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Choosing the Right HVAC Company

licensed havac technicianWhether you need to schedule routine maintenance or you need emergency repairs, finding the right HVAC company to do the job is of utmost importance. Just because a company has prominent billboards around town, is popular with your neighbors, or offers low-cost services doesn’t mean they are the best choice for your specific needs.

To make sure you get your money’s worth, and that the job is done right, you need to do some homework. To ensure you find the best HVAC contractor for your needs, we have put together a brief guide to help you cover all your bases.

Check the Company’s Credentials

You should consider this a universal law. Whether you are hiring a lawyer, a plumber or an HVAC technician, ask to see their credentials.

When considering an HVAC company, first ask to see a copy of their business license, insurance information, and any other certifications they may have. Just because the company has a radio commercial and is driving around with an official looking logo on the side of their commercial van doesn’t mean they have the experience or background to work on your HVAC system.

Your HVAC system is a complicated piece of machinery and there is an amount of danger that comes with working on it. A lot could go wrong. If a technician has proof of pertinent licenses and certifications, you know that person has been properly trained.

Each state has different licensing requirements, so you should check your state’s  professional licensing department for details on local regulations, as well as the current status of a company’s license.

Check the Technician’s Level of Training and Experience

The next step is to ask the prospective technician about his or her level of training. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Does the technician have training from a vocational school? Is he or she familiar with the latest advances in HVAC technology, EPA regulations, and standard maintenance and repair?

What about your current HVAC system? Is the technician familiar with that brand or model?

If you are in the market for a new unit, you will want to make sure your prospective company is qualified to service and install the brand you want.

Be Sure to Get an Estimate

Before any company begins to service your HVAC system, make sure you get an estimate before the work begins. You don’t want any surprises after work has started.

Make sure the estimate includes all the anticipated work and includes all necessary parts and labor.

Don’t settle for a verbal agreement. Get it in writing. Carefully read over the estimate and ask for clarification for any terms you don’t understand. And then when you’ve agreed on the estimate, have it signed by both parties, you and the contractor.

Normally, you should not have to pay for the entire job up front. While a deposit may be required for large, expensive projects, most companies will not require the entire bill be paid until the work has been completed. This will protect you and helps ensure the work is done completely and professionally, and that you are getting what you pay for.

Check the Online Reviews

There are no secrets in the business world. Most companies, unless they are very new, will have customer reviews somewhere on the internet. There is no better indicator of a company’s level of service than its customer reviews.

Check websites like and Angie’s List. Also, look to see if there is a customer review page on the company’s website. Browse through the company’s social media pages to see if there is positive customer feedback.

Another step is to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any major complaints about the company in the past.


When it comes to HVAC installation, repair, or maintenance, it is important to hire a reputable and qualified professional. Follow these tips and you’ll know exactly what type of HVAC company you are hiring to do the job.

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Dealing With Dry Winter Air

dry air As winter sets in and the temperatures fall, so do humidity levels. It is annoying, and probably something we take for granted, but as the weather outside gets colder, the air inside gets drier.

We easily see the effects of dry winter air in irritating static electricity. However, the trouble low humidity levels cause stretch well beyond clinging clothes and the ability for kids to shock each other.

The Effects of Dry Winter Air

One of the major effects of dry winter air is a cooler feel to the indoor temperature. The optimum humidity for comfort is around 40 percent. When the relative humidity is below that level, you may be tempted to turn your thermostat up a few degrees to feel warmer.  And for every degree you bump up the thermostat, you’ll see a 4 percent increase in your heating bill.

But your bank account isn’t the only place you’ll feel the negative effects of dry winter air. Low humidity levels can also have a negative impact on your family’s health. Some of the adverse effects of extremely dry indoor air include:

  • Irritation to the body’s mucous membrane. We feel this as dryness and itching of the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Lowered immunity. The mucous membrane is the body’s first line of defense against infection. When the mucous membrane thins due to dry air exposure, you become more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other illnesses.
  • Asthma. Dry air can make asthma flare-ups more frequent and severe.
  • Skin irritation. Dry and scaly skin, especially on the hands and feet, can become severe, causing them to crack and bleed.

