- Age. You can expect an air conditioning unit to last about 15 years. So if yours is approaching that age, even if it is still running fine, you might consider replacing it now, before it breaks down. In addition to avoiding an emergency, your new unit most likely will be more energy efficient, so you will save on your utility bills.
- Not cooling. Another way of knowing if you need a new AC is simple – the unit is not keeping you cool. Either is it emitting warm air, or the air is coming out of the vents weakly. Either way, you need to set the thermostat lower and lower in order to get cool.
- Rising utility bills. If you noticed your electric bills going up last summer, that may be a sign your unit is not running as effectively as it used to. A new AC unit could solve that problem and perhaps reduce your bills as much as 40%.
- Frequent repairs. Another sign that your AC may need to be replaced is more frequent and more expensive repairs. Ask yourself if you want to keep spending money is an aging unit, or if you want to invest in a new one.
- Strange noises. Some noise is to be expected. But if your unit is grinding, squeaking or chattering, that is an indication something may be wrong.
- Moisture. If you notice moisture near the unit, you may have a refrigerant leak. This will cause the system to not operate at peak efficiency. Plus, leaking refrigerant is a health issue.
- Smells. The air your AC puts out should not smell. If you detect a smoky or burning smell, that is a sign of problems.
Now that winter is finally over, our thoughts turn to spring and eventually summer. Even though it may be too soon to turn on your air conditioner, that time is not far away. So before it gets too hot, ask yourself: should I replace may AC? Here are some reasons to consider it.
One of the more common things people ignore in their homes is their ductwork. You see the ducts, but really aren’t sure what is going on inside. There are a few ways these systems can cause problems.
Dirty or clogged
If your ductwork is dirty or clogged, the following can happen:
You can identify whether your ductwork needs cleaning by doing the following:
If your ductwork does need to be cleaned, make sure it includes:
The other thing that can happen with ducts is they can leak if they are not properly sealed or insulated, resulting in a 10% to 30% heating or cooling loss. This also makes your unit work harder and results in higher utility bills. Leaks can be due to the following:
Here is how to fix leaks:
If you are uncertain of what to do, call an HVAC contractor.
One final point not having to do with the ductwork itself is to make sure the vents and returns are not obstructed by furniture or other items.
You’ve undoubtedly been reading a lot and hearing from your friends and family about WiFi thermostats, which are thermostats that connect to your home’s wireless network and let you control your home’s temperature through an app on your smartphone or tablet.
Here are some benefits of a WiFi thermostat.
Here are some features you can look for when considering a WiFi thermostat.
One last important note. If you have an existing furnace, make sure the WiFi thermostat you purchase is compatible. If you are buying a new furnace, make the thermostat part of the package so you know it is compatible.
Winter air is dry air. If the air is dry throughout your home, you may want to consider a whole house humidifier (https://raviniaplumbing.com/blog/whole-house-humidifiers-2/). But if the air is only dry in certain rooms of your home, you may be able to get by with a portable/tabletop humidifier or a console humidifier.
Here is some information on a few types of humidifiers.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally considered to be the best option. These units increase humidity by agitating water and turning it into mist which is emitted into the air. These are also considered the quietest humidifiers and require less cleaning than other units. Ultrasonic humidifiers can generate cool mist or warm mist. Cool mist humidifiers take the water from the unit and disperse a room temperature mist that generally covers larger areas while using less electricity. They are also less expensive than their warm air counterparts. Warm mist humidifiers will use slightly more electricity because they heat the water to boiling and emit a warmer mist. The advantage is that the warmer mist may produce healthier moisture because the boiling process kills germs and impurities. Warm mist humidifiers will also increase the humidity quicker.
Air Washers use water in conjunction with rotating discs to both add humidity and remove airborne impurities such as dust and pollen. These humidifiers are reliable and can cover larger areas than other types of humidifiers. But they only produce a cool mist, require regular maintenance, and must be rinsed on a frequent basis.
Evaporative Cool Mist humidifiers are affordable and easy to operate and maintain. They also can humidify a large area. However, as the name implies, they only provide a cool mist. They also tend to be noisy.
Steam Vaporizer Warm Mist humidifiers have a heating element that heats the water before dispersing it in the air. A key advantage is that by heating the tank water, these units destroy bacteria and organic compounds before the steam is emitted.
So the next question is: portable/tabletop humidifier or console humidifier? The answer depends on how much large of an area you need to cover.
Portable/Tabletop Humidifiers (also known as room humidifiers) are the smallest and least expensive units and are best for a single room like a bedroom, or a smaller area such as a workplace or where you sleep. They fit nicely on dressers, counters, desks or tables. Since these are smaller, they will require the most refilling. Some of these units come with germ protection, multiple speeds, built-in gyrometers, combination warm or cool mist outputs, and low water indicators.
Console Humidifiers sit on the floor and can cover both large single rooms and multiple-room areas up to 3,000 square feet. Room humidifiers are available in all types described above. Because you’ll want this unit to blend in with the room decor, they also come in a variety of designs and finishes.
Winter is coming. We’re putting away the hoses and covering up the lawn furniture. We’re raking the leaves. We’re trading the lawn mower for the snow blower.
