Archives for Heating

Mini-Split System

Is a Mini-Split System Right for Your Home?

Mini-Split System

There are times in our lives when we have to make a decision we dread making. Replacing that air conditioning unit that you thought would last forever shouldn’t be a stress-inducing decision. A mini-split system uses heat pump technology and works well in homes that do not have a high heating and cooling load and good sealing and insulation. Choosing both cost-savings and optimum functionality is important for your home and should be an informed decision. Here is how to decide if this system is right for you.

A mini-split system is highly efficient and is the most effective cooling and heating system available. You can choose which areas of your home should receive the most air, unlike central heating and cooling. They come in different sizes and no gas is required. Mini-splits dispense air into a room straight from the heat pump coils so there are no ducts required. This means less leakage and no maintenance for duct work. Installation is more advanced than a window unit but much less complicated than a central AC system. Although advertised as a DIY job, this job is best left to professionals to ensure it is installed properly and the warranty is valid. If correctly installed, your mini-split system can last 12-18 years. Mini-split systems are customizable with timers and sleep functions allowing homeowners to take more control of when and how they heat or cool their homes.

Mini-Split AC Unit Limitations

For all of their advantages, Mini-split A/C units do have their limitations. If your home is large and poorly sealed, a mini-split system isn’t able to handle it. Despite the excellence of engineering, you cannot compensate for a lack of insulation or poor building composition. You must decide if this type of heating system is best for how many rooms you have and the capacity of those rooms. You will save money in energy efficiency but installation is a little more expensive and electricity costs more than gas. Aesthetics may be a problem for you if you do not want your heating and cooling on the wall. You do have a choice as to where the unit goes, but if you do not wish to have a vent in your living room, mini-split may not be for you.

Read more
two-stage furnace

Why Should You Consider a Two-Stage Furnace?

two-stage furnace
Everyone knows that in DFW it’s hot. When we replace an HVAC system, the first thing we have check is that it is the new HVAC system is the right size to properly cool your home on the hottest day of the year. Since a large air conditioner must match up with a furnace of the same size, this means that sometimes we have to put in a furnace that is larger than what your home needs. A furnace that is too large can cause comfort issues, poor indoor air quality, and higher utility bills.

Why a 2-stage furnace? 

Our solution to this common problem is a two-stage furnace. The difference between a traditional furnace and the two-stage furnace is all in the name. Traditional furnaces have just one speed, so when you put the thermostat on to heat, it blasts you with 100% heating capacity. While percentages vary, a 2-stage furnace will start out at 50%-75% of capacity and then bring on the remaining heating capacity if needed to achieve the desired temperature. The reduced capacity creates a more comfortable environment that heats the home evenly.

Other Benefits

The most common application for the two-stage furnace we see is for the HVAC system on the second floor of a house. The second floor benefits from warm air rising up from below, so less heating is required to keep that area comfortable. The 2-stage furnace also corrects poor indoor air quality. When a traditional furnace comes on, it heats the house up quickly and then shuts down. This does not allow the air to circulate through the home and pass through the air filter to get purified. A two-stage furnace slows down the air flow so that more air can move through the system and the air filter. Two-stage furnaces are also quieter than their single speed counterparts.

It helps with A/C too!

Lastly, the metered air flow also helps in the cooling seasons to reduce humidity and improve comfort in your home. The air flows out of the vents in a uniform flow and doesnt hit you with a freezing blast of air. Go a step further and combo a 2-stage furnace with a 2-stage air conditioner to make a highly efficient and comfortable HVAC system.
Read more

What To Do When a Furnace Repair Won’t Fix the Problem

furnace repair

Most of us don’t think about our furnace until it stops working, but sooner or later we all will have that unfortunate experience. When we go out to check a furnace, every attempt is made to repair it. Despite our best efforts, sometimes a repair isn’t enough and replacement is the better route to go. Below are a few items to consider when deciding if your furnace should be replaced or repaired:

Frequency of Breakdowns

Since many breakdowns are tied to other parts of the furnace this is the number one consideration for furnace replacement. Are you calling your furnace repair company every winter for unexpected breakdowns? Is the cost of each breakdown slowly creeping up? We can help you navigate whether your money would be better spent on a new furnace versus repairing the existing one. 

Age

Sometimes it is just a number, and other times it is a reality. Due to our mild winters here in North Texas we get a lot of life out of our furnaces. Unfortunately, as time goes by efficiency goes down, and a new furnace could pay for itself in energy savings alone. Most new furnaces operate as much as twice the efficiency of older units. 