Long-lasting low humidity can also have a negative impact on your home. A few of the effects dry air can have on your home include:

  • Flaking or peeling paint.
  • Cracks in wooden surfaces, including floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, and furniture.
  • Excessive static electricity can cause damage to sensitive electronic devices.


Dealing with Dry Winter Air

Winter air is naturally dry because as outdoor temperatures fall, the air contracts. Because the air molecules are more compact, the air has less capacity to hold moisture. This dry air gets inside your home through open doors and windows and causes your home’s relative humidity to fall.

But dry indoor air doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are steps you can take to restore relative humidity to a comfortable level and help protect your home’s interior and your family’s health.

Sealing Gaps and Cracks

First, seal cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Adding weather stripping to tighten door seals and caulk to seal cracks around windows, will go a long way to keeping dry winter air outdoors.

Other Small Ways to Increase Humidity

You can also add moisture to the air by allowing water to sit and evaporate into the air after you take a bath or shower. You can also leave bowls of water out to provide moisture as the water evaporates. Add a few drops of essential oil to the water to give a nice scent to the air in your home. Cooking on the stove can even help increase indoor humidity levels.

Add a Whole House Humidifier

One of the best ways to maintain comfortable humidity in your home is to have a whole house humidifier. A whole house humidifier works with your existing heating system to add moisture to the air inside your home.

Once installed by a qualified HVAC technician, a whole house humidifier brings water vapor into the duct system through a distribution tray. In this way, it helps adjust the indoor humidity level. You can monitor and control the level of humidity with simple adjustments to your thermostat.

For more information about how a whole house humidifier can work for you, contact your local HVAC professionals.


Dry winter air is a serious concern that should not be ignored. However, there are steps you can take to maintain humidity and protect your home and your family. Follow these steps and be comfortable all winter long.

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Using Your HVAC to Combat Household Dust

A better way to dust

Does dust manage to settle on every surface of your home no matter how often you clean? Not only is the dust that accumulates on household surfaces unsightly, but it can also lead to respiratory problems. If you find yourself constantly battling an indoor dust problem, it may be because of ineffective cleaning practices. Thankfully, there is a better way to clean that will help reduce the amount of dust that floats through your house and settles on your furniture, floors, and electronics.

Common Dusting Mistakes

Most people tackle household chores with the best of intentions. However, a few common cleaning practices do nothing to get rid of household dust. In fact, if you clean using these methods, you aren’t accomplishing anything. Instead, you’re just stirring up dust.

Don’t Use a Traditional Feather Duster

While feather dusters seem fancy and fun to use, they do nothing to get rid of dust. All a feather duster does is stir dust around, sweeping it off surfaces and into the air where it will float until it settles back onto your floors and furniture. Instead, use a damp cloth, microfiber cloth, or electrostatic duster to capture and hold the dust as you wipe.

The Problem with Vacuuming After Dusting

It is standard cleaning practice for most homeowners to dust their furniture, walls, and surfaces first, and then follow up with a vacuum cleaner.  The idea is to suck up any remaining dust that may have fallen to the floor.

However, vacuum cleaners use an agitator, a cylindrical rotating brush, to sweep carpets and rugs and kick up dust to trap it in a canister or vacuum bag. The problem with the method is that most vacuum cleaners are not very efficient at sucking in all the agitated dust particles. The remaining dust gets sent into the air where it floats around the room until it eventually settles back on the surfaces you just cleaned. By vacuuming after you’ve dusted, you undo all of the dusting you just completed.

A Better Way to Dust

There is a better way to dust that does more than just stir it up so it can resettle on the surfaces of your home.

First, turn your HVAC unit’s fan on. You can do this by simply going to your thermostat and switching the fan setting to “On”.

