Furnace Maintenance and Winter-Proofing For the Home

You can feel the cold air coming in through every available air space and your energy bills increasing with each passing day. Well, that’s winter for you. While you cannot wish winter away and skip to spring, you can put certain things in place at home, such as maintaining your furnace and winter-proofing your home, so that you can stay as warm as possible and enjoy the season for what it is!

Furnace Maintenance

Routine Check: this is the time of the year when you cannot have a faulty furnace. Have your furnace checked to ensure that it is clean, well oiled, and rightly tuned to take you through winter. The plus side is that a furnace that’s in great condition is cheaper to use in the long run.

Change Filters: dirty filters will limit the flow of air and expend more energy. Check your filters to see if they need to be changed and always have extra filters handy. Do not change filters without switching off the power first.

Upgrade: Your furnace was not made to last forever. The average lifespan of a furnace is 20-25 years and its age will determine the kind of maintenance it’ll need and if you’re due for a repair, replacement or upgrade. If your furnace has aged to the point where it’s more faulty than functional, or where its efficiency cannot be guaranteed, you need to consult an expert to upgrade to a new unit.

Your Fan Is Winter Friendly Too: I bet you think of your fan only when you want cool air but that’s not all your fan can do. Check for a handy switch on your fan, this switch reverses the direction in which the blade moves i.e clockwise rotation for warmer air. So you can take the heat off your furnace once in a while and reduce your heating costs by at least 10%.

Winter-proof Your Home

Draft Protection: Cold drafts of air can frustrate the efforts you put towards keeping your home warm or make it seem like your furnace isn’t efficient. So, while you’re thinking of keeping the warmth in, be sure that there are no channels to let in drafts. A thick towel or scraps of fabric rolled and arranged nicely can be put under doors and windows to keep out the cold.

Storm Doors and Windows: Storm doors and windows are designed to increase energy efficiency. They keep drafts out while allowing light and ventilation in.

Insulation Kits: A window insulation kit will increase your home’s ability to retain heat. It comes in invisible and aesthetically appealing kits, so your home will be warm and welcoming. You will also need regular insulation for your attic floors, basement ceilings, pipes, and walls. Have your duct system checked and sealed to avoid the escape of heated air.

Caulking and Weather-stripping: Check along places in your home where different building materials meet such as window and door edges, exit points for pipes and wires, etc. Seal up any gaps accordingly with caulking and weather-stripping.

Winter is Coming… Are You Ready?

Winter is coming, the time of the year that comes with freezing temperatures and a dire need to keep warm all day long. This is one season where you need your furnace working at its best and, while this may seem to require an increase in your energy bills, there are actually ways by which you can be sure of warmth all season long and at little cost.

  1. Seal windows in the right places. This will keep cold air out and allow the rooms to keep warm air in. You can also swap your regular curtains with heavy curtains for the insulating effect, especially if you’re not a fan of window covering and sealants. Curtains will cost you less as it’ll be a one-time purchase, they can be removed after winter and stored for the next year.

 

  1. Be Fireplace Ready. Clean out your fireplace and chimney. Inspect it inside and outside to ensure there’s no build-up, cracked or broken bricks. Your damper should open and close properly. Stock up with new wood and kindling, at least 30 feet from your house (to avoid house fires) and then you’re ready for the real warmth that the fireplace has to offer.

You can increase the efficiency of your fireplace if you open dampers at the bottom of the fireplace or slightly open the nearest window, while keeping the door locked. This will keep warm air in the room and prevent the entrance of cold air from the rest of the house.

 

  1. Insulate your pipes. You can insulate exposed pipes with pipe foams. This will keep water flowing and save you money on hot water bills.

 

  1. More Insulation: Insulation in your attic and crawl space will determine, to a large extent, how warm your home will be. Warm air goes up and out of the house through the roof, so you need to pay attention to insulating your ceilings. You will need more insulation if the ceiling joists in your attic are visible. A tight air wall between the attic and the house proper will prevent ice dams.

 

  1. Check your heating system. The fact that your heating system has never failed you before, or has been fully functional in recent times, is not an excuse to ignore it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Let a professional do a quick check of your furnace and venting system, and repair, if need be. Change out your HVAC filters too. Make sure your furnace works properly and blows warm air. Now is a good time to replace the batteries of your carbon dioxide and smoke detectors. You can also schedule periodic checks, just in case.

A Few Cool Life Hacks for Summer:

You can enjoy warmth in winter and cool air in summer, at home and at work, while still keeping your energy bills in check. With the following tips and insights, you can enjoy the benefits of your gadgets and, at the same time, keep your energy bills low throughout the year.

