Fall Preventative Maintenance
After months of sweating in the heat and humidity, you wake up one morning and step outside. Instead of feeling like you’ve just walked into a sauna, the air is crisp and cool. Finally, the long summer is coming to an end, and autumn is right around the corner. Soon it will be time to switch off the AC and turn on the heat.
But before you turn on the heat for the first time in months, there’s something very important that you need to do.
- Make an appointment to have fall preventive maintenance performed on your HVAC system, as recommended by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Having this maintenance done will not only extend the life of your HVAC system and help to ensure that it works reliably all winter long, it could actually save your life.
You see, although there are many good reasons to have preventive maintenance done
- making sure the electrical components are working
- lubricating moving parts
- checking gas lines for leaks—the number one most important reason for preventive maintenance is avoiding the release of carbon monoxide gas into your home.
The CDC calls carbon monoxide the “Invisible Killer” because unlike natural gas or smoke, it’s colorless and odorless. The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to the flu, which means that especially during flu season, people affected by carbon monoxide may simply think they’re “coming down with something.” But if they don’t get away from the carbon monoxide immediately, the symptoms can quickly progress to mental confusion, unconsciousness, and ultimately death. According to the CDC, more than 150 people in the US die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fall maintenance helps to prevent these terrible tragedies. In a furnace, the heat exchanger is responsible for venting carbon monoxide away from the ducts so that it does not enter your home. If that heat exchanger develops a crack or hole, it allows the carbon monoxide to leak back into the ducts. The furnace can continue to run in spite of the leak, so there won’t be any immediate sign of a problem as the carbon monoxide begins to build up in your home.
That’s why preventive maintenance is so important. Before you begin heating your home in the fall, a trained technician should examine your heat exchanger to check for signs of wear or weakness as part of a comprehensive maintenance check-up. This simple step, combined with the proper installation of carbon monoxide detectors in your home, can protect your family and help ensure that you all to enjoy a happier, healthier New Year.
Why Is There a Burning Smell When I Turn My Heat On?
First off: Don’t panic. It’s completely normal for your heater to give off a burning smell when you turn it on for the first time after several months of not using it. If you’ve just turned on the heat and you smell burning but your smoke detectors aren’t going off, chances are very good that everything is fine.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about why your heater might be putting out that alarming smell. When your heat isn’t turned on for several months, dust collects on parts such as the heating element and the heat exchanger, and sometimes in the ducts. When the heat gets turned on for the first time, that dust burns off, and it can smell pretty bad when it does.
The smell should only last for about forty-five minutes. If it continues for much longer than that, you should get the unit inspected because there may be loose insulation in the ducts or debris inside or around it causing the smell.
Speaking of inspections, ironically, when you turn on your heat for the first time in the fall, the real danger you may face doesn’t have a smell at all. If your heat exchanger has developed holes or cracks over the summer months, turning on your heat could release completely odorless carbon monoxide into your home. According to the CDC, over 150 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States each year, and thousands more go to the hospital for treatment. That’s why it’s so important to have fall preventive maintenance done on your HVAC system every year.
That annoying burning smell will be gone soon, but regular preventive maintenance by a trained technician can help to ensure that your family stays safe and warm all winter long. If you haven’t done it already, why not schedule an appointment today?
See Also: Why Does My AC Smell Like…
Here in the Tennessee Valley, we know all about humidity, and in the summertime, we count on our air conditioners to remove humidity from our homes. But the air conditioner alone can only do so much. To protect your home and improve your family’s comfort, you can upgrade your air conditioner by adding a whole-house dehumidifier.
Why do I need a dehumidifier?
- We all know that excessive humidity can be uncomfortable. When it’s hot, humidity adds to the misery, leaving you feeling sticky and overheated because your sweat can’t evaporate efficiently.
- If the humidity is high in your home, you’ll have to set the thermostat at a lower temperature in order to be comfortable, which means using more energy and paying higher utility bills.
- By lowering the humidity, you can make your home more comfortable without turning down the thermostat.
- But decreasing the humidity in your home isn’t simply a matter of comfort. Excess indoor humidity can damage your wood flooring and furniture, causing it to warp or rot. It can cause mold and mildew to grow in your walls or your carpets.
- Excess humidity can even lead to insects breeding inside your home, as well as dust mites.
- Mold, mildew, and dust mites are all major allergy triggers and can cause symptoms in those with asthma.
Do I really need a Whole House Dehumidifier?
Unlike portable dehumidifiers, the whole-house dehumidifier is convenient, quiet, and out of the way, installed as part of your HVAC system. And of course, it will dehumidify your whole house, instead of just one room at a time!
In addition to whole-house applications, dehumidifiers can also be useful in crawl spaces. Mold and mildew thrive in humid crawl spaces. Since some of the air inside your home comes up from the crawl space, mold and mildew under your house can quickly turn into mold and mildew inside your house. In addition, humid crawl spaces attract termites, which work along with the dampness to rot and destroy the wood structures of your home.