Then begin to dust, starting with the highest surfaces first. This includes ceiling fans, high light fixtures, and the tops of door jambs.

Next, instead of proceeding to dust the lower surfaces in your home, start vacuuming. Since your system fan is running, the dust your vacuum kicks up will be pulled through the vents, getting trapped in the filters instead of resettling on your furniture.

After you have vacuumed, dust the remaining lower surfaces in your home. After you have finished, allow the fan to run for at least another fifteen minutes to pull in any dust you stirred up into the air.

Then, turn your thermostat setting back to “Auto”. While it is okay to run your furnace fan for a brief time while you are cleaning, constant running will only drive up your utility bill if you leave it on.

Excessive Dust Could Be a Symptom of Something More Serious

If you still find yourself battling a never-ending dust problem after adjusting your cleaning habits, you may have a problem with your air ducts. A leak in the air ducts in your home’s attic or crawl space will suck in dust and then release it into your home’s interior through your system’s supply vents. This will cause extra dust to enter your home every time your HVAC unit turns on.

If you find yourself constantly dusting and think you may have a leaky duct, call your local HVAC technician for a full check-up.

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Summer Vacation

What to do with Your A/C During Summer Vacation

It isn’t uncommon for families to head off for long vacations during the hot summer months. This means many homes will sit empty while homeowners enjoy long-awaited holidays filled with fun warm weather activities.

It might seem logical to turn off your air conditioner while you are away. It probably seems like a waste to cool an empty house. However, it is probably not the best solution to a high summer energy bill. While it may seem like turning off the A/C while your home or vacation property sits empty will save you some major cash, it might actually cost you more money in the long run.

Why You Shouldn’t Turn off your A/C When You’re on Vacation

Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking they can totally shut off their home’s A/C while they’re gone for vacation and the house sits empty. While it’s true you will save money on your energy bill if the A/C unit isn’t running, there are some other important things to consider before you flip the switch

Remember, your home will be locked up tight while you are away. All your doors and windows will be shut, so the A/C may be the home’s only source of air circulation. You might argue that people lived in the heat of summer before A/C was even invented, but they lived with the windows constantly open to let the outside air in. Also, before A/C became common, homes featured high ceilings that created a natural system of air circulation.

When the temperature outside your home reaches 90 degrees, it doesn’t take long for the inside of your home to reach triple digit temperatures, especially when the A/C isn’t running. Basically the inside of your home turns into a tropical sauna.

With the inside temperatures reaching sweltering levels and air sitting stagnant, the inside of your home becomes the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. These pesky, and often dangerous, forms of fungus can multiply rapidly on your furniture, clothes, drapes, and bedding when humidity levels are high.

The heat and moisture can also warp wood floors and cabinets, peel wallpaper, and wreak havoc on your laptops and other electronic devices.

No matter how tempting it is to save some cash on your cooling bills, it is best to leave your A/C on, even when the home is sitting empty. The best setting best for home maintenance is 85 degrees. A thermostat set on 85 will keep the air circulating and help protect your home from the potential damage of extreme heat and humidity.

Ways to Help You Save

Before you leave your home for exotic vacation destinations, there are some things you can do that will help save you money on your utility bill.

During the summer months, sunlight hits your home with higher intensity than it does during cooler seasons. The sun may actually be the main factor contributing to the rising summer heat inside of your home. Make sure to pull all blinds and curtains before you leave for vacation. This will help reduce the hot sunlight that enters your home and contributes to high energy costs.

If you know you will be away from home for an unusually long time, you might consider installing energy saving storm windows. While the investment is initially high, storm windows will help block out light and insulate the home, protecting it from extreme weather conditions. Storm windows are a wise investment, especially if your home is regularly unoccupied during warm summer months.

