HVAC maintenance

HVAC Maintenance Tips for Fall

Fall is in full swing and that means cold weather is right around the corner. On cold winter nights, there are few things you’ll appreciate more than your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system. However, if it isn’t running properly, your HVAC system can be a source of misery rather than comfort. Heating your home is the typically the largest energy expense for homeowners. That is why it is so important to keep your HVAC system running properly.

Fall is the Best Time for Regular HVAC Maintenance

Now is the perfect time to prepare for frigid weather ahead. Complete these fall maintenance tips to keep your HVAC system operating efficiently this winter. Not only will these tips save you money, they will also ensure you spend this winter in warm, cozy comfort.

Change Your Air Filters

Changing your air filters is the most important thing you can do to keep your HVAC system running properly. Thankfully, it is also the easiest thing you can do.

However, don’t wait until fall to change your filters. Some experts recommend replacing your filters monthly, while others suggest every three months. There are several factors that affect how often your filters need to be changed, such as whether you have pets.

Filters should be checked every month and replaced if they are dirty. To help you remember this important chore, you should choose and schedule a regular day each month to inspect your filters. One recommendation is to check your filters on the same day you pay your mortgage or rent.

Clean Your Vents

It is also a good idea to keep your vents clean. This will allow your HVAC system to circulate air properly and help keep your house clean as well.

In most cases, you can simply use your vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust that accumulates in your vents. However, if you vents are particularly dirty or clogged, you may need to call in the professionals.

Schedule Maintenance with a Professional Technician

Your HVAC system should be serviced annually to keep it working effectively and efficiently. Scheduling regular preventive maintenance for your HVAC system can improve its lifetime up to 48 percent.

Fall is the perfect time to schedule a regular maintenance visit with a service technician. He or she will inspect your system and prepare it to meet the demands of winter heating.

Here are some of the things you can expect a technician to do during a regular maintenance visit:

  1. Check and replace your furnace filter
  2. Inspect the exterior of your system for signs of wear
  3. Inspect and clean your system’s interior components
  4. Measure the power consumed by the system’s electrical components to check for unnecessary power usage
  5. Calibrate your home’s thermostat
  6. test for carbon monoxide leaks
  7. If you have a boiler, the controls, safeties, pump, and low water cutoff will be checked.

Is It Time to Replace Your HVAC?

A new HVAC system is an expensive investment. However, if your system is more than 10 years old, replacing it may actually save you money, at least in the long run.

If your system has some age, it may be running inefficiently, and an inefficient system wastes energy and money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing an old HVAC system with a newer model could reduce your home’s annual energy bill by as much as 40 percent. If you think it might be time to consider replacing your old system, call your local HVAC experts for advice and a price analysis.

Following these fall maintenance tips has numerous benefits for your HVAC system. Regular maintenance will keep you comfortable, improve your system’s efficiency, and save you money on your heating bills this winter.

If you have any questions or need to schedule a maintenance appointment, be sure to contact your local HVAC professionals.

 

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7 Important HVAC Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

pet hairThere are few things more fulfilling than the love and loyalty of a pet. There are many health benefits to pet ownership, including lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and longer life expectancy. However, owning a pet can be a big responsibility.

While there are many advantages to owning a pet, keeping one in your home can also be a lot of work. Keeping our furry friends safe can take some effort. Also, keeping the hair and pet dander from taking over your home can seem like a full-time job.

Your HVAC system plays an important role in keeping your family, including your pets, comfortable and happy. When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, there are some special steps pet owners need to make to keep their pets safe and their system running smoothly.

Replace HVAC Filters Regularly

If you have a pet, you may need to replace your HVAC filters more frequently. Pets shed hair and pesky dander all over your floors and furniture. That hair and dander also makes its way into your filter. As hair and dander build up on your filter, it can restrict air flow, causing your HVAC unit to run less efficiently. The result is more energy consumption and a higher utility bill.

Be sure to check your filter frequently and replace when necessary. If you find you need to replace your filter often, consider switching to a reusable filter. Reusable filters can be easily cleaned with a simple garden hose and then reinstalled until they need to be cleaned again.

If you or other members of your family suffer from pet allergies, you should consider upgrading your filter to one with a high MERV rating. A filter with a MERV rating of 8 or higher is often recommended for homes with pets. These filters are more effective at filtering airborne allergens.