  • Cooling Tips:

If worse comes to worst, there are some tricks to staying cool in summer if your air conditioning needs replaced or you really need to keep a lid on the bills for a while.

Open the windows and position your fans in such a way that warm air finds its way out of the room to be replaced by cooler air.

Once this is done, or right before it starts to heat up again, close all the windows to keep the cool air in and the warm air out. To maintain the coolness within, keep sunlight out by closing drapes and blinds. Big trees with lots of possible shade will make this easier.

You can stick sheets in your refrigerator for a few minutes before bedtime. A plastic bag covering will avoid direct contact with food and other smells the fridge may have. The cool sheets will help you fall asleep easily.

  • Temperature Control:

During the day, use natural lighting as much as possible by opening doors, windows, and drapes. While you’re away from the house, and in summer, set your thermostat as high as possible and only keep the temperature low when you are indoors to lower your cooling bill.

Eliminate the sources of heat that you can do without. Avoid incandescent bulbs if you can, as they give off so much heat. Use energy saving light bulbs. They are cooler, last longer, and save you money. The same applies for computers and other appliances not in use. Simply put, if you’re not using it, keep it off, especially at night

Use homemade items to regulate your room temperature, to aid your air conditioner. In winter, use blankets to cover up your windows to prevent the cold coming in. in summer, you can use plastic window covers, or even aluminum foil, to stop the sun streaming in and making the room hotter.

You can also be creative with your fan(s). Your fan can aid your air conditioner if you position a bowl of ice right in front of it. The breeze will blow cool air and you can sit right in front of this air to get the perfect feel.

If you have more than one fan and have to entertain a room of people, or would just like the airflow to cover the area better and possibly be an aid to your air conditioning unit, simply set up your fans inside the room to create an interesting but effective flow of cool air.

Most ceiling fans have a clockwise and a counterclockwise setting to be used for the different seasons. To determine which setting your fan is on, switch it on and stand directly beneath it. If you immediately feel the breeze, it’s on the summer setting that blows air downwards. To change the direction check near the base of the fan for a button that changes the fan direction. The winter setting blows air upwards to create a steadier temperature.

Could Your Air Filter Help Relieve Your Allergies?

One of the home duties you should not take with levity is the health of the family members especially where allergies or asthma is noticeable. It’s unfortunate that people do not know that air inside our homes can be just as polluted as that outside.

Installing screens for windows and doors are one way people secure the health of their family members when it comes to allergies and other respiratory challenges. However, another reliable way to improve the quality of air inside your homes is by using air filters in your air conditioning system or heater. No doubt, the relationship between electrostatic filters and indoor air quality cannot be overemphasized, as the uses of electrostatic filters increase the extent to which healthy and hygienic indoor air is achieved.

Electrostatic filters serve as the perfect air filter especially for pet owners as it goes a long way to curtailing possible tiny flecks of skin shed by pets which can result in reactions in people who are specifically allergic to these triggers.

It is found appealing, as it is a safer way to acquire allergy relief. You can significantly reduce Asthma, allergy and respiratory symptoms when agents like dust, pollen, mold spores and animal dander are prohibited with the aid of the electrostatic filters.

You can increase and keep ventilation when you make use of an exhaust fan, especially in the bathroom, kitchen and when you are making use of the dishwasher. This smart action serves as a defense against moisture and indoor pollutants that may pose a threat to your home.

Getting rid of dust and pollen with a filter removes the particles causing allergy issues with your house, rather than simply adjusting your body to allergies through pills. Using the electrostatic filter is a much more natural way to help your allergy problems inexpensively.

Electrostatic air filters attract and capture tiny air particles through the use of static charges. These filters are found efficient, time- and money-saving, and helps protect and maintain not only your respiratory condition but overall well-being as well.

Using Electro filters can help reduce, if not prevent further triggers of asthma attacks, allergies, and other respiratory health conditions in your homes.

The functionality and the extent to which electrostatic filters work solely depend on maintenance and monitoring. The outcome of a regularly monitored electrostatic filter is always a quality indoor air with fresh and clean air; thus ensuring a healthy living for the entire family.

Choosing a professional HVAC company is the most important decision that could give you and your family a peace of mind as this decision will not only save you money but also prevent health risks like allergies and other respiratory issues to household members. Lastly, let the professional company check your air conditioning filter once a month to ascertain the level of reliance and effectiveness.

