Advice From the Pros

Home Heating Myths

Home Heating Myths

Home Heating Myths

As temperatures get cooler and heaters start to kick on, what advice is helpful and what is a waste of time? There are many home heating myths. Here are some long standing assumptions and what is true.

Myth: Turning the thermostat up high makes the home heat faster.

Truth: Unless you have a 2-stage furnace, heating works at the same pace whether the thermostat is set for 75 degrees or 85. Think of your furnace like a light switch, it is either on or off. Cranking up the heat once you walk into a frigid house will only waste energy and money as well as heat your house beyond the temperature you desire.

 

Myth: Leave the thermostat up and going because it is cheaper to keep the house at a constant temperature.

Truth: If the furnace is running less, it is using less energy. Since the furnace heats up quickly, you don’t have to worry about losing too much heat during the times you are not using it and in the end, save money.

 

Myth: Ceiling fans are only for the summer.

Truth: In the summer, you want the air to blow straight down, but in cooler months, air should be circulated. Turn the fan to the clockwise rotation to recirculate warm air. This can be done by turning off the fan and once the blades have come to a complete stop, locating the direction switch and flipping the switch in the opposite direction. When the blades start turning, they will be going in the opposite direction.

 

Myth: It is cheaper to use small space heaters than central heat.

Truth: Electricity is more expensive and less efficient than natural gas. It can cost 3-5 times more to heat your home by electric heaters than to use central heat.

 

Myth: Fireplaces heat your home.

Truth: Fireplaces heat the room they are located in. They also create a vacuum that pulls heat from all other rooms and then exits out of the chimney. A roaring fireplace is idyllic, but the result is that the rest of the house is cold and drafty.

 

Myth: Closing air vents in unused rooms saves energy.

Truth: The furnace is designed to work with all air vents open. If you close vents off then the furnace actually has to work harder because the air pressure is out of range.

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Breaker Tripping Your A/C

Breaker Tripping in Your A/C Unit

Breaker Tripping Your A/C

Many calls are made at the end of a long summer about A/C breakers. The causes can range from a simple fix to a major repair. Here are some of the potential causes of a tripped breaker and how you can prevent them.

Condenser Coils

Outdoor condenser coils can become dirty and this can cause problems. A dirty coil will block the airflow into the unit and cause the compressor to overheat. If this happens too often or for too long, the compressor can cause the break to trip. To solve this problem, turn the off the disconnect for the unit and run a water hose through the coil until the water runs clear. If your are unsure of how to disconnect the power, or if something doesn’t seem safe, we recommend you call a HVAC professional.

Circuit Breakers

Another issue can be a weak circuit breaker. Breakers can go bad over time and the wires connected to the breaker may be loose. The breaker itself might be bad and need replacing. This fix is relatively inexpensive but you will need to hire a licensed electrician to determine if this is the problem or not.

Compressors

The compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system. It pulls loads of electricity when it starts up and over time can get worn out. The compressor or fan motor can start to short. If this happens, the breaker will start to trip immediately once the unit tries to start. If your compressor is “grounded” or “short to ground” it means that it is not repairable. The worst case here is that it could cause a direct short to the ground that will ignite oil and cause a burnout.  Fan motors can be easily replaced but compressors take several hours of labor and a lot of refrigerant. If you are using R22 refrigerant, that is scheduled to be discontinued in 2020, then a new unit may be better than repair.

Bad Capacitors

Lastly, you may have a bad capacitor or start kit. These parts hold the charge that jump starts the compressor and fan motor to come on. Occasionally they go bad and the breaker trips. To have this diagnosed fixed, contact your local AC repairman.

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Reducing Humidity in your Home

Reducing Humidity In Your Home

Reducing Humidity in your Home

Humidity is uncomfortable. It can cause allergies from mildew and dust mites. It causes our bodies to sweat more and release heat less efficiently. High humidity also makes the temperature outside feel hotter than it actually is. It only takes four to six pints of water to raise the humidity level inside of 1,000 square feet from 15% to 60%. Luckily, there are ways to reduce humidity and make life at home enjoyable.

Ventilation

First, you want to ensure that your house is well ventilated, including the attic. Pay close attention to rooms and areas that create moisture like the kitchen and bathrooms. If you or your family members like to take long hot showers use vent fans. Let them run longer than you think in these rooms. When cooking, try and cover your food as much as possible. Take advantage of the exhaust fans in your kitchen as oven and stove top cooking produces more moisture than slow cookers. Washing machines and dryers also affect the amount of moisture found in the air. If your house does not have vent fans, open a window to allow fresh air in and to circulate moisture out.

House Plants

House plants are great, but do not help in reducing humidity as they release vapors into the air. If you can, place them outside for a little while or put them all in one room. If you have lots of plants, think about cutting back.

Air Conditioning

Running your air conditioning costs a little more but does best to remove moisture from the air. Check the air filter. If it is dirty it may cause your unit to freeze and create excess humidity. Check your windows as well. North Texas heat is not dry and if there are cracks the outside air during the summer months may be creeping in and causing humidity. Also check that there is proper drainage around your house.

If humidity is a chronic problem consider purchasing a dehumidifier. They are commonly placed in basements and work best with closed doors and windows. For proper circulation, they must be placed away from walls and furniture.

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