HVAC Upgrades for Comfort & Equity

HVAC upgrades will always be a safe bet and a smart investment — and yet, these home improvements are some of the most commonly overlooked by homeowners and flippers. A prospective buyer probably won’t automatically walk away from a home without all the newest gadgets, but they won’t even look twice at a home that lacks basic heating and cooling abilities.

Therefore, you should take HVAC renovations quite seriously and make them a priority over new flooring, paint, and other aesthetic or luxury upgrades.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that HVAC remodels have a higher average return on investment than most other types of remodeling projects, yielding a return of up to 71%.

You’ll want to take into account the region, the age and size of your home, your budget, and the layout of your property. With these factors in mind, you can get an idea of your HVAC system upgrade options.

Is your current HVAC system in good working condition?

During the home-selling process, you can bet that people will ask you the age of your HVAC system. Was your system installed less than 10 years ago? If so,then it very likely has several good years of use left in it. Anything newer isn’t likely to make a difference in home value or offers from potential buyers. Anything older than 15 years old; however, will be a turnoff to buyers.

Can you get away with an HVAC repair instead of a replacement?

If your HVAC unit is less than 10 years old but functions like it needs to be upgraded, you might be able to get away with some simple repairs rather than a complete system overhaul.

It’s hard to go wrong with most basic HVAC upgrades. This is especially true if the home you’re renovating is more than 20 years old. Even though you may only recover 50% or less of certain HVAC investments, an upgrade could capture the interest of buyers and make it worth the purchase.

Furnace/Boiler

Replacing an old furnace or boiler is an easy upgrade that doesn’t require much labor. Most furnaces can last up to 15 years with proper maintenance, but most older heating appliances require frequent, pricey repairs and cost a lot to run. By switching to a new heating appliance, you conserve energy and improve the efficiency of your home’s heating system. This is attractive to potential buyers.

Insulation

Fiberglass insulation only costs around $1,200 on average and yields a $1,400 return upon resale within a year of completion. Poor insulation is an easy fix and a low-risk investment that yields a 95% to 116% return. Properly insulated walls improve a home’s ability to regulate internal temperatures and reduce the demand on its HVAC system.

Air DuctsImage shows new ductwork installed to add equity to a home

If you are replacing an old HVAC system with a more efficient one, you might need to upgrade your ductwork to accommodate it. Ductwork is made to last 25 years at the most, but it starts to degrade in about 15 years. Deterioration will reduce the efficiency of an HVAC system significantly. It’s a good idea to replace the ductwork if you plan to sell your home in the near future.

Windows

Approximately 35% of a home’s heat escapes through low-quality windows. Even if the walls of your home are highly insulated, it won’t do much good if the windows aren’t equally energy-efficient.

Doors and Weather Stripping

Another way to significantly improve your HVAC efficiency with minimal labor is to upgrade to energy-efficient doors and repair or replace any old weather stripping. Some of the most energy-efficient materials available for residential doors include fiberglass, steel, and vinyl. Try to avoid wood and glass if your goal is to prevent airflow.

After replacing your door, you should see a return of 75% to 91% of your investment upon resale, depending on the type of door you’ve chosen. When swapping out your door, don’t forget about the weather stripping. New weather stripping will ensure a tight seal around your doors and windows and prevent air leaks. This is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make to your home, ranging from $130 to $340.

Central Air

People want to be comfortable in every room of their home all year long. Most homebuyers today consider central heating and air conditioning a standard feature rather than an upgrade. So,without it, you may struggle to sell your home. A central air installation can cost anywhere from $6,000 to 15,000, but it could increase your home value by up to 10%.

Roof

While the roof serves to protect everything under it, it’s also an important insulator. Inefficient roofing materials account for 25% of heat loss. Just by upgrading to modern, high-tech shingles, you can relieve a lot of the strain on your HVAC system and improve your indoor comfort. Asphalt shingles can lower a roof’s surface temperature by up to 50 degrees and increase home value by $12,000. Investing in a new roof might seem like a big expense, but it has been shown that you can recover 105% of the cost at resale.

