HVAC Myths Dispelled

When it comes to HVAC systems how do you know what’s a myth and what’s true about maintenance and services? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common HVAC myths and dispel them so you know how to make the best decisions to keep your systems working efficiently.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

MYTH: Your filter only needs changing only once a year.

TRUTH: This is a myth and a big mistake! Change your filter every 30 days and if you have a lot of pets that produce a lot of dander and fur around the house, change out more often. This will keep your system much more efficient.

 

MYTH: Having the biggest system is always the best.

TRUTH: Actually, bigger is not always better when it comes to an HVAC system. In fact, if you have a system that is too large for your home, it can be much less efficient and less effective in removing humidity. It’s best to have a professional decide on the right size HVAC unit for your home.

 

MYTH: You don’t need to maintain your HVAC system unless it’s broken.

TRUTH: Regular maintenance on your HVAC system is crucial. This will prevent large and expensive problems and ensure that your system is working properly. Maintenance with an HVAC specialist will save you costly and major repairs down the road.

 

MYTH: It’s easy to find air leaks in your home.

TRUTH: It sounds simple to find an air leak around your home, but even some of the biggest leaks can be difficult to detect. It’s best to ask an HVAC service technician to find and properly seal leaks that are wasting energy and making your system inefficient. During your regular check, ask your technician to also check for leaks. This will ensure your system is running properly and efficiently.

 

MYTH: The best way to change the heat or cooling your home is to turn up the thermostat.

TRUTH: While your thermostat setting controls the temperature, your home may never reach that temperature, especially if your HVAC is not working optimally. If your HVAC system needs maintenance, if your home needs new insulation or there are serious leaks, the system will have a difficult time heating and cooling properly.

Hiring a professional

When you hire an HVAC company to help service your system, ask them to:

  • Evaluate if the size of your system is right for your home.
  • Replace a new HVAC system in your home if it’s determined that you need one.
  • Perform regular maintenance to prevent bigger problems and keep your system running efficiently.
  • Test for leaks that may be making your system inefficient.
  • Troubleshoot any other potential problems with your HVAC system.

It’s always best to ask your HVAC professional if you have a question about what’s true or a myth in maintaining and maximizing your home system. For expert assistance, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Furnace Maintenance Tips to Keep Your System Running Strong

You want your furnace in top running condition during the winter. If you perform proper maintenance, you can avoid most mishaps with your system. The right knowledge and a little bit of effort can keep your furnace running efficiently and avoid future breakdowns. Here are eight furnace maintenance tips that will help keep your heating system running great all season long!

Think safety first

If you perform any maintenance beyond basic filter changes, be sure you put safety first. Before getting started, turn off the power to your furnace to avoid injury. You may want to hire a professional to help with any inspection, cleaning, tune-ups, or repairs that are more complicated or if you are uncomfortable performing these furnace maintenance tips.

1.  Understand your system and recommended maintenance

Although most furnaces in the United States are natural gas or electric, some such as propane, geothermal, and heat pump are now available. Understanding what kind of system you have that provides your home with its heat and learning how it needs to be maintained is critical. Some systems may not require any maintenance. Other more common systems, like natural gas heating, need regular inspections and tune-ups.

2.  Get a professional tune-up

In any case, the best thing you can do to ensure that your furnace performs at its best is to schedule a professional tune-up every year. During that time, a technician will inspect your furnace for any operational problems and perform a number of maintenance tasks. These may include cleaning your system to help avoid future breakdowns, improve efficiency and make sure that your system is running safely.

3.  Keep your air filter clean

Cleaning or changing your air filter prevents many furnace breakdowns! A dirty filter will cause all sorts of performance and efficiency problems. You can avoid them by simply checking and/or changing your filter once per month.

4.  Test your carbon monoxide detectorscarbon monoxide alarms are an important safety device

Carbon monoxide detectors will warn you if your furnace develops a CO2 leak.  A leak could be life-threatening to you and your family. Make sure that your detectors are working and that they have fresh batteries, especially during the heating season.

