Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Troubleshooting Your Home HVAC Thermostat

If your house is too cold or too hot, the problem may be due to your HVAC thermostat. Troubleshooting your thermostat is not as difficult as you may think it is. Once you are aware of the basic issues, you may decide to do it on your own or get it fixed by a professional, but you know exactly what the trouble was. Here are listed for your benefit a few problems that might affect the normal function of a thermostat.

Check the location

Your thermostat should not be located near a bright lamp, TV, or close to an oven or any other source of heat. This is because the unit will read wrong temperatures, sending in turn wrong commands to the furnace or A/C.

Clean the unit

In case your thermostat malfunctions, it may just require a bit of cleaning. To clean the components, remove the lid and gently dust inside using a soft brush. To clean the contacts, gently slip a piece of paper in-between, pushing the paper back and forth.

Adjust the anticipator

If the furnace or air conditioner cycles on and off too frequently or too seldom try to adjust the anticipator — normally a flat pointer on a scale. In case heat stops and starts too often, move the anticipator a little higher. If it stops and starts infrequently, adjust it a little lower. Make sure you wait a couple of hours to check if the alterations are enough for your comfort.

Check batteries

Digital thermostats with keypads rarely fail. However, make sure you put in new batteries as and when required. Check all the wires too, and make sure everything is attached firmly to its mounting screw.

Set thermostat 5 degrees lower or higher than normal

Depending on which season you are in set the thermostat 5 degrees higher or lower.

Check the setting

Figure out if some other problem may be the cause for the device not to work correctly. Check whether the component is set correctly to ’Cool’ or ’Heat’. Ensure whether the primary circuit breaker of the air conditioner or furnace is set to ’On’.

Check wires if the system is not kicking on

Make sure that the wires within the thermostat are all in place. Choose the white and red wires if you have trouble with the furnace kicking on, or the green and red wires if the issue is with the A/C system coming on. Unscrew the wires from the specific terminals. Once you have loosened the screws, hold the wires, wrap them up together and turn on the breaker. In case the blower is turned on – for air conditioning or furnaces – the thermostat has stopped working.

With light cleaning and simple maintenance, thermostats, whether mechanical or electronic, will function extremely well. However, if you still have problems troubleshooting the thermostat on your own, it is best to call in a professional. They will help you not only to troubleshoot the issue, but also replace components that do not function.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Keeping Your House Properly Ventilated

Proper interior ventilation is important to ensure comfort and good health of your family. It helps you rid your house of smoke, moisture, indoor pollutants and cooking odors. Structural ventilation regulates heat levels inside the attic, reduces dampness in the basement and crawlspace, and keeps the moisture away from uninsulated walls.

Interior ventilation

Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries are major contributors towards moisture and odors. It is important to have three main exhaust units: bathroom exhaust fan, laundry exhaust fans and exterior-venting range hoods.

Most kitchens have range hoods that only "filter" and recycle the stovetop air rather than venting it out. It's recommended that you get rid of the smoky, greasy, steamy air with the help of proper ductwork. If the walls are covered in grease or the kitchen is smelly, you require an exterior-venting exhaust fan.

Airborne grease can make exhaust fans sticky, attracting dust and dirt. Clean the fan and grill blades two times a year, or every time they begin to look dirty. The filters need cleaning every few months or so, and the housing and the fan need a thorough cleaning bi-annually.

Structural ventilation

Having proper ventilation inside the crawlspace and the attic is important, in order to keep moisture and heat from rotting and roasting your house over a period of time.

It is important to create an upward air flow within the attic. Cool air flows inside through vents and out through the vents closer to the roof. The subarea and the attic may become tropical, if crud, insulation, or dead squirrels create blockages in the vents, or if there are not enough vents. Condensed water may soak the insulation, rendering it ineffective. Condensation from below and above can make its way in the house, ruining floor, ceiling, and wall finishes. In case you notice that the vents are blocked, clean them immediately.