Save Money with a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat allows you to control your home’s thermostat with a smartphone or tablet from virtually anywhere in the world. With instant access to local weather reports, you can adjust your empty home’s thermostat settings for daily conditions. If the day is cool and dry, you might want to bump up the temperature a few degrees since humidity damage will be unlikely

It’s almost like sticking your thermostat in your pocket and taking it on vacation with you. A smart thermostat can offer peace of mind by offering portable real-time control of one of your home’s most important major appliances. Smart thermostats are especially valuable for properties that may go unoccupied for weeks at a time.

There are several considerations for purchasing and installing a smart thermostat, so check with your local HVAC professional to learn about options and installation.

Service Your HVAC Unit to Save Money

Before summer gets into full swing and the climbing temperatures start taxing your HVAC unit, it is a smart idea to call a technician for regular maintenance. A pre-season inspection will ensure your unit is in top condition for efficient summer performance. A local HVAC professional can clean the coils and fan of your unit, and check your ducts, vents, and filters.

An annual check-up will help save you money whether you intend to go on vacation or if you plan to just relax at home all summer long.


You deserve to enjoy your hard-earned summer R and R. Working hard to save money for your vacation shouldn’t be more difficult with the added burden of an expensive energy bill while you’re away. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to protect your home – and your wallet – from the often expensive cost of the hot summer sun. Then all you have to do is enjoy your vacation.

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Programmable Thermostats in the Lehigh Valley Area

trane programmable thermostatAnyone from the Lehigh Valley area knows that the weather can be difficult to predict at times. We have four distinct seasons including humid summers, cold winters and spring and falls that can go either way. So what can homeowners do to keep their homes comfortable and their heating and cooling bills reasonable? Use programmable thermostats— let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

Increase Home Efficiency

In climates where weather often changes quickly or without warning, programmable thermostats are a great way to keep a home energy efficient. By automatically adjusting based on the weather outside, you can avoid costly and unnecessary energy expenditure. You will also be doing your part to minimize your environmental impact and keep the planet healthy.

Save Money on Heating and Cooling Bills

A programmable thermostat will pay for itself over time by lowering your heating bill. Programmable thermostats allow you to create schedules of when you are home and away that will lower the heat or raise the AC accordingly. Additionally, they can adjust to your sleep schedule to help save you money even while you sleep. Some programmable thermostats even offer remote access so if you decide to stay out late or come home early, you can have your home ready and comfortable.

Ensure Consistently Comfortable Homes

Keeping your home at an ideal temperature is much easier with programmable thermostats. Traditionally, if you were hit with a cold snap or a heat wave you would have to manually turn up the heat or the AC and then remember to re-adjust after. And if a extreme weather showed up overnight, you would wake up freezing or soaked in sweet. Thankfully, programmable thermostats have solved this problem, and will adjust automatically to keep your home at your ideal temperature and save you the time and effort of manually adjusting your old thermostat every time the weather changed.

How to Chose the Right Programmable Thermostat

MBI and the BTU gurus are here to help you make the switch. We have a variety of Trane products that can meet any of your needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have or to schedule an appointment at: 610.821.9555

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Improving Indoor Air Quality With House Plants

House PlantsThe survival rule of threes, intended to help people prioritize during a survival situation, states that you can live three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air. This rule of threes helps illustrate just how important the air we breathe is to life.

While many people focus on the importance of hydration and nutrition for health, we shouldn’t overlook air quality. We consume more air proportionately than any other substance. Clean air isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.The quality of the air we breathe is important to our health and our comfort.

The average American spends as much as ninety percent of his or her time indoors, where the air can actually be several times more polluted than the air outside. HVAC professionals can help you keep the air inside your home clean and contaminant-free by installing products like electrostatic filters or providing services like duct cleaning techniques approved by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association.

However, there is one easy and attractive way you can take action to improve your home’s air quality. All you have to do is add some house plants.

How Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

The NASA Clean Air Study was the first published research that proved common house plants can effectively eliminate specific toxins from indoor air. The research began in the late 1980s, and was intended to help NASA discover ways to keep the air inside of space stations safe and clean for astronauts.