5.  Give your air registers room to breathe

If any of your air registers are closed or blocked off by furniture, your furnace will have a hard time heating your home evenly and effectively. Make sure that all of your floor registers are open and there are no obstructions.

6.  Check the pilot light in older furnaces

If you have an older furnace with a pilot light, make sure the flame is burning bright blue. If it’s a different color, it is likely burning inefficiently and you should contact a furnace technician to investigate the problem.

7.  Don’t block outdoor exhaust pipes

High efficiency gas furnaces have exhaust pipes and they lead outside of the home and near the ground. It’s important to ensure nothing is blocking these pipes, so that your furnace can operate safely and efficiently.

8.  Keep the area around your system clear

Remove any clutter from around your furnace. This will ensure you and your service technician can easily access it when the time comes for any maintenance or repairs.

Additional Furnace Maintenance Tips

In some cases, you must replace a system or upgrade the one you have already. If your furnace is old, worn out, inefficient, or significantly oversized, the simplest solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model.

Before buying a new furnace or modifying your existing unit, first make every effort to improve the energy efficiency of your home in other ways, then have a professional size your furnace. Energy-efficiency improvements will save money, because you can purchase a smaller unit. A properly sized furnace will operate most efficiently. You’ll want to choose a dependable unit and compare the warranties of each furnace you’re considering.

When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. In mild climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90% or more efficiency may be hard to justify, but it’s always smart to look at your options.

You can always count on the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical, to make recommendations to best suit your needs.  Call 1.800.461.3010 to schedule an inspection and consultation.

Balancing hot & cold spots in your home

Do you ever walk from one room to another and notice a temperature difference? Do the floors feel cold in some rooms and not others? Balancing hot and cold spots in your home can bring you more comfort and lower utility bills. Knowing how to do this can save you money and aggravation.

A home with balanced air will improve air circulation, increase energy efficiency and enhance the overall performance of your heating and air systems. This balance involves modifying your existing HVAC system, which includes making adjustments in areas you may not be currently considering. By doing this your HVAC system will be working in harmony, avoid hot and cold spots throughout your home, and provide and improve air quality and comfort.

You can correct issues on your own by following these steps.

1. Check air filters for cleanliness

Clean filters improve your air quality, increase the efficiency of your systems, extend the life of your HVAC and help keep costs low.

2. Feel for drafts

Check your windows and doors for tight sealing. Add additional insulation measures if you can feel hot or cold coming through.

3. Open or close your register

A simple yet effective fix is to open registers during warm weather on your upper floor and at the same time partially close them on the first floor. When cold temperatures arrive, reverse the process.

4. Create a 2 degree difference

If you have separate thermostats for your first and second floors, set the thermostat at a two degree difference. For instance, your downstairs could be set at 72 while your upstairs is set at 74 degrees. Doing this can help with uneven temperatures on different floors.

5. Change the direction of ceiling fansChange the direction of ceiling fan to help with air flow

Switching the direction of a fan can affect air circulation. Set your ceiling fans to go counterclockwise during warming months to create a downward airflow. Change the direction in the cooler months. Fans should spin at a low speed in a clockwise motion so it can distribute warm air.

6. Install window coverings to prevent temperature differences

Window coverings can improve energy efficiency. In cooler seasons most of the sunlight that comes in standard double-pane windows becomes heat, so be sure to let the light in!

7. Clear registers of any blocks

When you block a vent with furniture your system has to work harder. Be sure your registers are clear of furniture or items that will restrict air flow.

8. Adjust your insulation

If your home isn’t properly insulated, you will have unbalanced air temperatures throughout your home. Hire a professional to evaluate your insulation needs. They will help find any problems that need correcting.

9. Set your thermostat fan setting to “ON”

By utilizing the “ON” setting, the fan will blow continuously,  filter the air and always be replacing it. This will keep the air more steady than by using the auto position where your air can become stagnant. There are pros and cons. When using the “On” setting, you may see an increase in your utility bill.

