How to Avoid the Most Common Winter HVAC Issues

How to Avoid the Most Common Winter HVAC Issues

As winter approaches, it is important to start thinking about getting ready for the cold weather and preparing your furnace for heating season. Temperatures can get down into 20s and 30s in winter in Wilmington, so if you don’t want to get left out in the cold, you’ll want to avoid these common winter HVAC issues.

How to Avoid Common Winter Heating Issues

Here are some of the most common heating issues and how to avoid them this winter:

Heat Cycling

If you notice that your heating system is constantly cycling on and off, this may be a sign of a problem. It could either be a malfunctioning heater component or a faulty thermostat. Call your HVAC technician if you notice heat cycling as failing to fix this problem can lead to even more costly issues as well as increased utility bills.

Lack of Heat

If you are experiencing a sudden loss of heat or your home just doesn’t seem to reach the temperature you have set on your thermostat, this may be a sign of a malfunctioning HVAC system or broken thermostat. The best way to avoid this issue is to test your heater before you are ready to turn it on for the season. You should also have your annual furnace tune-up in the fall to ensure that your system is working properly. If you still experience issues, call a professional as it may be a complex heating issue.

Increasing Heat Bills

One of the most common HVAC issues that homeowners experience during the winter is a spike in utility bills. If you notice that your heating bills are higher than last year, this could be do to an issue with your heating system. A malfunctioning or dirty component can cause your heating system to work harder than it should to heat your home, causing a sudden increase in heating bills. This issue may also be a thermostat problem, so homeowners may want to troubleshoot their thermostat before calling in an HVAC technician.

Inconsistent Room Temperatures

Homeowners often report experiencing inconsistent room temperatures in their home. This can make it difficult for you and your family to get comfortable, especially as temperatures start to drop. This may be due to a draft problem, which you can fix by sealing any leaky windows or doors and replacing damaged insulation. However, this issue can also be due to unbalanced airflow, which can often be resolved by manually adjusting the air vents. If this does not work, it could also be due to dirty coils or filters. Ask your HVAC technician to inspect and clean these components during your winter tune-up.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a serious risk to homeowners. This odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas can be deadly to you and your family. If you have an older gas furnace, you may be at increased risk for carbon monoxide leaks. This gas leaks through tiny cracks in the heat exchange that can often be difficult to see and find on your own. The best way to avoid carbon monoxide issues is to install a carbon monoxide detector. You should also have your HVAC technician inspect your system for carbon monoxide leaks when you get your annual furnace tune-up.

Need help handling one of these common heating issues? William G. Day Company is here to help you with all of your heating needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a trained HVAC technician.

7 Tips to Get Your Heater Ready for the Winter Season

As summer winds down, autumn home maintenance tasks may resurface in your calendar. Prepare your furnace before the cold weather hits to keep your home comfortable and energy efficient. You can complete many heater maintenance tasks on your own, but you may need a service professional for complete cold weather readiness.

Why You Should Properly Maintain Your Heater

Northeast winter weather can turn cold quickly. Without proper maintenance, you risk coming home to a cold house or experiencing a furnace problem when it’s least convenient. Besides poor heating, a malfunctioning furnace may lead to dangerous gas leaks and fire hazards. Properly maintained furnaces perform better over time, are safer, and cost less to operate. Proactive maintenance is an investment in physical and financial health.

Tips for Winter Weather Heater Maintenance

Take the time to complete maintenance activities before the first snowfall. Here are some top tips HVAC professionals recommend for every furnace:

  1. Replace furnace filters regularly. Filters can improve air quality throughout the house, but they primarily enhance furnace performance. The filter prevents dust and debris from building up inside the blower fan or causing problems such as fire hazards and poor heat circulation. Look for filters with a high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating that also allow for maximum airflow within the home. Replace filters as recommended.
  2. Inspect furnace burners. If your HVAC system features a gas burner, inspect the burner before you switch on the heat. Look for dust buildup that may inhibit the burner from working properly or create a fire hazard. Clean the burner thoroughly. Contact a professional if you notice any structural issues.
  3. Change your thermostat settings from cool to heat. When you’ve completed these basic maintenance steps, switch your thermostat settings over to heat. You may notice a slight odor as the system cranks up for the first time. The smell should dissipate quickly as the furnace continues to run.
  4. Schedule an annual tune-up. Keep your system running smoothly with an annual tune-up at the beginning of the fall. A service technician will conduct all the necessary safety and performance diagnostics and provide you with an overview of the health of your system.
  5. Inspect heating registers and air returns. To keep your home evenly heated, remove all barriers from air registers and returns. Keep boxes away from floor and wall vents. Vacuum or wipe away any surface dust accumulated on the registers and grilles.
  6. Look over the outdoor unit. Intermittently check the outdoor unit for debris and snow buildup during the winter season. Keep the unit clean and clear for improved home heating.
  7. Lock in an affordable gas rate (if applicable). If your furnace requires gas, check seasonal gas rates early. Lock in a consistent rate while gas prices are lowest for improved savings all winter long.

Preparing your furnace for winter shouldn’t take a great deal of time. A little prep work will keep you warm and snug this winter. If you need help getting your heating system ready for the winter ahead, give us a call. Our HVAC technicians can test your heater and make any necessary repairs before the cold weather hits.

 

A Quick Water Heater Purchasing Guide

Determining Your Water Heating Needs

There are several things to keep in mind when you’re selecting a new water heater. The first is your budget. There are some options that will save a lot of money over the life of the water heater but they have a larger initial investment. The second variable that will influence your choices is how much water is needed.

Options in Water Heaters

Over the last several years there have been a number of improvements in water heater technology. The new heaters, even newer versions of old technology, are much more energy efficient than their counterparts of even a few years ago.

One of the newest types of hot water heaters is a heat pump water heater. These function like a refrigerator in reverse. They are able to extract heat from the air around the water heater and transfer it to the water inside. They operate best in temperature ranges of 40-100 degrees so they will need to be kept in a place within your home that falls within that range year-round. So while a garage might not work, a basement surely would. While highly efficient, using only around 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of electricity as an electric water heater, their initial cost is high and the technology and industry are still new.

Another model of water heater is the in-line, or tankless heater. These are small, energy efficient heaters that are installed close to the point of need for the hot water, such as in a bathroom or under a kitchen sink, or for larger models, on each side of a house. They work by only heating the water as it passes through the heater on an as-needed basis. They virtually eliminate standby energy loss but as with the heat pump, their initial costs can be high depending on how many heaters are needed. They can also struggle with meeting the demands of large-volume hot water use.

Then there are the tank-style heaters that everyone is familiar with. These models are capable of providing a lot of hot water and have come a long way in energy efficiency. However they are still the least-efficient models of them all and standby losses are still an issue.

Be sure to follow the William G. Day Company blog to stay up to date on all HVAC and plumbing technology and service.

What Are the Ratings for Furnace Efficiency?

As you begin to look for a new furnace or heating system, you will notice that energy efficiency is a commonly talked-about feature. What do rating efficiencies mean and how should they affect your purchase decision?

Furnace rating efficiencies are an important factor that should be included in the decision making process. In short, these ratings represent how efficient your heating unit is. A higher rating means that more heat is generated for the amount of energy used, therefore saving you more money.

How is Furnace Efficiency Measured?

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is what you want to pay attention to when determining efficiency. This rating tells you how much heat the furnace will produce compared to the amount of energy that is required to generate this heat.

Let’s look at an example.

If a furnace has a rating at 85 percent AFUE, this means that 15 percent of the energy generated is lost and 85 percent becomes heat. A higher AFUE is better because more of the energy turns to heat.

Account for Poor Ductwork

Keep in mind that the AFUE rating does not account for potential heat loss through ductwork.

Ducts in the attic can account for up to 35 percent heat loss. If you don’t have good insulation in the home, it’s likely that you’ll lose a lot of heat that has nothing to do with the AFUE rating.

Before you make your final decision, it’s a good idea to evaluate your home’s insulation. This way, you can get the most bang for your buck.

What if Your Furnace Isn’t Rated?

The Federal Trade Commission requires all manufacturers to rate their NEW furnaces. It’s possible that an older model won’t have a rating, or that the information was removed.

