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Monthly Archives: October 2016

  • Lower your Heating Bill with some Improvements

    Winter is coming!! Fall is already here. If you are noticing that your house doesn't hold the heat in very well, here are a few tips for you.

    Inspect and Replace your Weatherstripping

    "What's that?" you say? Well, it's the seal on all of your outside doors that prevents cold air from seeping through the cracks around your door. Over time, this stuff gets worn out, and leaks air into your home. This will cool down your house in a hurry and make your heater work overtime.

    Check and adjust your Threshold

    This is the same principle. If you can see daylight under your door, that means there is cold air coming in and hot air going out. You may need to buy a new threshold, but usually the one you have can be adjusted with the screws that old it to the floor. Simply turn them to raise the threshold slightly and close the gap.

    Find the Holes in your Exterior Walls

    Why are there holes in your walls? Well, every pipe or electrical wire that goes into your home needs a hole, and it's entirely possible that one or more of those is not insulated correctly. You can plug these gaps with expanding foam to prevent the flow of air. As a bonus, this will prevent insects and mice from getting into your walls!

    Seal your Flue

    If you have a fireplace, your chimney is very likely to be leaking heat. Even with the flue closed, it will be leaking air. To solve this problem you can get a chimney balloon, or get creative and rig something up. This is a major source of heat loss, so it will pay for itself.

    Check your Ductwork

    Homes with forced air heating can lose a significant amount of heat through leaky ductwork. Sometimes you will lose a quarter of the warm air being pushed through in useless places like the attic. Inspect it wherever you can, especially around joints, and seal it up with metallic duct tape.

    Check the Locks on your Windows

    The locks on your windows are designed to push the window into the weatherstripping and create an airtight seal. If you forgot to lock one of your windows, it will be leaking air, and costing you money.

    Upgrade your Windows

    Shy of actual leaks, the windows are the most poorly insulated part of your exterior, and will allow the most heat to escape. If you have single pane windows, you will be losing a tremendous amount of heat through them. Single pane windows conduct heat out of your house very effectively and essentially do not insulate your house at all. Double pane windows work to insulate not because there is more glass, which does not insulate effectively at all, but because there is a layer of air between the panes of glass that does not effectively conduct heat out of your home, and thus prevents heat loss.

    Upgrade to a modern double pane and you will see a significant effect.

  • Preparing your Air Conditioning Unit for Winter

    Believe it or not, your air conditioning unit isn't something to just forget about in the winter. That can cause serious problems for you down the line, which could leave you stuck with a broken unit come summer.

    That is an expensive and very uncomfortable mistake to make. Let's get to it:

    screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-34-03-pmTurn the unit off!

    Find the air conditioner circuit breaker by your unit, shown to the right of the unit in this picture, and turn it off. This is very important. On a relatively warm winter day, if you happen to be baking and you have a space heater running and the sun is shining fully into your windows, you could very well have your AC kick on.

    Why is that bad? Because it can cause moisture to enter your unit. Moisture that will not have time to evaporate before the outside temperature goes below freezing and night and the expansion of freezing water wrecks your unit.

    Wash your unit before temperatures hit freezing in the fall

    You need to make sure that all of the debris of the fall, bird poop, twigs, leaves, and everything else is cleaned out of the unit. Allowing that to build up inside can interfere with moving parts, and if you manage to avoid that fate, it will eventually cause the unit to overheat.

    Overheating can make it shut down, at which point it obviously isn't working, or it could ignite the debris in your unit and cause a fire, so do not ignore this.

    Cover the unit with something

    Once you clean the unit and turn it off, cover it with a vinyl covering or a well secured tarp to prevent any new debris, water, snow, or ice from finding its way into your unit. The covering must be waterproof.

    You can buy specifically designed covers for your air conditioning unit, but you can also make something else work if you're determined.

    Secure your air conditioner cover tightly with bungee cords or other means. If you fail to do this small animals may see it as a safe and cozy place to hide in the winter, and they may not all make it out in the spring. Having a dead mouse in your air conditioning unit is not something you want to have to deal with when you turn on your air conditioner the first time in the spring.

    Be sure to check the unit regularly, especially after storms, to make sure that the cover remains in place all winter.

    Windows Units

    If you have a window unit, the easiest thing to do is simply remove the unit and store it in your house or in a shed.

    Windows units also do not generally provide a good seal, which causes cold air to leak in all winter if they are not removed, which has a significant impact on your heating bill.

    Be kind to the environment and to your wallet by taking it out.

    Follow these tips to prevent damage to your your air conditioning unit and it will last you much longer.