Maintenance History

You may take great care of your furnace or heating system, but how good did the previous owners do? A good indication is how well they kept up the rest of the property. If a lot things around the home visibly lacked maintenance, then odds are that the HVAC was neglected too. This neglect takes time off of your furnace’s life. A good tip when buying a home is to ask the owners for any maintenance records they have and contacting us to do a full inspection. 

Cost

Before you do anything, it has to make sense financially. We offer guaranteed pricing, warranties, and flexible financing options to help you with your decision should the furnace need replacement. 

Read more
fireplace safety

Fireplace Safety Tips

fireplace safety
Winter is here and although your furnace will keep the house comfortable through the cold nights, there’s hardly anything like enjoying a night at home with your family and a warm fireplace to sit around. Common sense will tell us that if you are going light a fire inside your home, safety should be the top priority. Every Winter, we hear of families being temporarily or permanently displaced due to a fire that broke out in their fireplace. Below are some fireplace tips to make sure that it is source of comfort and not concern:

Cleanliness

A clean fireplace is a happy fireplace. Make sure there is no debris or excess ashes in the fireplace before starting a new fire. Remove the cold ashes from the fireplace so that they don’t build up (Make sure they are completely extinguished!).

Overloading

Double check that the amount of wood you have in your fireplace is appropriate for the size of the hearth. Stacking too much wood can cause it to fall out of the fire as it burns down. Always use the proper safety guards to prevent wood from falling into the home.

Smoke

If smoke from the fire is present in the home, then something is wrong. Check that the flue is open and that the chimney is not blocked. Contact a professional chimney expert to verify that all parts of the chimney are functioning as they should to move smoke away from the home.

Have the Right Tools

It is a good idea to have an complete fireplace tool set so that you have what you need to safely and securely move the logs as the fire burns. Don’t be the person trying to move burning logs with a broom handle or your hands!
What fireplace safety tips are we missing?
Read more
heating costs

Tips to Keep Your Heating Costs In Check

Here in Texas, we’re used to long Summers and watching our electric bill reach new heights every month. Our Winters are fairly mild and we rarely see more that a day or 2 of ice and snow. That doesn’t mean that we should discount keeping our heating costs in check. There are plenty of ways to make sure your heating bill doesn’t get out of control. Here are a few that we can think of:

Check your thermostat temperature program.heating costs

We see this one all too often: the homeowner has their cooling program set to perfection, but the heating schedule is out of whack. Set your thermostat to your ideal schedule. We recommend that you keep it colder when no one is home (62-65 degrees) and 68-72 when you are home. Lower heat temperatures equal lower heating costs, therefore, if you don’t have programmable thermostat, investing in one will pay for itself in a relatively short period of time.

Seal gaps and leaks.

Can you see daylight around an exterior door? If light can get through, then your hot air can get out. Inspect your weather stripping around the exterior doors, then replace if necessary. Don’t forget to double check your windows for air leaks as well.

Draw the curtains.

A significant amount of heat escapes from your house through the glass in your windows. Closing the curtains will help keep the heat inside and the cold outside.
 

Tune your furnace or heater up.

Making sure your heater is ready for winter is best thing you can do to keep your heating costs in check. Heaters with high bills do not get that way overnight, the issue usually builds slowly over time. By the time you realize something is wrong, hundreds of dollars, if not more, can be wasted. Ensure that your furnace or heater is running as efficiently as possible by having your furnace or heater regularly checked by a qualified professional.
Read more

A Few Common Home Heating Myths

home heating myths
Winter is officially upon us and we think that this would be a good time to dispel some common home heating myths that are working against your comfort.

Fireplaces heat your home

This one will come as a shocker to most, but cranking up the fireplace will only make your heater work harder in the end. Have you ever noticed that the back rooms feel colder when the fire is going? While the fireplace may keep the living room warm, when the fire is burning it constantly pulls the air out of your house and sends it up the chimney. To top it off, you cant close the flue on a wood burning fire place until the fire is completely extinguished and this is like leaving a window open in the middle of the night.

You should close off vents in unused rooms to save energy

Although it may sound like a good idea, closing off vents in unused rooms can cause many issues for your system. AC and heating systems function best when the air flow is balanced. Closed vents throw off the balance and the unit has to work harder to heat or cool your home. This extra work can lead to higher bills, unnecessary repairs, and moisture issues.

Your ceiling fan is only for summer

It sounds crazy, but your ceiling fan can help heat your home. The hot air hangs out up high near the ceiling. By switching your ceiling fan to a clockwise rotation and turning it to low speed, you can pull some of that hot air down and circulate it around yourself.