If this is the case with your current furnace, there is a way you can obtain this information.

  • Low-efficiency furnaces use the pilot light continuously and tend to be between 56 and 70 percent efficient.
  • Middle-of-the-road models usually have a fan that controls the airflow, as well as an electric ignition. These units are approximately 80 to 83 percent efficient.
  • High-efficiency furnaces feature two heat exchangers, condensing units and sealed combustion units. They operate on 90 to 98.5 percent efficiency.

Are you considering the installation of a new furnace or heating system or do you need professional heating repairs to your current unit? Call the William G. Day Company today to learn about your options. We provide long-lasting heating and air conditioning solutions that won’t break the bank.

Call Now To Learn More And To Set Up An Appointment!

What Size Heat Pump Do I Need?

Heat pumps are devices found in many HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems throughout the country. Instead of generating their own heat, these devices pull naturally occurring heat from the surrounding environment. A heat pump only serves its proper function when it’s the right size for your home. When determining the size of the pump you need to purchase, several factors should influence your decision-making process.

What Does a Heat Pump Do?

In some HVAC systems, heat is generated by a traditional gas- or propane-powered furnace, or by an electric furnace based around a component called a heating element. A heat pump doesn’t operate like a furnace. Instead of producing its own heat, it pulls in heat from other sources. In most cases, the source of this heat is actually the air in your local outdoor environment. Certain types of heat pumps can also draw heat from the ground, or from lakes, wells or other nearby water sources. After gathering heat from the air, ground or water, a heat pump relies on an attached blower unit to distribute warmth to the rooms in your home.

Why Does Heat Pump Size Matter?

Heat pumps are only designed to work well in specific environments. If you have a pump that’s too small or too large for your home, you may run into a range of problems that occur when a pump tries to perform its job in less-than-ideal circumstances. Common issues include an unusually swift accumulation of wear-and-tear-related damage within the pump, rapid on/off cycling that eventually damages the motor on the blower unit and a lack of consistent temperature control throughout your home. In addition, you can easily experience rising utility costs and unusual changes in indoor humidity.

What’s the Right Pump Size

There are eight factors that work together to determine the proper heat pump size for your home. These factors include your local area’s typical temperature and humidity ranges, your home’s size and shape, the number of people who reside in your home, the daily energy usage patterns in your household, and the number and spatial layout of your residence’s windows. The list of key considerations also includes the R factor and thickness of your home’s insulation, the amount of heat your household produces through everyday lighting and appliance use, and your house’s relative ability to stop air from passing through your roof, floors and walls.

Rely on an HVAC Professional

To make sure that all of the relevant considerations are taken into account, rely on the resources provided by a trained, experienced HVAC professional. Any professional you consult should have a working familiarity with something called Manual J, which lays out the industry standard for the proper sizing of heat pumps. Contact the experts at the William G. Day Company if you have any further questions about heat pump selection. Also, make sure to follow us here for frequent updates on the latest in all HVAC-related topics.

Tips For Winterizing Your Water Heater

If you are planning on taking a vacation in the winter and temperatures go below freezing in your area, you should consider winterizing your water heater to prevent it from freezing over or possibly breaking. It is not a difficult task, however, all the instructions must be adhered to, especially the part that requires you to drain all the water from the heater and the pipes and feed the water to the tank.

To begin you should start by switching off or disconnecting your water heater from the power source. If it is powered by electricity, you should unplug it. if it is powered by gas, you should use a crescent wrench to turn the valve until it is perpendicular to the line. You should then locate the control box at the bottom right hand corner of the heater and switch it off. You must then locate the incoming water line for the house and turn it off. It should either be situated outside the home or in your basement. once located turn the wheel like handle clockwise until it is closed. The next step is to find the drain at the bottom of the water tank and drain the water out, either by connecting a hose pipe if it allows or using a bucket. The handle should be turned anti-clockwise and the air vent at the top of the tank must be opened. The draining procedure can take up to 30 minutes. All faucets in the home should be left open so that any remaining water can leak out. You should wrap insulation around all the pipes going in and coming out of the water water heater. Cover the insulation with duct tape and wrap a water heater blanket over the heater and hold it in place using duct tape. You can also use a home made blanket.