You can count on the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical to help you maximize your HVAC upgrades. Call us at 800.461.3010 or submit our scheduling form, to get started.

 

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.

 

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.

Conserve Heat this Winter and Save

Colder days are here! Taking steps now to conserve and redirect heat will help you save on your energy bill  throughout the winter months. It can also prevent costly repairs to overworked systems.

Most of the tips below are free, and any costs are minimal compared to the amount of money you can save.

Bring in the warmth of sunlight

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows and doors during the day to allow the sun’s light heat your home.
  • At night, close them to cut the chill from cold windows.

Cover drafty windows

  • Use window treatments such as a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on drafty windows after weatherizing, to conserve heat and save energy.

Adjust the temperature

  • Set your thermostat as low as comfortable when you are home and awake.
  • When you are away from the house or asleep, turn your thermostat back 10 degrees to 15 degrees for eight hours to save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Keep a moderate setting on your heat pump or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.

Locate and seal leaks

  • Seal air leaks. Some places to check are around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
  • Use caulking or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around doors and windows.

Insulate the attic door

  • Even if your attic is insulated, don’t forget to check your attic door.
  • Add insulation to the inside of the door to prevent heated air from rising into the attic.

Maintain your heating systems

  • Schedule maintenance for your heating system.
  • Replace your furnaces and heat pump filters once a month or as needed.
  • Clean the flue vent regularly on your wood- and pellet-burning heaters. Clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.

Reduce heat loss from the fireplace

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed when there is no fire is burning. Keeping it open allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window about an inch. Close doors to the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 degrees and 55 degrees.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

Lower your water heating costs

  • Turn down the water heater temperature to the warm setting (12o degrees).

Use ceiling fans correctly

  • Most ceiling fans have a switch so you can set the blades to rotate in reverse during the winter. This pushes the warm air near the ceiling down toward the floor to keep you warmer.
  • Locate this switch on the body of the fan and set the blades to turn counter-clockwise. In summer, reverse the direction so the blades rotate in a clockwise direction.

Install door sweeps

  • Prevent cold air from blowing in by installing a door sweep at the bottom of exterior doors. Some utility companies offer them free to customers, so call to inquire before you buy one.

Seal electric outlets

  • Did you know electric outlets and switches can be sources of air leaks? Insulate them.
  • Turn off the power at the circuit breaker box. Insulate with pre-made foam gaskets. Measure the outlet to be sure you get the correct size.
  • Also, insert child-safety plugs in unused wall outlets to plug potential leaks.

Central Carolina Air Conditioning can help with your home efficiency and maintenance needs.  Request an appointment online or call us at 1.800.461.3010.

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.

Tips on Heating Your Home During the Winter

The energy bill during the winter months is often something that homeowners dread paying, as they spike the thermostat settings to keep their homes warm and cozy. This does not have to be a high expense even in the winter months, and there are some tips that we’ll share that can save you money and keep your energy bill lower!

Take the Following Steps to Stay Warmer at Home:

  • Open the curtains during the day.  

During summer months, you probably keep your curtains closed to block unnecessary heat. Use the sun to your advantage during the winter               months, and allow it to bring warmth into your home! Once the sun has gone down, close the curtains to keep the heat inside.

  • Heat the rooms that you actually use.

Seal off the vents in any bedrooms

  • Make sure your furnace filter is cleaned and that your vents are properly maintained.

 

  • As we talked about in a previous post, getting a humidifier for your home will help the air feel comfortable at a lower temperature. This means that you won’t have to crank up the heat and spike your energy bill in order to feel warm and comfortable in your home.

 

  • Use your exhaust fans sparingly. While it may come as a surprise to you, frequently using exhaust fans during the winter can lead you to increase the thermostat in your home. Exhaust fans pull the hot air that

 

  • Properly insulate your home, so that there is no heat escaping! You can start by weather stripping your doors and windows, then the attic to ensure that your whole home is insulated and keeping all the heat in.

