Tag: home maintenance

Keeping Your Heating and Cooling System Running Smoothly

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By Fran J.Donegan

Keeping your system running smoothly not only makes your home more comfortable, but also affects your monthly operating costs. Poorly maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) work harder, wasting energy and money.

Another great reason to keep HVAC systems at peak performance: When they fail, they tend to fail at the worst possible time, like the coldest night of the year or the middle of a sweltering heat wave. Problem is, most other failures will happen at the same time, that’s when HVAC contractors get backlogged, making it extremely difficult to get your issue resolved quickly.

Preventative Maintenance is Key!

Preventative maintenance is the key to keeping HVAC equipment running at peak efficiency. There are some important steps you, as the homeowner, can take.

First, find a reputable, qualified HVAC company to service your system annually.  You should schedule your system check-ups (also referred to as a tune-up or “clean and check”) just before the start of each heating and cooling season.  Experienced technicians can often spot issues before they cause a breakdown.

Depending on the type of HVAC you have, a typical professional maintenance appointment will take 30-60 minutes and includes items such as:

– Checking and tightening electrical connections

– Checking components for wear or defects

– Inspecting accessible duct work for leaks

– Taking critical system measurements (temperatures, pressures, electrical readings, etc.) to ensure they meet manufacturer specifications

– Calibrating thermostat and conducting a full system operation sequence

– Checking carbon monoxide levels (heating season)

– Checking accessible gas lines for possible leaks (heating season)

– Measure refrigerant levels – improper levels can negatively impact performance, efficiency and levels, and low refrigerant levels may indicate a leak. (cooling season)

– Inspect the condensate drain for clogs, flush/clear if needed (cooling season)

– Check and replace or wash filters (you will usually need to provide a replacement filter—be sure to have this ready for your appointment)

– Provide you with a checklist of items completed and a report on the condition of your system, its components and performance

– Make recommendations for needed repairs and optional system enhancements

During a heating system check-up, the technician will typically focus on the indoor unit (furnace and blower equipment). If you have a heat pump, they will also check your outdoor unit.

During a cooling system check-up, technicians will service the outdoor unit (condenser coil and compressor) as well as the indoor unit (blower and evaporator coil).

Understanding Equipment Efficiency Ratings

For gas burning heating equipment, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating measures how much fuel a furnace or boiler converts to heat and how much is wasted. It is not unusual to find old furnaces with an AFUE below 70 percent, which means that over 30 percent of the fuel is wasted. High-efficiency furnaces available today can achieve AFUE ratings of above 98 percent.  That could mean a reduction in heating bills of 20 to 30 percent.  Other benefits of high-efficiency furnaces include quieter operation and enhanced parts warranties.

For cooling equipment, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures the energy efficiency of cooling systems—the higher the number, the more efficient the equipment. Federal regulations require a minimum SEER of 13 or 14, depending on where you live, but market today’s high-efficiency cooling equipment can achieve SEERs of more than 20.

So what does regular maintenance have to do with efficiency? Well, let’s relate it to your car:  the longer you go without an oil change, the lower your gas mileage gets – that’s because over time, build-up and residue on your car’s internal components negatively impacts their performance.  Your HVAC system is no different.  In fact each year that your equipment is not properly maintained, it can lose up to 5% of its efficiency due to build-up of dirt and grime on internal components and operation at below optimal levels

There are a number of things you can do on a regular basis to help maintain an HVAC system.

1. Change your air filters on forced-air systems at least every three months but check them monthly. If your house is excessively dusty or you have pets or other sources of airborne pollutants, you may need to replace filters more frequently. Higher efficiency filters will keep more of the smaller particles from building up on your system’s components. The type of filter to use and directions for changing it can be found in the manual that came with the system. If you don’t have one, ask an HVAC contractor for advice or visit the manufacturer’s website.

2. Make sure that furniture does not block heating and cooling vents, baseboard heaters and radiators and do not close registers to redirect air to other areas/rooms.  If registers are blocked or closed, the system has to work harder to provide you with the comfort you want, placing a strain on the system.

Homeowner Tip of the Day: Turning Off Main Water Supply

We’ve started a blog series called “homeowner tip of the day” where we hope you can learn just a little more about home maintenance and repair.

First in this series: How to Turn Off Your Main Water Supply

Whether you are making plumbing repairs/replacements, you hear water noise or you need to prevent further leaks…you will want to know where your main water supply is located. Learn more by watching the video below…

(This is for informational purposes only and we are not liable for anything pertaining to the video or advice. These videos are shared but not created by us or our team.)

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Maintain Your Home in 2015

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Maintain Your Home in 2015

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about self-improvement. You can use them to get your house in shape, too. Here’s a 12-month program to tackle house projects in 2015.

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January: First things first. Consider starting off the New Year by getting your valued systems and appliances covered by a home warranty. There are 365 days for something unexpected to go wrong or breakdown in your house – why not have a plan?

February: Change all incandescent light bulbs to ones that are energy-efficient and inspect bathtubs and showers for mildewed or cracked caulk. Re-caulk as necessary.

March: Check smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed. (If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the battery then it’s probably neccessary). An extra precautionary would be to install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of the house.

April: If you have central air conditioning, have a professional inspect your unit so it’s ready for summer use.

May: Gather unused appliances, clothes, furniture and other items and hold a yard sale.

June: Inspect your roof and replace any damaged or missing shingles.

July: Create a first-aid disaster kit and keep it in a central location.

August: Inspect your gutters for holes, cracks or sags. Repair as necessary.

September: Have a professional inspect your heating system so it’s ready for winter use.

October: Use a pressure washer to clean your house, deck, and driveway.

November: Clean your carpets thoroughly by hiring a professional or renting a cleaning machine from your local hardware or grocery store.

December: Take stock of all your valuables and update your records. If needed, adjust your homeowners insurance.

This post is via American Home Shield. The originally post is here.

 

Smart Tips to Winterize Your Home

originally posted by Coldwell Banker by: Lana Simon

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Prepare Your Home Now Before Winter Arrives

As the temperature begins to drop and the leaves begin to fall, now is the time to prepare your home for winter. Changing seasons can mean wear and tear on your home, unless you plan ahead. Here are some tips to winterize your home the right way:

  • Clean gutters after leaves fall. Leaves and other debris that clog your rain gutters can cause leaks, so it is best to get to this chore as soon as possible after most of the autumn leaves have fallen. If your home is more than one story, hire a pro.