Roof ventilation

If your attic is humid and hot during the summer, you may require installation of additional vents at the ridge and eaves of the roof. Make sure every single screen and vent is painted (to prevent any deterioration) and that every screen is secured to the vent’s frame. Damaged vents must be replaced. Robust vent screens prevent varmints of any kind from settling inside your attic.

Foundation ventilation

Moist air can lead to decay in the crawlspace. If the crawlspace is always moist and damp, or if there is mildew on the structure or walls, you may require better ventilation.

Extra vents can be difficult to install and may need special tools to slice through concrete block, lumber, brick and concrete. Do not poke holes inside the foundation. Instead call up a professional contractor to do the work for you.

Ventilation is as important as insulation to keep the house from damage. By following the ideas given above, you will keep your house in good, livable working condition. You will be happy that the walls, ceiling and circuit wires are well protected.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

5 Simple Steps for Your HVAC Maintenance

The following are five easy and simple steps for you to maintain your HVAC system in the best working condition throughout the year.

1. Corrosion prevention

The metal your HVAC oil tank is made of can get oxidized over a period of time due to air that helps accumulation of sludge and damage to the tank. A great preventative measure is to do a thorough cleaning every seven to ten years. In case you have an underground tank, it is best to switch it with a sheltered tank over the ground. This will reduce the possibility of damage caused by corrosion.

2. Tank protection

There are so many elements that lead to rusting of different parts, which in turn causes weakening of the structure. Tanks can handle only a certain amount of weight. Therefore, it is important for you to stay alert because if the tank gives way, the structure might just crack. Rusting tends to start from inside and so covering of the tank is just not enough. If the structure has remained uncovered for too long then it has to be replaced.

3. Inspection of leaks

Every single section of the heating system needs to be checked for oil leaks. You must take a closer look at the valves, delivery line, fittings and pipes. You should also look for leakages in the areas around grilles and air registers, floor joists, duct connections, and the heating unit. Clean all the leaking areas properly and seal them with foil tape or duct mastic for safety.

4. Burner cleaning:

For keeping the indoor heating dependable and trouble-free, you should check the state of your burner on a regular basis. In case the burner is covered with undesirable substances such as carbon residue, it will be impossible for the flame to brighten up to its optimal brilliance. Because of this, it may sputter partially in and out of existence leading to uneven heating. It is therefore necessary for you to clean the burner on a regular basis, and also to ensure that the heat exchanger does not crack. Clean burner will assist in increasing heating efficiency and reducing fuel costs.

5. Installation of cheap upgrades:

There are numerous other inexpensive ways to save repairs in the future. For instance, installation of a safety valve can be of a lot of help. You may also put in a fuel delivery line covered with a sleeve that prevents leaks. These installations can be performed by a HVAC professional to ensure that there are no errors.

By taking out time to care for your heating system, you will be able to save a lot of bother on future repairs that may require hundreds of dollars and several hours of time, especially when you are hard-pressed. Consult a professional heating and air conditioning contractor  for the right advice and informed options for your system.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

HVAC Systems: 4 Basic Facts You should Know

HVAC systems have become more and more commonplace in the United States. You can see these units in commercial buildings and homes. However, the issue is, most people still don’t know how to handle these machines properly. Some even think that such units do not require any kind of maintenance. Here are some four basic facts you should know about an HVAC system to get the most out of it.

What is your HVAC system?

An HVAC system refers to a commercial or residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit.  Technically, this includes the entire structure. The focus of this article is on whole-structure systems since they are the most popular, cost-effective and efficient. These systems normally comprise of an indoor unit, an outdoor unit, a web of duct work and a filter.

Fact 1: Not all systems are created equal

You have a variety of HVAC systems available for installation including those with AC/furnace combinations, heat pumps, and gas furnace hybrids that depend on heat pumps. The efficiency and quality of the HVAC can vary greatly, even when they are all required to follow performance guidelines.

Whether you are looking to buy a new HVAC system or are giving an upgrade to your older unit, it is extremely important to hire a professional service provider who can suggest the most efficient and reliable units available.