10. Make sure your HVAC system correlates with the needs of your home

You want to be sure your unit is not too small for the size of your home because you won’t get the results you need. You also don’t want one that is too large because it will over condition your home. Likewise, when the furnace is too large, it can cause issues from short cycling to inefficient operation and uncomfortable living space.

Balancing hot and cold spots in your home may require the help of a professional.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule an appointment.

 

Improve Indoor Air Quality with HVAC Technology

Americans are spending an average of 90% of their time indoors! Therefore, indoor air pollution poses a major health risk. This is especially true for young children, older adults and people who have heart or lung diseases and spend even more time indoors. Fortunately, HVAC technology offers ways to improve indoor air quality and prevent air pollution.

What are some causes of indoor air pollution?Dust can cause indoor pollution

Dust and other fine particles from vehicle exhaust, boilers, construction, etc., can get indoors through windows, doors and other openings. They can also get drawn indoors through a building’s HVAC system. In addition, mold, pet hair, dander and dust mites can build up over time and contribute to indoor air pollution.

Air quality issues can develop if proper ventilation is lacking. Improper ventilation allows for the buildup of hazardous pollutants. Cigarette smoke, synthetic building materials, carpeting and furniture, personal care products, pesticides, cleaning solvents, air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing, can all contain pollutants.

Then there are pathogens — viruses and bacteria that can linger and spread contagious illnesses. These pathogens can even be distributed throughout a building by the HVAC system or be recirculated through ductwork.

Additionally, some of the newer building features such as airtight construction and improved insulation can increase all of this indoor air pollution because it limits the flow of fresh air into the building.

Here are seven ways that HVAC technology can improve your home’s air quality.

1.  Use UVC technology

UVC is the most damaging type of solar radiation, but it is completely filtered out by the atmosphere and does not reach the earth’s surface. UVC-emitting lights are useful for air purification because UVC can kill virtually any microbe. Today, UVC is used in many healthcare facilities as part of air disinfection systems. It’s also used in other buildings where air quality and preventing the spread of illness is a concern. Schools, offices, senior living facilities and large residential buildings can benefit from UVC.

2. Incorporate good ventilation design

A properly designed ventilation system reduces indoor air pollution by providing fresh air, controlling odors and eliminating contaminants.

3. Use VRF for humidity (and temperature) control

As part of your indoor air quality testing, you can use a humidity gauge to see if the humidity in your building is at a healthy level — between 30% and 50%. To maintain a good, consistent humidity level and temperature, consider a zoned HVAC technology called Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF).

4. Explore the HEPA filter option

Standard air conditioner and furnace filters do not remove pathogens like UVC does,but these everyday filters still play an important role. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters reduce indoor air pollution by trapping 99.97% of dust, pollen and smoke particles.

5.  Clean the ductwork to reduce indoor air pollution

Whatever fine debris is floating in your building’s air can accumulate in the ductwork, thus impacting air quality. The particles in your ductwork can end up back in the air you breathe.  Clean your ductwork to help prevent

6.  Bring in a professional for mold remediation

By the time you learn you have mold in your air ducts, then the problem could already be widespread. Unchecked, mold is more than an air quality issue, it is a health issue. It is crucial to call an HVAC professional, if you have mold. An HVAC professional will determine where and how the mold problem started, and help you resolve the underlying issue so that mold does not recur.

7. Stay on top of air quality with routine HVAC maintenance

Your HVAC system circulates the air you breathe, so be sure and schedule regular inspections. Investing in routine HVAC maintenance, along with duct inspection and cleaning, helps you detect, prevent and eliminate sources of indoor air pollution.  This ensures that your HVAC system is performing properly.

For peace of mind and control of indoor air pollution, ask the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical, about their Whole House Maintenance Agreement!

