As soon as HVAC systems show the first signs of problems, many homeowners start to think, “Who are the best heating and cooling contractors near me?” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, asking for professional help is, of course, important. However, a lot of common heating problems can be avoided simply by keeping your heating system in excellent shape and running as efficiently as possible. Read more
Heating and cooling systems rely on refrigerants to cool homes and business establishments. The problem, however, is that most refrigerants have adverse effects on the Earth’s atmosphere. Constant use of such refrigerants has already depleted the ozone layer significantly. This is why the US has undertaken a drive to phase out harmful refrigerants, such as the R-22. Read more
When the weather starts to change and the temperature calls for a little help to warm up your home, there are some issues to look out for when you start your heater for the first time. Many of these issues can be found in furnaces, heat pumps, and other types of heating systems and are regularly a cause of concern. As your heater may have been out of commission for more than eight months there are problems that could have arisen or become worse in that time and it is important to watch out for these signs of malfunction in your heater.
Major Heating Issues to Look Out For
Here are some major heating issues to look out for when you are turning on your heating system for the first time before winter:
“My heating system smells funny”
When you first turn your heater on, there is a chance that there could be a strange smell that comes from the vents. This can be normal for some heater types when you first turn them on. In other circumstances – say, a smell that is quite strong or a smell that is not dissipating – this could be a sign that your heater has an issue that has developed or worsened while it was in storage or not being used. This can be not only hazardous to the operation of your heating system but also a sign that your furnace is emitting gas which is dangerous.
“My heater is making strange noises”
Another sign that your heater is malfunctioning is that there may be some strange noises when you first turn it on in the winter or it could be a noise that develops after being run for a short period of time. It is important to pay attention to these noises and make sure that the heater is not dangerous to be using. These noises could be a ‘clanking’, ‘thudding’ or zapping sound. These noises could be caused by mechanical malfunctions or even worse electrical malfunctions. In both cases this could be quite dangerous for use within the house.
“My heating bills are astronomical!”
This is not something that you will notice instantly unless you are measuring the power usage of your heater at the outlet, however an appliance that draws a lot of power is a surefire sign that the appliance is malfunctioning in some way. This may not mean that the heater is directly dangerous, though it could easily become that way if left unattended or unchecked. Be sure to check your power usage after you have just started using your heater in the winter to look for any spikes in usage that are incredibly irregular.
“My heater is not working!”
This one seems simple and fairly straightforward but it is something to watch for in order to make sure that your heater continues to work properly and poses no danger to you or your family. If your heater is not throwing off any heat or throwing off very little heat then this could be a sign that there is a serious issue with the heater and could lead to something much worse if you continue using the heater.
If some or all of these issues have occurred when you have been using your heater it may be necessary to stop using your heater and contact us in order to make sure that the heater is safe to continue using around you and your family. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health, safety, and home comfort for your family.
How to Choose a Water Heater
Next to heating and cooling, water heating is the next biggest consumer of energy in your home. So whether you’re looking to replace a heater in an existing home or you’re looking at options of water heating for a new home, it pays to do some research. The first thing you’ll want to do is familiarize yourself with the different types of water heater.
Types of Hot Water Heaters
The first type of heater, the one that most everyone is familiar with and the oldest technology in heating water, is the tank style heater. These are usually the lowest-efficiency method of water heating, but also the least cost-intensive in the beginning. They come in a number of different sizes and efficiency ratings and can easily meet all hot water needs.
The next type of water heater is the tankless water heater. These are single-unit heaters that heat water as it passes through the system only. The efficiencies gained here are by not keeping a large volume of water at temperature, but on an as-needed basis. The downside is that the initial costs are higher than the tank style and electric heaters aren’t as effective as gas heaters. Properly set up however, they can more than meet the demands of an average house’s needs. There are also point-of-use tankless water heaters which are installed as close to the intended point of use as possible, such as under a bathroom sink, and can provide efficiently-generated hot water.
Solar heating is another option in water heating. These systems are virtually cost-free to operate provided you live in an area that receives a fair amount of sunshine each year. With solar heating, you will still need another supplemental heater to provide hot water on cloudy days or at night.
The next option in water heating is the heat pump water heater. These work by moving heat from the air around the heater, to the water inside the heater. You can think of these as working sort of like an air conditioner in reverse. These systems are very efficient and offer substantial savings in energy costs. However the initial costs can be higher and they operate best where the air around the heater stays in a certain temperature range.