Fact 2: You can save money on utility and energy bills if you’re smart

The concept of ‘comfortable temperature’ varies from person to person, but the need to save money on the utility and energy bills is global! Saving more cash is as simple and easy as increasing the temperature through the thermostat. Using the right components along with proper insulation can save considerably on the heating and cooling bills.

Fact 3: HVAC maintenance is extremely important

Never underestimate the significance of regular, scheduled maintenance of your machine. Proper upkeep means fewer dollars spent on repairs and more money saved on utility and heating costs.

Early summer and spring are the best months for AC check-ups and maintenance. Fall is best for heating maintenance. Stay prepared with optimal operating efficiency before you need your HVAC in full blast.

Fact 4: Using dual fuel heat pumps is more beneficial

The effectiveness and productivity of heat pump HVAC systems is growing steadily in popularity, because they have the ability to do it all: they offer cooling during the warmer months and heating during the cooler months, that too at a reasonable price.

Program the dual heat pump system to function with the outdoor temperatures. Decide an upper range to activate the electric heat pump and decide on a lower range to trigger the other fuel pump.

Apart from keeping these facts in mind, it's always a good idea to contact a local HVAC contractor for tackling any concerns or questions about your HVAC needs. They will make sure your needs are well taken care of. One of the best ways to search for reputed HVAC contractors is to search online.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Various Types of HVAC systems You Should Know

You have already performed an energy efficiency assessment of your house and have gotten some extra insulation done. The next thing on your mind is to call an HVAC expert and decide on the right HVAC unit.

Before taking an expert’s advice, you must perform a quick research on the types of units available today. In fact, you have a range of options that newer systems provide which are briefly listed below.

Air Conditioning and Heating Split System

This is believed to be one of the most traditional HVAC systems. With a split unit, you have parts located both outside and inside your house. An advanced split system comprises the following parts.

  1. A/C: Cools refrigerant
  2. Evaporator coil and furnaces, or fan coil: circulates air and converts refrigerant
  3. Ducts: transports the air throughout the house
  4. Control or thermostats: an interface that helps in controlling the system
Hybrid Heat Split System

A hybrid heat split system is an energy-efficient substitute of the conventional air conditioning and heating split system. The availability of a heat pump provides the option of electricity-fueled air conditioning or heating. A competitively priced hybrid heat split system comprises the following.

  1. Heat Pump: heats and cools refrigerant
  2. Evaporator coil and furnaces: circulates air and converts refrigerant
  3. Ducts: transports the air throughout the house
  4. Control or Thermostat: an interface that helps to control the system
  5. Accessories: such as air purifiers, air cleaners, humidifiers, ventilators and the like, to maintain air quality.
Duct-Free System

Duct-free systems are the ones that can be installed in spaces where the normal ducted systems are hard to fit. In fact, they are the best complement to a ducted system. These units offer a combination of the following.

  1. Compact Fan Coil: circulates air, converts refrigerant
  2. Air Conditioner or heat pump: heats or cools refrigerant
  3. Refrigerant wires or tubing: connects the fan coil to the outdoor unit
  4. Thermostat or control: the interface that helps control the system
  5. Accessories: such as air purifiers, air cleaners, humidifiers, ventilators and the like, to maintain air quality
Packaged Air Conditioning and Heating System

In case, your house does not have enough space to fit in multiple separate products of a split system, several companies offer packaged solutions. The options include the following.

  1. Packaged Products: an air conditioner or heat pump combined with an evaporator coil or fan coil in a single unit
  2. Thermostat or Control: the interface that helps in controlling the system
  3. Optional accessories: for indoor air quality such as air cleaners, humidifiers, air purifiers, ventilators or UV lamps.
Zoned Systems

Zoned HVAC systems are used for heating or cooling individual areas of the house by controlling zone dampers and valves inside the ductwork or vents that block the airflow selectively. Zoned systems have the ability to save you money and energy by only cooling or heating certain spaces, as needed.

