform with your electricity bills skyrocketing? If so, then it is time to get a replacement.

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How to find out if you require an AC replacement?

The most sophisticated air conditioners will also require replacement at some point. When summer months are close, it is the right time to decide if you need a replacement. Here are a few things that can help you notice if the system is not performing well:

1. You hear odd noises: If you have had your AC for a few years, you must already know how it sounds when working. If suddenly it starts making odd noises, the unit may be asking for a replacement.

2. Higher than normal cooling bills: Rising rates of electricity can be a reason for the bills but inefficient and old air conditioners also lead to higher cooling bills. If you budget for a replacement you may end up saving.

3. You don’t feel comfortable: cold and hot spots, humidity, and other distresses may indicate towards a system which has reached the end.

4. A decade old AC: while most of the issues mentioned above may be repairable but if your system is more than a decade old it serves in your best interest to replace it instead.

How should you budget?

Installation of a brand new air conditioner is a big investment. In case you have a tight budget, make sure you start saving at least four months before the start of the hot summer months. Here is how you can make your budget:

Research for a fair price: The brand, rating and size of the unit determines the cost of the unit. Make sure you compare estimates from at least four contractors before staring work.

Look for discounts and special offers: many brands may come out with limited time offers and lucrative discounts. Always keep looking for such offers and buy your unit when it is at its best price. Also, if you replace your heating and cooling equipment during the same time, you may save more.

It is best to calculate your annual costs before you make the purchase: even if you have made the initial purchase, using and operating the air conditioner is expensive. Make sure you check the unit for a yellow Energy Guide sticker to lower future cooling costs. You can also talk to an AC specialist for suggestion.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Cleaning Your Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit

If you keep your outside AC unit clean you can expect your system to run efficiently while prolonging its lifespan. If you want to clean your unit on your own then here are a few tips that can help!

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How many times should you clean your outside unit?

For most owners, cleaning it twice a year is enough, once before winters as you will be using the heating and once before summers as you will want to turn on air conditioning.

What are the different supplies and tools needed to clean an outside unit?

Here is a list of tools that will come in handy when cleaning the unit:

1. Vacuum

2. Garden hose

3. Screwdriver

4. Replacement filter

5. Rags

6. Fin comb

7. Pipe cleaner 


Apart from cleaning the system, you will have to remove any branches, leaves, sticks or other form of debris lying over and around the unit. Also, you must never keep shrubs or plants too close to the unit to ensure better air flow. From gum balls to pine needles and leaves and tall weeds, ensure that the space around the unit is clean and clear.

Time to clean!

1. Before starting, make sure the power to the outside unit is switched off.

2. For any remains you could not clear away, a dry/wet vacuum with a bristled attachment can help to capture any dirt, dust, or other small debris from the system.

3. In case you observe the fins are bent, you can use a butter knife or a fin comb or other small objects are useful for straightening them.

4. Remove the AC filter after locating it, wash it using a tough spray from the garden hose. If your filter is one that's made of fiber or cardboard, buy a new one to replace the dirty one.

5. Remove the panel at the top and put it aside.

6.Inspect for dirt, dust, debris and other kind of build-up that may impact operation. Once you have removed as much dirt as possible just rinse it with a garden hose and clean away the remaining debris. Be careful while vacuuming to make sure you don't end up damaging or bending fins or coils.

7. To clean the fan blades, a wet rag is enough. Check the vents of the fan and wipe or vacuum away any debris build-up.

8. Now it is time to get the access panel back in its position. Just screw it in place, and turn on power.

Cleaning the outside of the AC is not that challenging. However, effort and time spent will be all worth it as your family will enjoy summers and winters comfortably.

Monday, 23 April 2018

What is a Heat Pump and how does it work?

Those who reside in moderate climates may find heat pumps as popular home fixtures. However, for those who live in colder areas, these pumps are far less, as there are more efficient heat generating systems including, boilers and furnaces found more commonly.The difference due to climate is because of the variation in heat pump function.

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Identifying a heat pump:

Heat pumps are available in electric and gas models, and can be installed as a package system, split system, or as ‘mini-split’ or a ductless system. One of the easiest ways of identifying a heat pump is to go outside to the huge metal box, and browse through the information printed on the machine. If the box particularly states, ‘heat pump,’ or contains both ‘Seasonal Performance Heating Factor,’ and an ‘Energy Efficiency Seasonal Ratio’ it is a heat pump.

Working of heat pumps:

There is no heat created by heat pumps. Using a refrigerant, they merely transfer warm air. From outside to inside during winters, and vice-versa during summers. This is why during colder climates, pumps may not be able to cope with the heating needs as there is no heat outside to transfer. During ‘emergency heat mode’ heat is alternatively generated through electricity, which is just not as efficient.

There are numerous kinds of heat pumps, pertaining to how heat is sourced:

Air source

This is extremely common with heat being transferred from the temperature/air outdoors.

Geothermal / Ground source

These make use of the more steady temperatures in the water or earth sources.


Including air/ ground source, and air boiler/ source combinations for enhanced efficiency.

Using a heat pump effectively:

A lot of users get high power bills as they do not understand the right way to use a heat pump. To make sure you do not end up getting high energy bills, keep these tips in mind:

Do not play with the thermostat:

Just set the thermostat at an ideal temperature and don’t change it after that. If you jack the temperature down or up you will not heat or cool your house any faster. In fact, it will only make your system work less efficiently and harder.

