Happy Halloween! We hope you all have a great time trick or treating, going to a haunted house, or just dressing up! And don’t forget that Halloween means fall is definitely here; don’t wait to get started on your fall maintenance. Now is the time to rake up those leaves, seal up any leaks, and check your heating system. You’ll be glad you did later this winter!
Archive for October, 2011
If you haven’t done so already, take your automobile owner’s manual out of your glove box and check out the section where it lists regularly scheduled maintenance. You will probably see that the most frequent maintenance tasks are changing the oil, checking fan belts, changing windshield wipers blades, checking all fluids, and checking tire pressure. These are regular, routine tasks. You will also see other tasks like changing fuel filters, flushing radiators, and changing transmission fluid.
You know that there are different types of maintenance tasks associated with keeping your automobile in tip top shape. Did you also know there are tasks that can be performed at various intervals to keep your home’s furnace in peak running condition? Well, there are.
For example, the most frequent maintenance task is checking the filters in your air handling unit. These are often called furnace filters but in reality, they serve the same function to filter air to and from your air conditioner, too. It might be easiest to just call them air filters. The frequency of replacing or cleaning air filters usually depends on the type of indoor environment you live in – like humidity levels, number of household pets or occupants, etc. In general, filter maintenance should occur every one to three months.
A less frequent maintenance task is cleaning the moving parts of the internal mechanism. You may only need to have your furnace cleaned every six months to a year, depending on its use. In some cases you can perform the cleaning yourself or it is included in an annual cleaning as part of a service agreement with a qualified heating and cooling contractor. A furnace can typically run at peak efficiency when it is cleaned on an annual basis.
You can also make it a regular habit of checking the motor bearings and fan belt, too. You can lubricate the bearings and tighten or replace the fan belt on a same schedule as cleaning the moving parts.
Other maintenance tasks related to your furnace, which may require longer interval times include ventilation system cleaning, or more commonly known as duct cleaning. Some homes don’t require this type of maintenance more than every five to ten years – perhaps longer. Unless there are unusually high levels of dust, allergens, or contaminants in the air, most ventilation systems can remain clean for several years.
Of course, you can turn all of your maintenance tasks over to a heating and cooling contractor – and have the most peace of mind.
You are about to make one of the largest purchases in your life – a new furnace. Maybe your old furnace is on life support and needs immediate replacement or you are looking for a better, more efficient furnace that will raise the comfort level of your Aston home while reducing utility bills and carbon emissions.
If the furnace in your basement, crawl space, or attic is 15-20 years old, it may be a single-stage 80% percent efficient model, which doesn’t meet the higher efficiency standards of today’s models. It uses more energy, i.e. gas, oil, or electricity, to operate. And a single-stage furnace does not always provide even heating to all rooms in the home, based on the varying winter weather conditions. There may be large temperature variations from room to room.
Your new furnace will likely be more efficient and environmentally friendly than the one it is replacing – which are the two biggest benefits to replacing an old furnace. So, let’s take a closer look at these benefits, which link energy efficiency to the latest technology – namely two-stage furnaces and variable speed motors.
Two-stage furnaces start out by running in a first stage, which uses less than 70% of its capacity. This stage works well on moderate winter days. On colder days, the furnace will meet your extra heating demand by adjusting to the second stage in the heating cycle. Since the furnace spends most of its time operating in its lower capacity (first or single stage), it burns less fuel than a traditional furnace that always runs at full capacity and then shuts off when heating demand is met. You will see lower utility bills and a shorter payback period on your new furnace investment.
Variable-speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bill as they consume less electricity than standard motors. Variable speed furnaces save you money by having a higher SEER rating. SEER is the abbreviation for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. The low operating costs of a variable speed furnace can allow you to run your furnace blower. With the low operating costs of the variable-speed furnace you can constantly run your blower without the worry of driving up your utility bill, allowing for continuously filtered air.