HVAC systems today come in a variety of sizes and types, and the one you choose to add or upgrade should depend upon the size of your house and the climate of the area where you live. It is best to seek advice from HVAC experts before choosing a system.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Improving the Quality of the Indoor Air You Breathe: Four Great Ideas for You

Most of us may think of air pollution as something outside our homes and offices – haze, smog, low level ozone etc. The fact is the air inside our houses and offices can be as polluted as the outside air. The invisible culprits are household dust (lead), fire-retardants, formaldehyde, radon, chemicals from fragrances in conventional cleaners and fresheners and even deodorants and synthetic perfumes.

Four great ideas for you to improve indoor air quality

1.Keeping the floors fresh

  • Vacuum: Allergens and chemicals can start accumulating in household dust. By using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter, you can reduce lead concentrations in your house. You can also get rid of other toxins, such as, PBDEs (brominated fire-retardant chemicals) and allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. 
  • Mop: Mopping helps to pick up dust left behind by vacuuming. Use plain water to catch any lingering allergens or dust. Advanced microfiber mops are known to capture more dirt and dust than the conventionalones.

2.Maintaining a healthy level of humidity

Mold and dust mites thrive in moisture. Keeping the humidity levels around 30%-50% can help you control the air pollutants. An air conditioner and a dehumidifier are extremely beneficial in reducing humidity indoors. Air conditioners also help reduce indoor pollen count -- another benefit for allergy sufferers.

Other tips for dehumidifying a house: 

  • Open your windows or use an exhaust fan when cooking, bathing or running the dishwasher.
  • Fix leaky plumbing.
  • Do not overwater the houseplants.
  • Empty the drip pans in your dehumidifier and window A/C.

3. No smoking inside your house

One of the reasons for indoor air pollution is cigarette smoke. It contains more than four thousand chemicals. As per research, secondhand smoke can increase a child's risk of developing respiratory and ear infections, cancer, and asthma. For a smoker, this addiction can cause breathing problems, cancer, stroke and heart attacks.

If you wish to stop smoking, nicotine-replacement therapy, support groups, and other medications can be very helpful. Find a way out that works best for you.

4. Checking your HVAC system for leaks:

One of the biggest causes for indoor air pollution is a leaking HVAC system. There can be times when a unit starts to emit carbon monoxide and other deadly gases inside the house. Being odorless, carbon monoxide is hard to detect and can only be evident through the detrimental health effects it begins to have on the members of the family. To avoid this situation, it is best to get your HVAC system checked and cleaned every season. You must also install carbon monoxide detectors within the house to be on the safer side.

It would be good for you to hire an expert HVAC cleaner to make sure your system is working efficiently and is at its best potential.

These little measures can go a long way in helping you keep your house fresh and your family healthy. Let in fresh air as often as you can and use chemical-free cleaners to clean the house.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Four Essential Things You Must Know about HVAC Maintenance

A properly functioning and clean HVAC system is essential to both your respiratory health and comfort. Heating and cooling system manufacturers recommend that your HVAC be inspected regularly. By having your system cleaned and calibrated, you can improve energy efficiency, keep fuel costs to the minimum, and prolong the life of your equipment.

One of the best ways to keep your heating and cooling system at its peak performance is by hiring a contractor to perform annual check-ups.  A typical maintenance check-up from an expert must include the following. 

General maintenance 

There are certain standardized checks that every good contractor will perform on your HVAC, such as:
  1. Checking the thermostat setting to ensure that the heating and cooling system keeps the house at a comfortable temperature,
  2. Measuring voltage, and tightening all electrical connections to ensure safe operation and increasing life of the components,
  3. Lubricating the moving parts: components that lack proper lubrication can create friction in motors and increase the consumption of electricity,
  4. Checking out the condensate drain in the furnace, heat pump, and central air conditioner:, a blocked drain can create water damage and upset the indoor humidity levels and
  5. Checking system controls to ensure safe and proper operation: inspecting the starting cycle of the system can ensure that the system starts, functions, and shuts off correctly.
Heating inspection

Apart from performing some standardized tests, good contractors will also check to see if your heating system is working fine. This will include checking all oil or gas connections, burner combustion, gas pressure, and heat exchangers. Gas/Oil connections that function in an abnormal manner can be hazardous to your health. Also, a cracked heat exchanger or dirty burner can lead to improper burner operation. Both can cause the system to function less efficiently and safely.

