Should my furnace be serviced before winter?

A question we are often asked is, “Should I get my furnace serviced?”

Like all mechanical items, preventative maintenance is the best way to lengthen the life of the equipment.  The same can be said for heating systems.  Whether you have a gas furnace, heat pump, or geothermal system, regular maintenance and checkups will lengthen the life of the equipment, and keep it running at its peak efficiency.

While servicing a system, a technician can also identify potential problems and address them before the equipment breaks down.

A few of the items we check on a gas furnace:

  • Clean or replace air filter /  humidifier pad
  •  Clean Burners (main and pilot)
  •  Clean flame sensor /  replace thermocouple (if necessary)
  •  Visually check heat exchanger for cracks
  •  Clean  flue condensate trap
  •  Clean vacuum lines and orifice @ draft inducer
  •  Check flue for obstructions
  •  Check gas pressure
  •  Test CO
  •  Oil blower motor / circulating pump
  •  Check blower wheel, clean if needed
  •  Check blower belt
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Should I Buy a Battery Backup Sump Pump?

With the spring rains, many homeowners start thinking about whether they should have a backup plan in case their sump pump fails.  A flooded basement is not on anyone’s wishlist. Thunderstorms are likely to cause power outages as well as lots of rain in a short amount of time.  These situations always put stress on a sump pump system.  A battery backup sump pump system can come to the rescue in either case.

A battery backup sump pump system has its own power source, so it is effective even when the power is out.  Many of these systems provide enough power to pump continuously for up to 7.5 hours.

A battery backup system can also act as a second pump if the electric pump cannot keep up with the incoming water flow.  They are also equipped with warnings and alarms to alert any power problems or pump failure.  Many test the battery and pump on a regular basis to ensure proper functionality.  When the power is on, the charger keeps the battery fresh, so it is ready in case of a power outage.  Many of the batteries do require periodic maintenance to maintain the proper water levels.

A battery backup sump pump system can be thought of an insurance policy against needing an insurance claim for a flooded basement.

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Furnace – Repair or Replace?

If your furnace fails, there are a few simple things that you can check before you call a professional technician.

-Check the furnace filter.  A clogged filter can diminish air flow, and can cause too much heat, tripping the limit/safety switches.  Replace the air filter and reset the furnace.

-Check the thermostat.  A blank screen could indicate a tripped breaker, loose wires, or dead batteries.  Check to see if the breaker for the furnace has tripped.  See if the thermostat wires are tight at all the terminals.  Some thermostats use batteries, so confirm that there are fresh batteries in the thermostat.

-Check the fuses.  A blown fuse could cause a furnace to malfunction.

-Check the doors of the furnace.  If not installed properly, the door safety switch will cause the furnace to shut off.

If none of these repairs work, call a reputable repair company.  A furnace is generally repairable.  If a major component fails, such as a heat exchanger or control board, you may want to consider putting your money toward a new, high efficiency furnace, especially if your furnace is more than 15 years old.

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A Remote Control for your Furnace

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a remote control for your furnace and air conditioner?  Even better, wouldn’t it be nice to have that remote work no matter how far away you are from home?

Good news!  The technology is available to control your system remotely.  We can install a thermostat that hooks up to your internet connection.  The thermostat connects via WiFi, so there are no extra wires to run.  Once the system is installed, you can log in from anywhere in the world and control your furnace or air conditioner with a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

So, when you are sitting on beach and you remember that you left the furnace set at 72º, you can pull out your smartphone, and turn it down to 60º.

Do you want a warm house when you get home from that business trip?  Log in, and raise the temperature while sitting in your airline seat.

Call us today for pricing.  It would make a great Christmas gift.

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Heating Season Checklist

Here are a few things to do before winter comes:

  • Change your furnace filter.  This is one of the simplest, yet most effective maintenance items on your heating system.
  • Switch the damper on your humidifier from the summer setting to the winter setting.
  • Replace the evaporator pad on your humidifier.
  • Block off crawlspace vents.
  • Caulk and/or insulate around windows and doors to prevent drafts and heat loss.
  • Check the vent of the furnace for obstructions.
  • Verify the operation of smoke detectors and CO detectors
  • Schedule a reputable HVAC contractor to service the system
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Fall Plumbing Checklist

Things to do this fall:

  • Disconnect your garden hose from the outside faucets.  Freezing weather will cause damage to the faucet if the hose is attached.  Turn shut-off valves off for outside faucets.
  • Turn washing machine faucets off and on.  These faucets can “freeze up” over time due to lack of use.
  • Check toilets for leakage. Add food coloring or dye to water in toilet tank to check for leakage into bowl.  A leaking toilet flapper is the most common water leak in a house.
  • If in a mobile home, make sure water supply is protected from freezing. Confirm that the heat tape is plugged in and operational.
  • Open slow flowing drains by pouring in 1/3 cup baking soda, followed by 1/3 cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug off drain and let is sit for several minutes.  Run hot water for several minutes to finish the process. NOTE:  The baking soda and vinegar will create a reaction and foam up.  Be prepared to close the drain quickly after pouring in the vinegar to force the foaming action down the drain.
  • Check caulking around tubs, toilets, and lavatories, and re-seal as necessary.
  • Block off crawlspace vents to prevent freezing water lines.
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I Want a Bigger Air Conditioner

Sometimes when replacing air conditioners, we get requests to price a larger unit than the previous system.  This is appropriate in some cases, such as when square footage has been added to the house, or if several large shade trees have been removed.  It is however, important to size your air conditioner appropriately for your home’s size.

When an air conditioner is under-sized, it will run too much, not keeping the house comfortable, while adding to your electric bill.  Neither of those consequences are desirable.

So why not over-size the system, to have plenty of cooling power?  If a system is over-sized it will not run very much, since it will cool the house quickly.  When the run-time is too short, it will not dehumidify the air in the house very well, making it feel cold and damp.  This also does not promote a healthy environment inside the home.  The humid, dampness can be uncomfortable, as well as promote the growth of mold.

When choosing a new cooling system, make sure it is properly sized for your home’s needs.

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