The U.S. government, as well as local governments are making it more tempting for homeowners like you to purchase new energy efficient furnaces, too. Government agencies have been offering tax credits to homeowners who switch to energy-efficient appliances, including heating and cooling products. Utility companies also offer rebates to homeowners who wish to lower their utility bills by using high-efficient appliances. Chances are, your local utility has some type of rebate program in place.
Heating contractors are also rewarding customers who replace their furnaces with energy efficient models. Thanks to rebates from furnace manufacturers, contractors are passing on extra savings to customers. Check with your local heating contractor or go online for any special. And if you buy a new furnace during the “off seasons” – summer or fall – you may save even more money.
And when you shop for a new furnace, look for add-on equipment such as electronic air filters, dehumidifers, and programmable thermostats. Each will raise the comfort level you will be enjoying from your new furnace.
When it comes to your Bryn Mawr home’s heating equipment, the right size is very important. If your furnace is sized correctly, you will enjoy a high level of indoor comfort, which you should. However, an incorrectly sized furnace may result in many cold spots in your home, an overworked furnace, or higher utility bills.
An undersized furnace will turn off and on frequently, which is called short cycling. Short cycling can lead to moisture in the system, causing less efficiency and damage to equipment from accumulating moisture in the heating system. The constant cycling adds to wear and tear on equipment, too. An oversized furnace may not be able to keep up with the demand for heat during the coldest days. The furnace may be constantly running and unable to keep up – adding to higher utility costs. So size really does matter when it comes to selecting the right heating equipment for your home.
But a big furnace does not mean it is right-sized. Have you ever seen a “five-way” gravity furnace? It was manufactured in the mid-1900’s and took up a lot of room – as much as half of a basement – while being extremely inefficient. The key here is efficiency. A furnace that works right is sized to the space it is heating, which does not include attics, crawlspaces, or uninsulated rooms (porches, mud rooms, etc.).
A furnace must make efficient use of its Btu’s, which is abbreviated for British thermal unit. Btu is used to measure a furnace size. Furnaces are often rated by input Btu, which is the amount of energy consumed when running. The output Btu may be different based on the system. And output Btu is the best way to select a furnace, since this is the actual heating capacity.
When sizing a furnace, the first thing to do is to determine the inside space that will be heated. If you are looking to heat your home, you can measure the square footage of each room (multiply width by length). The rooms should include bathrooms and hallways but exclude attics and crawlspaces. Add up the totals and match up the Btu output to the total square footage. If you aren’t sure of your calculations, call a qualified heating and cooling contractor.
There are many factors that go into heating a home and today’s energy efficient furnaces give homeowners many more choices. Whatever furnace you choose to purchase, make sure you do your homework and hire a qualified professional HVAC contractor to determine the best size furnace for your home.
Deciding which type of home comfort system to go with in Primos-Secane can be a difficult process to navigate. There are a ton of factors to take into account including how much you will be using the system, what type of fuel you mainly rely on and what the specific climate is like where you live.
Heat pumps are a great home comfort solution for many people but they aren’t always the appropriate choice. However, there are many benefits to going with a heat pump system, so this is certainly an option you should keep in mind as you evaluate your options.
Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and then transferring that heat to another space. For instance, in the winter, heat pumps take heat from the outside air and pump it into your house. In the summer, on the other hand, your heat pump will be able to take heat from your indoor air and pump it back outside, thereby keeping your home cool and comfortable.
Heat pumps are also extremely energy efficient because they don’t actually have to generate the heat they pump. Unlike furnaces, which take in fuel and convert it into heat, heat pumps simply harness the heat that’s already there, making them by far the more energy efficient option.
Another benefit to heat pumps is that they maintain a more constant temperature than many other types of heating systems do. Rather than pumping in a big blast of hot air and then waiting until the temperature indoors falls below a preset level before doing it again, heat pumps provide a relatively constant stream of warm air.
The initial amount of heat is smaller than what you might be used to from a furnace, but the cumulative effect means that you’ll be able to enjoy a much more consistently comfortable indoor environment.
