How to tell if your home is well insulated

There are a few signs most people tend to notice when their home is poorly insulated. Do you notice your unit constantly running? Has your electric bill been slowly increasing each month? Do you notice that some rooms in your home stay more comfortable? Here are some things you can do yourself to check for poor insulation.

  • Touch Test: The interior ceilings, walls, and floors typically should feel warm and dry in your home. If you notice parts of drywall or floors feel damp & cold in your warm house this could be a good indicator you have insulation issues.
  • Leak Test: Check for water in your attic as well as around windows. Your attic can be a great indicator on your homes insulation.
  • Temperature Check: You will need to open all of the inside doors for a while and let the temperature of your home even out. After you have let it even out take a walk around and check for rooms that seem significantly warmer or colder than other areas.

If you feel you have insulation problems in your home we recommend calling a pro to access the job and help get your home insulated correctly!

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How to protect your system during the winter

No one ever want their heat to go out but we really don’t want it to suddenly go out on a cold winter day. Below are some things you can do to protect your unit during the winter.
• An air conditioner cover can lower the risk of damage to the metal from repeated freezing and thawing, but you have to be careful. We do not recommend just using any old tarp as moisture can accumulate underneath some coverings.
• Regularly change the air filters in your heating and cooling units. Your heating system works harder in the winter, you may even want to change your filters more often than usual. This is a big one we have already seen a few times this winter. Clogged and overused filters WILL cause your heat to stop working. To learn more about how often and what filters to use please check out our December Monthly Tip video all about filters!
• Ensure that water from rain and snowmelt drains away from your home. Gutters can sometimes cause water or ice to fall on your unit so be sure to keep an eye on them!
• This isn’t completely necessary but can help. Create a wind barrier a few feet from your unit. You can use shrubs or even a fence would provide additional protection.
• This one may seem repetitive, but is very crucial when it comes to protecting your heat pump/furnace. Have an HVAC professional inspect and maintain the heating system.


Troubleshooting For Your Heat Pump

It’s never fun having heat issues in the colder months and if you have a problem we always recommend calling a professional, but here are some general issues and possible solutions.

 Iced-Over Heat Pump: Frost buildup on your heat pump during the winter is somewhat normal, your heat pump will signal a defrosting cycle to remove ice from the unit. However if you are having issues and notice your heat pump may be covered in a thicker layer of ice that the defrosting cycle cannot address that signifies something is wrong. If your heat pump is covered in ice, turn the unit to the off position or to the emergency heat position. This will continue to give you heat but will stop the outdoor unit from running. We recommend calling a professional in this situation because excessive ice buildup can cause damage to your unit. When attempting to remove ice yourself we urge you to use caution and not use any sharp objects as you may puncture and damage the coil. However when the unit is in the off position you can attempt to pour warm water over it to eliminate ice. If possible call a professional to avoid more damage.

 Heat Pump Won’t Activate: If your heat pump fails to come on it could be a number of different issues. Usually this is not something you can fix yourself unless it is a thermostat issue. Check to ensure your thermostat is set to heat and it is set two degrees above room temperature. Another quick way to check operation is to turn your indoor fan from the auto to the on position. If the circuit breaker is not tripped it is time to call in a professional.

 Heat pump running continuously: Your heat pump should never run continually without stopping over the course of the day. If this occurs check that your thermostat has not been set to an excessively high temperature and. Heat pumps that run continually could have a refrigerant leak, compressor issue, or a variety of other problems. We recommend calling a professional technician to diagnose and preform any necessary repairs.

Will a Programmable Thermostat Really Save Money?

The concept of the programmable thermostat is that you are able to control your thermostat by formulating a program based off of time, therefore able to save on energy when you are not home. This means saving money with your thermostat is really up to you. If you use it for its purpose and have it set back or off when you are not home you will encounter a change in your energy consumption. Many people fear that new thermostats may be too complicated to operate. While we can’t speak for all of them because manufactures are continually coming out with new models, the latest technology has made operating them more simplistic. A good service company will walk you through how to operate the thermostat at installation. There are many different options there are basic thermostats that allow you to set a specific temperature for certain time periods, or more advanced models that allow you to control if from your phone. There are other things you can do that may even be more effective in saving you energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, about 42% of home energy costs go to heating and cooling. Preventive Maintenance which we have talked about in a previous blog is a big one. It actually ensures your unit is running at maximum efficiency and could save you hundreds of dollars in electric each year. Check out our Facebook as well as our other blogs to find more energy saving tips!

Why is Preventive Maintenance Important?