Turn the thermostat up high to heat the house quicker

Your heating system works at the same speed if you have the thermostat set to 68 or 98 degrees. If you set it too high, you run the risk of over heating the house and then having to open a door or even turn the AC on to get comfortable. Set your thermostat to a temperature that is comfortable to you, typically this means 68-72 degrees in the winter time
Read more
furnace maintenance

Keep your Furnace Maintained!

furnace maintenance

We just had our first cold front of the fall therefore, the phone has been ringing non-stop with broken furnaces. We thought this would be a good time to remind everyone about our furnace maintenance and what all it entails. Proactive furnace maintenance is the best way to make sure you will be warm inside when the cold hits outside. Below are the items we inspect and clean when you have us out for a heating maintenance:

Inspect Air Filters

One of the keys to keeping your heating system in working order is by making sure the air filter has no problems passing air through it. A dirty air filter means your system has to work twice as hard to pull air, therefore, putting strain on the blower motor and other major heating components.

Inspect heating operation

We will inspect all of the integral parts of your heating system to make sure your home will stay warm this Winter.

Carbon Monoxide Testing

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous and odorless gas that can harm or even kill without warning. You should always have a professional ensure that any carbon monoxide is being sent outdoors and not collecting in your home. Having carbon monoxide detectors in your home is also a good idea! 

Check Heat Exchangers

How does carbon monoxide leak into your home? The most common cause is a broken heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is what creates the heat in most modern heating systems. It is a series of metal tubes that get hot when natural gas is forced through them, the air from your house blows over the hot tubes and this heats your home. If there’s a problem in your heat exchanger, then your home will not reach the desired temperature, or may take twice as long to get there! 

Clean or Replace Sensors

All heating systems rely on sensors to function properly, once one is broken or burned-out, it must be replaced by an HVAC professional. Gas-fired heaters use flame sensors to regulate the heat that is being put out by the heater. Just the slightest bit of build up can cause it to shut down or misfire.

Inspect electrical components

We ensure that all wires and fuses are connected properly, because blown fuses can occur with any voltage spike, or lightning strike. They protect the power surge from reaching the vital electrical components inside your heating system!

Inspect belts

If your system is struggling to keep your house warm, then there’s a good chance that your belts are stretched. A new set of belts could get it back to running like new!

Check Freon levels for heat pump units

A new shot of Freon can give your heat pump the boost it needs to run more efficiently!

Check amp draws on electric heaters

If your electric heater is drawing too much or too little amperage, as a result, it will not function properly. We can come in and make sure everything is ready to go make sure you spend your night in comfort!

Read more
heating system

What Type of Heating System Do You Have?

What type of heating system do I have?

The heat of Texas Summer is over – mostly!! Fall weather is late but it is upon us again and Winter is just around the corner.  Many homeowners call us with heating issues and aren’t sure what kind of heating system they have. Below are the common types of heating systems in Texas that you will find in your home and how to identify them.

Gas Furnace:

Gas furnaces run of of natural gas piped into you home. A gas furnace is the most common, and in our opinion, the best form of heating equipment in the DFW area. Gas furnaces are less expensive to run because natural gas has been historically cheaper to buy than electricity.  Natural gas futures also show that it will be an affordable fuel supply for many years to come. Another option in some areas is to retrofit a natural gas furnace to burn propane gas. Unfortunately, if your home doesn’t have gas service, then this heating option is not available to you. To see if you have a gas furnace, go into the attic or closet where your indoor AC / Heat unit is located. A gas furnace will have two visible components:

  1. A thick metal flue vent that is 4″ or more in diameter
  2. A rigid, 1/2″ gas line running into the heating unit.

Electric Heat:

Electric heater systems are coils that are installed inside of air handlers that run off of electricity only. This heating method can be expensive to operate if you have a high heating demand. An electric heating unit can be identified a couple of ways:

  1. Look at your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “heat”, an electric heating system will have one large breaker (100amp) or two medium sized breakers (30 amp or 60amp).
  2. Look at your indoor heating / AC unit – the absence of the 4″ flue vent or rigid gas line described for the gas furnace is another clue that you have an electric heater.

If you have electric heat don’t feel like you are destined to pay heating bills forever. Fortunately, you can pair electric heat with a Heat Pump unit that we will talk about next to keep the winter bills down.

Heat Pump:

The concept of a heat pump is something that can confuse customers if they haven’t worked with one before. Here is why: A heat pump creates heat by running your air conditioner in the winter time. How is that possible? A heat pump has the ability to reverse the cycle of refrigerant so that it makes hot air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Heat pumps run off of electricity also, but have the advantage of using less energy than most electric heat systems.