Without an efficient furnace or heating system, these tips won’t do much to save you money, because your system will have to twice as hard to produce a normal amount of heat. So whether it’s preventative maintenance, full replacement, or products and services to enhance your heating, Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can provide 24/7 service to make sure your heating system is running smoothly and efficiently! While we’re out there, we can also check and repair insulation so there is no unnecessary heat loss.

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

An Unresponsive Furnace

Your furnace is one of the most important parts of your home and one of the most costly to repair. So what do you do when it appears to be broken?

If your furnace isn’t working, first try simply changing the filter. Often this is the issue. (This should be done at least once every few months– more often if you have allergies/asthma.)

You’ll also want to see if there is an indicator light on the furnace circuit board. If you see it and it is flashing, look for the chart that corresponds to it. This will tell you what is wrong.

Next, try cycling the power by turning the power off for five minutes and then turning it back on, either at the breaker or using the on-off switch on the furnace. This will reset the alarms in the system. You’ll turn the thermostat on and see if the system turns on. You’ll see the hot surface ignitor start to glow or hear the clicking of the spark ignitor. If the ignitor is not working, the gas valve will not stay open until your replace the ignitor.

Also, check that the gas did not accidentally get turned off.

Do not try to make any major repairs on your own, as this can void your warranty. Furthermore, it is always best to be on the safe side and call a professional if you are not comfortable with what you are doing.

You should already have a professional come twice a year to inspect and clean your HVAC system. Regular servicing will prevent the majority of problems from becoming huge!

###

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!

 

 

Furnace Efficiency Ratings

 

UnknownDid you know that the efficiency rating for your heating system will help you figure out how much it will cost you to heat your home? A higher rating is ideal — it means that a greater amount of heat is provided for the amount of energy used.

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating indicates how much heat the furnace produces compared to the amount of energy required to produce the heat. For example, if a furnace is rated at 80 percent AFUE, 20 percent of the energy used is lost, and 80 percent actually becomes heat.

By finding out this information you can decide if it may be time to upgrade your system. Contact the manufacturer or search on their website to find your model.

Here is how the efficiency ratings for systems break down:

  • 56-70% efficiency (typically older models)
  • 80-83% AFUE- mid-efficiency
  • 90-98.5 AFUE- high-efficiency

Keep in mind that the AFUE rating does not account for potential heat loss through duct work. Ducts can lose a lot of heating efficiency.

High-efficiency furnaces use two heat exchangers. Condensing units remove water from exhaust gas and then send the gas through a second exchanger. The combustion units are sealed. Condensing furnaces are generally about 10 percent higher in efficiency ratings than non-condensing units. These systems are more expensive initially, but you can save a great deal of money over the long term in fuel costs. An HVAC professional can help you decide what is best for your home and lifestyle.

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!

Using Space Heaters

c700x420

If you’re trying to warm up a certain room, a space heater can be a great way to do that. However, the space heater’s effectiveness is dependent on you taking specific precautions while purchasing wisely so you don’t waste electricity (and money).

There are a few different types of heaters that can be used in your home. Electric space heaters are the only unvented space heaters safe for indoor use. They do not pose indoor air quality concerns, but can still be a fire hazard if not used safely. These should be plugged directly into a wall. If an extension cord is absolutely necessary, use a short heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or heavier. Look for a tip-over safety switch that shuts the unit off if it is turned over.

Vented combustion heaters, on the other hand, are made to be put next to an outside wall so the flue gas vent can be installed through a ceiling or wall (unvented combustion units are not recommended for indoor use). Only use the approved fuel and do not overfill the heater or fill when it is still hot. It is a good idea to have a vented space heater inspected by a professional each year to prevent issues that can cause high levels of carbon monoxide to enter your home.

In addition, below are a few more things to consider when buying or using a space heater.

  • Look for newer models that have the up-to-date safety features. They should have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Only buy what you need. You don’t need a huge heater for a small room. Look for a sizing chart on the box.
  • Heaters should be put on level surfaces where they won’t be in anyone’s way. Always keep pets and children far away.
  • Kerosene heaters are not recommended in your home, and in some communities, may even be illegal to use.
  • Remember to install or check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms!

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!