Make sure you plan ahead.

Make sure you add a programmable heat pump friendly thermostat to ensure efficient utilization of your system.

System maintenance.

Properly charged and cleaned system functions a lot more efficiently than a system that has been disused.

Never hold back on a replacement.

At the time of replacing your heat pump, choose an efficient model, paying close attention to its ratings. Heat pump models that are the most efficient produce more heat in comparison to lesser models, utilizing equal amounts of energy. With cooling and heating accounting for almost 48% of the usual electric bill, there is some serious saving annually.

If you feel you are overdue for a heat pump maintenance it is a good idea to schedule an annual professional maintenance with a reputed company.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Do not load your HVAC

A compressor is extremely important to ensure the cooling and heating of your home. By pumping coolant into the system, it produces heat as a standard part of operation. However, in case it gets very hot, it will shut down.

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Overloading of the compressor:

Overload of AC compressor is extremely common reason for malfunction, and normally happens on the coldest or hottest days, when the HVAC is working round the clock. It’s accountable for almost 50% of component failures. This is a very serious issue – and can also be very expensive if it develops into compressor failure. Pertaining to the system’s age, it may require complete replacement of the system.

Compressor Burn out - Causes:

The main cause of compressor burnout is bad installation, neglect, and maintenance, including…

1.     Dirty condenser coils.
2.     Dirty air filters.
3.     Undercharged or overcharged refrigeration system.
4.     Leaks in the refrigerant.
5.     Moisture within the refrigeration system.
6.     Added heat sources situated close to the condenser.
7.     Improper airflow.
8.     Lack of airflow from debris.
9.     Other failures.
10. Loose corroded wires and insufficient electrical supply inside the house, leading to low voltage problems.

How to prevent compressor overloads from damage?

Do not neglect maintenance.

It is a good idea to change the air filter quarterly. Clear all debris from the external system, keeping a clearance of 18-36 inches at all sides, and about four feet above.

Hire a trusted professional.

If you want your HVAC to be properly installed make sure you hire a professional. It is also advisable to undergo routine seasonal maintenance such as, verifying the refrigerant levels, connections and lubrication, operation confirmation, coil cleaning, and the like.

Consider extra protection.

If you add a compressor overload protector, it can secure your HVAC system. Situated close to the condenser, this superior sensor observes temperatures, and shuts the compressor down temporarily for preventing it from overheating. If you turn off the system to let the compressor cool, it can prevent any overload and warn you against problems that may otherwise become very expensive.

In case you have a compressor which is overheated, it is extremely important to uncover why, and not just replace components as that could lead to a repeat. In case your HVAC has experienced increased overheating, make sure you seek help, before it gets too late.

With just a little effort and knowledge, you can make sure that your system runs smoothly and efficiently. It is also a good idea to hire a professional HVAC expert who has the knowledge and expertise to keep your system from running smoothly. Do not neglect HVAC maintenance if you wish to spend less money repairing the system.  

Friday, 23 February 2018

Using a Humidifier

If you are living in a cold climate, you most likely deal with low humidity levels every winter. It is difficult for cold air to hold moisture, so your house dries out naturally this time of year. The best solution is running a humidifier.

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What are humidifiers?

The main purpose of this equipment is to enhance the levels of humidity in an interior space. Essentially, there are two kinds of humidifiers:

Portable humidifiers: these are small enough and can be set on the tabletop. There is a water reservoir that can be refilled periodically for keeping the humidifier running. This is the best option if you wish to humidify just one room in the house, like your bedroom.

Humidifiers for the entire house are installed within the HVAC system and they work together with your furnace. The output of the water is controlled by the humidistat, connected directly to the plumbing. While these units require professional installation, their end result is good, with homes that are evenly humidified.

How do humidifiers really work?

There are various kinds of humidifiers, with each working differently:
       1. Evaporative humidifiers: these humidifiers feature a wicking filter and a cold-water reservoir. Air is blown over the filter through a fan. The filter in turn absorbs water, vaporizing the moisture then sending it only at regulated rates.

       2. Impeller humidifiers tend to toss water into a comb-like diffuser from a spinning disc. This separates the water in tiny droplets that puff into the air.
       3. Ultrasonic humidifiers work silently with the use of a metal diaphragm that shakes at a very high frequency to create a cool mist.

      4. Vaporizers or steam humidifiers boil water and tend to release the warm steam in the air.

What are the benefits of humidifiers?

Here are a few ways humidifiers benefit you in the winters:

      1. Keep healthy: Humidification assists in decreasing the spreading of germs in the air. Balanced humidity also helps in easing congestion and helps you recover from illnesses.

     2. Sleep well: when you keep your room in comfortable humidity level you are able to sleep soundly and get up feeling relaxed instead of dried out.

     3. Prevent dry hair and skin: a lot of people only make use of lotion during dry winters. To prevent flaky scalp, dry skin, and brittle hair, use a humidifier at your house.

    4.  Save on utility bills: When you humidify, less moisture vaporizes from your skin, which means you can reduce the thermostat by a few degrees without feeling any discomfort.

There are so many benefits of humidifiers. However, for best results make sure you use a whole-house humidifier. It will ensure that the entire space is comfortable. It’s particularly beneficial to run a humidifier when you feel congested, or are prone to bloody noses or dry skin during the winters.