Heat pumps are designed for moderate climates like DFW, so they have trouble keeping up when the temperature dips below freezing. Because of this, heat pumps are usually paired with “emergency” heat systems to keep you warm in the extreme cold. Since heat pumps look like regular air conditioners, they are difficult to identify by the untrained eye. One way to check is to look at your thermostat. Go through the COOL/HEAT/OFF settings. If you come across a setting that says EM HEAT or AUX HEAT, odds are that you have heat pump.

So if you aren’t sure what is heating your home, take the information you learned today and go take a look to see what you have. Keep in mind that heating equipment is dangerous and easily burn or electrocute anyone who isn’t trained and being cautious. Always rely on an expert for your heating maintenance and repair needs.

Read more

How Is Your Ductwork?

hvac ductwork

New construction

Does it feel like your AC isn’t cooling or heating? Sometimes your HVAC ductwork is the problem, something you may not have thought about and may not expect to be the reason.

If you feel your air conditioning units are not doing the work they used to do or are otherwise not bringing you the results you expect, then ductwork leakage or damage over time may be the cause. Ductwork damage, such as corrosion, holes, or gaps, can cause a very noticeable change in the efficiency of your cooling system.

Keeping the system sealed and clean, and inspecting it periodically can make a huge difference in the quality of work your unit is doing for your home. If your ducts don’t have mastic sealing, they could be drawing in attic air that is 150+ degrees or they could be leaking out your good cold air into the attic.

Dirty or failing ducts may be costing you a good chunk of money in energy costs, as it causes your air conditioning units to work harder to reach the settings you have set the temperature at.

According to the National Comfort Institute, the average duct system in U.S. is only 57% efficient due to several problems. An inadequate duct system is the single greatest problem. An improperly designed and maintained duct system cannot meet the required airflow to heat and cool your house efficiently even if your equipment is sized correctly and functioning properly.

Making sure your air is not escaping from improperly sealed registers, grills or duct leaks is critical for the system to work as intended. Seals throughout the system makes sure you will lose less air, which allows your rooms to be brought to a comfortable temperature with less work.

Testing ductwork quickly

Run your hands around the ducts while the unit is running and you can feel the air if you have a leak.
Most units are designed to leak specific amount of air, but the ducts should never leak.

Visibly inspect the insulation on the ducts
– Large, visible tears are an early warning sign
– Exposed inner liner is something that needs to be corrected ASAP

10% duct leakage is a 20% loss of cooling capacity. 50% duct leakage means ZERO cooling capacity. R4 duct insulation (1 inch) means about 20% loss of cooling capacity. R8 duct insulation (2 inches) means about 10% loss of cooling capacity.

Most older flex has the old grey skin on it and is inefficient and has been outlawed eventually per code.If you have metal duct and and there is a lot of leaks, you will want to have the work replaced with appropriate flexible duct work, and we would be glad to discuss your options with you.

Winter is a great time to get your HVAC ductwork revamped – Give us a call

Read more

Getting The Most Out of Your Furnace

As the weather outside continues to get colder, you can be sure that your furnace, along with the rest of your heating system, will have to work harder to ensure you’re comfortable in your home. To be certain that your home will be kept warm, it’s a good idea to do some basic maintenance on your furnace. If any adjustments need to be made to your furnace, or any major work, we recommend you go with a pro. Before you get started, be sure to disable the fuel supply and electrical power. Be sure you know how to do so before tackling this project. After you have completed the following steps, turn the fuel line and electricity back on. Always check user guides for further instruction.

    1. Examine fiberglass filters once a month regardless if the weather is hot or cold.
      • Pleated filters can last up to three months.
      • Permanent filters should be washed monthly.
      • Electronic air-cleaner filters should be cleaned every other month.
    2. Make sure the pilot light is burning. Some units will have to be lit by hand, if it does go out. Always follow guidelines for relighting a pilot light. These can often be found on the access door.
    3. Inspect the blower and vacuum for any dust or debris. Check the filter every 30 days or so, and replace as needed. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow, and cause the unit to work harder than it needs to.
    4. Lubricate the blower motor.
    5. Check the burner for corrosion.
    6. Ensure flue is venting properly, and inspect for any dents or gaps.
    7. Clean the air registers around your house by vacuuming all the dust up.

Take a little extra time to go through these steps, and you should be a able to get a little more life out of your furnace. If you are have any issues beyond basic maintenance, or if you would rather a pro take care of the steps above, you can always call us at 817-488-6733. We take your comfort personal.

Read more