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing material, like gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. CO is dangerous. It replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of needed oxygen to cells in the body. It is deadly, and since symptoms often come on like other illnesses, they may be ignored. It’s important to educate yourself on carbon monoxide safety.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Everyone, including pets are at risk; however, young children, the elderly, and those with heart or lung problems are particularly vulnerable.  Low levels can cause flu-like symptoms, such as nausea and headache, as well as shortness of breath. Moderate levels can cause dizziness and light-headedness. High levels of CO can be fatal within minutes of exposure.  Carbon monoxide can be present even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. So when you hear the alarm, you should take action regardless of how everyone in your household feels.

What to do if you suspect CO poisoning

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and people and pets in your home aren’t feeling well, it’s best to evacuate. Leave the door open for ventilation and contact the fire department immediately. If the alarm sounds, even if you and your family are symptom-free, contact the fire department anyway to be safe.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Many incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented. Below are seven tips to help keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide.

1.  Know the risks.

Anything that burns a fuel including a furnace, fireplace or generator, gas appliance or car produces a toxic by-product called carbon monoxide (CO).  When these devices are properly maintained and vented this gas can be effectively channeled out of your home. If not, inhaling carbon monoxide can trigger serious health issues.

2.  Keep your vents clear.

During and after a storm, make sure nothing is obstructing the outside stack or vent for your dryer, stove, furnace and fireplace.  In the event of a snow storm, be sure to prevent snow from building up and blocking these areas.

3.  Do not run engines in a closed area. 

Proper ventilation is critical to avoiding CO poisoning. Do not start a car, fire up a grill or stove, or run a generator in a closed area like a basement or garage.

4.  Schedule regular maintenance. 

At least once a year, have a qualified professional inspect your fuel-burning devices to make sure they continue to operate properly.

5.  Keep fireplaces clean and well vented. 

If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you keep it clean and that the flue is working properly.carbon monoxide alarms are an important safety device

6.  Install CO alarms. 

If you have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage, install CO alarms in your home. Install one on every level within the vicinity of each sleeping area and in other locations required by any applicable building codes.

7.  Maintain your CO alarms. 

Your CO alarms need to be maintained regularly.  Many come equipped with a battery backup to ensure uninterrupted operation, even if the power goes out. But you will need to remember to change your batteries at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, like you do with your smoke detectors.

To schedule an inspection of your HVAC system to make sure it is safe and properly ventilated, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.361.4010.

Checklist: HVAC Winter Weather Prep

Winter is very much upon us!  Ideally, before you turned your system over to heat, you performed a quick HVAC winter weather prep.  If not, it isn’t too late to assess the performance of your HVAC system, as we still have plenty of cold days ahead.

There are some basic maintenance tasks you can perform on your own to check the readiness of your
system. Most newer heating systems require little maintenance, so a quick winter weather prep can greatly extend the life of your HVAC equipment.

1.  Power down & do a sound check

Turn off all power to the unit before performing any maintenance and wait for the blower to stop. Next, run a sound check by turning your unit back on and checking for unusual sounds, like banging or rattling.

2.  Look for signs of moisture

Check for moisture on windows, or rust or dirt accumulations on the vent pipe. This can indicate improper operation.

3.  Replace filtersChange filters at least four times per year

Replace air filters at least four times a year, or once each season.  If you haven’t changed them this winter, do it now. Dirty filters can cause your system to work harder, resulting in lower efficiency.

4.  Assess the room temperature

Check your thermostat’s temperature while the unit is on to ensure rooms are reaching their full comfort potential.

If, during your basic checklist rundown you discover any unusual noises, excess moisture or other signs
your unit is not functioning properly, contact your HVAC technician.

In addition to your DIY maintenance, regular inspections by a qualified HVAC technician are vital.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010 for full details. We provide 24/7 service so that your family doesn’t have to endure the cold if  your HVAC system stops working suddenly. We can also clean your heat exchanger, check the wire connections on your thermostat to make sure they’re connected properly, and ensure that your igniter switch is functioning. Let us provide peace of mind that your HVAC system is running properly so you can enjoy a comfortable and warm home with family and friends!

