Looking for ways to keep your home comfortable during the colder months? Here are 15 home comfort tips for the heating season.
- During the a/c days but heating nights, be sure your thermostat is in the correct mode to accomplish what you need.
- Make sure your furnace works before it is an emergency.
- Check your flues to be sure they are clear from obstructions like bird/bug nests, leaves, etc.
- Check any fuses or breakers to be sure they haven’t blown or tripped.
- Check and change or clean your air filters regularly
- Ensure all registers are open and uncovered, not blocked by rugs or furniture.
- If the sun shines in a certain window, keep coverings open so you can use the sun’s heat gain to help warm your home (unless the windows are leaky!)
- If your thermostat screen is blank, check for batteries and change as needed.
- Check your gutters to be sure they are not leaking onto the outdoor unit of your heat pump, which can then freeze and damage your condenser fan blades and motor.
- Make sure you have propane or oil in your tanks.
- Always have a form of back up heat such has an electric or kerosene heater or on the wall gas heater.
- If you need to have service done, make sure there is access to the furnace.
- Consider adding insulation to your attic for better heat retention. If the snow melts off of your roof when at or below freezing, then you need more insulation.
- Consider covering leaky windows with a layer of plastic for better heat retention.
- Block those drafty doors with improved threshold seals.
When the weather is hot, ice may sound like a good idea… but not when it concerns your air conditioner.
If you see ice or frost on your refrigerant lines or your outdoor unit, you should take action. This build-up means the coil in the metal box, called a plenum, above or below your furnace is already iced over.
That ice is working its way down the lines to the outdoor unit. To perform a repair, the ice needs to be melted and the unit should be turned off.
Airflow restriction is a common cause of icing. So, check your filters to be sure they are not clogged. Also, be sure all registers are open and exposed.
Sometimes the air conditioner will run, ice up, then thaw when it cools in the evening and then ice up again during the day. A sign of this is water under the furnace.
Another cause of icing is a low refrigerant level, which means there is a leak somewhere and a service repair call is needed. Sometimes a leak can be found and sometimes not, which can be discussed with a service technician.
Here is some information to help your air conditioner cope with higher than normal temperatures.
- Close your curtains or blinds to reduce heat gain from the sun hitting your windows.
- Make sure all of your registers are open and exposed, not covered with furniture.
- Check your filters to be sure they are not clogged.
- Also, especially when the temperatures are soaring, don’t shut off your air conditioner in the evening or when you go to work. You are better off turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees rather than turning it off altogether because it has to start dehumidifying all over again.
- Make sure your outdoor unit’s coil is not clogged with mown grass or dirt nor constricted by plants.
- Lastly, please don’t build a deck over your outdoor unit. You should keep four-foot clearance around the top, front, and sides. This also makes it difficult to work on.
Hopefully, these tips will help extend the efficiency and life of your air conditioner. If you need a repair or free estimate on a new installation, make a comfortable decision.
When the weather is extremely hot, we often get requests for service because the system is running all of the time and won’t shut off.
However, when we check the system, we find nothing wrong with the unit. It is simply doing all it can to keep up, so we thought we would explain why this happens.
When sizing the cooling load for a home, contractors use Manual J. This references design temperatures to use to determine what the demand will be 99% of the time spent in cooling months using a 30-year average. With that data, they size the equipment to cool 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature.
The design temperature for our area, using data compiled from Zanesville in 2017 (the most recent data available), is 87.4 degrees. 20 degrees below that is 67.4. That means when we reach outside temperatures above 87.4, which occurs only 1% of the time out of the total cooling hours, our system begins to have to run longer and longer and may not shut off when our area reaches 90 degrees and higher extremes.
The equipment is sized for the design temperatures, not the rare extreme temperatures. Why, you may wonder? If equipment is oversized, then under normal design temperatures, it will not run long enough to dehumidify, leading to a clammy type atmosphere, and comfort is compromised.
Most systems are on full blast or off. However, there is variable speed equipment available which ramps up or down gradually according to demand. You would need to decide whether the increased cost of that type of equipment is a sufficient trade-off for increased comfort.
Recently, Rumer-Loudin’s own Kellie Loudin sat down with Teddy Michaels on the Wheeling’s Experts On Demand Podcast to talk about a variety of topics.
In the first episode, Kellie talks about choosing the right contractor, which systems best capture the coronavirus, and warranties on your heating and cooling systems.
For the second installment, topics covered include home warranties, the importance of good air flow in your home, and more!
Next, we discuss topics like geothermal energy benefits and why you should consider a career in HVAC.
Finally, we talk about what to look for as you test your heating system before winter hits. Plus, the differences between various heating systems, advice on when to shut the A/C off for the winter, and more.
NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), the state’s leading small business association, has announced the election of Kellie Loudin to the group’s statewide leadership council. Loudin is with Rumer-Loudin, Inc., a leader in HVAC, at locations in Barnesville and St. Clairsville, Ohio, and has been a member of NFIB for over 20 years. She has been active in local NFIB meetings in Southeast Ohio.
Thinking about building a high efficiency home? Or maybe you already have one, and have questions about it’s heating and cooling system. We found a great article from our friends over at ACCA Now that helps explain special HVAC considerations when choosing a system for high efficiency homes.