You may be asking yourself, “Why are regularly scheduled preventive maintenance inspections so important?” The answer is quite simple! Just like your vehicle, your HVAC system requires service and regular checkups to ensure maximum efficiency and avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Regular checkups will also prolong the life of your unit and keep it running at full efficiently. An efficiently running unit saves you money on your energy bills. Preventive Maintenance is typically conducted during the Spring & Fall time of year. This is something you typically would have done in the spring and in the fall each year. You should have your AC maintained in the spring before it gets hot to ensure a worry free summer. Then you would need maintenance on your furnace during your fall visit before the cold winter months.

You may be asking yourself what is typically done during these visits. During your spring visit for your AC an HVAC professional will check to ensure the unit is running properly by checking refrigerate levels, cleaning coils, and checking to ensure filters are clean. All of these things greatly impact the way your unit functions and you want to ensure your AC is running smoothly before the summer.
During the fall visit the technician will check numerous things involved with the furnace including but not limited to the heat exchanger, draft induced assembly, flame sensor, safety switches, and more. These things are very important and some could even be a safety concern. While there is more steps involved this is just a brief overview to give you an idea of what a technician during maintenance visits. If you would like more information or if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us.

How Often to Change Filters and What Type?

Most people do not completely understand the importance of changing filters and the impact it will have on energy consumption and the life of your equipment. That brings us to the first question “why it’s important to change your air filters regularly?” Everyone knows changing the oil in your car is important and if you do not it can be hard on your engine. This can be a great example to compare to. Did you know one of the most common reasons a system breaks down is because of a dirty/clogged filter. When dirt accumulates the air cannot pass through and in turn can cause your gas furnace to overheat and can force your AC to work harder to maintain its set temperature. Besides the effects dirty filters have on your unit and can also cause health issues. This is especially important for those that have asthma and allergies. A dirty filter is blowing dirt and dust into your home and if you have pets this can be even worse. Let’s go back to what I mentioned before a dirty filter will be hard on your unit because it makes it work harder. If your unit is having to run more this will also cause increases in your electric bill each month.
Now that we have covered why to change your filters lets discuss how often. This obviously varies based on factors in your home. How many people are living in your home, do you have pets, what type of filter etc.. Typically for a family home with pets I recommend changing your filter every 60 days. If you do have pets in your home you should change your filter once a month. If you’re living in a one person home with no pets then your filters will last longer. In this case you should only need to change your filter every 90 -120 days. It’s always a great idea to at least do a visual check on your filters monthly to verify their condition.
You will find many HVAC professionals have different opinions on what type of filter and even what brand they recommend. Every home is different based on conditions that we listed above, therefore what I recommend would be on a case by case basis. I have listed some different options below.
• Fiberglass Filters – This is the throwaway air filters and tend to be the most common type used. They are made of layered fiberglass fibers are laid over each other to form the filter. These are the cheapest option and are disposable. However they do not last as long and clog up faster which in turn decreases your unit’s efficiency. They are also not as effective at getting smaller particles. I would not recommend these for those with asthma and allergy issues.
• Disposable pleated paper or polyester filters – These filters are much better at trapping the dirt and dust particles. They do cost more than the spun fiberglass filters but do a much better filtering job.
• High efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters – As the name states these filters are very efficient. They actually filter 99.97 percent of all particles. However these filters are quite more expensive.
• Washable air filters – These filters do not tend to be as common as the others. They actually rely on the build-up of dust along the cloth. These do cost more than the other filters but they also last a lot longer. On the other hand they are not good to help with air contaminants like smoke and pet dander. They also increase your chances of getting mold if they are not fully dried each time.

Why is my Furnace not coming on?

Why is my Furnace not coming on?

Your furnace not coming on during the winter can be a scary thing. I know this can be alarming especially if it occurs during a cold night. Remember preventive maintenance can greatly reduce your chance for these stressful break downs. If you are a part of our preventive maintenance program we typically will come out in the Fall months to ensure your furnace is prepared for the cold before it even arrives. Things do happen so if you find yourself in this situation I always recommend calling a professional. If that’s not an option at the time here are some potential causes and ways to fix it.