Phone scammers

How to Know When Scammers Are Calling
Most telephone sales calls are made by legitimate businesses promoting legitimate products or services. But where honest firms look for new customers, so do scammers. Phone fraud is a multi-billion dollar business involving the sale of everything from bad or nonexistent investments to the selling misrepresented products and services. If you have a telephone, you are a prospect, becoming a victim is largely up to you.
There is no way to determine positively if a sales call is legitimate simply by talking to someone on the phone. No matter what or how many questions you ask, skilled scammers have practiced answers. That’s why sales calls should be treated with caution. People or companies that are unknown to you should be checked out before you buy or invest. Legitimate callers have nothing to hide.
Phone scammers are likely to know more about you than you realize. It depends on where they got your details. They may have everything about you including your age, hobbies, income, medical records, address, purchase records and other vital personal information. They usually put up questions you cannot resist like having more income; you are ready to help people in need, knowing well that you cannot resist the bargain and you will not be rude to anybody calling you over the phone. As good as the portraying characteristics are; scammers use this to penetrate their victim. Scammers also exploit less admirable characteristics, such as greed.
Fraudulent telemarketers have one thing in common: They are skilled liars and experts at the verbal ‘snow job’. Some may call and say they are your HVAC contractor and trying to solicit an appointment to get into your homes. A male individual (possibly using the name Rich) has been cold-calling people and say he is coming to their homes on a given day to perform furnace servicing/duct cleaning. Maybe a (206) area code. He does not name a company, but if you reveal the name of your business, he will agree that he is that company.
He is quite insistent. Please know that Air Handlers does not conduct phone solicitations whatsoever. If you take part in our maintenance program, residential customers will only get a reminder postcard from us. Please be careful, diligent and aware out there!
The person has been doing this for over three weeks now; please note that it is a must you ask for contractor’s license number if anyone comes to you and check them out before you commit.
Never consent to their bargain if otherwise, we have an official of contacting our clients. Be aware.

How to tell if your furnace has problems

As winter approaches, a lot of people look forward to getting home, putting up their feet and relaxing. This can quickly turn into an unexpected nightmare if your home furnace suddenly stops working leaving you snowed in and unable to get help.
To prevent a situation that would leave you stressed and require expensive emergency services, we run through a list of things to look out for to determine if your home furnace has a problem. We also provide some simple fixes you can try on your own for minor challenges. It should be stressed that if you suspect a major issue with your home furnace, you should get help from a qualified professional rather than going at it on your own.

Thermostat malfunctioning
Your thermostat is an integral part of the safety features of your home furnace. It shuts down the furnace when it exceeds the maximum temperature specified to conserve energy and prevent accidents. This operating temperature varies from furnace to furnace. Your thermostat may be malfunctioning if it continuously shuts down before it even reaches this specified temperature. This continuous shutdown can make your living area very uncomfortable, and a simple fix for this is to check the battery of the thermostat and replace it to get your furnace working at its optimum. The thermostat setting should also be reviewed to prevent inadequate heat production by the furnace or total shutdown.
Lack of maintenance
If you fail to maintain your furnace properly, you should not be surprised when it breaks down. To cut down costs which arise from a total breakdown, you should plan for annual tune-ups and maintenance by qualified professionals.

Faulty Filters
Filters are very essential, but often overlooked components of the furnace system. They are built to remove unwanted particles from the generated airflow. A build-up of dust and dirt over time leads to a clogged filter. During the process of dust and dirt by passing air through the vents, a clogged filter puts more pressure on the furnace. A clogged filter may even lead to a total shutdown of the furnace as the heat exchanger might stop working due to overheating caused by an over clogged filter.
If your environment generates a lot of dust and dirt, ensure that you change your filters regularly. Most furnace manufacturers specify between a month to three for a change of your filter. A filter change is essential if you have a child-friendly environment so that your air filter does not become an air pollutant.

Size issues
When your furnace does not heat enough, it may be a pointer to the fact that your furnace is the wrong size for the space provided. To solve this problem, get a professional to estimate your needs and help you determine which furnace system would be the perfect fit for the space provided. Ensure that you are guided by professional advice from picking a furnace up to its installation.

Gas
If your furnace is not starting up, a simple solution is to check the gas valve and carefully turn it o if it was turned off. If you suspect a gas leak, leave the affected area immediately and contact the fire service.