Winter also means we will be spending more time indoors. To that end, we want to make sure the air we breathe indoors is free from unhealthy pollutants that can cause sneezing, sniffles, sore throats and other irritating symptoms. Pollutants include:
Here are several tips to improve indoor air quality:
o Don’t overwater houseplants.
o Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
o Use mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.
o Avoid aerosol sprays in deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish and
Maybe your furnace is 15 years old or more. Or you are constantly repairing it. Or your utility bills are soaring. Or your furnace is making weird noises. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to invest in a new furnace. Here are some important things for you to consider.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is make sure the furnace is the right size. A too-small furnace will not provide adequate heating or will have to work too hard to warm you home; a too-large furnace will waste energy, drive up costs, and shut down when it overheats. Your contractor should perform a load calculation to find out how many BTUs you need. This calculation factors in square footage, insulation, window efficiency, etc.
Type of System
You can either have a split system or a packaged system. Most people have split systems, which consist of an outdoor condensing unit, furnace and coil that sit on top of your furnace. However, if you do not have a basement, crawl space or attic you might want to explore a packaged system. These systems contain all heating and cooling elements in one outdoor unit, freeing up space in your home.
Go with the most efficient system you can afford. The more efficient the system, the lower your utility bills will be. Efficiency is measured by AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Furnaces must reach 80% AFUE is order to comply with regulations. But there are furnaces that have much higher efficiency – 95% or above.
There are three types of fuel sources:
Also note that switching from one type of furnace to another can be expensive.
If you are experiencing hot and cold spots in your home, a zoning system can help. These systems divide your home into “zones” that are controlled by separate thermostats.
Variable Speed Blowers
Variable speed blowers are preferred over fixed speed blowers because they can vary the speed air is distributed through your home. This can reduce energy costs. Variable speed blowers can also be quieter.
Get quotes from three reputable contractors. Examine not just the price, but also the underlying assumptions about size, etc. Be leery of any quote that is way higher or way lower than the others.
Rebates and Incentives
When getting your bids, make sure you ask about rebates and incentives that can lower the cost.
Also carefully check out the warranty. Look for a furnace that offers a long-term warranty on the heat exchanger (at least 10 years) and a 5-year warranty on other components.
Some furnaces may come with programmable thermostats. If not, consider purchasing one. They can deliver maximum comfort, efficiency and energy savings.
While it’s not quite fall yet and we still hopefully will have some great weather, it is also time to prepare for the changing of the seasons. Step one is to have your furnace tuned up. Here are just a few reasons
Your HVAC technician will check for combustion gas leaks. If your furnace does have a combustion gas leak, it can emit dangerous carbon monoxide into the air, which can lead to severe health issues or even death.
Your System’s Life Expectancy
Annual furnace tune ups can extend the life of your system.
Fewer Repairs/Saves Money
The majority of expensive and untimely (when it is freezing out) repair calls could be prevented with routine maintenance. During a maintenance call, your technician will clean the furnace, which will prevent small problems. Your tech can also identify small problems before they become big problems. This of course will also save you money.
Increases Efficiency/Saves Money
The inspection will result in a clean and more efficient system. This increased efficiency will help you cut down on energy costs.
Proper Air Flow
Professional HVAC contractors will check your venting system to make sure it is evenly distributing air throughout your house. Poor air flow puts a strain on your furnace, causing unnecessary repairs and possibly a shorter life span.
Some manufacturer’s warranties will not cover repairs or even replacements if you have not had your furnace maintained annually. The tune up will validate the warranty.
Now that you know the reasons to have your furnace checked, here is what we do when we come out.
Summer air in Chicago is loaded with humidity. And that humidity will slowly enter your home.
You want to keep the humidity in your home at 40% to 55%. The best way to do that is with a dehumidifier that extracts excess moisture from indoor air. It will make your home more comfortable, and will also reduce allergens like mold and dust mites.
To dehumidify smaller spaces, a plug-in, portable dehumidifier that you can buy at the hardware or home improvement store may be the best solution.
For significant issues, though, you may want a central whole-house dehumidifier that uses your home’s heating and cooling system to reduce the humidity in the entire house. Even though they may cost $2,000 or more, they are the right solution if you have humidity issues throughout your house. Also note now that summer is drawing to a close, you might be able to get a better deal than if you bought one at the beginning of the season.
There are three types of whole house dehumidifiers, each with its own pros and cons.
When it gets hot and sticky on Chicago’s North Shore, the saying “it’s a dry heat” does not apply. Summer air in Chicago is loaded with humidity. And that humidity can enter your home.
You want to keep the humidity in your home at 30% to 50%. The best way to do that is with a dehumidifier that extracts excess moisture from indoor air. Not only will that make your home more comfortable, but it will reduce allergens from mold and dust mites.
In choosing the best dehumidifier, size is the first consideration. For significant issues, you may want a central whole-house dehumidifier that uses your home’s heating and cooling system to reduce the humidity in the entire house. For more localized issues, a plug-in, portable dehumidifier that you can buy at the hardware or home improvement store may be the best solution. Following are some thoughts on buying a portable dehumidifier.
When you’re outside in the summer heat and you come inside, you want to breathe in cool air, but you also want that air to be clean and pure. Clean and pure air is healthier to breathe, and improving air quality to make sure it is clean and pure is relatively easy. Here are some tips:
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