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Winterizing your water heater is a necessary chore if you plan to take a holiday vacation with the family and you live in a cold climate where overnight temperatures routinely drop below the freezing point. If you fail to prepare before going away, you may come home to serious problems requiring expensive repairs.
Before working on your water heater, you need to turn off the water supply and turn the gas off or unplug the heater if it is electric. After turning the gas valve off, make sure the pilot light is out. Turn the knob on the heater control box to OFF.
To drain the tank, locate the drain near the bottom and attach an ordinary garden hose. Direct the water flow down the nearest floor drain or to the outside, if possible. If you cannot use a garden hose, drain the water into a bucket and repeat until the tank is empty. When draining the tank, make sure the air vent on top of the heater is open. It can take up to a half hour to drain all the water out depending on what type of heater you own.
After the tank is empty, open the faucets in the basement, bathrooms and kitchen. You may see some water drain out but the flow should stop. Leave the faucets open
You should purchase a water heater blanket to protect the equipment from cold temperatures while it sits idle. A large piece of insulating material wrapped around the unit and held in place with duct tape can serve as an effective makeshift blanket. You should also protect the pipes leading to the water heater. Wrap insulation around the pipes and secure it with duct tape to keep the pipes from freezing and breaking.
Protecting your water heater while you are away is a great way to extend the lifespan of your equipment. If you follow these tips, you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about dealing with broken water pipes after you return home.
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Nothing is worse than getting into the shower or drawing a nice “hot” bath only to learn that you have no hot water. You can avoid this scene by using the following water heater tips to keep your unit working and providing hot water when you need it most.
Check the anode rod to see if it needs to be replaced. The purpose of the rod is to keep your hot water heater clean. The rod should be checked around the same time each year. A plumber can replace the anode rod for you.
Check the receipts or paperwork that came with your unit for the date of purchase. A hot water heater should be replaced about every eight years. If your water heater is not heating the way it should or if you are having problems such as water leaking from the appliance, it may be time to install a new heater.
Your water heater may require flushing. If your unit requires it, contact a qualified professional to flush it for you. Flushing the unit is not an easy do-it-yourself project. Rather than take a chance on not doing it properly or damaging the heater, hire a plumber to do the job right.
There are also some steps you can take to make sure your water heater works more efficiently. The temperature of the water does not need to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. By keeping the water temperature in the 120 degree range, you will save on your utility bill and also avoid scalding hot water which could cause injuries, especially when there are young children in the home.
Another energy saving strategy is to have your water heater insulated. This is especially important if the unit is located in a garage or basement that gets cold in winter. Insulation will help the unit work more efficiently and will help you save on energy costs.
These are just a few water heater tips that can help you get the most out of your hot water heater. Follow us for more great ideas on all aspects of home maintenance needs.
Energy consumption for heating and cooling systems accounts for around 5 percent of the electricity produced in U.S—this is almost $15 billion. As a homeowner, therefore, going for energy efficient systems makes a lot of sense. Correctly sizing your heating and cooling system is one way that you can use to cut down your energy costs.
Unlike older homes, modern homes have many other additions including more windows, weather stripping, insulation, and caulking among other features. This implies that even with a smaller system, you can still keep your home comfortable and save money in your monthly utility bills.
Generally, over sized heating and cooling systems are:
- Expensive to install
- Operates inefficiently; will break more often; and will cost you more to operate
- Create uncomfortable and wide temperature swings
- Will not run long to dehumidify air and may contribute to mold growth
- Have frequent starts and stops which accelerates their wear and tear and eventual equipment failure
- Use more fan power and are vulnerable to duct leakage problems due to high duct pressures.
Sizing Your Cooling and Heating System Correctly
Most contractors will only check the label listing of your existing system and advice to go for a similar one, or even worse, one’s that’s bigger. Others will also base the size of your HVAC system on what other customers (with similar home size) settled on or purchased. These are not the correct way to size HVAC equipment and are never in your best interest.
The best methods that you should use are the Manual D (Residential Duct Design) and Manual J (Residential Load Calculation) methods. The two methods take into account factors such as size and orientation of your home, insulation levels, air infiltration rates, occupant preference levels, age and number of occupants, window location, roof surface color, local climate, efficiency of major appliances that produce heat, duct air leakage, and window building materials among other factors.
Correct HVAC sizing will impact your home’s comfort level, energy costs, and the lifespan of your equipment. Before you install your HVAC unit, therefore, ensure that you understand the significance of your system correctly.
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