Vents and Pipes
In gas furnaces and high efficiency condensing furnaces, vents are very vital to maintain because they take emissions outside the building. Most times, these emissions are combustible, and it is essential that they are not covered to prevent fire outbreaks.
There is also the danger that the pipes leading to the vents will become clogged with ice leading to serious problems. To prevent clogging from ice, exhaust vent pipes need to be shortened. When the pipes are too long, a build-up of moisture might occur because the force pushing out the exhaust is not enough to go the length of the pipes. This makes it more likely for ice clogging when the exhaust finally reaches the outside.
To prevent these problems, ensure that the outside units are clear and clean before it becomes too cold. In screening pipes and vents you should use materials that will not inhibit the flow of exhaust.

Electric ignition
Furnaces come with an igniter which automatically lights up gas when switched on. If the furnace fails to light up, the usual suspect is the ignition wire which should be inspected. If the situation persists, you should turn off the igniter and reset it. If it is an electronic igniter, it is not wise to attempt to light it manually as it is a highly complex system which should not be tampered with.

Noise
Continuous rattling, screeching and other unwanted sounds are often early indicators of a more serious mechanical or electrical problem. These noises also arise due to wear and tear and a trip to a qualified professional would get all issues cleared up.
It is essential to be proactive as a home furnace owner and to deal with issues as soon as they arise to ensure that your furnace is always in good condition

Fall is here, stay warm with these tips

STAYING WARM WITHOUT A HEATER
Fall is around the corner and staying warm and comfortable costs a lot of money. Many of us are unaware of some natural methods one can use without actually using equipment like heaters and fireplaces that consume a lot of energy that comes with a high price. Well here are some of the energy-efficient methods that not just keep you considerably warm but also let you save money.

BLOCK THE COLD BREEZE:
A cool breeze can drop the temperature of a place by 30%. Use sealant to cover up cracks, and block crevices on doors and windows to prevent the cold breeze from coming in. It will also help to avoid heat from escaping your home.

CONSIDER INSULATION:
Insulating walls and the ceiling using Building Insulation Materials is the best way to trap heat inside. Since hot air rises, ceilings should be properly insulated to make sure it doesn’t get absorbed by the cold temperature outside. Heat lasts for more than 14 hours in an overly insulated room, whereas, it’s 8 hours in an average room with concrete walls.

WELCOME CANDLE LIGHT DINNERS:
Add ambiance to your home with candle light dinners and it’s a cheap yet great source of heat. Cooking is also one of the best ways to warm the air in your home.

OPEN YOUR CURTAINS AND LET THE SUN IN…
Sunlight is one of the greatest sources of heat and light energy. You get most of it during the day. Open your curtains or blinds and allow the warmth of the sun to heat your home. Remove any obstacles that block your windows such as plants or any other items.

ALONE WE ARE STRONG, BUT TOGETHER WE ARE WARMER!
The human body can give off enough heat to boil a gallon of water in ten minutes! Staying close to each other or spending most of the time in a room can help generate sufficient heat. Close off rooms that are not in use, so most of the heat stays trapped in a small area.

REDECORATE YOUR HOME WITH RUGS AND CARPETS!
Cold air is heavier than warm air, thus sinking to the bottom. That is why concrete or porcelain floors are cold to walk on. Adding rugs and carpets act as insulation and prevents heat loss from the floor.

Great tips for lowering your energy bills

With the high temperatures rising, stay cool while lowering your electric bill.

See tips below:

1.) Keep curtains closed during the day
Close up curtains, drapes or blinds. This will prevent sunlight from entering your house and heating it up. Try to focus on covering east-facing windows during the morning and west-facing windows during the afternoon.

2.) Use CFL light bulbs
Old incandescent light bulbs produce a great deal of heat.  It gives out more energy of heat than light. Using compact fluorescent light bulbs will not only save you energy, but also reduce the heat output of the lighting in your home, saving you money.

3.) Change your cooking methods
Stove tops and ovens produce high temperatures when cooking your food and they also heat your home. Keep your temperatures low by using low-heat methods such as a crockpot or microwave. You can also take your cooking outside on the grill.

4.) Use fans
Fans will not impact the temperature of the air, but it will improve the rate of evaporation in the room, which makes you feel cooler. When the air is still, evaporation takes longer, so you’ll feel warmer. When air is moving, evaporation occurs at a quicker rate, making you feel cooler.

5.) Replace your air filter
If you have an air conditioning unit, it’s best to check it more frequently, especially during heavy use. Clean air filters improve airflow throughout the home so air conditioners don’t have to work as hard to keep your home cool.

6.) Follow the forecast
Outdoor temperatures can vary greatly over the course of the day. While it may be a scorcher outside during the day, the temperature drop overnight can be quite cool. Follow your local forecast to see if overnight temperatures will be comfortable, so you can shut off the AC and open the windows, taking advantage of natural cooling to save money without sacrificing comfort.