If you have questions about which filter to use, a qualified HVAC professional can advise you on the best filter for your system and situation.

Keep Your Home Clean

One way to prevent your filters from getting clogged with pet hair, is to keep regularly clean your house. Simply vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting will help keep pet hair from settling in your vents or collecting in your filter.

Bathe and Groom Your Pet

One important way to control pet dander is to brush and bathe your pet regularly. This will help prevent your pet from scattering hair, dirt, and dander throughout your home. If you don’t want to make a weekly trip to the groomer, consider investing in a good pet brush. Brushes specifically designed for pets will help keep shedding under control.

Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance

No matter how diligent you are about cleaning and pet hair, some will inevitable find its way into your system. It is important to have a technician perform regular cleaning and maintenance to keep your system running efficiently.

Also, have your technician regularly inspect your system duct work. If there has been significant accumulation of hair and dirt in your ducts, a thorough duct cleaning may be warranted.

Get Rid of Exposed Wires

While your technician performs regular maintenance on your HVAC system, have him take care of any exposed wires. Make sure he secures any dangling or exposed wires to protect them from curious pets.

Fence In Your Condenser Unit

If your pets are often left unattended in your yard, it is particularly important to fence off your outside unit. Make sure any barrier you install allows sufficient airflow around the condenser unit, but protects your system from potential pet damage. Claws and urine could potentially cause damage to the fins or other sensitive parts of your system.

Adjust Your Thermostat

It may be tempting to keep your thermostat set at a comfortable 72 degrees to keep Rover or Kitty comfortable when you are away. However, pets are safe and happy with a much wider temperature range than their human companions. You can save money and energy by adjusting your thermostat when only your pet is at home.

 

Following these important tips will help keeps your pets safe, extend the life of your HVAC system, and save you money. If you are considering regular system maintenance, special duct cleaning, or need help choosing a filter or programmable thermostat, be sure to contact your local HVAC professionals.

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Snow, Ice, and Your HVAC Unit

coolant

As cold weather begins to set in across the country, we often begin to worry about the threat of snow. When we think of snow, we often think about how it is going to affect the roads. We worry about schools being closed, or how dangerous the roads will be. However, we also need to be concerned about how snow and ice can affect our HVAC units.

Knowing How Much Ice is Normal

First, it is important to understand not all snow and ice build up on your HVAC system is harmful. In fact, if you have a heat pump, some ice on your outdoor unit is a normal part of operation, especially on extremely cold days.

Heat pumps work using a refrigerant that effectively absorbs heat from the surrounding air. As the refrigerant absorbs heat, moisture from the atmosphere builds up on the processing coils. When outdoor temperatures are extremely low, like at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit, that moisture instantly freezes, creating layer of ice.

While this ice may cause your system to run a bit slow during extreme temperatures, it isn’t anything to be concerned with. Everything should return to normal once the temperatures begin to rise.

Ice buildup, while normal, is still rather rare. Most modern units are designed with an automatic defrost feature. When the unit senses ice buildup, most systems will switch to a heat-distribution that works to melt the ice off ht coils. The process takes about half an hour, and  backup heat will keep your house warm during this process.

When Snow and Ice Can Cause a Problem

Some ice buildup on the outside unit is generally no big deal. However, when snow builds up around the outside unit or ice forms on top of the HVAC components, airflow can be restricted. This insufficient airflow causes your unit to work harder, causing stress on the system. It increases your energy use and wears on the system.

As snow builds up and ice crusts your outdoor unit it can trigger an emergency shut-off. While this is designed to save the unit from mechanical damage, it also cuts off heat to your home. During extremely cold weather, this puts your family in danger. It also increases the chance of burst pipes, which can cause extensive property damage and costly repairs.

It is important to remember your HVAC unit is designed to endure extreme temperatures and withstand the elements. However, snow and ice can build up on our system’s aluminum can or the coil fins. The extra weight could potentially bend those components, causing loud sounds and potentially busting them

Protecting Your Unit from Snow and Ice

Properly protecting your unit from harsh winter elements begins when your unit is installed and continues for the life of the unit. Here are some tips to help keep your system working, even when winter weather rages outside.