HVAC Maintenance Delivers Efficiency, Savings, and Safety

We’ve been on a weather roller-coaster with extreme temperature lows and highs this year. Swings in the seasons took us from a long, cold winter to record setting heat in the summer. This can take a toll on your home, especially your HVAC!

If you keep your HVAC in top-working condition, you will maintain a comfortable environment throughout the seasons. But, letting maintenance fall to the back burner could mean low-performing systems that result in costly repairs.

Let’s look further at what components make up an HVAC, steps you can take to avoid costly repairs, improve performance and ensure safety, and optimal maintenance schedules to extend the life of your system.

What is HVAC?

HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The systems are comprised of products like furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and ventilators. The ductwork connected to these pieces of equipment is another component of HVAC, as well as thermostats and other controls. Maintaining these individual parts will keep the whole system working optimally. Regular professional and DIY maintenance will ensure these hardworking parts are at their best.

What is HVAC maintenance?

There are several aspects of a proper professional maintenance visit. HVAC maintenance is when you have a trusted HVAC technician come to your home to look at your system. The HVAC technician will inspect, clean, test, and make adjustments to your heating or cooling system to ensure it is working at optimal functionality, safety, and efficiency.

HVAC maintenance involves so much and varies based on the different heating and cooling systems, but some basic components include:Technician maintains HVAC unit

  • Checking thermostat settings
  • Tightening electrical connections
  • Calibrating comfort controls
  • Lubricating any moving parts
  • Clearing the drain line
  • Assessing unit efficiency and functionality

HVAC maintenance is more than the DIY maintenance you should be tending to regularly, like changing air filters. Professional maintenance includes the more electrical and mechanical aspects of your system. Of course, if you encounter problems while changing your filters or with your regular maintenance, you should call a specialist.

Why is maintenance essential?

Preventive maintenance helps ensure that your HVAC system runs close to peak performance. This can mean saving up to 30% on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent coils and ducts from gathering allergens, bacteria, and mold that flow through the duct work and contaminate indoor spaces. Allowing buildup to occur can trigger health problems like asthma attacks and headaches and can even bring on flu-like symptom

Proper maintenance can give your HVAC system a good 15 to 20 years of use. Without regular care, an HVAC system may only last half that time.

When should you schedule HVAC maintenance?

Your HVAC system needs professional maintenance the most right before it’s about to work the hardest. Ideally, you want to have the heating inspected in the fall and your cooling system inspected during the spring. This general schedule will prevent more serious issues like deadly carbon monoxide leaks or last-minute issues that leave you without a cooling option on hot summer days.

Routine HVAC maintenance schedule – what to expect and when

HVAC systems have many moving parts and components that rely on each other to make the whole system work. When something goes wrong, it can be very costly to repair. Good routine maintenance will help avoid big repairs and keep your system working properly, especially when you need it most.

Here’s what you can do at home to help keep your HVAC system running perfectly:

  • To prolong the life of your HVAC unit, make sure it stays clean. Eliminating environmental factors will ensure better system performance. Examining the machine and clearing it of debris such as grass, leaves, pollen, and dust will allow it to maintain optimal functionality.
  • Be sure to take a look at your refrigerant lines and inspect for damage, leaking, or other factors that may be damaging the functionality of the lines.
  • Keeping your filters changed is one of the easiest ways to ensure a solid running HVAC. Even the high quality filters need to be changed on a regular basis to keep your air conditioning system running smoothly. Regularly changed filters cut down on the system’s strain and can avoid the need for repairs.
  • Check the ground your unit sits on. Foundations and ground can shift, so it is good to perform an annual inspection on the ground that holds your AC unit. If the ground has shifted, it is best to call a professional to reinforce the foundation.
  • Some maintenance is as even more about safety than a well-running machine. Replace the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector. While they may not have completely died, the batteries should be replaced each and every year. Carbon monoxide can be highly dangerous, so it is better to be safe.