Cooling inspection

Cooling becomes a necessity during the peak summer months. In order go make sure that it is perfect throughout the season, you must oversee whether the professional performs the following actions:
  1. Clean the air conditioning and evaporator coils: dirty coils can decrease the machine’s ability to cool a house, cause the thermostat to run longer,  reduce the equipment’s life and increase energy costs.
  2. Checking the air conditioner’s refrigerant level and changing it if required: excessive or low refrigerant will make the machine less efficient, reduce its life and increase energy costs.
  3. Cleaning and adjusting the blower components for proper system airflow: airflow problems can decrease the efficiency of the system by almost 15 percent.
Do-it-Yourself HVAC Ideas

Apart from seeking expert help, you can also perform certain actions on your own to make sure that your HVAC remains in good working order, all year long. Inspect the system’s air filters and clean or change them once a month. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your contractor to show you the right way to perform the action. A dirty filter can damage your machine, and lead to increased energy costs.

Peak summer and biting winter are the busiest seasons for HVAC contractors, and so it's best to get your cooling system checked in the spring and your heating system during the fall. Remember, you can plan to your advantage the annual maintenance around time changes during spring and fall.

Did you find these ideas useful? Leave a comment. Tell us what you would like to read further.

More in our next post.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Health and safety issues related to HVAC

Whether due to damage or improper maintenance, your HVAC unit can quickly become a health and safety hazard. Here are a few HVAC-related safety and health issues you and your family must be aware of.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

The most common safety concern of an HVAC is carbon monoxide. Poisoning due to carbon monoxide can be serious, and in some cases fatal. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it is impossible to identify until you or a loved one becomes ill. The first signs are normally similar to the flu —nausea, headaches, and fatigue — so they are often ignored. However, long-term exposure can be fatal and human beings with chronic health problems are specifically at risk.

A damaged heat exchanger is a common cause of carbon monoxide, particularly in older furnaces. One of the best ways to avoid the poisoning is to have your unit serviced and inspected by a trained professional. You must also place a carbon monoxide detector within your house for safety purpose.

Incorrect air filtration

Bad air filtration can also be a hazard to the health of your family. Low indoor air quality -- because of allergens, dust, or airborne irritants – is a common contributor to respiratory illnesses and problems. People with underlying respiratory problems such as allergies or asthma are particularly vulnerable. Several health issues can occur due to poor air quality, ranging from minor headaches to serious breathing difficulties and allergic reactions. Regular replacement and preventive maintenance of air filters is important to keep the indoor air of a home safe.

Improper humidity moisture control

This has become an important consideration for an HVAC unit. Lack of humidity during dry climates or the winter months can lead to breathing problems, dry lips, cracked skin, sore throat and other such health issues. Dry nasal passages can leave a family prone to respiratory illness and infection, and can deteriorate flu symptoms. Apart from impacting your family's safety and health, dry air also has the ability to damage your house. Cracking hardwood floors, furniture and molding are just a few expensive results of improper humidity. You can contribute towards your family’s health and to the longevity of your home by installing a humidifier that regulates the moisture levels inside the house.

Electrical problems

Electrical issues can also pose several risks. A very common problem is a water leakage within the system. It is very common for the condensation drain of an A/C to become blocked. This can lead to water draining onto the system's components, leading to equipment failure, and creating the hazard of electric shock. Therefore, air conditioner restoration is not something an immature homeowner should take care of. An experienced contractor will be aware of likely risks, and take the right precautions. Preventive maintenance on a regular basis is required to avoid electrical risks.

Your HVAC unit, if not properly monitored and maintained, can make you sick or further aggravate your health problems. Regular attention to air quality and professional maintenance are the best ways to avoid many safety and health risks posed by HVAC systems. However, the information provided is not meant to substitute for the medical advice and expertise of a healthcare provider. It is best to discuss any decisions about care and treatment of your medical condition with a healthcare provider.