During research, scientists discovered that certain plants did more than just absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Many houseplants also effectively removed significant amounts of toxins including:

  • Benzene – A chemical commonly found in household detergents, paint, gasoline, and plastics, benzene can cause headaches, dizziness, and eye irritation. Benzene exposure is also known to cause certain types of cancer.
  • Formaldehyde – A colorless, flammable chemical commonly found in building materials, permanent press fabrics, adhesives, and industrial disinfectants, formaldehyde can cause watery eyes, burning of the nose and throat, nausea, and skin irritation. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services listed formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.
  • Ammonia – This chemical is a common ingredient in many household cleaners. Exposure to ammonia can cause coughing as well as nose and throat irritation.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) – A solvent used most commonly as a grease remover, trichloroethylene is also used to make refrigerants, adhesives, and paint removers. Exposure to TCE can cause skin rashes, nerve damage, and liver and kidney damage. Long-term exposure can lead to lowered levels of reproductive hormones, low sperm quality, and a decrease in sex drive.
  • Xylene – Xylenes are important petrochemicals often found in cleaning products, paint thinner, and gasoline. Exposure to Xylene can cause dizziness,confusion, headaches, lack of muscle coordination, and possible changes to the lungs and kidneys.

Plants aren’t just helpful in space, however. Having a few potted plants is more than just a simple and natural way to clean air inside of space stations. They can also be used to clean the air inside of your home or office.

Other research shows that having plants in your home or office can also significantly help overcome the effects of sick building syndrome, a mysterious medical condition where inhabitants of a building feel unwell for no apparent reason.

More recent research suggests that it is more than just the houseplants themselves that clean indoor air. A study released in 2004 shows that tiny beneficial microorganisms living in the soil of many potted plants aid in removing toxins from indoor air.

The Best Potted Plants for Clean Air.

Most of the plants that made NASA’s list of the best air-filtering plants originated in tropical and subtropical environments. Because or their ability to thrive in often  thick forested environments, thriving on sunlight filtered through lush forest canopies, these plants are capable of growing well in filtered household light.

NASA’s top plant performers are the peace lily and florist chrysanthemum. Both of these plants are effective at filtering all five toxic compounds in the original research study (benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, trichlorethylene, and xylene) from indoor air.

  • Peace Lilies – When it comes to house plants, peace lilies are some of the easiest to grow and care for. Since they prefer medium to low light areas, they grow well in homes and office spaces.. Peace lilies are great plants for beginners as they are very forgiving and can even “tell” when they need to be watered. Just be careful not to over water. The soil should be almost dry. Water only when the leaves begin to droop.

    Not only are these hardy plants efficient air cleaners, they also brighten up any living space with their wide green leaves and lovely white “flowers.”

  • Florist Chrysanthemum – With their big, bright flowers and dark green foliage, florist mums will bring a splash of color and sunshine to any indoor space. They require a cool, bright spot for optimum blooming. Once the flowers are spent, it is difficult to get the plant to re-bloom. Because of this, florist mums are often treated as annuals, needing to be replaced every year. While chrysanthemums help keep indoor air healthy, the leaves are toxic. Make sure to find a place safe from small children and curious pets.

  • Other Plants – While peace lilies and florists chrysanthemums were NASA’s top clean air performers, there are many other plants that you can include in your home or office to help improve indoor air quality. Here are some other varieties that will brighten your indoor spaces and clean the air you breathe:

    English Ivy
    Flamingo Lily
    Snake Plant (also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue)
    Red-edged Dracaena
    Cornstalk Dracaena
    Barberton Daisy
    Janet Craig
    Aloe Vera
    Weeping Fig
    Broadleaf Lady Palm
    Devil’s Ivy
    Bamboo Palm
    Boston Fern

House plants are one proactive step you can take to improve the quality of the air you breathe, However, a few potted plants are not cure-all solution. There are many  other steps you can take. If you want to further improve the air purifying properties of your HVAC system, reach out to your local HVAC experts to explore other options for optimum indoor air quality.

