Advice From the Pros

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Prevention

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced by generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges or burner charcoal or wood. The gas can build up in these things and if the spaces are not properly ventilated people and animals can breathe it in. More than 500 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths are unintentional as the gas cannot be smelled, seen, or tasted.  Here are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what you can do to prevent it from affecting you and your home.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide are dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and/or loss of consciousness. If you think you or someone you are with may have been exposed, get to fresh air and seek emergency medical care. The condition is life threatening and warning signs can be subtle. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially hazardous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. Those who have been exposed may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there is a problem.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is absolutely preventable. Never leave your vehicle running in an enclosed space such as a garage. Generators and engines powered by gasoline should never be inside enclosed structures unless they have been professionally installed. Even if you keep the doors and windows open, it does not guarantee ventilation. Also, do not run these sources less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent so exhaust can escape into an enclosed space. Gas furnaces are safe but should be checked for heat exchanger problems. Contact your local HVAC provider as they have special tools to inspect this issue and can ensure that your heating is not leaking carbon monoxide.

Prevention

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to install detectors in your home. A detector should be placed on each level of your house and closest to the bedrooms. If you have a garage directly attached, the detector should be placed within 10 feet of the inside door. Detectors should not be placed on the ceiling as carbon monoxide is lighter than air. If there is a buildup of the gas this is likely due to an inefficient heating source. The heated air will then form a layer at the ceiling blocking the gas from reaching the detector. Place the detectors then on the wall a couple of feet below the ceiling.

Contact Gentry Air Conditioning to check if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in your home!

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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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