  • Check your thermostat: Open the thermostat and gently blow out any dust or debris. Ensure it’s level and firmly attached, and that all wires are connected and secure. Then set the temperature five degrees higher than the room temperature and see if the furnace turns back on.
  • Check your Filters: Most people do not realize dirty filters can cause furnace problems. Excess dust and dirt can restrict airflow. If the filter becomes to clogged it can cause the heat exchanger to overheat and shut off too quickly. You will find this is most likely the issue if the blower is running but no heat is coming out.
  • Faulty or dirty ignitor/sensor: I find this is typically the most common cause when your furnace is not working. Normally the furnace is notified by the thermostat to click on, the ignitor then will get hot. This then triggers the process of igniting the gas and blowing hot air. If you have a faulty or dirty sensor the furnace will not be able to go through this process. If this is the issue it is best to call a licensed HVAC professional.


How Much Will a New HVAC System Cost?

This is a tough question and one I get asked often. I say it’s a hard question because the cost for a new system greatly varies depending on multiple factors. It depends on the system you purchase, the size of your home, and many other variables. This is the reason you will find most HVAC companies will not give estimates over the phone. When we give you a price there will be no unmentioned or unforeseen charges. In conclusion the only way to get an accurate HVAC system cost is to receive a personalized inspection of your home. For this reason we offer a free in home estimate. Below I have included typical cost ranges for changing out existing equipment.
 To install heat & air into a home can range anywhere from $5,500 to $15,000 depending on the brand and the size of your home.
 Central air-conditioning system can cost from $3,500 to $8000.
 A central heating furnace will range between $3,000 and $7,500.
 Ductwork typically costs anywhere from $900 to $4,000 for your home.


Low Humidity in Your Home

Humidity problems in your home
As we all know the humidity in your home can be an issue at times. You may not realize how important this is not only for your home but as well as your health. High humidity is something common during Hot Summer months and low humidity occurs during the winter months. With winter quickly approaching we thought it would be a great time to discuss low humidity and ways to prevent it. Did you know that keeping humidity in your home during the winter is important for your skin, throat and overall health? Low humidity in your home frequently causes more colds and respiratory issues. It is also very hard on your furnace & home. Your furnace or heat pump may be using a high amount of energy to run and still not provide the warmth you need in the cold, which in turn is not only hard on your unit as well as your electric bill. It can also cause damage to your furniture and walls. Below we have listed ways to tell if your home has low humidity. You can also always have a professional come out and check.
How do you know if you have low humidity?

• If humidity is normal in your home you will be able to maintain comfort at an indoor temperature between 71 – 76 degrees. If you find yourself regularly having to increase the temperature that may be a sign of low humidity.
• You could also purchase an indoor humidity monitor that is sold in most stores and it will measure the level of humidity with a percentage. It should be between 40% and 50%.
• If you want do a small test right now with what you have at home Place two or three ice cubes into a glass, add water and stir. Wait three minutes. If moisture does not form on the outside of the glass the air is to dry.
• Watch out for these common signs: Dry skin, excessive static shocks, constant dry throats, and cracking or warping of wooden furniture.

After conducting tests if you determine your home has low humidity the next question is “What to do about it?” The best solution is to get a de-humidifier for your home. Feel free to give us a call and we will give you a free consultation over the phone on recommended types & brands. We have also listed some things you can do at home to increase the humidity in your home below. As always we hope this was helpful and be sure to follow us on Facebook and check out our website to keep up with more tips and helpful information with the Heating & Air in your home.

DIY tips for low Humidity
• Place shallow trays of water in front of your windows in the sunlight this will help water vapor form in the room.
• Boiling water is a fast way to get more humidity in the air. Place a lid over the pot until it reaches the boiling point then remove the lid.
• Open your windows and spray your curtains with water. It will cause the water to evaporate increasing the humidity.
• Avoid increasing the heat instead try wearing a jacket or sweater as increasing the heat will dry your home out more.
• Place pots or other vessels with water on heating ducts and radiators. The water evaporates into the air thus helping fix dry air. Be sure to check daily and refill water.

Is Your Furnace Leaking Water?

Is Your Furnace Leaking Water? 

Is your Furnace leaking water? This is a common problem customers may experience. A frequent cause of this is a condensation leak. High efficiency furnaces create condensation through the combustion process. This water has to be routed away from the furnace and into a drain line. If the drain line gets stopped up the water will back up into the furnace possibly causing the furnace to shut down on a safety mechanism. Another possible cause is there could be an issue with the condensate pump. This pump is designed to pump the water up and out away from the furnace. The line from the pump typically terminates external of the attic or the crawlspace. This brings us to our final cause: a break in the condensation line. While this is not a serious problem it can cause rust to build up decreasing the life span of the furnace. In an effort to avoid unsafe breakdowns the best thing to do is have an HVAC specialist to service your system before the winter. We are currently offering a onetime preventive maintenance visit special for $69.00.