Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC Blog : Archive for January, 2012

What Causes Cracks in a Heat Exchanger?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Furnaces are designed so that the heat – and the combustion byproduct produced inside – doesn’t interact directly with the outside air. This design is to ensure you have a safe furnace in your Fairburn home that won’t inadvertently affect your family’s health.

The metal piece that separates the furnace heat from the outside air stream is called the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger performs a very important function, and if it is broken or cracked, it can’t work properly.

A cracked heat exchanger is very common problem with heating systems, as well as one that should be repaired as soon as possible. But what causes a heat exchanger to crack? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • A long period of normal use. A furnace heat exchanger naturally expands and contracts with the heat of the furnace, over and over again as the furnace is turned off and on to heat the home. Over several years, this stress can crack the metal.
  • Poor air flow, often caused by dirty or obstructed vents, can result in poor air flow through the furnace. This overworks the furnace, which can crack the heat exchanger prematurely.
  • Poor, incomplete or improper combustion can also cause a heat exchanger to crack. When the combustion process is less efficient – which can also be a result of poor air flow — your furnace’s burners have to run hotter and longer to heat your home, which means extra stress on the heat exchanger.

Essentially, if a furnace is running at less than optimal efficiency for an extended period of time, the heat exchanger is put under additional stress beyond the usual and can crack prematurely. Therefore, the best way to prevent a cracked heat exchanger is proper maintenance, particularly keeping all vents clean and unobstructed and getting an annual maintenance inspection.

If your heat exchanger does crack, do not hesitate to call a professional and get it repaired. The crack can allow potentially dangerous combustion gases to seep into your home, which can have a negative impact on your family’s health.

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HVAC Guide: Duct Testing

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Do you know that leaky air ducts can actually decrease the energy efficiency of your Newnan home’s whole HVAC system?  If your ducts were not installed properly or have broken down over time, you could be losing a significant amount of heat. That means that your heating or cooling system will have to work harder to keep your rooms at the desired temperature. You can also get uneven heating, which will make your home much less comfortable.

Duct testing is a way to check your system for leaks and other problems. A qualified contractor will use calibrated mechanical equipment to measure the air flow that goes through your ducts. This test will determine whether you just need your air ducts sealed or whether you need them to be completely replaced. Especially when you are having a new system installed, a duct test will ensure that your new, energy efficient system will not lose its effectiveness because of air leaks. Because it has such an impact on energy efficiency, duct testing should also be on the top of your list if you are trying to make your house more green.

Don’t lose heat this winter with leaky ducts, call Premier Indoor Comfort Systems to schedule an appointment today!

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Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Air filters are great to have in your Roswell home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air.

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HVAC Checklist: Year Round Maintenance Tasks

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Taking care of your HVAC system is not just your responsibility as a Tyrone homeowner, it is also the best way to protect your investment and save money on utility bills. A well-maintained HVAC system runs more efficiently and last longer than one that is neglected, meaning big savings to you.

So what should you do to maintain your HVAC system? It doesn’t take much, but it is a year round process.

First of all, have your system inspected every year by a professional. This is best done in the spring, when you likely won’t be using your heating or air conditioning, allowing you to get ready for the summer cooling system. During an annual inspection, a professional technician will perform routine maintenance and repairs, such as replacing air filters, tightening loose fittings, inspecting ductwork and fixing any small problems before they grow larger.

Beyond this professional walkthrough, you should also do your part to keep the whole system clean. That means doing things like:

  • Cleaning vents monthly, with either a damp rag or a vacuum hose. This gets the dust and debris out of the way so your air handler can function efficiently and you don’t breathe in pollutants and allergens.
  • During the heating and cooling seasons, inspect your air filters monthly. Clean and/or replace them when they are visibly dirty, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Once a season, take a few hours to clean your furnace room. Sweep out any debris that could get sucked into the intake, and check to see that fitting are clean and rust-free. Similarly, clean the area around an outside air handler if you have an outdoor air conditioning or heat pump system.
  • Program your thermostat to turn heating and cooling down during the hours that no one is home.
  • Keep your home clean and clear of dust and dirt. Vacuum carpets and dust hard surfaces often. Less dust in the home means less dust in the ventilation system.

Small tasks like these have a cumulative effect on keeping your Tyrone home’s HVAC system running smoothly for as long as possible, which saves you a bundle in the long run.

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Five Ways to Save Heat That You Might Not Have Considered

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Finding new ways to lower the heating bills for your Riverdale home is always a challenge. Maybe you’ve already insulated and sealed every crawlspace and crack, or you might have recently upgraded that old furnace, but there are always other ways to reduce heat loss in the winter.

Here are five ways to conserve heat that you might not have considered.

1. Insulate Recessed Light Fixtures

While recessed light fixtures save space and give you more control over lighting and design, such as task lighting in kitchens, they can be a hidden source of heat loss. Feel around your recessed lighting fixtures to see if there’s cool air or a draft. If you do, they could need more insulation. However, you have to be extremely cautious about what type of insulation you use around electrical wiring and fixtures. Check with the manufacturer, or call an electrician if you aren’t sure what  type of insulation to use.