This last step may not be necessary, but if you want to be able to enjoy your water heater again, this is a great way of winterizing your water heater and ensuring that it doesn’t freeze while you are away. Follow us for more tips on how to care for your water heater.

Replacing A Furnace? 5 Things To Think About Before You Do

Replacing a furnace can make the difference between a person paying high utility bill without sufficient heating and getting proper heat at reasonable costs. Before making a furnace replacement decision, every furnace user must consider several aspects to help him/ her make a financially-sound and HVAC-sound decision. Below is a list of things to consider before replacing a furnace.

5 things to think about when thinking of furnace replacement

Performance of the current furnace

If your current furnace ceases to perform as efficiently or energy-efficiently as it once did, it might need a replacement. Other performance issues you can look for include rattling, grinding or knocking noises, leaking fuel, and smoke whenever the furnace is functional. The age of a furnace, especially, if it has exceeded the manufacturer’s warranty age, can be an additional factor to consider especially when the efficiency of the furnace has regularly failed.

What do you know about your system?

Before you decide to replace your furnace, find out how much you know about your current system. Some brands have a higher efficiency and other performance issues than others. Do not schedule a furnace replacement just because you feel it is making a little too much humming noise than other systems you have seen; some brands operate noiselessly.

Confirm your suspicions

Just because you have gathered some facts about your furnace and have identified some performance issues does not mean that you know, for sure, that you should replace it. Request a professional HVAC technician to do a furnace tune-up. It may be that some issues can be fixed, and you can postpone the furnace replacement.

Consult a professional about your new furnace

Soon after an HVAC technician confirms your findings and supports a furnace replacement, you should do some research to find out the best furnaces in the market. Consult HVAC professionals to give you unbiased information on the most efficient furnaces, as well as government-funded programs. Use the information provided by professionals to choose the best furnace for your premises.

Act promptly

The best time to replace your furnace is before winter. HVAC technicians are almost always fully booked for furnace repairs and replacements during winter. Your best bet is to have the furnace replaced before winter commences so that you do not become inconvenienced.

Making a furnace replacement is an expensive and time-consuming affair. However, it is a move that can save the furnace owner much hassle, inconvenience and money, in the long run. Consider the performance of the current system, have an HVAC technician check it, and gather information on the best furnace. Call us today for all your heating and cooling needs.

What Is The Difference Between A Furnace And A Heat Pump?

Having a house built or renovated does not come cheap. This is why most homeowners try to scrimp and save on the essentials, like temperature control, for instance.

People who are in the process of building or renovating will want to know what options they have, with regard to heating, especially those who live in colder locations. You can either have a heat pump or a furnace installed. If you think that a furnace and a heat pump are one and the same, please know that they are two different devices.

The Heat Pump

The heat pump is a heat circulating or transferring device. It works by converting mechanical energy to thermal energy. Machines like refrigerators, air conditioners and freezers fall under this category. The conversion of mechanical to thermal energy is done with the help of refrigerants. Carbon dioxide or CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) are common examples of refrigerants.

The heat pump may lower or heat the atmosphere, depending on what you prefer. It allows you to regulate the room temperature to suit your needs. You would also be surprised to know that there are some eco-friendly heat pump options available.

The Furnace

Unlike the heat pump, a furnace can only increase the temperature. To generate heat, you can use LPG, coal, fuel oil, natural gas or wood. Boilers, kilns and ovens are common examples. Please note that you will need other things, like a thermostat, burners and blowers, if you decide on getting a furnace installed.

If you decide to get a furnace, please note that you may need a heat pump, for unless you live in an area that is cold all year round, there will be sweltering months, wherein you would wish you invested your money on a heat pump instead. It would also be best to remember that the initial cost of having a furnace installed may be cheaper. However, if you consider the electricity bills, getting a heat pump is more pocket-friendly.

If you are on the edge or need to get either of the two, it would be best to leave the installation process to our team of experts. Calls us for all your air conditioning and heating system needs.

