Running the Air Conditioner During the Winter

Now that the summer heat is a distant memory we need to make sure we are ready for what winter has in store for our homes. Part of getting ready for winter includes winterizing your air conditioner. Every year in the spring we repair and replace many units because they were turned on during the winter months by accident. Sometimes kids playing with the thermostat are to blame and sometimes we push the wrong button. Other times the cause is excessive heat trapped indoors that causes us to use the air conditioner for some relief.  No matter how it happens if your unit starts in the winter serious damage can occur.

Reduce Heat Gain

Running the air conditioner when it is less than 60 degrees outside can cause serious, irreversible damage to the system’s compressor. It must be 60 degrees for at least a few days before you can safely use the air conditioner without worry of blowing the compressor. If the home is gaining too much heat, turn down the temperature at the thermostat and consider closing drapes or blinds. The sun may be heating up the inside of your home and closing the blinds will help bring the temperature down. If the house is still too warm, shut down the furnace and crack of few windows on opposite sides of the home. Take advantage of the free cold air outside, but don’t waste energy by running the furnace at the same time. Continue reading

Post-Hurricane Sandy Scam Prevention

As hurricane Sandy blows herself out, cities and states along the East coast begin to assess the damage done to many areas that are not accustomed to hurricanes. New York and New Jersey were hit especially hard, and whenever there is a disaster like this, scam artists come crawling out of the woodwork from all over the country. They flock towards disaster because it usually means easy money. These states will be especially vulnerable because disasters of this magnitude rarely if ever impact this area. Before you throw your money away on a fly-by-night contractor, consider these tips in order to prevent another disaster on top of the hurricane damage.

Tips to Prevent Post-Disaster Scams:

  • Slow Down and Take a Deep Breath! Many homeowners rush into repairs and find themselves in the middle of a scam simply because they tried to rush through the process. We know you want to get back to normal, but haste is something scam artists are counting on in order to make a quick buck. Continue reading

Repetitive Part Replacement: Condenser Fan

Some air conditioning systems are plagued by the same problem year after year. No matter how many times the homeowner replaces a part, they only get one or two years of function out of it. The air conditioner could be a lemon, but there may be another issue causing the same damage to the part every season. Get to the source of the problem and you could put the problem to bed for good. Although we may be entering the winter season, problems you are having during the summer may be caused by damage that is done during the winter. The condenser motor and condenser fan are costly parts to replace, but many homeowners are replacing them every other season without ever finding and correcting the source of damage.

Air Conditioner Fan Function

As the refrigerant or Freon inside your air conditioner pulls heat from the air, the condenser fan and motor work to cool the refrigerant down so that it can continue to absorb more heat. If the refrigerant is not cooled down, the air conditioner will overheat and cease to work properly. Continue reading

What to Do if Your Air Conditioner Freezes

Without fail, every year, hundreds of homeowners call at the beginning of the cooling season because the air conditioner began to develop ice on its lines and the unit is not putting out adequate cool air. Though this problem is common throughout the season, starting the unit up for the first time often reveals damage that was either left from last season or that occurred during the condensers long winter outdoors. No matter the cause, you need to get the system back up and running before the real heat of summer arrives. Most homeowners rush to the internet for quick fixes, but there is very little a homeowner can do about a frozen air conditioner. More likely than not, you will need professional help.

Shut the Unit Down and Check the Filter

However, there are a couple steps you can try on your own. The first and most important step is to shut the cooling system down. This will shut off the compressor and prevent the system from burning itself out and causing more damage. You could run the fan alone to help circulate warmer air over the coils to speed the thawing process. While the air conditioner is thawing, check the filter. A dirty filter left from over the winter season could be choking off the airflow to the coils. This could be the cause of the freezing. Continue reading