All in all, it’s clear that upgrading your home with a dehumidifier can not only make you more comfortable—it can also help to protect your investment in your home, as well as your family’s health.
Simple Updates That Can Help You Save Money and Energy
How to Pronounce “Ecobee”
There’s just one problem—you want to tell all your friends about your great new thermostat that’s saving you money and helping the environment at the same time, but how the heck do you say its name? Is it “echo-bee”? Or “e-coby”? Or does it rhyme with Scooby, as in the greatest canine detective of all time?
Well, never fear. We’re here to help. The definitive answer, from ecobee’s own customer service line, is quite simple.
The first part is “eco,” pronounced EE-ko, as in “ecosystem.” It’s a prefix that refers to a habitat or environment. The second part is “bee,” pronounced just like the helpful little insect whose picture is part of the ecobee logo. So all together, it’s EE-ko-bee, the helpful little device that’s saving you money and making your own habitat a whole lot more comfortable.
And now you can properly brag about it to all of your friends.
By now you’ve probably heard how important it is to change your home’s air filter on a regular basis. But when the time comes to replace it, does it really matter what kind of filter you choose? Aren’t all filters basically the same?
The short answer is, no, they’re not all the same. In fact, there are many different types of air filters available and choosing the right one can make a real difference in the lifespan of your HVAC system as well as the quality of the air in your home.
To understand the differences in the filters available, there’s a couple of things you need to know.
All filters are rated using the MERV scale.
Filters for residential use are generally rated from 1-13, with higher-rated filters being used in places like hospitals and laboratories. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at catching particles from the air. A MERV 2 filter will only catch the largest particles, doing the absolute minimum to keep your HVAC unit clean, while a MERV 10 filter will catch very small particles like pet dander, helping to clean the air in your home as well as protecting your HVAC.
A higher rating isn’t always better.
Knowing that, you might think you should just get the highest MERV rating you can find for a price you can afford. But it’s not quite that simple. You see, the higher the MERV rating, the more the filter restricts air flow. If the air flow is restricted by the filter, then the HVAC unit has to work harder to pull air through it. This means that if your filter’s rating is too high for your particular system, it can cause the unit to burn out or the coils to freeze. Uh oh.
So, you need to pick a filter that fits your HVAC system, but you also want to get one that can handle the challenges of your home. People with pets, people with allergies, and especially people with pets who have allergies will generally want a higher-rated filter, while those who don’t have those challenges might choose a lower-rated and less expensive one.
The three main kinds of disposable filters available are
Fiberglass filters are the cheapest and have the lowest rating, generally MERV 2-3. They’ll do the basic job of protecting your HVAC system, but they won’t do much to clean your air.
Pleated filters are slightly more expensive and have a MERV rating of about 6. They’ll catch some allergens, like mold spores, and work fairly well as long as they’re changed regularly.
Electrostatic filters, while the most expensive at about $10 each, generally have a MERV rating of 10 and can trap smaller particles like pet dander and other allergens.
Choosing an air filter may seem complicated, but taking the time to pick the right one (and replacing it regularly!) can make a big difference for your home.
- Is your second-floor bedroom always too hot in the summer?
- Or is your high-ceilinged living room always freezing in the winter?
- Do members of your household argue over what’s a comfortable temperature?
- Do you hate wasting money heating or cooling rooms that aren’t being used?
In all of these situations, zoning your home could be the solution to your problem.
When a home is zoned, it means that the house has been divided up into sections, or zones, whose heating and cooling are each controlled separately by means of a thermostat installed in each zone. Zoning can be done using multiple HVAC units, or it can be done with a single unit and dampers installed in the ductwork to block and redirect heated or cooled air.
Zoning a home has two major advantages.
Particularly in large or multi-story houses, temperatures can vary significantly from room to room. For instance, in the heat of summer, the thermostat in your downstairs hallway may be reading a comfortable 72 degrees, while the bedroom upstairs is a sweltering 80. Zoning your home would allow you to control the upstairs temperature separately from the downstairs, so that your upstairs bedroom stays nice and cool without turning down the thermostat for the entire house.
This obviously leads to the second major advantage of zoning, which is that it can reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%, according to the Department of Energy. Instead of wasting money cooling your entire house at night while everyone is sleeping, you can turn up the thermostat for the rooms that nobody is using. During the day, you can focus on keeping the main living spaces comfortable, not on cooling empty bedrooms.
Likewise, if you need certain rooms to be warmer in the winter, like a high-ceilinged living room or a nursery, you can use zoning to direct heat specifically to those rooms without wasting it warming up the rest of the house. And you can solve family feuds over the temperature of your home by giving each faction its own zone with its own thermostat!
Ultimately, zoning is another tool you can use to make your home as comfortable and efficient as possible, especially in larger and multi-story homes. Talk to one of our Comfort Specialists to find out if zoning is the right choice for you.