The Importance Of Maintaining The Heating System

Typically, it is best to ensure that the heating system in your home is working properly before the freezing days of winter arrive. However, if you have not already done so, there is no time like the present to take a look at your gas furnace to ensure the comfort and safety of every member of your household. Winter is in full swing; therefore it is definitely not too late. Doing a bit of preventative maintenance is a lot better than ending up with absolutely no heat.

Know Your Furnace

For the most part, gas furnaces are situated in basements, attics, closets and other non-living spaces around the home. They are fairly easy to maintain; however, they require regular attention to remain in tip top shape.

A lot of homeowners feel that if the heat is working, there is no need to check the furnace. It is pretty much out of sight, out of mind. While homeowners do not need to have in depth knowledge of their heating system, it is important to pay some attention and a good place to start is doing an inspection. Look for the following things:

Are there any signs of water around the boiler? If there is even the littlest drip, this could be an indication of a big problem in the future.

Are there any weird noises coming from the unit?

Is a carbon monoxide detector located near the furnace? A defective furnace could leak hazardous CO into the air. There are many homes that do not have a CO detector close to the furnace but your family can be kept safe if you invest just a few dollars.

Is the general vicinity free of debris and clean? Do not store items close to the furnace, items like paints and cleaning products are dangerous near a heat source. Some of these products are flammable and some can evaporate and cause the unit to corrode.

Call a Professional

Experts recommend having the heating system looked at by a licensed and certified technician at least once yearly. Professionals, like William G Day Company, Wilmington, DE are better equipped to notice issues that homeowners might not be aware. There are reputable companies that provide service contracts for residential customers on an annual basis.

A licensed and certified technician will go through the “punch list” of the manufacturer for maintenance steps. He or she will turn the electrical power off and ensure that the gas valve is closed, the furnace and surrounding areas will then be cleaned, removing dirt and dust that might have accumulated, along with rust around the controls and on wires. The fan belt, air filter, thermostat setting, controls, burners, radiators and other components of the furnace will be thoroughly checked and replaced, if necessary.

Best Heating System Options For Savvy Homeowners

Heaters do wonders for comfort and peace of mind in homes. They also keep people from enduring sickness and frost bite. These units need to be serviced in order to function properly. Most people don’t have the slightest ideas of how they work. By reading further, a homeowner can learn whats involved in a preseason heater check.

Thermostat

Most homeowners are concerned about saving money on their power bills. When people attempt to think in terms of being more energy efficient, they forget about the thermostats. These nifty devices control the climates, so they are directly responsible for the amount of energy that the systems use. A inspection and tuneup of your heating system should include a replacement of the thermostat. There are digital products on the market that are very efficient. Homeowners may be able to save up to $180 per year if they make replacements. If it is cosmetics that they are concerned about, they do not have to worry. The programmable models have sleek designs that complement the overall décor of rooms.

Indoor Air Quality

It is not enough to live in a home with a regulated temperature operating efficiently. The health is also important and many homeowners take that for granted. Thousands of families are suffering from asthma, headaches and allergies because of poor air quality. It is the airborne pathogens that sneak into cardiovascular systems undetected. When getting routine heating maintenance, a homeowner should inquire about an air cleaner or purifier. These products will ensure that they air is free of dust particles and pathogens.

Choosing the Best Heating System

There is a lot of talk these days about energy efficient systems and for good reason. The so-called energy crisis has led to panic and gas prices are skyrocketing. It is in a homeowner’s best interest to understand the options of systems that are available when getting a heating system checked before winter. A house can be heated with an air to air electric heat pump, geothermal heat pump or natural gas furnace. The latter has a rating of 80%, which sounds great at first glance. However, that number drops every year as long as it’s being used. An air to air system can be very efficient being that it puts out 2.5 units of heat for every 1 unit of electricity. A homeowner would not have to remain shackled to the need for gas and avoid the risk of an explosion. For those that are into alternative energy, geothermal systems are the way to go. A homeowner simply pays for one unit of electricity and gets 3 more for free from the sun!

Energy is a big topic of discussion these days. People are trying to figure out how to get more of it with the least amount of investment. A homeowner can reduce the energy consumption by replacing the thermostat with a late model digital one. The air quality will have an impact on one’s health, so it should be controlled. Finally, a homeowner can choose from three heat systems if getting a heating system checked before winter.