Changing Your Filter and Identifying Problems

Many people have questions about changing their furnace’s filter, and when searching for an answer you will find a lot of mixed information out there. There are no clean cut answers that can be applied to every home and everyone must assess their own situation in order to determine what is best for their heating and cooling systems.  You will hear many people give the blanket answer, “Change your filter every 30 days,” but filter manufacturers have no way of knowing where your unit is installed, the age of the furnace or the condition of your duct work.  Therefore, we recommend following these simple steps in order to determine what is best for your particular situation:

  • Check the filter at least every 30 days even if your filter manufacturer states your filter can be last longer.  Depending on the state of the air quality in your home you may not be able to get much more than 30 days of safe use per filter. Keeping a dirty filter in the system can cause air flow and air quality problems that can have serious consequences for the condition of your furnace. If the filter can last longer and it is still clean at 30 days, you can keep it in, but don’t forget to keep checking it every 30 days! Continue reading

Furnace Maintenance, Prevention, and Repair Advice

Understanding the diagnosis on your furnace is not only important for the homeowner but it also can at times help to prevent problems from happening again.  If the technician finds a problem with your furnace make sure you understand the diagnosis.  If you do not, it is important that you ask the technician to explain it to you.  You can also ask the HVAC technician to show you the problem to help better understand the situation.  Don’t wait for the technician to leave before you call in to ask.  Having the technician still at your home is the best and most simple way to ensure that the problem will be addressed correctly.

Simple Problems You can Handle

Simple problems such as dirty filters, changing your batteries on your thermostat and setting your thermostat correctly are typical problems that the homeowner can handle on their own without having to call the technician out again in the future should the problem arise once more. However, the technician must take the time to walk the homeowner through each step until they can perform the job on their own. These are standard maintenance repairs that the homeowner should be conducting on their own and they should not need a technician to come out every time they need attention. Continue reading

Have You Considered Installing a Humidifier?

If you have a humidifier connected to your furnace or are planning to have one installed here are a few things you should know. The purpose of the humidifier is to add moisture to the air that is circulating throughout your home thru the duct system.  This helps to eliminate dry air in your home during the fall and winter seasons. With one of these systems in place, you will have air circulating in the home that will decrease the frequency of dry-skin and sore-throats caused by dry air. Installing a humidifier will help with your dry sinuses while helping you to save energy at the same time. Running your humidifier will create moist air which holds heat.  This will leave you feeling more comfortable and will allow you to lower your normal heat setting. 

Don’t Choke on Dry Air

If you already have a humidifier installed in your home this would be the time to change the filter if you haven’t already.  The humidifier pad, or filter, should be replaced once a year before the heating season begins. Not doing so will leave the humidifier vulnerable to mold growth and leaks, but at the very least, you won’t get the same moisture benefits that you have in the past because of the dirty filter. You are going to have the furnace cleaned anyways, so why not have your serviceman change the humidifier filter too! Don’t let your home become as dry as a desert this winter and get your humidifier ready for the season now!

Weather Stripping Your Windows

Sometimes we know that there is a need to replace something in the home, but we just simply can’t afford it. We will do anything we can to put off the replacement and make minor repairs in the hopes that it will solve our problems for at least a couple more years while we save for the big replacement investment. For many homes, the windows are the source of the problem, but the cost of replacement windows is just too high. Luckily, many of the typical problems that old windows have can be solved with simple, and cheap, do it yourself projects. These projects can be completed in a matter of hours and will add on at least a few more years to the life of your windows.

Weather Stripping and Insulating

Weather stripping is a rather simple project that will seal air leaks around your windows and doors. The easiest type of weather-stripping to install is the adhesive-backed type, and it can be purchased at any local hardware store. Weather stripping your windows is a do-it-yourself project, even if you aren’t much of a do-it-yourselfer. You can also seal the windows with films during the winter months. Plastic, or any other material that may be used, can boost the insulating ability of your old windows and keep out winter’s chill. For this all you need is a hairdryer and a sealing kit. Finally, if plastic films on your windows don’t seem appealing, you could also hang heavy curtains. Either make them yourself or search for them on sale, but either way, they will help keep out the cold drafts that may seep around your window and into your home. Continue reading