  • Make sure your unit isn’t installed directly on the ground. Instead, it should be at least several inches off the ground, high enough to be above normal snowfall. Northern climates may require units to be installed at higher levels than more temperate southern climates.  Most qualified HVAC technicians make sure this happens at installation. 
  • Use shrubs or fencing to create a wind barrier for your outside unit. Just remember to leave enough space for proper airflow and easy unit maintenance. 
  • To avoid a snow drifting and ensure proper airflow even in snowy conditions, your unit should be at least 18 inches from your home’s exterior wall. 
  • During winter weather, be sure to monitor your outdoor HVAC unit. If snow begins to build up around it, it’s time to shovel it away. 
  • Keep your gutters clean. If gutters are clogged, they may drip on your HVAC unit, causing ice to form as temperatures drop. 
  • Never chip away built-up ice. Using a pick or shovel to chip away at ice that has built up on the exterior of your unit could cause damage. Your best option is to let the defrost cycle run its course. You can always call an HVAC service technician if you have serious concerns.

WInter HVAC maintenance is really pretty simple. Just add inspecting your unit to your list of wintertime tasks, along with shoveling your driveway and salting your sidewalk. If you take care of your HVAC unit, it will take care of you, working hard to keep you and your family comfortably warm all winter long.

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Using Your HVAC Unit to Fight Colds and Flu

flu seasonCold and flu season begins as the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to drop. While cold and flu activity peak in the coldest months between December and March, seasonal flu activity starts as early as mid October.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu, it isn’t a sure fire way to prevent getting sick this flu season. Luckily, you have another ally during cold and flu season: your central air system.

By making just a few adjustments, you can protect yourself from viruses and other germs, and create an environment that is warmer, more comfortable, and less likely to make you sick.

Change Your Air Filter

Every homeowner knows how air filters help keep dust and other particles out of the air. Air filters also work to protect the home’s HVAC unit and keep it running smoothly and efficiently.  

Air filters protect both your HVAC equipment and your indoor air from dust, dirt, pollen, pet hair and dander, and even bits of decomposed insect. Also, trapped inside the filtration medium are cold and flu contaminants that could pose a threat to your family’s health.

Be sure to change your air filter regularly. Do some research to determine the best filter for your system. If you don’t already use one, consider switching to a  HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) rated filter. A HEPA filter traps microscopic particles, including the germs that cause the flu and common cold.

Check Your Air Ducts

Dirty air ducts can add to poor indoor air quality. Dust and debris in your air ducts will blow through your vents and cause potential health problems. Fall is a good time to schedule a maintenance check with a trained technician. He or she can check to see if your ducts need cleaning.

Consider Ultraviolet Lights

Ultraviolet or UV light is a natural component of sunlight. UV light can eliminate bacteria, virus, odors and allergens by disrupting their DNA, rendering them harmless. By having a UV light incorporated into your HVAC system, you can reduce the amount of cold and flu germs that get recirculated into your home.

Other Ways Your HVAC System Can Help

A clean air filter can’t completely protect you from the flu. When everyone around you at work, school, and even the grocery store, starts to cough, sneeze, and sniffle, you’ll be unable to completely escape exposure.

If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, there are several ways you heating and cooling system can help you feel better faster.

Zone Heating

One of the symptoms of the flu is a feeling of chills. While everyone else in the home feels comfortable, a person suffering from the flu will feel like they are freezing.

If your home has zoned heating, adjusting localized temperature for the sick person is easy.

However, if you do not have the convenience of zoned heating, you can still create a special warm environment for the sick person. By adjusting the registers in a room, you can adjust how much heat enters the room. Adjusting the fins of each register in a room gives you a little more control over the intensity of heat in each room.

Whole House Humidifier

Cold and flu symptoms include coughing and congestion. These symptoms can feel much worse when indoor humidity levels are low. One solution is a whole house humidifier. A whole house humidifier uses a built-in fan to disperse moisture through your homes HVAC system.

Prevent HVAC System Failures

Staying healthy during cold and flu season is easier when your HVAC system is in good running order. Staying warm and comfortable will help keep your body healthy. You don’t want your HVAC system to unexpectedly stop working when the outdoor temperatures are bitter cold.

Before cold and flu season, it is a smart idea to have your local HVAC technician perform a winter safety check. This can help prevent unexpected problems from coming up when they are least convenient. No one wants to lose the ability to heat their home when they are uncomfortable sick.

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