It is important to evaluate the climate in your area before you decide to purchase a heat pump, though. These systems are extremely effective at heating and cooling your home as long as temperatures stay above the mid-thirties.
Below that, you may need to install some type of supplemental heating in order to keep your home warm enough on those really cold days. So if you live in an area where temperatures routinely dip below freezing for large portions of the winter, a heat pump might not be the most sensible solution for you.
On the whole, heat pumps are a efficient, durable and effective way to heat your Ridley Park home. They are built to run all year round without needing any more maintenance than your average furnace or air conditioning system and they have an average lifespan comparable to those other types of home comfort systems as well.
That’s not to say that there aren’t things you can do to keep your heat pump in good working order, however. Keeping up with the professional maintenance visits is an important step to take along these lines to be sure, but there are also some other things you can do on your own as well to help ensure the continued efficiency and health of your heat pump system.
Proper filter care is an important part of keeping your heat pump working the way it should. If you don’t have a heat pump yet but are thinking of getting one, make sure you have the installation technician show you where the filter is located and how to replace it.
If your system’s already been in place for some time, you can still find out how to care for the filter from your annual maintenance technician or you can probably even find it on your own by taking a close look at your heat pump. The filters are meant to be removed on a regular basis so they’re typically not hard to get to. However, you should always be sure that all of the power to your heat pump is turned off before you open it up to try and find, replace or clean the filter.
Most heat pump filters are meant to be changed or cleaned about once every 90 days or so. However, the specific requirements for each system can vary considerably, so you should be sure to find out what is recommended for the model of heat pump that you have.
Also, you’ll want to know what type of filter you have so that you can purchase the appropriate replacement. The model number for each filter should be clearly printed on it, so simply slide your current filter out and make note of the number so that you can purchase the correct type as a replacement.
Most heat pumps have replaceable filters, but some still do have permanent filters that are meant to be cleaned and then returned to service. If you have one of these types of filters, be sure to read the instructions for cleaning carefully before proceding.
Whenever you’re looking into replacing your old home heating system or installing a new one in Brookhaven, there are many different factors you’ll have to take into consideration. The amount of noise that the system you choose will make is certainly one of these. And in addition to the amount of noise that this system will make, you’ll also want to make a note of where the unit will be placed and so where the noise will be coming from.
While you may have had to worry a bit about the noise generated by heat pumps in the past, it’s not something you’ll have to take into consideration this time around. That’s because newer heat pumps are designed to be quieter than ever, providing the same heating and cooling power with only a fraction of the noise of some earlier models.
In fact, the only part of a heat pump that really makes any noise at all is the outdoor unit. Unless this needs to be located very close to your home or to a window of a room that you use often, chances are that you won’t even hear it at all.
However, if you live very close to your neighbors or don’t have a lot of outdoor space, you may have to put the outdoor unit close to the walls of your home. Even then, though, you’ll hardly notice the noise your heat pump makes. Years of research and redesigning have produced some of the quietest heat pumps yet and that’s what you’ll be buying if you’re in the market for one of these systems now.
Newer heat pumps have been tweaked and adjusted to minimize the amount of noise-generating vibrations they produce. In fact, you’ll probably find that most of these units make no more noise than your refrigerator. They’re efficient and quiet and can keep your home comfortable all year long.
Every Audubon home has need of a handful of filters that provide with comfortable, affordable air quality and temperature control throughout the year. So, when buying a new filter or upgrading your current system to provide the right comfort level for your home, there are a few things to consider. First is the actual rating of your filters. Every filter is rated for a particular level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the more particles it catches, but also the more it will cost.
Air Filter Ratings
Air filters are rated with a number of scales but the only one that really matters is the HEPA filter rating. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorbing. These types of filters are considered the best on the market. A HEPA filter comes with a number of options. The actual device that uses the filter will have an MERV rating that corresponds to how small of particles it can capture.
An entry level MERV rating is usually around 10 and will capture most major particles like dust, debris, dander and pollen. However, the highest rated HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 13 and can capture particulates as small as 0.3 microns 99.7% of the time.