  • 5 Common Heater Fixes

    If your furnace breaks this winter, reading this little article might save you a lot of money. Before you call a professional, you should know that the most common causes for a breakdown in a furnace are actually easy fixes that any average person can attend to.

    Professionals often get called out to attend to problems that only take a few minutes and sometimes no hardware to fix. They then still need to charge you for their driving time, and whatever the minimum service charge is, leaving you out hundreds of dollars for a problem that you could have fixed just as quickly yourself.

    Here are 5 things to check before you call:

    Is it turned on everywhere that it needs to be?

    This is actually the most common problem that a service person gets called out for.

    1. Check your breaker to make sure that the heater has power.
    2. Check for a wall switch that needs to be turned on.
    3. Make sure the front panel of the heater covering the blower motor is fully in place, as heaters have a fail-safe switch that needs to be fully pressed in for the furnace to operate.


    Change your filters

    screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-35-38-pmIf your filters are clogged, you will have restricted airflow and it will cause overheating that can trigger a safety shut-off. Heater filters are inexpensive and should be changed every month during heavy use.

    Read your owner's manual to find out where your filter is and how to replace it.

    Warning! : Always make sure that the furnace is shut off before you change the filter.

    Check to see if your gas is on

    You may have forgotten to open the valve to get gas to your furnace. Check the gas lines between your furnace and the meter, you'll find a lever somewhere. Turn it so that it is parallel with the pipe.

    If you have an old furnace, you may also need to make sure that your pilot light is lit.

    Check your ductwork

    screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-35-48-pmIf you simply aren't getting heat in one or two rooms, you probably either have a blocked duct, or a hole in your ducts where the warm air is escaping.

    Check the portions you can access, and if you find any holes, patch them up using metallic duct tape. Regular duct tape will deteriorate quickly, so make sure you use the metallic type.

    If you find any blockages, clear them out.

    Check your intake and exhaust vents

    Your heating system draws air from the outside. If those vents are clogged with leaves or debris, your heater will not work properly.

    Check your thermostat

    Believe it or not, many calls also come in from people who simply didn't set their thermostat from cool to heat. Make sure that the thermostat has power, and that the correct settings are entered. This may require changing a battery.

    ____

    With these 5 tips, you may be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars this winter, so take your destiny into your own hands a little bit and make sure your issue isn't something embarrassingly simple that you will regret having to spend money on.

  • Heat Pump Replacement: How to Tell Your Heat Pump Needs Replacing

    Heat pump replacement Heat pump replacement

    Heat pumps allow thermal energy to move against its impulsive flow direction by applying heat absorption within a cold space and then continue movement to a warmer space. A heat pump is a mechanical device that can break down and likely needs to be replaced. Your HVAC system does not need to stop functioning completely for you to think about replacing any part of it. You will notice warning signs that will alert you when it comes time for a heat pump replacement.

    Taking Steps

    If your heat pump stops functioning altogether, then the next step is to get a replacement. However, in the meantime, there are signs that you can look for in order to consider replacing your heat pump before it completely breaks down. Let’s take a closer look at this.

    Constant Heat Pump Repairs

    If your heat pump is constantly breaking down and having to be repaired, you may have to look at heat pump replacement. In fact, if it breaks down several times within the same year, this is a sign that replacement should be the next step. If repair costs are too high, then this may call for purchasing an entire HVAC system or just a heat pump, depending on how much you will save. When your heat pump breaks down at a time that it is needed the most, then it can cause so many inconveniences. Therefore, it is wise to make sure that you hire a professional HVAC contractor to inspect your system before the weather becomes cold.

    Abnormal Noises

    If you hear abnormal noises coming from your HVAC system, it may be time for heat pump replacement. All mechanical devices are designed to operate smoothly with no internal resistance or too much friction. With abnormal noises coming from the heat pump, you may have loose parts and components that have started to wear down. A professional HVAC technician will assess the situation, tracing the specific parts or components that may be loosened. This includes:

    • Depleted motors
    • Vents
    • Defective ductwork
    • Dirty filters

    The moving parts may be able to be repaired. However, if nothing changes after the repair, it may be time for a new heat pump replacement. This is the more permanent solution.

    Increased Energy Consumption

    If you notice that your energy bill is steadily increasing and you are still operating the same number of mechanical devices and appliances in your home, this could point toward energy being lost somewhere. The only time you should see an increase in energy consumption is when you add a new appliance. A professional HVAC contractor will be able to determine the cause of the increase and if the heat pump is the cause, a replacement should be done.

    Conclusion

    If you have had your heat pump for a number of years, it may be the time for a heat pump replacement. A professional HVAC contractor will assess and make the appropriate recommendations of how long you should keep your heat pump before doing an upgrade.

    Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecolivinguk/8019127396/

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