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Stay Warmer and Cut Costs with Humidifiers

During the summer, we tend to take humidity for granted and even resent it. It’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, it’s sticky. During winter months, however, humidity is very much missed. Heaters produce dry air that can have negative impacts on air quality, health, and heating bills. Let’s take a look at couple advantages a humidifier can add to your home during winter.

Feel Warmer and Save Money

Experts recommend 68 degrees as a good temperature to set your thermostat at if you are interested in cutting heating cost while still staying warm. However, how the temperature of your home actually feels depends on a lot of factors. A thermostat set at 68 degrees can feel chilly or nice and toasty.

Air humidity is one of the most important factors. If the air inside your home is dry, your sweat will evaporate more quickly and make the room feel colder than it is. An air temperature of 75 degrees can feel like 69 degrees in 0% humidity or 80 degrees in 100% humidity. That’s quite a difference!

Improve Comfort, Health and Air Quality

Using a humidifier provides the important benefit of reducing the chance of spreading or contracting infectious diseases. Dry air dehydrates the moist protective coat that surrounds bacteria and viruses. This makes them more contagious when they come into contact with people. When you also factor in dry throat and sinuses, which naturally filter the air we breathe, you have a recipe for a long cold and flu season.

Humidifiers also help reduce the circulation of dust and other irritants. Additionally, it will finally put an end to the chapped lips and dry skin that plague so many in the cold months.

As an added bonus, humidifiers can help preserve your wood furniture and finishes by stopping the expanding and contracting that occurs when humidity levels change. It will even help electronics by reducing the amount of static charge in a room!

Choosing the Right Humidifier

Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from small room humidifiers that will fit on a table to whole-house humidifiers that are built directly into your heating system. Feel free to contact the MBI BTU gurus with any questions you have at: 610.821.9555

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How to Lower Your Heating Bill During The Valley’s Coldest Months

January andold window in winter February are the coldest months of the year in Lehigh Valley and with them comes the highest heating bills. Not to worry though, with these simple tips you that can lower your heating by 20% or more.

Seal Your Windows:

Windows are a major drain on your heating bill accounting for about 30% of heat lost in a home. Fortunately, you can reclaim some of that heat using plastic film window kits, which generally cost between $5-$20 and are easy to install. Try using an extra layer of bubble wrap between the window and the film for even more savings.

Seal Your Doors:

If you can see light coming through your doors, you are losing heat through them. Some doors have adjustable thresholds that let you lower your heating bill with a turn of a screw— keep adjusting until you no longer see light coming through. If you can’t adjust your threshold, weather strips are another great way to prevent heat loss. Just make sure to periodically check and replace old or worn weather strips.

Plug Holes in Exterior Walls:

Throughout the home, there may be holes in the exterior wall to allow pipes and wires to pass through. Even small holes let a lot of cold air through (not to mention insects and mice), so it’s a good idea to plug them up using expanding foam rather than caulk, as caulk will eventually crack and peal.

Use foam gaskets to insulate electric boxes on exterior walls, otherwise they are a big hole leading straight outside. Gaskets cost about $1, will save you money for as long as you live in the house, and are easy to install using only a screwdriver. Be safe, turn off the circuit before starting work!

Insulate Your Attic:

A well-insulated attic is crucial to creating an energy efficient home and doesn’t require an expert to pull off. While the initial start up cost generally runs between $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot you will save money year after year with a heating bill that is 10-50% lower. Don’t forget to insulate the attic door. Use an adhesive to attach insulation to the attic side of the door and make sure it’s nice and snug to save even more.


Taking these steps will allow you to lower your heating bill and stay comfortable even through the coldest months of the year. Contact the BTU Gurus at MBI Home Comfort to learn more about our heating services or to schedule your HVAC system tune-up anytime at: 610-816-6026.

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