Some filters are even capable of capturing viruses and bacteria, which are often much smaller than those other particles but can be caught in the debris field through the filter.
What You Actually Need
So, what does your home actually need? It depends largely on how much you need to filter out of your indoor air. Most often, the contaminants you should worry about include dust, pollen and dander which mean a modest MERV 10 air filter is plenty.
However, if your air is filled with smaller contaminants like mold spores, a high grade HEPA filter is a must – not just for your comfort but for your health.
There are also other indoor air quality products you can get to supplement your indoor air quality system. These include UV germicidal lights to target airborne pathogens and humidity control devices to create the ideal environment in your home. Whatever you choose, know that it is possible to keep your family comfortable year round.
There are several reasons that a furnace fan might stop working at one point or another. While many of these do require a Edgmont professional’s attention, there are probably some things you can check on your own before you go and call in the pros. After all, if you can address the problem on your own, it will at least save you from having to pay a technician to come out.
The first thing to check when your furnace is running but the fan isn’t turning is whether or not the fan is actually switched on. Certain models of furnaces have a separate switch to turn the fan on and off. While there is probably no reason that you would want to turn off the fan by itself, it’s worth taking a look just in case. If that really is the problem, you’ll be up and running and back to dealing with better things in no time.
If that’s not the problem, you might try looking to see if any wires leading to the fan are loose or the fuse is blown. If the fan has no power, of course, it won’t be able to work but the rest of the furnace likely would work just fine as long as it doesn’t run on electricity as well.
Of course, the problem very well may be beyond your power to solve on your own. Don’t despair though. Even though you need to call in a professional, that doesn’t mean that the problem will be expensive to fix. In fact, it may be as simple as replacing your thermostat or the motor for the fan itself.
Just because a fan isn’t working doesn’t mean that you’re going to be paying an arm and a leg to have work done on your furnace. If you can’t easily discover the problem on your own, however, or if you’re not comfortable inspecting this type of equipment at all, you’re generally better off just calling in an expert and letting them do the dirty work for you. Paying for simple furnace fan repairs is definitely preferable to having to pay someone to fix the fan and the stuff you broke yourself while trying to fix the fan on your own.
There are many reasons why a furnace stops working and in many cases, a Bala Cynwyd homeowner can perform some simple diagnostics to pinpoint the problem. Finding the problem is one thing – fixing it is another. When in doubt, don’t try it yourself. Call a qualified professional.
But let’s look at one possible problem and solution you may be able to perform yourself – testing the draft pressure switch. The draft pressure switch on a gas furnace allows an electrical current to pass through to ignite the furnace. The pressure switch monitors the draft conditions and won’t allow the furnace’s gas valve to open unless draft is correct.
If the switch is malfunctioning, so too will (or will not) the furnace.
The best way to locate the switch is by consulting with your owner’s manual or by going online and simply typing in the words “gas furnace draft switch.” It is identifiable by its round size and is bolted to the outside of the furnace. It should be nearby the draft inducer motor because the two are connected by a metal tube. The tube may sometimes be the culprit, too. A tube that is blocked with condensation may cause the switch to go bad.
To check for proper function, first turn off power to the furnace, either by shutting down the “on’ switch at the furnace or shutting off the circuit breaker.
Use a volt ohm meter to check if the switch is opening and closing properly. Start by zeroing out the meter’s probes by touching the tips together. Using the dial (could be analog or digital), set the meter to 24 volts. Ground the black probe by attaching it to any metal part of the furnace. Then place the end of the red probe on the metal tube connecting the draft pressure switch to the draft inducer motor.
If the switch is working properly the meter should read at least 24 volts, or very near that. If the reading is short of 24 volts, the switch is not working correctly. At that point you may decide to replace it or call a professional to do the task (recommended).
Always remember that there are many sources which will help you diagnose and repair a problem, especially those available through the Internet. If you search YouTube.com you will find many videos advising you on how to repair certain components. Use all of the resources available to you and keep the phone number of a qualified and professional heating and cooling contractor nearby.