For more information or to schedule professional maintenance, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800.461.3010.  We look forward to helping you keep your home comfortable in every season!

 

Are expensive air filters better?

Everyone has seen the endless aisles of heating and air system air filters, but the variety of materials and broad cost range can be confusing. Are the more expensive, pleated filters better than the basic woven fiberglass? Do they have to be replaced less often? Are filters really designed to improve the air in your house, or to keep your HVAC system running properly?

Here is a simple comparison:

Less-expensive filtersChanging air filter in home

The purpose of filters both in your HVAC system and in your air return vents is to keep debris, pet hair and dust out of your unit. Thinner, loosely woven fiberglass filters do the job and allow for better air flow. They are also cheaper so it’s more cost effective to replace them regularly. These filters come in a wide variety of sizes and can be put in air return vents as well as your HVAC unit. It’s important to replace these every 30 days.

More-expensive filters

Pleated, thicker air filters can be a good option if you have severe allergies, a smaller home, or multiple units that don’t have to move air around the entire house. These filters really still need to be changed every 30 days to get the full benefit of the additional allergen and dust filtering.  It’s important to know that if you have pets, pleated air filters can get caked with hair and dander quickly, making your system work harder to force air through.

Regardless of the type of filters you use, investing in professional duct work cleaning every 3-5 years is a good idea to extend the life of your HVAC unit.  If you’re changing your filters regularly but are still concerned about the air quality in your home contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800.461.3010!

Inconsistent Temperature in your Home

Have you ever noticed that there are certain areas of your house that always feel colder in the winter and warmer in the summer?  Rooms like this will sometimes be at the end of a hallway, or on a second or third floor. If the issue isn’t something like blocked air vents or returns,  it might be that you need to consider adding an additional HVAC unit or re-configuring ductwork to improve airflow.

Older homes can have ductwork that is torn or sagging from natural wear and tear, which can allow air to escape in the crawl space or attic. Older homes might also have HVAC units that can’t really handle the load of heating and cooling your space. Particularly, if you’ve added on to your home or increased the livable square footage, adding a second unit might be necessary.

Even if you live in a new home, your HVAC unit might not truly be adequate enough for your square footage. This can take years off of the life of your system.

Having to use secondary sources of heating and air, like a window unit or space heater, can significantly increase your electric bill, so here are some things to check:

  1. Make sure all vents are clear and not being blocked by furniture
  2. Make sure all return vents have clean filters
  3. Keep doors open – even rooms that you’re not using
  4. Close vents in rooms that seem too cold when using the air conditioning and too warm when running the heat

If you’re still having issues with air temperature consistency in your home, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric at 800.461.3010 to have your HVAC system and ductwork inspected.

How to stay Warm and Safe During Winter Months

Although the merriment and festivities make winter one of the most sentimental and exciting times of year, it also is the season for higher energy bills and higher safety risks.

We’ve highlighted the ways for you to keep your warmth and safety a priority while also enjoying the holidays:

  • Space heaters are great for heating smaller rooms so you can turn down your thermostat and save on energy. Be sure to keep doors shut to the rooms you don’t need to heat all the time.  Make sure that you don’t accidentally leave them on overnight or when you leave the home. It can easily become the cause of a house fire.
  • In addition to turning off heating devices, make sure that all your smoke detectors are installed and tested. Home fires are reported at the highest rates during winter months, so now is the time to test your smoke detector to ensure that it’s running properly.
  • Since we often spend more time indoors, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is also increased during these colder months. While installing your fire detector, now is a good time to also install and test a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Consider using a humidifier which can often help alleviate wintertime sickness. The dry air is an aggravating factor for the common cold or runny nose during the winter months. When using a humidifier, the air in your home will contain more moisture and help with these symptoms all throughout the day.

If you’re concerned about installing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in your home, don’t worry, Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can help! We can also install a humidifier in your home to ensure optimal comfort during the winter months. You’ll be able to turn down your thermostat and save money this winter, and avoid some of the negative health effects that the dry air brings!

Give us a call today Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.