2. Insulate Water Heater Tanks

Part of your heating bill each month goes to heating the water in your home. Whether you have a gas, electric, solar, or hybrid hot water heater, every water heater tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses. If you have a low R-value, your tank may need more insulation. Check your owner’s manual for the R-value of the model you own, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you may need to buy a “jacket” for your water heater. These are fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found relatively anywhere you buy insulation.

3. Open Curtains on South End

The southern end of your home will get the most sunlight in the winter. If you have curtains or blinds on your windows or doors, leave them open during the day, and make sure you close them at night. Opening them will help warm up the home naturally during the day, and closing them will help keep the cold air out and warm air in at night.

4. Storm Windows and Doors

Many homeowners know they have the option of upgrading old doors and windows that leak air, but not everyone can afford to upgrade all the doors and windows at once. You can also install storm windows and doors to help reserve heat. Before you start comparing prices, remember to measure, since measurements will affect the cost.

5. Close Fireplace Flue

Whenever your flue is open, you are losing large amounts of heat. Close the damper if the fireplace or chimney is not being used. You can also consider upgrading to a more air tight damper.

You can always call Premier Indoor Comfort Systems whenever you have questions about lowering your heating costs for your Riverdale home.

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Heat Pump Question: When Do You Need a Backup Heating System?

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

A backup heating system is sometimes necessary for Jonesboro homeowners who heat their homes with an air-source heat pump. This style of heat pump transfers the heat from the outside air to your home in the winter, and it pushes the warm air outside the home in the summer. Although some systems are efficient enough to work in colder climates, most heat pump systems require a backup heater when temperatures drop below 20° F.

Furnaces are commonly used as a backup heater for air-source heat pumps, especially since the furnace fan blower can help distribute the hot air throughout the home. Although they are more expensive to buy and install, geothermal heat pumps typically do not require a backup heating system. These are also called ground-source or water-source heat pumps since they draw in heat from the ground below the house or from a nearby water source. Because they take advantage of the ground or water temperatures, they are also easier to maintain and have lower operating costs.

Getting the most cost-efficiency from a geothermal heat pump will depend on several factors, such as the size of your property, the temps of the subsoil, and access to local water sources. You will most likely not have to install a backup heating system with a ground-source or water-source heat pump; however, it is important to think about the installation costs and the variables that need to be in place before deciding on this type of heat pump.

Absorption heat pumps use a heat source, such as natural gas or solar-heated water, instead of electricity. Natural gas is typically used for absorption heat pumps, so they are also called gas-fired heat pumps. Depending on the source of the heat, you may or may not need a backup heating system. It’s always best to speak to a professional heating and cooling contractor if you are not sure when it’s necessary for a backup heating system.

Call Premier Indoor Comfort Systems if you have any questions about a backup heater for your Jonesboro home.

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Happy Martin Luther King Day

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Many people consider this day a call to service, and there are so different many ways you can help your community, from lending a hand to a neighbor to donating food. Take a moment to think about how you make a difference in someone’s life today; even a small act of kindness can have a big effect. Help us make our community a better place!

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HVAC Maintenance Agreement – Only $149!

Friday, January 13th, 2012

To keep your equipment running in top shape and cut down on repairs, annual maintenance is essential.  It is not just important because it cuts downs on your utility bills, but it also makes sure that all of your equipment is functioning safely. A basic inspection includes testing the fan and furnace limit switch, checking the temperature across the heat exchanger, cleaning the burners, and many other maintenance tasks that the average homeowner would not want to perform themselves. To take advantage of this great offer, click on the coupon below to print out a coupon!

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How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your Duluth home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats, give Premier Indoor Comfort a call.

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Heating Replacement Checklist: What You Should Consider Before Upgrading

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Many Mableton homeowners who heat their homes with an older heating system—whether it’s a furnace or heat pump—may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient system. Older furnaces with an AFUE rating of less than 80%, for instance, could be costing you a lot more than you realize in heating bills.

While it is a significant initial investment, upgrading to a more efficient furnace or heat pump will pay for itself in energy savings. Before you decide on whether or not an upgrade is right for your home, here are some things to keep in mind.

Fuel Costs

Some types of fuel, such as electricity, are more expensive in certain areas. Depending on where you live, you may want to compare the cost of fuel before choosing a heating upgrade. In fact, natural gas may or may not be available to your home. Check with your utility company to find out what types of fuel are available and which ones would be more cost-efficient for heating your home. You can always call a qualified HVAC technician at Premier Indoor Comfort if you have any questions about a heating system upgrade or the products we offer.

Insulation

Whenever you are thinking about upgrading your heating system, you’ll want to make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed. If you purchase and install a highly efficient furnace, it won’t save as much in energy bills if your house is poorly insulated. Get a home energy audit with a local energy resource organization if you aren’t sure. You might want to also consider upgrading your old windows and doors, or installing storm doors and windows to improve air tightness.

Property Value

A lot of homeowners forget that any upgrade or remodeling project will increase the value of their home. Not only will a heating system upgrade lower your heating bills; it will also add value to your home and property. Always make sure you choose the right system for your home so that it lasts as long as possible.

If you are considering upgrading the heating system in your Mableton home, call us to speak with one of our HVAC experts to ask about our quality products and installation services.

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