Behold, the home of the future! The home with special high-efficiency windows, doors, appliances, and lights. A space-age ventilation system that exhausts harmful pollutants and brings in healthy clean air for the family, pets, and plants; so they all flourish in this virile environment. The home’s space-age construction, nearly airtight and well insulated, ensures that it is effortless to heat and cool. The home’s integrated control system works seamlessly (and best of all, the whole house functions on a small steady stream of power produced on-site. Won’t it be great to live in the house of tomorrow?
This technological marvel is built every day, but some of these houses are as comfortable as a cave, and not a capsule. Why? HVAC contractors MUST follow good design practices, or their customers will suffer because of three big challenges.
Before you sign a contract to have a home built by any type of contracting company, whether they be a huge company with fancy billboards or a local contractor who doesn’t market at all, be sure you know who exactly is going to take care of any heating and air conditioning warranty work after it has been installed. Many general contractors hire the cheapest company, sometimes from very far away. One reason they are the cheapest is because they know they won’t be back to provide any kind of back up warranty work.
Homeowners are often told by their general contractor, “they live too far away” to do warranty work. They weren’t too far away to put it in, but they are too far away to work on it? Sometimes the general contractor buys the equipment, but hires a subcontractor to provide install labor only. Who takes care of warranty then? Also, contractors often use a “builders model” that may not operate automatically between heating and cooling or have other limitations.
We receive calls all the time from people who are abandoned after the sale with no one to provide warranty work. Unless we are a dealer of that equipment, we cannot perform any warranty repair. It is your money, shouldn’t you be able to choose someone who you know will take care of your equipment? Here are some suggestions:
- Ask the general contractor, who exactly is installing the system including name, address, and contact phone number.
- Ask what brand is being installed. Go to that brand’s website and see if there are any dealers close by. Even then, if those dealers didn’t install the equipment they may choose not to take care of any warranty work for something they did not install.
- Ask the general contractor specifically how warranty repairs are handled.
- Ask to read the warranty on the equipment before you sign on with them. This should not be a problem. Whomever they use as a subcontractor, should not have a problem providing a copy of it. If the general contractor installs it, again, it should not be a problem to provide a copy of the warranty. Sometimes the warranty is listed on the brand’s website.
- Make sure you get a copy of the homeowners manual and warranty for your records.
- Don’t accept the common answer of “any contractor can take care of the warranty.” This is not a completely true statement.
- Maintain your equipment properly, else any warranty could be voided.
Hopefully this information might save you from potential problems when building a home. Fancy front doors are lovely, but, really, what system provides the most comfort for every minute you spend in your house? What system, when it breaks down, is more critical?
I recently received a call from a concerned elderly customer because she thought she understood a news outlet to say that everyone will need to replace their air conditioners after next year because refrigerant won’t be available. I also had a friend living in the Washington D.C. area express concern because her contractor told her that her air conditioner would only be repairable for another year because the refrigerant would not be available. Neither of these beliefs are true. I am concerned that misinformation and unscrupulous contractors will twist the true state of refrigerant supply, especially R-22.
“The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The stratospheric ozone layer filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with an increased prevalence of skin cancer and cataracts, reduced agricultural productivity, and disruption of marine ecosystems. The United States ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1988 and has joined four subsequent amendments. The United States has been a leader within the Protocol throughout its existence, and has taken strong domestic action to phase out the production and consumption of ODS such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons.”
As part of the Montreal protocol, the manufacture and import of R-22 (among other substances), considered to be an ozone depleting substance, will no longer be permitted as of January 1, 2020. As anyone knows who has had to have their air conditioner or heat pump charged with R-22 recently, the cost has skyrocketed. Knowing the ban was coming, fewer manufacturers were creating it and because of limited supply, prices increased. However, from all of the information I could gather from ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) and our suppliers, R-22 has been stockpiled.
As well, we have to use refrigerant recovery machines to remove old R-22 (and other refrigerants) when needed. When we have enough full cans, we return these to a supplier, who then submits it for recycling. We keep separate cans for each type of recovered refrigerants. Some contractors mix their refrigerants in the same can. Recyclers don’t have the capacity to separate them, so, availability of recycled R-22 can be affected by the purity of what is turned in by the contractors.
There is also a “drop in” refrigerant that can replace R-22. We use M099 most frequently. Use of this refrigerant can reduce your cooling capacity between 3 and 5%. So, if your system struggles to keep up due to under-sizing, this reduction in capacity may make your unit run longer or it cannot provide the same comfort level for the space you are conditioning.
From what I understand, between the stockpiling, the availability of recycled R-22, and the use of “drop-in” refrigerants, there should be enough supply to fulfill future need until all R-22 units will have lived their longest possible life and been replaced or abandoned.
There are many instances when it is more prudent to replace an R-22 unit than to keep repairing it. For example unfixable leaks mean you have to charge the unit more often, or you want a newer more efficient unit with a long term warranty, your compressor or other expensive components have failed, and so on. However, it is not true that they won’t be able to be repaired because R-22 is not available or is illegal nor is it true that you will be required to replace your air conditioner.
I would like to add R410a, used in the manufacturing of current systems, will also be phased out in the future as it has been determined to be an ozone depleting substance as well. California currently has mandates in place for its phase out. Europe also has moved away from R410a. The national implementation of replacement refrigerant for R410a and the timeline for such is still on going, but the new refrigerants will likely include mildly flammable or flammable products.
As the industry begins to introduce new refrigerants it will be more important than ever to ensure consumers are hiring professional contractors who will follow industry guidelines for the safe handling of these refrigerants. Those changes are a few years away, but it’s important for contractors to start learning about these products and educating their staff about what this means for this industry.
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